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Canon M3 vs Leica TL

The Canon EOS M3 and the Leica TL are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2015 and November 2016. Both the M3 and the TL are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 16.1 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 Leica TL
Canon M3 Leica TL
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Canon EF-M mount lenses Leica T mount lenses
24 MP, APS-C Sensor 16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-12,800 (100 - 25,600) ISO 100-12,500
Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
3.0 LCD, 1040k dots 3.7 LCD, 1230k dots
Tilting touchscreen Fixed touchscreen
4.2 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
250 shots per battery charge400 shots per battery charge
111 x 68 x 44 mm, 366 g 134 x 69 x 33 mm, 384 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS M3 and the Leica TL? 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 Leica TL. 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M3 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the TL is available in three color-versions (black, silver, titanium).

Size Canon M3 vs Leica TL
Compare M3 versus TL top
Comparison M3 or TL rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica TL is notably larger (22 percent) than the Canon M3. Moreover, the TL is markedly heavier (5 percent) than the M3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M3 nor the TL 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.

The power pack in the TL can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon M3 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.7 in 12.9 oz 250 n Feb 2015 679i
 
Leica TL 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Nov 2016 1,695i
 
Canon M50 Mark II 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.3 in 13.7 oz 305 n Oct 2020 599 i
 
Canon M50 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.3 in 13.8 oz 235 n Feb 2018 779i
 
Canon M6 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.8 in 13.8 oz 295 n Feb 2017 779i
 
Canon M100 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 10.7 oz 295 n Aug 2017 499i
 
Canon M5 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 n Sep 2016 979 i
 
Canon M10 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 10.6 oz 255 n Oct 2015 499i
 
Canon T6i 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 n Feb 2015 749i
 
Canon T6s 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon G7 X 4.1 in 2.4 in 1.6 in 10.7 oz 210 n Sep 2014 699i
 
Canon M 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 230 n Jul 2012 599i
 
Fujifilm X-A10 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 11.7 oz 410 n Dec 2016 399i
 
Fujifilm X-A2 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 12.3 oz 410 n Jan 2015 399i
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 5.5 in 3.2 in 1.7 in 15.9 oz 300 n Jan 2012 1,699i
 
Leica TL2 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Leica T 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Apr 2014 1,850i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

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 M3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 60 percent) than the TL, 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the TL is 12 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (M3) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Canon M3 and Leica TL sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon M3 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the Leica TL. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 4.80μm for the TL). Moreover, it should be noted that the TL is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 9 months) than the M3, and its sensor might 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 TL 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 Leica TL are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 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 Leica TL are ISO 100 to ISO 12500 (no boost).

M3 versus TL MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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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
 
Canon M3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.811.8116972
 
Leica TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
 
Canon M50 Mark II APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/24p........
 
Canon M50 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/24p........
 
Canon M6 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
 
Canon M100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278
 
Canon M5 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277
 
Canon M10 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365
 
Canon T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
 
Canon T6s APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
 
Canon G7 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671
 
Canon M APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765
 
Fujifilm X-A10 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/30p........
 
Fujifilm X-A2 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/30p........
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/24p........
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275

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, 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. The M3 and the TL 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. However, optional viewfinders – the EVF-DC1 for the M3 and the Visoflex (Typ 020) for the TL – are available as accessories. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon M3 and Leica TL along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon M3optional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n
 
Leica TLoptional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon M50 Mark II2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 10.0 Y n
 
Canon M502360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 10.0 Y n
 
Canon M6optional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 9.0 Y n
 
Canon M100none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.1 Y n
 
Canon M52360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 1/4000s 9.0 Y n
 
Canon M10none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.6 Y n
 
Canon T6ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon T6soptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon G7 Xnone n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 6.5 Y Y
 
Canon Mnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3 n n
 
Fujifilm X-A10none n 3.0 1040 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-A2none n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.6 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-Pro11440 n 3.0 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 n n
 
Leica TL2optional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
 
Leica Toptional n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
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 TL does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M3 and the TL 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 TL 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 Leica TL 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon M3YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Leica TLYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Canon M50 Mark IIYstereomonoY-micro2.0Y-Y
 
Canon M50YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y-Y
 
Canon M6YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Canon M100-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
 
Canon M5YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Canon M10-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
 
Canon T6iYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon T6sYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon G7 X-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon MYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Fujifilm X-A10-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-A2Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica TL2Ystereomono--micro3.0Y--
 
Leica TYstereomono---2.0Y--

It is notable that the M3 has a microphone port, which is missing on the TL. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

Both the M3 and the TL have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M3 was replaced by the Canon M6, while the TL was followed by the Leica TL2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Leica websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon M3 better than the Leica TL or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS M3:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 16.1MP) with a 22% higher linear resolution.
  • 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.
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • More compact: Is smaller (111x68mm vs 134x69mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • 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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (60 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2015).

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Arguments in favor of the Leica TL:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 1040k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (400 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 9 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M3 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 7 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 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.

M3 11:07 TL

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon M3 and the Leica TL place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing 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 TL perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon M3o75/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2015 679i
 
Leica TL........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695i
 
Canon M50 Mark II.......... Oct 2020 599 i
 
Canon M50+79/100..4/53.5/5 Feb 2018 779i
 
Canon M6..80/1004/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 779i
 
Canon M100+..4/5..3.5/5 Aug 2017 499i
 
Canon M5+82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i
 
Canon M10......o4/5 Oct 2015 499i
 
Canon T6i..75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
 
Canon T6s+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon G7 X+ +77/1004.5/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699i
 
Canon M+..4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599i
 
Fujifilm X-A10....4/5..4/5 Dec 2016 399i
 
Fujifilm X-A2....4.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2015 399i
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1+ +79/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2012 1,699i
 
Leica TL2....4/5..4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Leica T....4/5..4/5 Apr 2014 1,850i
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 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
Leica TL:
Check Ebay offers

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 make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon M3 vs Leica TL

    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 Leica TL
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF-M mount lenses Leica T mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2015 November 2016
    Launch Price USD 679 USD 1,695
    Sensor Specs Canon M3 Leica TL
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 23.6 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 370.52 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 28.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 24 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6000 x 4000 pixels 4928 x 3264 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.72 μm 4.80 μm
    Pixel Density 7.22 MP/cm2 4.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 12,500 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 25,600 ISO no Enhancement
    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 Leica TL
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.7inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 1230k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon M3 Leica TL
    Focus System On-Sensor Phase-detect Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peakingno Peaking Feature
    Continuous Shooting 4.2 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-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 Leica TL
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in no NFC
    Body Specs Canon M3 Leica TL
    Battery Type LP-E17 BP-DC13
    Battery Life (CIPA)250 shots per charge400 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 111 x 68 x 44 mm
    (4.4 x 2.7 x 1.7 in)
    134 x 69 x 33 mm
    (5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 366 g (12.9 oz) 384 g (13.5 oz)

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