Canon M3 vs Nikon D3500
The Canon EOS M3 and the Nikon D3500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2015 and August 2018. The M3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D3500 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixels.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon M3||Nikon D3500|
|Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF-M mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|24 MP, APS-C Sensor||24 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO 100-12800 (100-25600)||ISO 100-25600|
|Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 1040k dots||3.0" LCD, 921k dots|
|Tilting touchscreen||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|4.2 shutter flaps per second||5 shutter flaps per second|
|250 shots per battery charge||1550 shots per battery charge|
|111 x 68 x 44 mm, 366 g||124 x 97 x 70 mm, 365 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS M3 and the Nikon D3500? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon M3 and the Nikon D3500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 D3500 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 Nikon D3500 is considerably larger (59 percent) than the Canon M3. However, the D3500 is slightly lighter (0 percent) than the M3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M3 nor the D3500 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 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.
|Canon M3»||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679||Canon M3|
|Nikon D3500«||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||365 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429||Nikon D3500|
|Canon M6« »||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||n||Feb 2017||779||Canon M6|
|Canon M100« »||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499||Canon M100|
|Canon SX730« »||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399||Canon SX730|
|Canon G7 X Mark II« »||106 mm||61 mm||42 mm||319 g||265||n||Feb 2016||699||Canon G7 X Mark II|
|Canon M5« »||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979||Canon M5|
|Canon 750D« »||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749||Canon 750D|
|Canon G5 X« »||112 mm||76 mm||44 mm||353 g||210||n||Oct 2015||799||Canon G5 X|
|Canon M10« »||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499||Canon M10|
|Canon G7 X« »||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699||Canon G7 X|
|Canon M« »||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599||Canon M|
|Nikon D3400« »||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D5500« »||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D3300« »||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499||Nikon D3300|
|Sony A6000« »||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599||Sony A6000|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D3500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 37 percent) than the M3, 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. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 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 D3500 is 11 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.
Even though the D3500 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 24 megapixels. This implies that the D3500 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 3.72μm for the M3), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the D3500 is much more recent (by 3 years and 6 months) than the M3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D3500 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 Nikon D3500 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon M3||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.8||11.8||1169||72||Canon M3|
|Nikon D3500||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Nikon D3500|
|Canon M6||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Canon M6|
|Canon M100||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.5||12.9||1272||78||Canon M100|
|Canon SX730||1/2.3||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Canon SX730|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Canon G7 X Mark II|
|Canon M5||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.4||12.4||1262||77||Canon M5|
|Canon 750D||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/30p||22.7||12.0||919||71||Canon 750D|
|Canon G5 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Canon G5 X|
|Canon M10||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.2||11.4||753||65||Canon M10|
|Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71||Canon G7 X|
|Canon M||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.2||827||65||Canon M|
|Nikon D3400||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||13.9||1192||86||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D5500||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1438||84||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D3300||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.8||1385||82||Nikon D3300|
|Sony A6000||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||13.1||1347||82||Sony A6000|
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 D3500 provides a faster frame rate than the M3. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, 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 D3500 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 Nikon D3500 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon M3||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n||Canon M3|
|Nikon D3500||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3500|
|Canon M6||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n||Canon M6|
|Canon M100||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.1||Y||n||Canon M100|
|Canon SX730||none||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||1/3200s||5.9||Y||Y||Canon SX730|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||8.0||Y||Y||Canon G7 X Mark II|
|Canon M5||2360||n||3.2||1620||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n||Canon M5|
|Canon 750D||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon 750D|
|Canon G5 X||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||5.9||Y||Y||Canon G5 X|
|Canon M10||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.6||Y||n||Canon M10|
|Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y||Canon G7 X|
|Canon M||none||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.3||n||n||Canon M|
|Nikon D3400||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D5500||optical||n||3.2||1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3300|
|Sony A6000||1440||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n||Sony A6000|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The M3 has a touchscreen, while the D3500 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 D3500 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M3 and the D3500 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 Nikon D3500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon M3||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon M3|
|Nikon D3500||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y||Nikon D3500|
|Canon M6||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Canon M6|
|Canon M100||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Canon M100|
|Canon SX730||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Canon SX730|
|Canon G7 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon G7 X Mark II|
|Canon M5||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Canon M5|
|Canon 750D||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 750D|
|Canon G5 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon G5 X|
|Canon M10||-||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon M10|
|Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon G7 X|
|Canon M||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon M|
|Nikon D3400||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D5500||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D3300||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3300|
|Sony A6000||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A6000|
It is notable that the M3 has a microphone port, which is missing on the D3500. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The D3500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the M3 has been discontinued (but it 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 Nikon websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Canon M3 or the Nikon D3500 – 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.
Advantages of 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 detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 921k 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.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x68mm vs 124x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- 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.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2015).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3500:
- 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).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1550 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (37 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 6 months of technical progress since the M3 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M3 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 8 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon M3 and the Nikon D3500 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the M3 or the D3500. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
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.
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon M3 vs Nikon D3500
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||Nikon D3500|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2015||August 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 679||USD 429|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M3||Nikon D3500|
|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||24 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-12800 ISO||100-25600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-25600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||EXPEED 4|
|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||Nikon D3500|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M3||Nikon D3500|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||No Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||4.2 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|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||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon M3||Nikon D3500|
|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||no Wifi|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon M3||Nikon D3500|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||1550 shots per charge|
111 x 68 x 44 mm
(4.4 x 2.7 x 1.7 in)
124 x 97 x 70 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
|Camera Weight||366 g (12.9 oz)||365 g (12.9 oz)|
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