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Canon M versus Canon M3

The Canon EOS M and the Canon EOS M3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2012 and February 2015. Both the Canon M and the M3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon M has a resolution of 17.9 megapixel, whereas the M3 provides 24 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon M vs Canon M3

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon M and the Canon M3 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the Canon M – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon M vs Canon M3
Compare Canon M versus M3 top
Compare Canon M and M3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon M3 is somewhat larger (5 percent) than the Canon M. Moreover, the M3 is markedly heavier (23 percent) than the Canon M. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Canon M nor the M3 are weather-sealed.

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 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 Canon M gets 230 shots out of its LP-E12 battery, while the M3 can take 250 images on a single charge of its LP-E17 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon M» 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 230 n Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
Canon M3« 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.7 in 12.9 oz 250 n Feb 2015 679- i Canon M3
Canon M6« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.8 in 13.8 oz 295 n Feb 2017 779 i i Canon M6
Canon M100« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 10.7 oz 295 n Aug 2017 499 i i Canon M100
Canon M5« » 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
Canon M10« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 10.6 oz 255 n Oct 2015 499- i Canon M10
Canon G7 X« » 4.1 in 2.4 in 1.6 in 10.7 oz 210 n Sep 2014 699- i Canon G7 X
Canon 100D« » 4.6 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 14.4 oz 380 n Mar 2013 549- i Canon 100D
Canon 700D« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon 700D
Canon G16« » 4.3 in 3.0 in 1.6 in 12.6 oz 360 n Aug 2013 549 i i Canon G16
Panasonic GF6« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.5 in 11.4 oz 340 n Apr 2013 499- i Panasonic GF6
Panasonic G3« » 4.5 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 11.9 oz 270 n May 2011 599- i Panasonic G3
Sony NEX-3N« » 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 480 n Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
Sony NEX-F3« » 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 11.1 oz 470 n May 2012 599- i Sony NEX-F3

Any camera purchase will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 Canon M was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 12 percent) than the M3, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Canon M vs Canon M3

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.6. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. 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 Canon M (DIGIC V), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon M and Canon M3 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the M3 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 17.9 MP of the Canon M. This megapixel advantage translates into a 16 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the M3 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 4.31μm for the Canon M). However, it should be noted that the M3 is much more recent (by 2 years and 6 months) than the Canon M, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

Canon M versus M3 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the M3 has a markedly higher DXO score than the Canon M (overall score 7 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Canon M» APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765Canon M
Canon M3« APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.811.8116972Canon M3
Canon M6« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Canon M6
Canon M100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278Canon M100
Canon M5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277Canon M5
Canon M10« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365Canon M10
Canon G7 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671Canon G7 X
Canon 100D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363Canon 100D
Canon 700D« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161Canon 700D
Canon G16« » 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054Canon G16
Panasonic GF6« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i20.710.662254Panasonic GF6
Panasonic G3« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756Panasonic G3
Sony NEX-3N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774Sony NEX-3N
Sony NEX-F3« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473Sony NEX-F3

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

 

Feature comparison: Canon M vs Canon M3

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The Canon M and the M3 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. 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 M and Canon M3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Canon M»- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.3 n n Canon M
Canon M3«- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.2 Y n Canon M3
Canon M6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n Canon M6
Canon M100« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 6.1 Y n Canon M100
Canon M5« »2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n Canon M5
Canon M10« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.6 Y n Canon M10
Canon G7 X« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 2000 6.5 Y Y Canon G7 X
Canon 100D« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.9 Y n Canon 100D
Canon 700D« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon 700D
Canon G16« »optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 4000 2.2 Y Y Canon G16
Panasonic GF6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.2 Y n Panasonic GF6
Panasonic G3« »1440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 4000 4.0 Y n Panasonic G3
Sony NEX-3N« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 4.0 Y n Sony NEX-3N
Sony NEX-F3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 5.5 Y n Sony NEX-F3

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The M3 has one, while the Canon M does not. While the build-in flash of the M3 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Both the Canon M and the M3 write their imaging data to SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Canon M»YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon M
Canon M3«YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon M3
Canon M6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon M6
Canon M100« »-stereomono--mini2.0YYYCanon M100
Canon M5« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon M5
Canon M10« »-stereomono--mini2.0YY-Canon M10
Canon G7 X« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Canon G7 X
Canon 100D« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 100D
Canon 700D« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon 700D
Canon G16« »Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--Canon G16
Panasonic GF6« »-stereomono--mini2.0YY-Panasonic GF6
Panasonic G3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Panasonic G3
Sony NEX-3N« »-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony NEX-3N
Sony NEX-F3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-F3

Both the Canon M and the M3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The Canon M was replaced by the Canon EOS M3, while the M3 was followed by the Canon M6.

Review summary: Canon M vs Canon M3

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon M and the Canon M3? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS M:

  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 68g or 19 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (12 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2012).


Advantages of the Canon EOS M3:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 16%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 6 vs DIGIC V).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 6 months of technical progress since the Canon M launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M3 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 3 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.

Canon M 03:10 M3

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the Canon M or the M3 handle or perform in practice. 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 table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Canon M»Rec-4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
Canon M3«rev75/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2015 679- i Canon M3
Canon M6« »-80/1004/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 779 i i Canon M6
Canon M100« »Rec-4/5-3.5/5 Aug 2017 499 i i Canon M100
Canon M5« »Rec82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
Canon M10« »---rev4/5 Oct 2015 499- i Canon M10
Canon G7 X« »HiRec77/1004.5/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699- i Canon G7 X
Canon 100D« »Rec78/1004/54/54/5 Mar 2013 549- i Canon 100D
Canon 700D« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i Canon 700D
Canon G16« »Rec-4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i i Canon G16
Panasonic GF6« »HiRec-4.5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 499- i Panasonic GF6
Panasonic G3« »HiRec75/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2011 599- i Panasonic G3
Sony NEX-3N« »--4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
Sony NEX-F3« »-74/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599- i Sony NEX-F3

The above review scores should be interpreted 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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

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 use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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