Canon M3 vs SX540
The Canon EOS M3 and the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2015 and January 2016. The M3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the SX540 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (M3) and a 1/2.3-inch (SX540) sensor. The M3 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the SX540 provides 20.2 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 M3 and the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon M3 and the Canon SX540 is provided 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M3 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the SX540 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 SX540 is notably larger (30 percent) than the Canon M3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M3 nor the SX540 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the SX540 has a lens built in, whereas the M3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 M3||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|2.||Canon SX540||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||205||n||Jan 2016||399|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||387 g||305||n||Oct 2020||599|
|4.||Canon M50||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||390 g||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|5.||Canon M6||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||n||Feb 2017||779|
|6.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|7.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|8.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|9.||Canon T6||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||485 g||500||n||Mar 2016||449|
|10.||Canon SX720||110 mm||64 mm||36 mm||270 g||250||n||Feb 2016||379|
|11.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|12.||Canon T6i||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|13.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|14.||Canon SX530||120 mm||82 mm||92 mm||442 g||210||n||Jan 2015||429|
|15.||Canon SX710||113 mm||66 mm||35 mm||269 g||230||n||Jan 2015||349|
|16.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|17.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The SX540 was launched at a lower price than the M3, despite having a lens built in. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon M3 features an APS-C sensor and the Canon SX540 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the SX540 is 92 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 5.6. The sensor in the M3 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the SX540 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24MP, the M3 offers a higher resolution than the SX540 (20.2MP), but the M3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 1.18μm for the SX540) due to its larger sensor. However, the SX540 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the M3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the SX540 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
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 SX540 are 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 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 M3 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 Canon PowerShot SX540 HS are ISO 80 to ISO 3200 (no boost).
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"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/24p||24.0||13.6||1939||83|
|16.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|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. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the SX540 provides a faster frame rate than the M3. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the M3 is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M3 and the SX540 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 M3 and Canon SX540 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon M3||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n|
|2.||Canon SX540||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon M50||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|5.||Canon M6||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon M100||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.1||Y||n|
|7.||Canon SX730||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/3200s||5.9||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon M5||2360||n||3.2 / 1620||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|9.||Canon T6||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|10.||Canon SX720||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||5.9||Y||Y|
|11.||Canon M10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.6||Y||n|
|12.||Canon T6i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|13.||Canon T6s||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|14.||Canon SX530||none||n||3.0 / 461||fixed||n||1/2000s||1.6||Y||Y|
|15.||Canon SX710||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/3200s||6.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|17.||Canon M||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.3||n||n|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The M3 has a touchscreen, while the SX540 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The M3 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the SX540 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M3 and the SX540 write their files to SDXC cards. 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 M3 and Canon PowerShot SX540 HS and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon M3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|2.||Canon SX540||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon M50||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Canon M6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon M100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon SX730||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon M5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon T6||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Canon SX720||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Canon M10||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Canon T6i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Canon T6s||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Canon SX530||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Canon SX710||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Canon M||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the M3 has a hotshoe, while the SX540 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The SX540 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 what is the bottom line? Is the Canon M3 better than the Canon SX540 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS M3:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20.2MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 461k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x68mm vs 120x82mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (250 versus 205) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2015).
Advantages of the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.9 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the M3 necessitates an extra lens.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (10 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M3 is the clear winner of the match-up (19 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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 M3 and the Canon SX540 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Superzoom 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M3 or the SX540 perform in practice. 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 why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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 M3||4/5||o||..||75/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||679|
|2.||Canon SX540||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2016||399|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||4/5||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||3.5/5||Oct 2020||599|
|4.||Canon M50||..||+||4/5||79/100||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|5.||Canon M6||..||..||..||80/100||4/5||4/5||Feb 2017||779|
|6.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|7.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|8.||Canon M5||4/5||+||4/5||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|9.||Canon T6||4/5||o||4/5||73/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2016||449|
|10.||Canon SX720||..||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||379|
|11.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|12.||Canon T6i||5/5||..||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|13.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|14.||Canon SX530||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2015||429|
|15.||Canon SX710||..||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2015||349|
|16.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|17.||Canon M||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 M3 vs Canon SX730
- Canon M3 vs Fujifilm X100F
- Canon M3 vs Leica D-LUX 6
- Canon M3 vs Olympus E-PL5
- Canon M3 vs Ricoh WG-6
- Canon M3 vs Sony A7R II
- Canon SX540 vs Nikon Z6
- Canon SX540 vs Olympus E-PL9
- Canon SX540 vs Pentax K-70
- Canon SX540 vs Pentax MX-1
- Canon SX540 vs Sony NEX-5R
- Canon SX540 vs Sony RX100 VI
Specifications: Canon M3 vs Canon SX540
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 M3||Canon SX540|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5|
|Launch Date||February 2015||January 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 679||USD 399|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M3||Canon SX540|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||1.18 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||71.80 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||80 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||DIGIC 6|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.8||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1169||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon M3||Canon SX540|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||no viewfinder|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||461k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M3||Canon SX540|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||4.2 shutter flaps/s||5.9 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon M3||Canon SX540|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon M3||Canon SX540|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||205 shots per charge|
111 x 68 x 44 mm
(4.4 x 2.7 x 1.7 in)
120 x 82 x 92 mm
(4.7 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||366 g (12.9 oz)||442 g (15.6 oz)|
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