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Sony A5100 vs Canon M3

The Sony Alpha A5100 and the Canon EOS M3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2014 and February 2015. Both the A5100 and the M3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixels. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Headline Specifications
Sony A5100   Canon M3
Sony A5100 Canon M3
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Sony E mount lenses Canon EF-M mount lenses
24 MP, APS-C Sensor 24 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/60p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-25600 ISO 100-12800 (100-25600)
No viewfinder, LCD framing Viewfinder optional
3.0" LCD, 922k dots 3.0" LCD, 1040k dots
Tilting touchscreen Tilting touchscreen
6 shutter flaps per second 4.2 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge250 shots per battery charge
110 x 63 x 36 mm, 283 g 111 x 68 x 44 mm, 366 g

Body comparison: Sony A5100 vs Canon M3

The physical size and weight of the Sony A5100 and the Canon M3 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, white).

Compare Sony A5100 and Canon M3
Compare A5100 versus M3 top
Compare A5100 or M3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon M3 is notably larger (9 percent) than the Sony A5100. Moreover, the M3 is markedly heavier (29 percent) than the A5100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the A5100 nor the M3 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.

Concerning battery life, the A5100 gets 400 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the M3 can take 250 images on a single charge of its LP-E17 power pack. The power pack in the A5100 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along 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, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Sony A5100» 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
 
Canon M3« 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.7 in 12.9 oz 250 n Feb 2015 679- i Canon M3
 
Canon M6« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.8 in 13.8 oz 295 n Feb 2017 779 i i Canon M6
 
Canon M5« » 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
 
Canon T6s« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 649- i Canon T6s
 
Canon G7 X« » 4.1 in 2.4 in 1.6 in 10.7 oz 210 n Sep 2014 699- i Canon G7 X
 
Canon M« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 230 n Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
 
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5000« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 420 n Jan 2014 449- i Sony A5000
 
Sony A6000« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.1 oz 360 n Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
 
Sony RX100 III« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 n May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
 
Sony A3000« » 5.0 in 3.6 in 3.3 in 14.5 oz 470 n Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« » 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 9.5 oz 480 n Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony RX100 II« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.9 oz 350 n Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-F3« » 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 11.1 oz 470 n May 2012 599- i Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.5 oz 330 n Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-3« » 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 330 n May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 A5100 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 19 percent) than the M3, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony A5100 vs Canon M3

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 M3 is 10 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.5 (A5100) and 1.6. 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.

Sony A5100 and Canon M3 sensor measures

Even though the A5100 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 24 megapixels. This implies that the A5100 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. It should, however, be noted that the M3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the A5100, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The Sony Alpha A5100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600 The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS M3 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600..

A5100 versus M3 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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. Of the two cameras under review, the A5100 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the M3 (overall score 8 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Sony A5100» APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780Sony A5100
 
Canon M3« APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.811.8116972Canon M3
 
Canon M6« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Canon M6
 
Canon M5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277Canon M5
 
Canon T6s« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570Canon T6s
 
Canon G7 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671Canon G7 X
 
Canon M« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765Canon M
 
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.813.0108979Sony A5000
 
Sony A6000« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782Sony A6000
 
Sony RX100 III« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567Sony RX100 III
 
Sony A3000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony RX100 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-F3« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-3« » APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068Sony NEX-3

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A5100 provides a higher frame rate than the M3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony A5100 vs Canon M3

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The A5100 and the M3 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. That said, the M3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF-DC1. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A5100 and Canon M3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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
Camera
Model
 
Sony A5100»- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n Sony A5100
 
Canon M3«- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n Canon M3
 
Canon M6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 9.0 Y n Canon M6
 
Canon M5« »2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 1/4000s 9.0 Y n Canon M5
 
Canon T6s« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n Canon T6s
 
Canon G7 X« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 6.5 Y Y Canon G7 X
 
Canon M« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3 n n Canon M
 
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 1/2000s 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5000« »- n 3.0 461 tilting n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n Sony A5000
 
Sony A6000« »1440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/4000s 11.0 Y n Sony A6000
 
Sony RX100 III« »1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 III
 
Sony A3000« »202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-F3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/2000s 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n Sony NEX-3
Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.

The A5100 writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the M3 uses SDXC cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

 

Connectivity comparison: Sony A5100 vs Canon M3

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 Sony Alpha A5100 and Canon EOS M3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Sony A5100»-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A5100
 
Canon M3«YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon M3
 
Canon M6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon M6
 
Canon M5« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon M5
 
Canon T6s« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon T6s
 
Canon G7 X« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Canon G7 X
 
Canon M« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon M
 
Sony RX100 IV« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5000« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A5000
 
Sony A6000« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A6000
 
Sony RX100 III« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 III
 
Sony A3000« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« »-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony RX100 II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-F3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« »-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-3« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-3

It is notable that the M3 has a microphone port, which can help to improve the quality of audio recordings by attaching an external microphone. The A5100 does not feature such a mic input.

The A5100 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. 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, as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony and Canon websites.


Review summary: Sony A5100 vs Canon M3

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A5100 or the Canon M3 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A5100:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 83g or 23 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (19 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2014).

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Advantages of the Canon EOS M3:

  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (5 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A5100 emerges as the winner of the contest (8 : 5 points). 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.

A5100 08:05 M3

Do the specifications of the Sony A5100 and the Canon M3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the A5100 and the M3 in practical situations. 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.

Expert reviews: Sony A5100 vs Canon M3

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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Sony A5100»+-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
 
Canon M3«o75/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2015 679- i Canon M3
 
Canon M6« »-80/1004/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 779 i i Canon M6
 
Canon M5« »+82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
 
Canon T6s« »+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649- i Canon T6s
 
Canon G7 X« »++77/1004.5/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699- i Canon G7 X
 
Canon M« »+-4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
 
Sony RX100 IV« »++85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
 
Sony A5000« »+-4.5/5o4.5/5 Jan 2014 449- i Sony A5000
 
Sony A6000« »+80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2014 599- i Sony A6000
 
Sony RX100 III« »++82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
 
Sony A3000« »+-4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
 
Sony NEX-3N« »--4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499- i Sony NEX-3N
 
Sony RX100 II« »++79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II
 
Sony NEX-F3« »-74/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599- i Sony NEX-F3
 
Sony RX100« »++78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
 
Sony NEX-3« »-70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599- i Sony NEX-3
Notes: ++) highly recommended; +) recommended; o) reviewed; -) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Sony A5100:
Check Amazon price
Canon M3:
Check Ebay offers

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. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Sony A5100 vs Canon M3

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Sony A5100 Canon M3
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Sony E mount lenses Canon EF-M mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2014 February 2015
    Launch Price USD 549 USD 679
    Sensor Specs Sony A5100 Canon M3
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.5 x 15.6 mm 22.3 x 14.9 mm
    Sensor Area 366.6 mm2 332.27 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.2 mm 26.8 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.6x
    Sensor Resolution 24 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6000 x 4000 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.91 μm 3.72 μm
    Pixel Density 6.55 MP/cm2 7.22 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100-25600 ISO 100-12800 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100-25600 ISO
    Image Processor BIONZ X DIGIC 6
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 80 72
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 23.8 22.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.7 11.8
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1347 1169
    Screen Specs Sony A5100 Canon M3
    Viewfinder Type No viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Tilting screen Tilting screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Sony A5100 Canon M3
    Autofocus System On-Sensor Phase-detect On-Sensor Phase-detect
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000/s 1/4000/s
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s 4.2 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium MS or SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Sony A5100 Canon M3
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication NFC built-in NFC built-in
    Body Specs Sony A5100 Canon M3
    Battery Type NP-FW50 power pack LP-E17 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge250 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging no USB charging
    Body Dimensions 110 x 63 x 36 mm
    (4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 in)
    111 x 68 x 44 mm
    (4.4 x 2.7 x 1.7 in)
    Camera Weight 283 g (10.0 oz) 366 g (12.9 oz)

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