Canon 1D X Mark III vs M3
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III and the Canon EOS M3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2020 and February 2015. The 1DX Mark III is a DSLR, while the M3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (1DX Mark III) and an APS-C (M3) sensor. The 1DX Mark III has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the M3 provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III and the Canon EOS M3? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D X Mark III and the Canon M3. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M3 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the 1DX Mark III is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon M3 is considerably smaller (72 percent) than the Canon 1D X Mark III. Moreover, the M3 is substantially lighter (75 percent) than the 1DX Mark III. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1DX Mark III is splash and dust resistant, while the M3 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
Concerning battery life, the 1DX Mark III gets 2850 shots out of its LP-E19 battery, while the M3 can take 250 images on a single charge of its LP-E17 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1DX Mark III has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 1D X Mark III||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1440 g||2850||Y||Jan 2020||6,499|
|2.||Canon M3||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|3.||Canon M6||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||n||Feb 2017||779|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|5.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|6.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|7.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|8.||Canon 1D C||158 mm||164 mm||83 mm||1545 g||1120||Y||Apr 2012||14,999|
|9.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|10.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|11.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|12.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|13.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|14.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|15.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|16.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|17.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The M3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 90 percent) than the 1DX Mark III, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D X Mark III features a full frame sensor and the Canon M3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the M3 is 62 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of chip-set technology, the 1DX Mark III uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC X) than the M3 (DIGIC 6), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the M3 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 20 MP of the 1DX Mark III. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 6.57μm for the 1DX Mark III). Moreover, it should be noted that the 1DX Mark III is much more recent (by 4 years and 11 months) than the M3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Canon M3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D X Mark III are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 102400, which can be extended to ISO 50-819200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS M3 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the 1DX Mark III provides substantially higher image quality than the M3, with an overall score that is 19 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 2.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 1D X Mark III||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.2||14.5||3248||91|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|7.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|8.||Canon 1D C||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|10.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|12.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|13.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|14.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|15.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|16.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the 1DX Mark III provides a higher video resolution than the M3. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the M3 is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 1DX Mark III has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the M3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the M3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF-DC1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1D X Mark III and Canon M3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 1D X Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||2100||fixed||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||n|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|7.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon 1D C||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|9.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|12.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|13.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|14.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|15.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the 1DX Mark III, but is missing on the M3 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The M3 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the 1DX Mark III does not have a selfie-screen.
The Canon 1D X Mark III has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 1DX Mark III writes its imaging data to CFexpress cards, while the M3 uses SDXC cards. The 1DX Mark III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M3 only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III and Canon EOS M3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon 1D X Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon 1D C||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the 1DX Mark III has a headphone jack, which is not present on the M3 This port makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 1D X Mark III (unlike the M3) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the 1DX Mark III has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The 1DX Mark III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the M3 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the M3 was succeeded by the Canon M6. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon website.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1D X Mark III and the Canon M3? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (19 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.5 stops ISO advantage).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC X vs DIGIC 6).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/60p vs 1080/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 1040k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (2850 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 11 months of technical progress since the M3 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS M3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x68mm vs 158x168mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 1074g or 75 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (90 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2015).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 1DX Mark III is the clear winner of the match-up (23 : 10 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1D X Mark III and the Canon M3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 1DX Mark III and the M3 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 1D X Mark III||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2020||6,499|
|2.||Canon M3||4/5||o||75/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||679|
|3.||Canon M6||..||..||80/100||4/5||4/5||Feb 2017||779|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|5.||Canon M5||4/5||+||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|6.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|7.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|8.||Canon 1D C||..||..||..||..||..||Apr 2012||14,999|
|9.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|10.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|11.||Canon M||3/5||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|12.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|13.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|14.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|15.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|16.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|17.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon 1D X Mark III vs Canon M3
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 1D X Mark III||Canon M3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF-M mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2020||February 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 6,499||USD 679|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D X Mark III||Canon M3|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||22.3 x 14.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||332.27 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||26.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.57 μm||3.72 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.31 MP/cm2||7.22 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/60p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 102,400 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 819,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC X||DIGIC 6|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||91||72|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.2||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.5||11.8|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3248||1169|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D X Mark III||Canon M3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D X Mark III||Canon M3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||20 shutter flaps/s||4.2 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||500 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CFexpress cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D X Mark III||Canon M3|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D X Mark III||Canon M3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||2850 shots per charge||250 shots per charge|
158 x 168 x 83 mm
(6.2 x 6.6 x 3.3 in)
111 x 68 x 44 mm
(4.4 x 2.7 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||1440 g (50.8 oz)||366 g (12.9 oz)|
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