Canon M3 vs Panasonic ZS80
The Canon EOS M3 and the Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS80 (labelled Panasonic TZ95 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2015 and February 2019. The M3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the ZS80 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (M3) and a 1/2.3-inch (ZS80) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS80? 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 Panasonic ZS80. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M3 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the ZS80 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 Panasonic ZS80 is somewhat larger (2 percent) than the Canon M3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M3 nor the ZS80 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZS80 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.
Concerning battery life, the M3 gets 250 shots out of its LP-E17 battery, while the ZS80 can take 380 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLG10 power pack. The power pack in the ZS80 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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.
|1.||Canon M3||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|2.||Panasonic ZS80||112 mm||69 mm||42 mm||327 g||380||n||Feb 2019||449|
|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 SX740||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||299 g||265||n||Jul 2018||399|
|6.||Canon M6||112 mm||68 mm||45 mm||390 g||295||n||Feb 2017||779|
|7.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|8.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|9.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|10.||Canon M10||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||301 g||255||n||Oct 2015||499|
|11.||Canon T6i||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|12.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|13.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|14.||Canon M||109 mm||66 mm||32 mm||298 g||230||n||Jul 2012||599|
|15.||Fujifilm XF10||113 mm||64 mm||41 mm||279 g||330||n||Jul 2018||499|
|16.||Panasonic TS7||117 mm||76 mm||37 mm||319 g||300||Y||May 2018||449|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The ZS80 was launched at a lower price than the M3, despite having a lens built in. 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.
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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon M3 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic ZS80 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the ZS80 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 ZS80 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24MP, the M3 offers a higher resolution than the ZS80 (20.2MP), but the M3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 1.18μm for the ZS80) due to its larger sensor. However, the ZS80 is a much more recent model (by 4 years) than the M3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the ZS80 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 Panasonic ZS80 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS80 are ISO 80 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-6400.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/24p||24.0||13.6||1939||83|
|13.||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 cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the ZS80 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 variety of features. For example, the ZS80 has an electronic viewfinder (2330k dots), which can be very helpful 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon M3, the Panasonic ZS80, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon M3||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n|
|2.||Panasonic ZS80||2330||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||10.0||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 SX740||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/3200s||10.0||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon M6||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|7.||Canon M100||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.1||Y||n|
|8.||Canon SX730||none||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/3200s||5.9||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon M5||2360||n||3.2 / 1620||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|10.||Canon M10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.6||Y||n|
|11.||Canon T6i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Canon T6s||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|13.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|14.||Canon M||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.3||n||n|
|15.||Fujifilm XF10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic TS7||1170||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/1300s||10.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||1166||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the ZS80 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M3 and the ZS80 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS80 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.||Panasonic ZS80||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||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 SX740||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Canon M6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon M100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon SX730||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Canon M5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|10.||Canon M10||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Canon T6i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Canon T6s||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Canon M||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Fujifilm XF10||-||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|16.||Panasonic TS7||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the M3 has a hotshoe, while the ZS80 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The ZS80 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. 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 Panasonic websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon M3 or the Panasonic ZS80 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer 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.
- 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.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- 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).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS80:
- 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).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the M3 necessitates an extra lens.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the M3).
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (380 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the M3 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (13 points each). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 Panasonic ZS80 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M3 or the ZS80 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.||Panasonic ZS80||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||..||Feb 2019||449|
|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 SX740||..||+||3.5/5||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2018||399|
|6.||Canon M6||..||..||..||80/100||4/5||4/5||Feb 2017||779|
|7.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|8.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|9.||Canon M5||4/5||+||4/5||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|10.||Canon M10||..||..||..||..||..||4/5||Oct 2015||499|
|11.||Canon T6i||5/5||..||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|12.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|13.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|14.||Canon M||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2012||599|
|15.||Fujifilm XF10||..||..||4/5||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2018||499|
|16.||Panasonic TS7||..||+||..||..||..||3.5/5||May 2018||449|
|17.||Panasonic ZS70||..||+ +||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. 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? 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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 77D vs Panasonic ZS80
- Canon 90D vs Canon M3
- Canon M3 vs Fujifilm X-A10
- Canon M3 vs Nikon D50
- Canon M3 vs Olympus XZ-1
- Canon M3 vs Panasonic LX10
- Canon M3 vs Panasonic LX7
- Olympus E-1 vs Panasonic ZS80
- Olympus E-M1 vs Panasonic ZS80
- Panasonic GX80 vs Panasonic ZS80
- Panasonic ZS80 vs Sony A99 II
- Panasonic ZS80 vs YI M1
Specifications: Canon M3 vs Panasonic ZS80
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||Panasonic ZS80|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||24-720mm f/3.3-6.4|
|Launch Date||February 2015||February 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 679||USD 449|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M3||Panasonic ZS80|
|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||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||80 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||Venus|
|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||Panasonic ZS80|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2330k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M3||Panasonic ZS80|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.2 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|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||Panasonic ZS80|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no 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|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon M3||Panasonic ZS80|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||380 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)
112 x 69 x 42 mm
(4.4 x 2.7 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||366 g (12.9 oz)||327 g (11.5 oz)|
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