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Sony A6000 versus Canon M3

The Sony Alpha A6000 and the Canon EOS M3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2014 and February 2015. Both the A6000 and the M3 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixel. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Sony A6000 vs Canon M3

The physical size and weight of the Sony A6000 and the Canon M3 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the A6000 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony A6000 vs Canon M3
Compare A6000 versus M3 top
Compare A6000 and 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 smaller (6 percent) than the Sony A6000. However, the M3 is markedly heavier (6 percent) than the A6000. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the A6000 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 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 A6000 gets 360 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 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.

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)
Sony A6000» 120 mm 67 mm 45 mm 344 g 360 n Feb 2014 599- i
Canon M3« 111 mm 68 mm 44 mm 366 g 250 n Feb 2015 679- i
Canon M100« » 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499 i i
Canon M6« » 112 mm 68 mm 45 mm 390 g 295 n Feb 2017 779 i i
Canon M5« » 116 mm 89 mm 61 mm 427 g 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i
Canon G5 X« » 112 mm 76 mm 44 mm 353 g 210 n Oct 2015 799 i i
Canon M« » 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 n Jul 2012 599- i
Sony A6300« » 120 mm 67 mm 49 mm 404 g 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A5100« » 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 283 g 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony A5000« » 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 269 g 420 n Jan 2014 449- i
Sony A3000« » 128 mm 91 mm 85 mm 411 g 470 n Aug 2013 329- i
Sony NEX-3N« » 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499- i
Sony NEX-5T« » 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 2776 g 330 n Aug 2013 699- i
Sony NEX-6« » 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 345 g 360 n Sep 2012 999- i
Sony NEX-F3« » 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 n May 2012 599- i
Sony NEX-7« » 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 400 g 430 n Aug 2011 1,349- i
Sony NEX-3« » 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599- i

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 A6000 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 12 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 A6000 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 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and 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 (A6000) and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony A6000 and Canon M3 sensor measures

Even though the A6000 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 24 megapixel. This implies that the A6000 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 11 months) than the A6000, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

A6000 versus M3 MP

For most 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 A6000 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the M3 (overall score 10 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 1.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A6000» APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782
Canon M3« APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.811.8116972
Canon M100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278
Canon M6« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----
Canon M5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277
Canon G5 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p----
Canon M« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785
Sony A5100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
Sony A5000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.813.0108979
Sony A3000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878
Sony NEX-3N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774
Sony NEX-5T« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60p23.613.0101578
Sony NEX-6« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.1101878
Sony NEX-F3« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473
Sony NEX-7« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.4101681
Sony NEX-3« » APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A6000 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 A6000 vs Canon M3

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A6000 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k 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. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A6000, the Canon M3, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony A6000»1440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n
Canon M3«- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.2 Y n
Canon M100« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 6.1 Y n
Canon M6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n
Canon M5« »2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n
Canon G5 X« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 2000 5.9 Y Y
Canon M« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.3 n n
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n
Sony A5100« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n
Sony A5000« »- n 3.0 461 tilting n 4000 3.5 Y n
Sony A3000« »202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Sony NEX-3N« »- n 3.0 460 tilting n 4000 4.0 Y n
Sony NEX-5T« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 10.0 n n
Sony NEX-6« »2359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 4000 10.0 Y n
Sony NEX-F3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 5.5 Y n
Sony NEX-7« »2359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 4000 10.0 Y n
Sony NEX-3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 7.0 n n

Both the A6000 and the M3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A6000 was replaced by the Sony A6300, while the M3 was followed by the Canon M6.

Review summary: Sony A6000 vs Canon M3

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A6000 and the Canon M3? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A6000:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.3 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (360 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (12 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2014).

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Advantages of the Canon EOS M3:

  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6000 is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 3 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.

A6000 09:03 M3

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A6000 and the M3 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony A6000»Rec80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2014 599- i
Canon M3«rev75/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2015 679- i
Canon M100« »Rec-4/5-3.5/5 Aug 2017 499 i i
Canon M6« »-80/1004/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 779 i i
Canon M5« »Rec82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i
Canon G5 X« »HiRec78/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799 i i
Canon M« »Rec-4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599- i
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A5100« »Rec-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony A5000« »Rec-4.5/5rev4.5/5 Jan 2014 449- i
Sony A3000« »Rec-4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329- i
Sony NEX-3N« »--4.5/54/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499- i
Sony NEX-5T« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2013 699- i
Sony NEX-6« »HiRec78/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2012 999- i
Sony NEX-F3« »-74/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599- i
Sony NEX-7« »HiRec81/1004.5/55/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349- i
Sony NEX-3« »-70/1004.5/55/54/5 May 2010 599- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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