With offerings from competitors including Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Samsung and Sony already on the market - some for a couple of years now - it was only a matter of time before Canon launched its first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Now, after years of rumor and speculation it's finally here. The EOS M is a compact-sized camera with a large sensor which works with new EF-M mount lenses (or EF lenses with an adapter).

Rather than settle on a small sensor to keep the compact form-factor, (like the Nikon 1 system), or even Micro Four Thirds (like Panasonic or Olympus), Canon decided to go with the Sony NEX approach of cramming a APS-C sensor and a fair chunk of DSLR technology into the EOS M, which is Canon's first "compact system camera (CSC)."

The APS-C 18-megapixel hybrid CMOS sensor means that, with the right lens, users can shoot images with a shallow depth of field. The larger sensor (22.3 x 14.9 mm/0.87 x 0.58 in) also means the Canon EOS M can turn out turn out DSLR-quality images and should perform well in low light, with a native ISO range of 100-12,800 expandable to 25600 H mode.

The camera includes the DIGIC 5 processor, as used in the Rebel T4i/EOS 650D, providing 14-bit image processing, while a Scene Intelligent Auto mode adjusts the camera settings according to the subject and shooting conditions.

A Hybrid AF System, which features 31 AF points and also appeared in the T4i/650D, gives speedy and accurate AF when shooting stills or movies. The camera can also shoot a maximum of 4.3 frames per second in continuous mode, or 3 fps with autofocus tracking.

Another feature borrowed from the T4i/650D is the 3.0-inch Clear View LCD II touch screen on the rear that allows users to select different shooting modes and settings via the on-screen icons. The 1,040 K dot screen features a smudge-resistant coating and responds to gestures including swipe, pinch to zoom, touch to focus and touch to shoot.

Video recording options include Full-HD with stereo sound at 1920 x 1080 (30, 25, or 24 fps) while a Video Snapshot Mode promises to help users create movies in-camera, with a professionally edited feel.

Along with the EOS M, Canon has also announced two lenses for the new EF-M mount, the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom and the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake lens. Despite featuring Stepper Motor technology for smooth AF performance (even when shooting video) both lenses are smaller than their typical EF counterparts.

Should you want a bit more choice when it comes to lenses (or you already have a load of Canon glass), the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS M has also been announced that allows you to attach any Canon EF or EF-S lens to the EOS M.

While the Canon EOS M has no built-in flash, it will ship with the new Speedlite 90EX flash unit as standard (in some countries). The Speedlite 90EX is as compact as the EOS M and weighs just 50 g (1.7 oz). Canon claims it is an ideal general-purpose flash for everyday use and it can also be used as a wireless master to control multiple flash guns.

Measuring 108.6 x 66.5 x 32.3 mm (4.28 x 2.62 x 1.27 in) and weighing 298 g (10.5 oz), the Canon EOS M will be available from October 2012 in red, silver, white and black priced at US$800 with the 22 mm lens. The EF-M 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM will cost $300 and the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM $250. The Speedlite 90EX will retail for $150 with the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS M $200.

Source: Canon