Canon M vs Pentax K-3 II
The Canon EOS M and the Pentax K-3 II are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2012 and April 2015. The Canon M is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the K-3 II is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 24.1 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 Pentax K-3 II? 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 Pentax K-3 II. 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 Canon M can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the K-3 II is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-3 II is considerably larger (82 percent) than the Canon M. Moreover, the K-3 II is substantially heavier (168 percent) than the Canon M. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-3 II 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 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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|2.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|3.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|5.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|6.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|7.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|8.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|9.||Canon T3i||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|10.||Panasonic GF6||111 mm||65 mm||38 mm||323 g||340||n||Apr 2013||499|
|11.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599|
|12.||Pentax K-3 III||135 mm||104 mm||74 mm||820 g||800||Y||Mar 2021||1,999|
|13.||Pentax KP||132 mm||101 mm||76 mm||703 g||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-S2||123 mm||91 mm||73 mm||678 g||410||Y||Feb 2015||749|
|15.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|Notes: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Canon M was launched at a markedly lower price (by 45 percent) than the K-3 II, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the K-3 II is 11 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (Canon M) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24.1MP, the K-3 II offers a higher resolution than the Canon M (17.9MP), but the K-3 II has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.90μm versus 4.31μm for the Canon M). Yet, the K-3 II is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 8 months) than the Canon M, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the K-3 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Pentax K-3 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-3 II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20 inches or 76.4 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16 inches or 61.1 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.3 inches or 50.9 x 33.9 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.
Unlike the Canon M, the K-3 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
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 Pentax K-3 II are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the K-3 II offers substantially better image quality than the Canon M (overall score 15 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 2.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|5.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|10.||Panasonic GF6||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||20.7||10.6||622||54|
|11.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|12.||Pentax K-3 III||APS-C||25.6||6192||4128||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the K-3 II provides a faster frame rate than the Canon M. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the K-3 II 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon M and Pentax K-3 II along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|5.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|12.||Pentax K-3 III||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The Canon M has a touchscreen, while the K-3 II has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The Pentax K-3 II 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the Canon M and the K-3 II write their files to SDXC cards. The K-3 II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the Canon M only has one slot. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of 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 Pentax K-3 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Pentax K-3 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the K-3 II has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The Canon M lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-3 II (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 K-3 II has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the Canon M and the K-3 II have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The Canon M was replaced by the Canon EOS M3, while the K-3 II was followed by the Pentax K-3 III. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Pentax websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon M and the Pentax K-3 II? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of 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.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More compact: Is smaller (109x66mm vs 131x100mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 502g or 63 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 (45 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2012).
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-3 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 16%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 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.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.3 vs 4.3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (720 versus 230) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- 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).
- 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 2 years and 8 months of technical progress since the Canon M launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-3 II is the clear winner of the contest (23 : 8 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. 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 M and the Pentax K-3 II 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the Canon M and the K-3 II in practical situations. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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 M||3/5||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|2.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|3.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|5.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|6.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|7.||Canon SL1||4/5||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|8.||Canon T5i||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|9.||Canon T3i||3/5||o||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|10.||Panasonic GF6||..||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|11.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599|
|12.||Pentax K-3 III||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2021||1,999|
|13.||Pentax KP||4/5||..||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-S2||4.5/5||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|15.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|16.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|17.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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, 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon M vs Pentax K-3 II
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||Pentax K-3 II|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2012||April 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 1,099|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M||Pentax K-3 II|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||6016 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||6.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC V||PRIME III|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||65||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.2||13.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||827||1106|
|Screen Specs||Canon M||Pentax K-3 II|
|Viewfinder Type||no viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M||Pentax K-3 II|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.3 shutter flaps/s||8.3 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon M||Pentax K-3 II|
|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||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon M||Pentax K-3 II|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||230 shots per charge||720 shots per charge|
109 x 66 x 32 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
131 x 100 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||298 g (10.5 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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