Canon 5D vs M3
The Canon EOS 5D and the Canon EOS M3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2005 and February 2015. The 5D is a DSLR, while the M3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (5D) and an APS-C (M3) sensor. The 5D has a resolution of 12.7 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.
|Canon 5D||Canon M3|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF-M mount lenses|
|12.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor||24 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO 100-1,600 (50 - 3,200)||ISO 100-12,800 (100 - 25,600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|2.5 LCD, 230k dots||3.0 LCD, 1040k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting touchscreen|
|3 shutter flaps per second||4.2 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|400 shots per battery charge||250 shots per battery charge|
|152 x 113 x 75 mm, 895 g||111 x 68 x 44 mm, 366 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D 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 physical size and weight of the Canon 5D and the Canon M3 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. 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 5D 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 (56 percent) than the Canon 5D. Moreover, the M3 is substantially lighter (59 percent) than the 5D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 5D 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.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|Canon M3||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|Canon M6||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||n||Feb 2017||779|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1565 g||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999|
|Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The M3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 79 percent) than the 5D, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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 5D 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.
Technology-wise, the M3 uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 6) than the 5D (DIGIC 2), 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 12.7 MP of the 5D. 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 8.25μm for the 5D). However, it should be noted that the M3 is much more recent (by 9 years and 5 months) than the 5D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
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 5D are 21.8 x 14.6 inches or 55.5 x 37 cm for good quality, 17.5 x 11.6 inches or 44.4 x 29.6 cm for very good quality, and 14.6 x 9.7 inches or 37 x 24.7 cm for excellent quality prints.
The M3 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS 5D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. 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.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.2||975||66|
|Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The M3 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 5D does not. The highest resolution format that the M3 can use is 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the 5D 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 5D, the Canon M3, and comparable cameras.
|Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.5||n||n|
One feature that is present on the 5D, 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 5D does not have a selfie-screen.
The 5D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the M3 uses SDXC cards.
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 5D and Canon EOS M3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-|
It is notable that the M3 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the 5D does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 5D (unlike the M3) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 5D and the M3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark II, while the M3 was followed 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? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 5D or the Canon M3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D:
- 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.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2005).
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS M3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12.7MP), which boosts linear resolution by 37%.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 6 vs DIGIC 2).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.2 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x68mm vs 152x113mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 529g or 59 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 file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (79 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 5 months of technical progress since the 5D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M3 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 7 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 5D 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 5D or the M3. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Canon 5D||88/100||+ +||o||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|Canon M3||o||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||679|
|Canon 6D Mark II||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|Canon M6||..||80/100||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||779|
|Canon 5D Mark IV||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|Canon M5||+||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|Canon 5DS||+||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon 5DS R||+||83/100||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Canon M10||..||..||..||o||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|Canon G7 X||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|Canon 5D Mark III||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|Canon 6D||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon M||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|Canon 5D Mark II||91/100||79/100||4/5||5/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|Canon 50D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2005||3,999|
|Nikon D700||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1100D vs Canon M3
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Fujifilm GFX 100
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Olympus XZ-1
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Nikon D800E
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Olympus E-M10
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Panasonic GF1
- Canon 5D Mark IV vs Fujifilm X100
- Canon 5D vs Olympus E-5
- Canon 5D vs Sigma fp
- Canon M3 vs Canon T3
- Canon M3 vs Fujifilm X-E2
- Canon M3 vs Panasonic GX9
Specifications: Canon 5D 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 5D||Canon M3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Canon EF-M mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2005||February 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 3,299||USD 679|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 5D||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||12.7 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4368 x 2912 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.25 μm||3.72 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.47 MP/cm2||7.22 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 2||DIGIC 6|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||71||72|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.9||22.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.1||11.8|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1368||1169|
|Screen Specs||Canon 5D||Canon M3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 5D||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||3 shutter flaps/s||4.2 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 5D||Canon M3|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 5D||Canon M3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||250 shots per charge|
152 x 113 x 75 mm
(6.0 x 4.4 x 3.0 in)
111 x 68 x 44 mm
(4.4 x 2.7 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||895 g (31.6 oz)||366 g (12.9 oz)|
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