Canon M vs Leica S3
The Canon EOS M and the Leica S3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2012 and September 2018. The Canon M is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the S3 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (Canon M) and a medium format (S3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 64 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 M and the Leica S3? 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 M and the Leica S3. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The Canon M can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the S3 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 Leica S3 is considerably larger (167 percent) than the Canon M. Moreover, the S3 is substantially heavier (323 percent) than the Canon M. It is noteworthy in this context that the S3 is splash and dust-proof, while the Canon M 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 want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599||ebay.com|
|2.||Leica S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||ebay.com|
|11.||Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900||ebay.com|
|12.||Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490||ebay.com|
|13.||Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950||ebay.com|
|14.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995||ebay.com|
|15.||Panasonic GF6||111 mm||65 mm||38 mm||323 g||340||n||Apr 2013||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision 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 markedly lower price (by 97 percent) than the S3, 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 M features an APS-C sensor and the Leica S3 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S3 is 307 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 0.8. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 64MP, the S3 offers a higher resolution than the Canon M (17.9MP), but the S3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.59μm versus 4.31μm for the Canon M) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the S3 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 2 months) than the Canon M, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the S3 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Leica S3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 49 x 32.7 inches or 124.5 x 83 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 39.2 x 26.1 inches or 99.6 x 66.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 32.7 x 21.8 inches or 83 x 55.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon M are 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon M has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS M has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica S3 are ISO 100 to ISO 50000 (no boost).
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||25.6||14.4||3143||98|
|5.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|10.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|11.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||25.1||13.7||2763||93|
|12.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||25.1||13.7||2763||93|
|13.||Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|14.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.5||2224||82|
|15.||Panasonic GF6||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||20.7||10.6||622||54|
|16.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the S3 provides a better video resolution than the Canon M. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/24p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the S3 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the Canon M relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon M and Leica S3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon M||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.3/s||n||n|
|2.||Leica S3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon M100||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.1/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon M10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.6/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5/s||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon G16||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2/s||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon SL1||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.9/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon T5i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon T3i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|10.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|12.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||n||n|
|13.||Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|14.||Leica S2||optical||Y||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|15.||Panasonic GF6||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.2/s||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic G3||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The Canon M has a touchscreen, while the S3 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The Canon M writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the S3 uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The S3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the Canon M only has one slot. The S3 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the Canon M can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 M and Leica S3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon M||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Leica S3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Canon M100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon M10||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon G16||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Canon SL1||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon T5i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon T3i||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|11.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Leica S Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Leica S2||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Panasonic GF6||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Panasonic G3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the S3 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the Canon M does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S3 (unlike the Canon M) 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 S3 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The S3 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the Canon M has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the Canon M was succeeded by the Canon EOS M3. Further information on the features and operation of the Canon M and S3 can be found, respectively, in the Canon M Manual (free pdf) or the online Leica S3 Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon M and the Leica S3? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS M:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.3 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (109x66mm vs 160x120mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 962g or 76 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (97 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2012).
Advantages of the Leica S3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (64 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 89%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/24p 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 a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 2 months of technical progress since the Canon M launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S3 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 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 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 M and the Leica S3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR 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 Canon M and the S3 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 M||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599||ebay.com|
|2.||Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon SL1||4/5||+||..||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon T5i||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595||ebay.com|
|11.||Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900||ebay.com|
|12.||Leica S Typ 007||4/5||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490||ebay.com|
|13.||Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950||ebay.com|
|14.||Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995||ebay.com|
|15.||Panasonic GF6||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon M vs Leica S3
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 M||Leica S3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||Leica S mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2012||September 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 18,995|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M||Leica S3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Medium Format Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||45.0 x 30.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||1350 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||54.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||64 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||9800 x 6533 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||4.59 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||4.74 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 50,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC V||Maestro II|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||65||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.2||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||827||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon M||Leica S3|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M||Leica S3|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.3 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon M||Leica S3|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon M||Leica S3|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
109 x 66 x 32 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||298 g (10.5 oz)||1260 g (44.4 oz)|
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