(Pocket-lint) - Using the new Canon EOS M10 is like taking a step back in time. And not in a good way. The original EOS M from 2012 was bottom of the mirrorless pack at launch, the M2 never came to Europe, and even the M3, announced earlier in 2015, was behind the mirrorless market curve before it even launched. The new M10 is the perplexing replacement for the original EOS M.
The EOS M10 hides behind its M3 bigger brother, offering a less advanced autofocus system - it uses the Hybrid CMOS AF II rather than the latest AF III sensor and autofocus setup - that isn't a patch on something like Panasonic's G-series cameras at any level.
We got to use the EOS M10 camera briefly in an advance preview session - alongside two far more exciting cameras, the PowerShot G9 X and G5 X (which show what Canon can get oh so right) - and found it a touch slow, particularly in the context of the wider compact system camera market.
There are some good points to take away though: the 18-megapixel sensor is a larger size than some competitors and Canon has always proven its imaging prowess, so we expect good things here (despite a general lack of lenses for the EF-M mount); there's a 3-inch flip-out screen for selfies or waist-level work which works well with its touchscreen capabilities; and the £399 price tag with the new 15-45mm f3.5-6.3 lens at least makes it competitive in a crowed market.
That new lens is more compact than the original 18-55mm (which ships with the EOS M3) by some 25 per cent - although when it's unlocked and at its longest barrel length both lenses are nigh-on identical in terms of size. All about packing portability rather than practical size savings.
In the same way that Nikon approached its J-series compact system camera line-up, the EOS M10 goes simple in terms of layout and controls. For us it's too simple and doesn't feel particularly instinctive: the three-way dial on top combines movie/shooting/auto options with a thumbdial to make adjustments. That's fine for point-and-shoot and some aperture/shutter adjustments, but doesn't translate well when looking at other cameras in the future.
But perhaps that's the point of the EOS M10: it's trying to be a compact camera replacement. Trouble is, with slim touchscreen models such as the also-announced G9 X, we're not sure exactly where the M-series is supposed to sit any more.
It looked as though Canon might have started to make a bigger impact in the mirrorless market rather than just carrying through with its brand name, but the EOS M10 is a step backwards rather than a forwards driver. A shame, as an imaging company with such good DSLR and compact cameras obviously has the potential, it's just failed to deliver on it here.