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Canon M3 vs T3i

The Canon EOS M3 and the Canon EOS Rebel T3i (labelled Canon 600D in some countries) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2015 and February 2011. The M3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the T3i is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The M3 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the T3i provides 17.9 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon M3
versus
Canon T3i
Canon M3   Canon T3i
Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF-M mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
24 MP – APS-C sensor 17.9 MP – APS-C sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-12,800 (100 - 25,600) ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800)
Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 1040k dots 3.0" LCD – 1040k dots
Tilting touchscreen Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
4.2 shutter flaps per second 3.7 shutter flaps per second
250 shots per battery charge440 shots per battery charge
111 x 68 x 44 mm, 366 g 133 x 100 x 80 mm, 570 g
Canon M3:
Check Ebay offers
Canon T3i:
Check Ebay offers

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS M3 and the Canon EOS Rebel T3i? 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon M3 and the Canon T3i. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M3 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the T3i is only available in black.

Size Canon M3 vs Canon T3i
Compare M3 versus T3i top
Comparison M3 or T3i rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon T3i is considerably larger (76 percent) than the Canon M3. Moreover, the T3i is substantially heavier (56 percent) than the M3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M3 nor the T3i 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 and compare 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 M3 gets 250 shots out of its LP-E17 battery, while the T3i can take 440 images on a single charge of its LP-E8 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon M3 111 mm 68 mm 44 mm 366 g 250 n Feb 2015 679i
2.
 
Canon T3i 133 mm 100 mm 80 mm 570 g 440 n Feb 2011 599i
3.
 
Canon M50 Mark II 116 mm 88 mm 59 mm 387 g 305 n Oct 2020 599 i
4.
 
Canon M50 116 mm 88 mm 59 mm 390 g 235 n Feb 2018 779i
5.
 
Canon M6 112 mm 68 mm 45 mm 390 g 295 n Feb 2017 779i
6.
 
Canon M100 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499i
7.
 
Canon M5 116 mm 89 mm 61 mm 427 g 295 n Sep 2016 979 i
8.
 
Canon M10 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 301 g 255 n Oct 2015 499i
9.
 
Canon T6i 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 555 g 440 n Feb 2015 749i
10.
 
Canon T6s 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649i
11.
 
Canon G7 X 103 mm 60 mm 40 mm 304 g 210 n Sep 2014 699i
12.
 
Canon T5i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
13.
 
Canon M 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 n Jul 2012 599i
14.
 
Canon T4i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
15.
 
Canon T2i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The T3i was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 12 percent) than the M3, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

Sensor comparison

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. 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 more expensive and 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.

In terms of chip-set technology, the M3 uses a more advanced image processing engine (DIGIC 6) than the T3i (DIGIC 4), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Canon M3 and Canon T3i sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the M3 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 17.9 MP of the T3i. This megapixels 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 T3i). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the M3 is much more recent (by 4 years) than the T3i, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

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 T3i 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 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 EOS Rebel T3i are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.

M3 versus T3i MP

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 review, the M3 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the T3i (overall score 7 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon M3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.811.8116972
2.
 
Canon T3i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.579365
3.
 
Canon M50 Mark II APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/24p24.013.6193983
4.
 
Canon M50 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/24p23.813.3168481
5.
 
Canon M6 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.713.1158680
6.
 
Canon M100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278
7.
 
Canon M5 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277
8.
 
Canon M10 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365
9.
 
Canon T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
10.
 
Canon T6s APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
11.
 
Canon G7 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671
12.
 
Canon T5i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
13.
 
Canon M APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765
14.
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
15.
 
Canon T2i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
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, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the T3i 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon M3 and Canon T3i in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon M3optional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2/s Y n
2.
 
Canon T3ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/4000s 3.7/s Y n
3.
 
Canon M50 Mark II2360 n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 10.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon M502360 n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 10.0/s Y n
5.
 
Canon M6optional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 9.0/s Y n
6.
 
Canon M100none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.1/s Y n
7.
 
Canon M52360 n3.2 / 1620 tilting Y 1/4000s 9.0/s Y n
8.
 
Canon M10none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.6/s Y n
9.
 
Canon T6ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
10.
 
Canon T6soptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
11.
 
Canon G7 Xnone n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 6.5/s Y Y
12.
 
Canon T5ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
13.
 
Canon Mnone n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3/s n n
14.
 
Canon T4ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
15.
 
Canon T2ioptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7/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 M3 has a touchscreen, while the T3i has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M3 and the T3i write their files to SDXC cards. The M3 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the T3i cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

Connectivity comparison

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 EOS Rebel T3i and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon M3Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
2.
 
Canon T3iYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon M50 Mark IIYstereo / monoY-micro2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Canon M50Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y-Y
5.
 
Canon M6Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YYY
6.
 
Canon M100-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
7.
 
Canon M5Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YYY
8.
 
Canon M10-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
9.
 
Canon T6iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
10.
 
Canon T6sYstereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
11.
 
Canon G7 X-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
12.
 
Canon T5iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
13.
 
Canon MYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
14.
 
Canon T4iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
15.
 
Canon T2iYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---

It is notable that the M3 offers wifi support, while the T3i does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the M3 and the T3i have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The T3i was replaced by the Canon T4i, 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.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon M3 better than the Canon T3i or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS M3:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 17.9MP) with a 16% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (7 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (DIGIC 6 vs DIGIC 4).
  • 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.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.2 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (111x68mm vs 133x100mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 204g or 36 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • 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.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the T3i launch.


Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel T3i:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (440 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (12 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2011).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M3 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 5 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

M3 14:05 T3i

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon M3 and the Canon T3i 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 M3 and the T3i in practical situations. 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.

Expert reviews

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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon M34/5o..75/1004.5/54/5 Feb 2015 679i
2.
 
Canon T3i3/5o..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2011 599i
3.
 
Canon M50 Mark II4/5..4/5..4.5/53.5/5 Oct 2020 599 i
4.
 
Canon M50..+4/579/100..3.5/5 Feb 2018 779i
5.
 
Canon M6......80/1004/54/5 Feb 2017 779i
6.
 
Canon M1003/5+....4/53.5/5 Aug 2017 499i
7.
 
Canon M54/5+4/582/1004/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i
8.
 
Canon M10..........4/5 Oct 2015 499i
9.
 
Canon T6i5/5....75/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
10.
 
Canon T6s5/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
11.
 
Canon G7 X4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699i
12.
 
Canon T5i......76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
13.
 
Canon M3/5+....4/54/5 Jul 2012 599i
14.
 
Canon T4i4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
15.
 
Canon T2i..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon M3:
Check Ebay offers
Canon T3i:
Check Ebay offers

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon M3 vs Canon T3i

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Canon M3 Canon T3i
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF-M mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2015 February 2011
    Launch Price USD 679 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Canon M3 Canon T3i
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 22.3 x 14.9 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 332.27 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 26.8 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 24 Megapixels 17.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6000 x 4000 pixels 5184 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.72 μm 4.31 μm
    Pixel Density 7.22 MP/cm2 5.39 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 25,600 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC 6 DIGIC 4
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 72 65
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.8 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.8 11.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1169 793
    Screen Specs Canon M3 Canon T3i
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Swivel screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon M3 Canon T3i
    Focus System On-Sensor Phase-detect Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peakingno Peaking Feature
    Continuous Shooting 4.2 shutter flaps/s 3.7 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    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 no
    Connectivity Specs Canon M3 Canon T3i
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Body Specs Canon M3 Canon T3i
    Battery Type LP-E17 LP-E8
    Battery Life (CIPA)250 shots per charge440 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 111 x 68 x 44 mm
    (4.4 x 2.7 x 1.7 in)
    133 x 100 x 80 mm
    (5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 366 g (12.9 oz) 570 g (20.1 oz)
    Canon M3:
    Check Ebay offers
    Canon T3i:
    Check Ebay offers

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