Canon M3 vs Pentax K-5
The Canon EOS M3 and the Pentax K-5 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2015 and September 2010. The M3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the K-5 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 16.1 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 Pentax K-5? 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 Pentax K-5 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M3 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the K-5 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 Pentax K-5 is considerably larger (68 percent) than the Canon M3. Moreover, the K-5 is substantially heavier (108 percent) than the M3. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-5 is splash and dust-proof, while the M3 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon M3||111 mm||68 mm||44 mm||366 g||250||n||Feb 2015||679|
|2.||Pentax K-5||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|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.||Pentax K-3 II||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-50||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||Jun 2013||599|
|15.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|16.||Pentax K-30||130 mm||97 mm||71 mm||650 g||410||Y||May 2012||849|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||131 mm||97 mm||73 mm||760 g||740||Y||Sep 2012||1,099|
|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 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 38 percent) than the K-5, 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. 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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the K-5 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon M3 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the Pentax K-5. 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 4.81μm for the K-5). However, it should be noted that the M3 is much more recent (by 4 years and 4 months) than the K-5, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
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 Pentax K-5 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 Pentax K-5 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-51200.
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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the K-5 has a markedly higher DXO score than the M3 (overall score 10 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0 stops of reduced 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.
|3.||Canon M50 Mark II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/24p||24.0||13.6||1939||83|
|11.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/25p||23.8||14.1||1235||82|
|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. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the M3 provides a higher frame rate than the K-5. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/25p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the K-5 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon M3, the Pentax K-5, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon M3||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.2||Y||n|
|2.||Pentax K-5||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||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 M6||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon M100||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.1||Y||n|
|7.||Canon M5||2360||n||3.2 / 1620||tilting||Y||1/4000s||9.0||Y||n|
|8.||Canon M10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.6||Y||n|
|9.||Canon T6i||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|10.||Canon T6s||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|11.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|12.||Canon M||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.3||n||n|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2 / 1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
|14.||Pentax K-50||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/6000s||6.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Pentax K-3||optical||Y||3.2 / 1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||Y||Y|
|16.||Pentax K-30||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/6000s||6.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The M3 has a touchscreen, while the K-5 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 K-5 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Pentax K-5 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M3 and the K-5 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 K-5 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 Pentax K-5 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.||Pentax K-5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|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 M6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Canon M100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Canon M5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon M10||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Canon T6i||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Canon T6s||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Canon M||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Pentax K-50||Y||mono / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Pentax K-3||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Pentax K-30||Y||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the M3 offers wifi support, while the K-5 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-5 (unlike the M3) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the M3 and the K-5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The K-5 was replaced by the Pentax K-5 II, 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 and Pentax websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon M3 and the Pentax K-5? Which camera is better? 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 16.1MP) with a 22% higher linear resolution.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/25p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- 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 131x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 394g or 52 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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 4 months of technical progress since the K-5 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-5:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (740 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2010).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M3 emerges as the winner of the contest (15 : 12 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 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 Pentax K-5 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the M3 or the K-5. 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 hands-on reviews by experts 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], 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.||Pentax K-5||4/5||..||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|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 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||+||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.||Pentax K-3 II||4.5/5||..||..||..||5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|14.||Pentax K-50||5/5||..||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||599|
|15.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|16.||Pentax K-30||4/5||..||..||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||849|
|17.||Pentax K-5 II||5/5||..||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||1,099|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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 1D X Mark III vs Canon M3
- Canon M3 vs Canon SX540
- Canon M3 vs Nikon D50
- Canon M3 vs Panasonic GH2
- Canon M3 vs Panasonic GX850
- Canon M3 vs Sony A7R III
- Canon R6 vs Pentax K-5
- Canon SX520 vs Pentax K-5
- Nikon D2H vs Pentax K-5
- Olympus E-620 vs Pentax K-5
- Olympus E-M5 II vs Pentax K-5
- Panasonic GH5 vs Pentax K-5
Specifications: Canon M3 vs Pentax K-5
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||Pentax K-5|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF-M mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2015||September 2010|
|Launch Price||USD 679||USD 1,099|
|Sensor Specs||Canon M3||Pentax K-5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||23.7 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||372.09 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4928 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.72 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||7.22 MP/cm2||4.32 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/25p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6||PRIME II|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||82|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.8||14.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1169||1162|
|Screen Specs||Canon M3||Pentax K-5|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon M3||Pentax K-5|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||4.2 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|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||Pentax K-5|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|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||Pentax K-5|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||740 shots per charge|
111 x 68 x 44 mm
(4.4 x 2.7 x 1.7 in)
131 x 97 x 73 mm
(5.2 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||366 g (12.9 oz)||760 g (26.8 oz)|
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