Canon M3 vs Leica TL2
The Canon EOS M3 and the Leica TL2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2015 and July 2017. Both the M3 and the TL2 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 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 M3 and the Leica TL2? 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 M3 and the Leica TL2. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M3 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the TL2 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 Leica TL2 is notably larger (22 percent) than the Canon M3. Moreover, the TL2 is markedly heavier (9 percent) than the M3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M3 nor the TL2 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 TL2 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 M3||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|2.||Leica TL2||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950|
|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 M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|8.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|9.||Canon T6i||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|10.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|11.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|12.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|13.||Fujifilm X-T20||118 mm||83 mm||41 mm||383 g||350||n||Jan 2017||899|
|14.||Fujifilm X-A3||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||339 g||410||n||Aug 2016||399|
|15.||Leica CL||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|16.||Leica TL||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Nov 2016||1,695|
|17.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||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 M3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 percent) than the TL2, 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.
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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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 TL2 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.
With 24.1MP, the TL2 offers a higher resolution than the M3 (24MP), but the TL2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.92μm versus 3.72μm for the M3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the TL2 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 5 months) than the M3, 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 TL2 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
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 TL2 are ISO 100 to ISO 50000 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
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 TL2 provides a better video resolution than the M3. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M3 and the TL2 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 TL2 – are available as accessories. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon M3, the Leica TL2, and comparable cameras.
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|11.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The M3 has one, while the TL2 does not. While the built-in flash of the M3 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.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 TL2 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M3 and the TL2 write their files to SDXC cards. The TL2 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the M3 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 M3 and Leica TL2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|11.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the M3 has a microphone port, which is missing on the TL2. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The TL2 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. 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 and Leica websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon M3 or the Leica TL2 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS M3:
- 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 fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2015).
Arguments in favor of the Leica TL2:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- 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 (7 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- 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 2 years and 5 months of technical progress since the M3 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (10 points each). 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 M3 and the Leica TL2 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the M3 or the TL2. 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 expert reviews 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], 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.||Leica TL2||3.5/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2017||1,950|
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||3.5/5||Oct 2020||599|
|4.||Canon M50||..||+||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 M5||4/5||+||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|8.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|9.||Canon T6i||5/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|10.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|11.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|12.||Canon M||3/5||+||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|13.||Fujifilm X-T20||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||899|
|14.||Fujifilm X-A3||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2016||399|
|15.||Leica CL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|16.||Leica TL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2016||1,695|
|17.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Canon M3 vs Leica TL2
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||Leica TL2|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||Leica T mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2015||July 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 679||USD 1,950|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M3||Leica TL2|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6014 x 4014 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||3.92 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||6.52 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 50,000 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 TL2|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|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|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M3||Leica TL2|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||4.2 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon M3||Leica TL2|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|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 TL2|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||250 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
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)||399 g (14.1 oz)|
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