I have only started shooting recently, as a hobby. I use Canon EOS M100. I use a EF to EF-M adapter to use EF 50mm f/1.2L USM.

The camera seems to have trouble focusing and light metering (with auto ISO overexposing the image a lot). The red AF assist light seems to be hitting the lens.

Should I switch back to an appropriate EF-M lens (15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM) or upgrade to a full frame body?

I understand that what I'm asking for is very subjective, and depends on the needs and my requirements as a photographer.

I am asking for experience with feelings of "fighting your equipment". Am I a bad photographer complaining about their equipment or a photographer hitting the limits of their equipement?

I like to shoot natural-light (so sometimes low-light) portraits, street photography. Fast focus, image stabilisation, large aperture... these seem unachievable on an EOS-M camera body.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you shooting with the 50L stopped down at all? 'cause it does have a focus shift issue... \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 17:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Adapter usually is a kludge that allows you to use this one elusive lens in this one particular situation because you're willing to pay the huge cost of lost usability once. Using an adapter most of the time is masochism. \$\endgroup\$
    – Agent_L
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 13:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Agent_L Cross-platform adapters (Canon→Sony, Nikon→Fuji, etc) often have such issues. In the case of Canon EF/EF-S→ EOS-M, the AF, IS, and aperture control protocols are identical. The camera, adapter, and lens are all made by the same manufacturer that designed the entire EOS system. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 14:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I couldn't imagine trying to do street photography with the EF 50mm f/1.2 L. That's not what it is designed to do. At. All. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why not borrow or rent something else to see if an upgrade makes a difference for you? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 22:24

7 Answers 7


How many of Henri Cartier-Bresson's photos were taken using autofocus?

How many of Ansel Adams' masterpieces were taken with a camera that had an internal light meter?

How many of Walter Iooss, Jr. and Neil Leifer's iconic photos for Sports Illustrated in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s had the benefit of Image Stabilization?

None, None, and None.

The key to being an outstanding photographer is not having the best equipment in your hands. It is knowing the equipment you have well enough to know what it will and will not allow you to do and then working within those parameters to get images that the technical capabilities of the gear at your disposal will allow you to take.

Sometimes that means knowing the different tools at your disposal well enough to be able to choose the option that best fits the image(s) you are trying to make at that time.

Sure, modern things such as autofocus, very sophisticated light meters and algorithms that interpret the information they collect, and image stabilization make it easier and faster to get many images today than it was to get them in days gone by. But that doesn't mean one can't take first class images with anything other than the latest, greatest, most expensive camera on the market.

Should I switch back to an appropriate EF-M lens (15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM) or upgrade to a full frame body?

Only you can answer that based on what it is, exactly, that you are trying to do. If you need very large aperture primes that aren't available in Canon's current line of EF-M lenses to focus very quickly, then perhaps you do need to move to an EF body.

But be forewarned, the EF 50mm f/1.2 L isn't a particularly fast focuser on even the top tier Canon full frame bodies. The design of that lens means pretty much the entire optical assembly must move when the focus distance is changed. The EF 85mm f/1.2 L is very similar. The mass of the focus elements limit its AF speed as well.

Using adapted Canon EF lenses on an EOS M camera should not, in and of itself, have any effect on performance the way that adapting a lens from one system to a camera from another system often does. The protocol used by EF-M, EF-S, and EF lenses is all the same. The amount of battery power available may have more of an impact than anything else when moving the AF elements of large aperture lenses with a compact EOS M camera.

I am asking for experience with feelings of "fighting your equipment". Am I a bad photographer complaining about their equipment or a photographer hitting the limits of their equipment?

Every photographer who's ever been worthy of the title "Photographer" has, at times, had feelings of 'fighting with their equipment'. That's because there's no such thing as a perfect camera, there's no such thing as a perfect lens, and there never will be! The marketing hype machines of the camera/lens makers and the associated sellers pretending to be reviewers (cough - DPR - cough, cough - amazon - cough) try to make you think, "If only I had camera X and lens Y there wouldn't be any technical limitations that would need to be overcome!"

I am amazed at how, everytime a new model is introduced, the limitations of the previous model somehow seem to grow larger, more troublesome, and even seemingly insurmountable overnight when compared to how limitless that same model was presented to us just a few months earlier when it was introduced as the hot new camera that would free us from whatever limits our current cameras placed on us!

The truth is there are a lot of things many photographers would like to do that no camera/lens has the capability of doing. The thing that separates the great 'Photographers' from the complainers who always blame the limitations of their gear for their work that doesn't meet their lofty expectations based on the marketing hype machine of the camera makers is that the 'Photographers' learn to push the limits of the gear at their disposal while also finding ways to work just within those same limits.

A case in point: Some folks think the only thing they need to take better action photos and catch the decisive moment is a camera that can shoot at a higher frame rate. Never mind that some of the greatest action photos ever taken happened in times when 2-3 fps was considered blazingly fast if not outright impossible! What is really needed to catch action at the exact instant one wishes is a sense of timing that can correctly anticipate such a moment while having a familiarity with the equipment one is using so that the camera can be triggered just far enough in advance of that moment that the shutter is open when that instant in time occurs.¹

¹ Or maybe one only needs a bit of luck. Just ask Joe Rosenthal. He shot perhaps the most iconic image of the entire 20th century on a Speed Graphic press camera that took several seconds to wind between shots when the decisive moment occurred just as he was turning around from looking in the other direction.

Let's look at it in terms of milliseconds. If you are shooting at 1/1000 second, that means each spot on the sensor is exposed for 1 millisecond during an exposed frame. Even though it takes anywhere from 2-5 milliseconds² for the slit between the shutter curtains to transit the sensor, the entire sensor is not exposed for that entire time with shutter times shorter than the camera's flash sync speed. Many sports photos are taken at shutter times faster/shorter than 1/1000. Even if one has a camera capable of performing tracking AF at a rate of 14 fps (such as the Canon 1D X Mark II), at a shutter time of 1/1000 a total of 14 out of every 1000 milliseconds are being captured by any specific spot on the image sensor and the other 986 milliseconds occur without being captured. There's a 71 millisecond gap between each millisecond that is being captured by the camera. If the 'decisive' moment lasts only 35 milliseconds, one only has a 50/50 chance if catching it by randomly holding down the shutter button and "machine gunning" it for a couple of seconds. If the decisive moment is only 18 milliseconds in duration, the odds go down to one in four.

² the exact transit time depends on the camera model. Each camera with a focal plane shutter has the same transit time regardless of the shutter time selected. With a focal plane shutter, it's the difference between the time the first curtain begins moving to uncover the sensor and the time the second curtain begins moving to cover the sensor that determines exposure time a/k/a 'shutter speed".

If one's sense of timing is less precise than 71 milliseconds, then one would be better off with the 14 fps camera and using the "machine gun" method. But if one has a sense of timing more precise than the 71 millisecond limit of the equipment then one would be better off timing the shot themselves. In practice, many of us develop a sense of when to hit the shutter button exactly one or two frames ahead of the anticipated 'decisive moment' so that we catch the instant we are shooting for with the second or third frame.

I've shot so many American football extra point/field goal attempts that it is pretty much second nature with the camera I use almost exclusively for that shot to use a three shot burst to catch one frame before the kicker's toe connects with the pigskin, put the second frame right on the money as the foot collides with the ball, and catch a third frame with the ball in the air but still close enough to the kicker and the players in front of the kicker that it is still in the frame. If I try it with one of my other "wide bodies" (the slightly slower cameras that I normally use with wider angle lenses) my timing is off just enough that if I want a shot of the toe connecting with the ball it needs to be the first frame in the burst.

The concept really isn't that different for many other things. Full "Auto" exposure mode is for those who have less of an understanding of exposure than the camera's built in algorithms. Manual exposure in the hands of someone who doesn't know how to use it can be a disaster. One is just as likely to get totally black or totally white frames in such a case. But in the hands of one who understands exposure, can read a light meter, can look at the scene and understand how that particular meter (in that particular metering mode) will "see" a specific scene, and knows how to operate the camera to select specific exposure parameters the results are usually better using Manual exposure mode than using "Full Auto."

In the end, gear with higher capabilities can certainly help. But a better camera won't make you a better photographer. It will just allow you to use more of the skill, knowledge, and experience you've picked up along the way. Part of that experience and knowledge contributes to the ability to pick the best tool for the job from among the options one has available.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "If you need very large aperture primes that aren't available in Canon's current line of EF-M lenses, then perhaps you do need to move to an EF body." - Or buy the Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS M (which OP already has). \$\endgroup\$
    – flolilo
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 12:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @flolilolilo The question states that the OP is using such an adapter. But it seems the large diameter of the EF 50mm f/1.2 L is blocking the near-IR AF assist emitter. There's also a big difference between saying "perhaps" and saying "surely". "Perhaps" leaves plenty of room that changing camera bodies won't necessarily solve the OP's problem, which the rest of this answer very strongly suggests. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @flolilolilo Does the EF-EOS M adapter include an extra battery that boosts the power supplied to the lens for moving AF? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 12:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't really answer the question. It's a great answer for a different question, but the question here is asking about if the problems they are encountering are their gear or their skill. Yes, photographers have accomplished some amazing things with basic cameras, but they also used the right tools for the job they were trying to accomplish. Not every camera available at the time could accomplish what they were trying to do, even if they didn't need modern conveniences. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AJHenderson The main body of the question doesn't address the question posed in the header, either. The core of the question seems to me to be the part quoted in the answer above. The main body doesn't really mention anything at all about "outgrowing" gear. Rather, it asks if changing gear will solve a technical limitation or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 17:34

No you're not a bad photographer for questioning your equipment

But Yes you can outgrow your equipment. Granted Michael Clark's answer is correct about some of the greats not having some of the modern day capabilities we take for granted but you can genuingly get to a point where your kit is holding you back photographically. And this can be both what you produce and the difficulty.

There is a line between buying new gear because you need it and buying new gear because you want it (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).

You should be able to justify what you want to purchase and why it would benefit, rather than having cash burning a hole in your pocket, examples:

  1. I shoot athletics. My camera shoots 3FPS. It's not quite enough to get a full runners stride or launching of a javelin at the point I want it. Next upgrade would be a camera with faster FPS.
  2. I shoot in a studio. I have a kit lens but my pictures just aren't as super sharp as I would like them. So get a prime.
  3. I shoot birds, with a 50mm f/1.8. My pictures aren't too noisy, but there not that much reach. I can crop but then you can't see anything. So buy a longer lens.
  4. Etc etc.

Now look at your images. Would new gear improve OR make it easier to shoot what you want? Again as Michael Clark's answer points out the 50mm f/1.2 is notoriously slow. But it's a killer lens (partly of the weight makes a great blunt force object. Sorry had to make a joke based on the pun).

But the combo with the M100 is a weird one. the 50mm is a top level lense... but bodywise I expect the AF etc won't be as fast as what you would find on one of Canon's top offerings. The sensor is currently rated 11th on DXOMark (I feel sick using the site..) so I presume the IQ's pretty good. Also for the street work I guess the size and weight is a massive factor.

I would suggest trying out another lens so your little zoom and see if that helps, then rather dropping straight in with a full frame, see if you can borrow or rent a few cameras and have a play.


In addition to Michael Clark's answer that answers whether it is the equipment that makes good photographs or the photographer, I want to answer the question How to know you've outgrown your equipment?

Beware: I will offer my life story as an anecdote to answer the question. It will be long and probably (yet hopefully not) boring. For all of you who want to skip that: I wrote a conclusion that precedes my lengthy life story. There is another conclusion at the bottom, which is a bit broader. Or, even easier: Read Crazy Dino's answer.

Conclusion (a.k.a. "TL,DR")

Today's equipment is hard to outgrow of: Even the most basic DSLR of today offers better low light- and AF-performance than any professional SLR Exaggerated, not empirically proven statement!.

Of course, there are ways to outgrow your equipment: The easiest way is to become a professional whose financial situation is entirely dependent on getting every shot right.

With lenses, things are easier: Focal length will limit your framing (try to get a close-up shot of a tennis player in-game with a 8mm fisheye - or try to get a whole concert hall with a 400mm tele prime lens). Aperture will not be as limiting as focal length, but still, in low light environments, a wider aperture might be obligatory. (Fast) autofocus and image stabilisation are nice-to-have, too, as is sharpness, though these things all can usually be compensated for.

(Anecdote) I think that I've outgrown my equipment

After messing around with analog SLRs for a while, I started with an EOS 450D and its EF-S 18-55mm kit lens plus an EF 70-210 f/4 that I borrowed from my father. I was quite happy with this setup, and although sometimes, there was a shot that I did not get, overall, I was quite impressed with it.

After 2 years and 360 days, I bought an EOS 60D after about half a year of decision making / Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I was impressed by the 60D's faster fps, its cross-type AF sensors and the additional (compared to the 450D) quick control dial. Naturally, I immediately thought that the lack of those features had been the reason that I could not take better photographs. As money was scarce, I bought myself a Tamron SP 17-50mm 2.8 XR Di II VC as my first/"always-on" lens.

That was the unluckiest decision of my photographic carreer (so far ;-) ). I quickly found out that I did not need more fps, that cross-type AF sensors are not some kind of magic bullet, and that overall, there was not a single thing that I saw as improved over the 450D (okay, the video recording stuff was nice to have).

But here's the thing: It would be easy to say "bah, the 60D was a bad camera, anyway". Although I despise1 it, I am quite sure that it is not. I simply bought the wrong tool for what I needed and for my level of skill. I thought that by simply upgrading the hardware, I could get better shots - the very thing that Michael tells us to be unrealistic in his answer.

(Anecdote) I learn that I've not outgrown my equipment

I did say that I "quickly found out" that the 60D did not deliver any ground breaking changes to me. However, the good thing about that was that I now had a camera that I did not like1, but that I bought with my own money, so I had to stick with it for at least a few years. During those years, I learned to overcome the weaknesses1 of the 60D. I improved both my overall style and my technical knowledge to a level where I really found practical limitations to the 60D - and ways to overcome them (where humanly possible).

In that era, I bought a Tamron SP 70-300mm 4.0-5.6 Di VC USD that I still own, and an EF 50mm f/1.4 USM that I sold without hesitation after just one year (it seems that 50mm on APS-C is not my favourite focal length).

Almost 3 1/2 years later, I bought an EOS 5D Mark III (which I still own) with its EF 24-105 f/4L USM kit lens. Since then, I had to work (professionally) with many 3-digit and 2-digit DSLRs plus an EOS M6, and I cannot remember what it was that made me believe that I could outperform an 450D. Granted, full frame offers less noise and ultra wide angle lenses are (were?) easier to get, but apart from that, I only find that some comfort features are missing in the "lower class" DSLRs. Seems like I learned to adapt to my equipment faster - and to accept its limitations.

I later bought a Samyang 14mm f/2.8 and an EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro - both of them are among my favourite lenses. Today, I find that the most limiting factor to me is the lack of more lenses. And while I am thinking of upgrading to the next high-resolution full frame EOS, I will certainly wait for the next generation or even two: As I learned to both accept and compensate my equipment's (very minor) quirks, there is no need for me to go full Fry about it.

Conclusion (in depth)


I think there are no tell-tale signs whether you have outgrown your equipment or not. In all honesty, I do not think that one can outgrow their equipment nowadays - even entry level DSLRs and MILCs from today are far superior to most analog stuff. The only way to outgrow it is if you need a feature that your current equipment does not offer: If you are a sports photographer, then 6 fps probably will not be good enough (well, it is, but double the fps and you double the chance for a perfectly timed photo in your burst) and you will want the best AF system you can afford. If you are into landscapes, then perhaps you want the highest resolution you can afford (though a good tele lens and a good tripod can do the same with any camera - if you have time for stitching). If you are a travel photographer, then a light, universal setup might be the best choice. Etc. p.p..

Another way to outgrow your equipment is to become a (serious) professional: If one single missed opportunity is enough to get you sacked forever, then you will want to buy the most resilient equipment there is.

Because of all of that, it is very likely that at some point, you will buy equipment that does not help you improve your shots. However, there is no certain way to tell (as a third party). If you now decided to buy a 1D X Mk II, I would think that to be overkill, yet you may have your reasons for the upgrade (and I might just be jealous ;-) ).


Now that is far easier, as anyone can see the difference between an EF 50mm f/1.8 and an EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS USM II. No, I am not talking about the color (including the red ring): I am talking about the focal length and a bit about the widest available aperture.

If you want to do portraits, then both an 8mm fisheye and a 600mm tele prime probably are not the right tools. If you are into birding, then you might want the longest focal length you can afford. If you are mainly photographing in low light environments, then you will want to buy the fastest lens you can afford. Etc. p.p..

Still, you might buy the wrong lens some time - e.g. I bought the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM just to find out that I do not like it at all.

1 Please note that I still hate the/my 60D. This is a 100% subjective feeling that is not backed by any objective measurement and in reality is some kind of projected self-hate for buying the wrong camera with what little money I had back then.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I had a similar relationship with the original 7D. I hate the shot-to-shot inconsistency of the 7D AF system. But it forced me to learn how to 'map' each AF point and "see" the scene in the viewfinder the way that the PDAF sensor/algorithms do in order to eliminate as much operator error as possible so that only the camera's inconsistency negatively affects AF performance. That experience and knowledge is now being applied to primarily two much better AF systems (5D3, 7D2) with far better results than I would likely be getting had not the 7D required me to up my game re: PDAF. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented May 22, 2018 at 22:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ You didn't find the wheel on the camera back worth the upgrade? I can't live without two dials! (your 60D upgrade) \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 18:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ If paying full price...yep. I'm a cheap-ass though, so my perspective is skewed. (I bought a 20D when the 30 came out, bought a 60D when the 70 came out, and just recently acquired a pristine condition 5dMk2 for $600). Now I've got my eyes on a 5dMk4 upgrade...in ~5 years :-D (I'd rather have glass than sensor - as I still heavily shoot film) \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 18:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your TL;DR is 3 paragraphs long! Your TL;DR needs a TL;DR! ;-)\ \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Aug 3, 2018 at 22:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @scottbb Oh, dear.... ;-) \$\endgroup\$
    – flolilo
    Commented Aug 4, 2018 at 16:29

Am I a bad photographer complaining about their equipment or a photographer hitting the limits of their equipement?

DigitalRev TV had a long-running Cheap Camera Challenge series in which a pro photographer is asked in each episode to shoot with some awful toy camera instead of their usual gear. It's amusing to watch the pro struggle with a very limiting tool, but the final shots shown near the end of each video are humbling. If you watch a few of those segments, you'll probably decide that you haven't yet hit the limit of what your camera can do.

However, the fact that a more knowledgable photographer could probably get a lot more out of your camera than you can doesn't mean that your camera isn't a problem. The photographers in the series get around their equipment limitations through expert knowledge, yes, but also through determination, trial and error, and a lot of repetition. You probably don't always have the luxury of being able to shoot until you get the shot you want, and a camera that doesn't do what you want the first time can be frustrating to use.

So, while it's probably true that you could (and perhaps should) learn to work around the issues that you find limiting about your current camera, doing so doesn't make those problems go away — it only improves your ability to work with extra constraints.

I use Canon EOS M100. I use a EF to EF-M adapter to use EF 50mm f/1.2L USM.

This seems like the opposite situation: you're judging the camera by its ability to work with equipment that it wasn't really designed for. As great as the EF 50mm f/1.2 might be, it's a very large lens, and it's no surprise that it's physical size might be preventing the camera (e.g. the AF assist light) from working up to its potential. As well, if you're shooting nearby objects with that lens wide open, the depth of field is going to be very narrow.

Should I switch back to an appropriate EF-M lens...or upgrade to a full frame body?

Only you can decide that. It seems clear that your current setup isn't working for you, though. Since you already own the M100, I think you'd be wise to buy an EF-M lens that does work well on that body. They say best camera is the camera you have with you, and a M100 with an EF-M 22mm f/2 is going to be a lot easier to carry around at times than a full-sized DSLR with a EF 50mm f/1.2, so the M100 could at least work as a good camera to take with you when carrying a camera isn't the main reason for leaving the house. If it turns out that the M100 with an EF-M body satisfies your needs, then great; if not, then add a DSLR and keep the M100 as a pocket-able second camera. After all, many photographers are interested in adding a mirrorless camera to their kit because they're small and easy to carry, even if they'd never give up their DSLRs.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In the Cheap Camera Challenge the pros must come up with shots that are within the limited capabilities of the cameras. They don't figure out how to get a shot they'd like to take that the camera is too limited to deliver. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 12:36

Quoting from Michael Clark's answer and it shall be engraved in a stone:

The key to being an outstanding photographer is not having the best equipment in your hands. It is knowing the equipment you have well enough to know what it will and will not allow you to do and then working within those parameters to get images that the technical capabilities of the gear at your disposal will allow you to take.

Really, outstanding photographers see the frame they want to shoot. They know how to shoot it and whether their gear is capable of it. Take ten photographers; give them the very same gear; and ask them to shoot same scene (say a girl with a teddy bear). You will get ten different photos.

If it is possible for you to borrow a full-frame body for a weekend, do so. Try it with your own hands to feel it, learn what it can do, and how. Then decide whether it is worth the money or not. Preferably, borrow a couple of different lenses both for the FF body and your mirrorless. Find what fits YOU best.


I concur with all the "you don't need better equipment" answer.

But at some point, it can also help to admit that you are a photograph-geek, and that you are only looking for an excuse to buy a new toy. If you consider "geek looking for an excuse to buy a new toy" as a negative statement, you probably shouldn't upgrade. If you consider it as an accurate description of yourself, then offer yourself this toy and enjoy it!


Since the scenario you describe, using an adapted lens, is not ideal, consider trying a native EF-M lens. If you still have problems, It would be fine to switch systems, before you become entrenched in the current one.

How to know you've outgrown your equipment?

When the photographer wants "better" images, without being able to describe exactly what should be "better", the problem is the photographer. While equipment could be a contributing factor, improved knowledge and skills are needed to use existing equipment appropriately, as well as to describe problems accurately so that appropriate equipment can be selected.

In your case, you have described specific problems that could be caused by your equipment or usage.

The camera seems to have trouble focusing... The red AF assist light seems to be hitting the lens.

You seem to have a bad camera body-lens combination based on "the red AF assist light... hitting the lens". It is unfair to judge a camera body based on poor performance with an adapted lens. As Agent_L comments, "Using an adapter most of the time is masochism."

No matter how good the adapter, there will be issues that would not occur with native lenses. Although the protocol used by EF-* lenses may be the same, the size and capabilities of the lenses are still different. At the very least, the adapter adds length to the lens, which appears to interfere with the function of AF-assist lamp.

Also, you are using a USM lens that was designed for use with DSLR phase detection. Although the M100 does have phase-detect pixels, the design and accuracy likely does not match that of DSLRs.

The camera seems to have trouble... light metering (with auto ISO overexposing the image a lot).

Inconsistent Auto exposure is a problem I had with my first Canon DSLR. More recent Canon DSLRs I've used seemed to behave a bit more sensibly. I have not used any EOS-M cameras, so do not know how they behave. It's possible Canon has retained idiosyncratic behaviors to appeal to long-time Canon users who are already accustomed to them.

Should I switch back to an appropriate EF-M lens (15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM)...?

  • If you already own the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens, you should use it. When adopting any new system, the best lens to start with is the kit lens, or similar native-mount lens. They are versatile, inexpensive, and will give you an idea of the capabilities of the camera body and lens system.

  • If you do not already own the kit lens, you should consider getting a lens with a native EF-M mount. This would rule out the use of an adapter as a potential source of the problems you are experiencing.

Should I... upgrade to a full frame body?

You may consider switching systems. However, switching to full frame is premature, since you "only started shooting recently".

  • You would have to decide what system to adopt. You can try different cameras in store to get a feel for whether they will physically meet your needs. But ultimately, you won't know whether a system works for you without using it in the field. As Crazy Dino and Crowley mentioned, you might like to rent or borrow different cameras and lenses to try them out.

  • Since mirrorless cameras tend to introduce entirely new lens systems, I wouldn't bother with manufacturer's known for their DSLR cameras (like Canon or Nikon). Right now, it seems like the ones to try are made by Sony (which have full-frame models), FujiFilm (if you like retro, film simulation, and weird sensor layouts), and Olympus (if you don't mind smaller sensors).

Am I a bad photographer complaining about their equipment or a photographer hitting the limits of their equipment?

Photography has both technical and artistic aspects. Feeling that you are "fighting your equipment" is indicative of technical limitations. Whether you or your equipment is the source is to be determined.

  • Are the photos you're trying to capture outside of the camera's capabilities? Regardless of how "good" photographers are, they would be hard pressed to deliver action photos with a pinhole camera, near-infrared photos without appropriate film or sensors, or stereo photos of moving subjects without a dual lens camera.

  • You may not be aware of how the equipment was intended to be used. For instance, you are using an EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. Is that your only lens? Regardless of how good it may be, you will be disappointed if you try to use it for subjects that are better suited for 28mm or 135mm.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not the adapter. It's the large diameter of the lens which is blocking the light from the AF assist light. An EF lens no larger in diameter than 61mm (ALL EF-M lenses have 61mm diameters, +/- 0.5mm) would allow the AF assist light to illuminate the subject just as well as any EF-M lens would. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Nov 15, 2022 at 12:33

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