“All I want is a half-decent camera that can take great holiday photos, isn’t so big it needs its own luggage, and won’t bankrupt me. How hard can it be to find a camera and some accessories for less than £400?”
Three years ago, I was ready to upgrade from my trusty little Canon Powershot. I did a LOOOOT of googling. It turned out I needn’t have bothered, as a photographer friend (and finalist in the 2017 Landscape Photographer of the Year competition) answered all my questions at once:
“Buy yourself the a new Canon EOSM mirrorless camera. You can pick one up for less than £300. There are fancier models out there, but the Canon’s a brilliant deal for what you get – it’s a great little camera. Another mate’s just bought one for his travels after I recommended it: he loves it!”
“Ooooooh”, I thought. Trusted recommendation + already happy with Canon + not too bulky + no second mortgage required + sounds like it’s aimed at someone just like me = perfect! The Canon EOSM mirrorless camera it was!
Is the Canon EOSM the best mirrorless camera for less than £300?
I have to admit, I love my little Canon EOSM. I raved about it so much that hubby – a previous DSLR user – sold his DSLR and bought one too! His is the latest version, the Canon EOS M10.
The M10 comes with a 15-45mm interchangeable lens and integrated WiFi and flash. It also has a flip-out screen, which I have to admit I’m slightly jealous of.
Here’s the main features we use on our respective Canon EOSM mirrorless cameras:
- The good news is, there are loads of settings and adjustments, but you don’t HAVE to use any of them. … the Auto setting is pretty good on its own, particularly for indoor photography.
- I use the “P” programme setting a lot, especially for landscape photos and in cities.
- I’m also a fan of the “TV” shutter speed priority setting, which is good for ghosty pictures and moving water (a small tripod can help with these – more on that later).
- Hubby primarily uses the “AV” aperture priority setting so he can control what’s in and out of focus in his pictures (aka depth of field).
We also love that …
- We get really good pictures ☺
- Resolution and size of images are great – you can crop to get the same effect as you would by using a larger zoom lens.
- The integral flash is brilliant (!) on the EOS M10. My older EOSM came with a separate external flash, which I’ve honestly never used. Even at night.
- It’s not too big!
- It doesn’t scream: “hello, I have a huge fancy camera. If you’re looking for someone to rob, pick me!”
- It has a decent battery life. One spare battery is certainly enough for a long weekend with lots of photography. By lots, I mean spending at least a couple of hours every day solidly taking photos (Porto, I’m looking at you!)
- Accessories are mostly generic and won’t break the bank.
Speaking of accessories …
Our essential travel photography accessories for less than £90
Here are my must-have Canon EOS M / M10 mirrorless camera accessories. They range in price from just under a tenner to just less than £20. I don’t pack for a trip without them!
Spare camera battery
Does what it says on the tin. A spare battery is highly useful if you’re off-grid for a couple of days, or forgot to pack your travel adaptor.
Camera SD card / WiFi SD card
My Canon EOS M doesn’t have WiFi, so I use a WiFI SD card. However, Andrew’s current EOS M10 model includes integral WiFi, so he has a 32GB regular SD card.
Retro camera case
I’ve gone totally retro with my camera case. I chose this 1970s-style design as it’s snug-fitting, is designed specifically for the Canon EOSM mirrorless camera, and makes it look like I have an ancient camera inside it (read: “if you’re looking for someone to rob, you’d be better off picking someone else. Or, preferably, no-one at all …”)
A little bit of kit that protects the lens from scratches and dust. It’s worth spending a tenner on. If it gets damaged, you only have to replace the UV filter, not your whole lens.
Mini camera tripods these days have bendy legs that yogis would be proud of. I use a mini tripod on self-timer mode when I want to be in the picture myself (when I’m travelling solo), or for pictures of us as a couple. I’ve also used them for night photos and other scenarios where the camera needs to be totally still, like a long exposure water photo.
I’d always thought filters were for mega-serious photography types. You know, the sort who lie in a field for three hours before dawn awaiting that perfect shot. That’s definitely not me!
In fact, filters can be both cheap and easy to use – the ones I have just screw onto the front of my camera lens.
If you only invest in one camera filter, pick this one – a graduated grey filter. It’s my new favourite piece of kit, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used it since Andrew bought me it for my birthday in July. OK, I can … I’d estimate about 40% of my photos.
I use the graduated filter when I can’t for the life of me work out how to get the right light in my photo – either the sky is too bright or the foreground is too dark. I’ve used it a lot for landscapes like this one …
Neutral density filters
My other recommended filters are of varying shades of grey to darken the picture (“neutral density filters” in camera-speak – the higher the number, the darker it is). Again, you can use them if it’s really bright, or if you want a really long exposure but don’t want to let too much light into the picture. For the latter, team with the mini tripod.
This may all sound like a lot of kit, but it really is travel photography with minimal gear, as you can see from the earlier picture. You have no fear looking like the BBC’s World Service as you’re out and about, and you won’t be weighed down either.
All in all, it is possible to get this Canon EOS M10 mirrorless camera and accessories for less than £400.
Taking it to the next level: interchangeable lenses for the mirrorless Canon EOS M / M10 camera
Occasionally, just occasionally, we’ve found that the interchangeable lenses you can buy for the Canon EOS M / M10 have been an absolute boon. You can spend a fair chunk of cash on extra lenses (from around £150-£300 per lens), so make sure you’re likely to get good use out of them first!
It’s worth noting that the lens supplied with the Canon EOS M / M10 is really good already, so you might get less use out of additional lenses than you think.
I have a zoom lens, Andrew has a “pancake lens” – we swap them between us as and when we need. We also have a wide-angle lens on the wish list!
Canon EF-M 55-200mm zoom lens
On my first trip with my Canon EOSM I went to Nicaragua. If only I’d known just how incredible the wildlife there was … incredibly shy wildlife. A zoom lens would’ve been handy.
I splashed out before my next trip, which was a month-long journey from Budapest to Athens. I used my new spangly zoom lens a total of twice, at Krka national park in Croatia. I’ve had more use from it on a recent trip to the North Yorkshire coastal village of Staithes.
Don’t get me wrong, the Canon EF-M 55-200mm zoom lens is brilliant, when I use it. I just don’t use it anywhere near as much as I thought I would.
Canon EF-M 22mm “pancake” lens
This is Andrew’s lens of choice. It’s a fixed 22mm fast lens, which he uses in low light, for example when inside, at night, or when taking portrait photos. Because the lens has no zoom it fits easily and inconspicuously in his coat pocket, which works well at night when he doesn’t want to carry a man bag around with him.
Canon EF-M 11-22mm wide-angle lens
This wide-angle lens one’s on my wish list, ‘cos I take quite a lot of landscape pics. Plus, it’ll be ideal for city architecture that’s hard to fit in the frame ☺
Pros and cons of our travel photography gear
For us, this is our essential gear for travel photography. As with any kit, it has pros and cons. Here’s our summary of both …
- Neither the mirrorless camera or the accessories are too heavy or bulky to carry
- Not too conspicuous
- Takes good photos!
- Great value for what you get.
- Will be covered – or very nearly almost covered – through single article limits on travel insurance policies (on many policies this is £250 – check your small print and/or options on your home contents insurance policy)
- Neither the original Canon EOS M or newer Canon EOS M10 mirrorless camera has an additional viewfinder. Sometimes I really miss peering into a viewfinder!
- If you want the extra flexibility of additional lenses, you’ll need to spend more; although many comparable cameras at this budget don’t have the option of different lenses.
- It’s a relatively entry-level mirrorless camera – its great value for what you get, but some competitors have higher specifications, albeit with a fancier price tag to match.
- If you’re a pro photographer, you’re likely to want a higher specification. And possibly fancier filters than those costing a tenner!
If you’re looking for a camera and accessories for great holiday photos, I hope this article’s helped you find what you’re looking for ☺