July 20, 2012 at 8:04 PM ET
Photographers have been speculating for years on when Canon would enter the mirrorless fray and offer a compact interchangeable-lens camera that isn't a DSLR. Pictures of just that leaked Friday, indicating the photo giant could finally be ready to compete with Olympus and Panasonic's popular micro four-thirds cameras.
The photos, originally posted at Japanese website Digicame-Info, show a camera labeled EOS M, with a body shape reminiscent of Canon's G series. Lacking a rangefinder or electronic viewfinder, and without much in the way of dials and controls, it is clearly aimed at consumers, not pros or enthusiasts. It could still produce excellent images if equipped with an APS-C or 1.5" sensor, like those found in larger cameras.
The lens shown is a 22mm F/2 and is labelled EF-M, which is probably the name of the new lens mount. Removing the reflex mirror from the camera makes it more compact, but also changes the distance between the back of the lens and the sensor. That means Canon's large line of existing lenses won't work on the EOS M without an adapter.
There's a hot shoe on top, which will almost certainly hold a flash (there is no built-in one) or an EVF. A pair of microphones means the camera will record sound in stereo, a feature that was long in coming to their DSLR line.
It's not known when the camera will be announced officially, though Canon Rumors speculates it could be as early as Monday. Canon's track record suggests that a more "pro" version is also in the works, but so far there is no hard evidence of such a camera, and they may want to test the waters before committing to multiple models.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for NBC News. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.