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Sony RX100 III versus Canon M3

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III and the Canon EOS M3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in May 2014 and February 2015. The RX100 III is a fixed lens compact, while the M3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an one-inch (RX100 III) and an APS-C (M3) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 24 MP. 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 RX100 III vs Canon M3

The physical size and weight of the Sony RX100 III and the Canon M3 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the RX100 III – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony RX100 III vs Canon M3
Compare RX100 III versus M3 top
Compare RX100 III 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 larger (28 percent) than the Sony RX100 III. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the RX100 III nor the M3 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 III has a lens build 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 RX100 III gets 320 shots out of its NP-BX1 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 RX100 III» 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 n May 2014 799- i
Canon M3« 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.7 in 12.9 oz 250 n Feb 2015 679- i
Canon M100« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 10.7 oz 295 n Aug 2017 499 i i
Canon M6« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.8 in 13.8 oz 295 n Feb 2017 779 i i
Canon M5« » 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i
Canon T6i« » 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 n Feb 2015 749- i
Canon G5 X« » 4.4 in 3.0 in 1.7 in 12.5 oz 210 n Oct 2015 799 i i
Canon G7 X« » 4.1 in 2.4 in 1.6 in 10.7 oz 210 n Sep 2014 699- i
Canon M« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.3 in 10.5 oz 230 n Jul 2012 599- i
Panasonic FZ1000« » 5.4 in 3.9 in 5.2 in 29.3 oz 360 n Jun 2014 899- i
Ricoh GR II« » 4.6 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 8.9 oz 320 n Jun 2015 699- i
Ricoh GR« » 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 8.6 oz 290 n Apr 2013 799- i
Sony RX100 V« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 220 n Oct 2016 999 i i
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A5100« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony RX100 II« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.9 oz 350 n Jun 2013 749- i
Sony RX100« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.5 oz 330 n Jun 2012 649- 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. 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 RX100 III vs Canon M3

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony RX100 III features an one-inch sensor and the Canon M3 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the M3 is 186 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 1.6. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony RX100 III and Canon M3 sensor measures

With 24MP, the M3 offers a higher resolution than the RX100 III (20MP), but the M3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.72μm versus 2.41μm for the RX100 III) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the M3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the RX100 III, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

RX100 III versus M3 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the M3 has a markedly higher DXO score than the RX100 III (overall score 5 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.2 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony RX100 III» 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567
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 T6i« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p22.712.091971
Canon G5 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p----
Canon G7 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671
Canon M« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765
Panasonic FZ1000« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
Ricoh GR II« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880
Ricoh GR« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278
Sony RX100 V« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.458670
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170
Sony A5100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
Sony RX100 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367
Sony RX100« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066

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 RX100 III 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 RX100 III vs Canon M3

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the RX100 III 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony RX100 III and Canon M3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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 RX100 III»1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y
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 T6i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Canon G5 X« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 2000 5.9 Y Y
Canon G7 X« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 2000 6.5 Y Y
Canon M« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.3 n n
Panasonic FZ1000« »2359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 12.0 Y Y
Ricoh GR II« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n
Ricoh GR« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n
Sony RX100 V« »2359 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 24.0 Y Y
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y
Sony A5100« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y
Sony RX100« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 2000 10.0 Y Y

Both the RX100 III and the M3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The RX100 III was replaced by the Sony RX100 IV, while the M3 was followed by the Canon M6.

Review summary: Sony RX100 III vs Canon M3

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Sony RX100 III better than the Canon M3 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III:

  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1040k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 4.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens build-in, whereas the M3 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 111x68mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a build-in lens (unlike the M3).
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (320 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2014).

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Advantages of the Canon EOS M3:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.2 stops ISO advantage).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (4000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (8 months) more recently.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the RX100 III emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 7 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.

RX100 III 10:07 M3

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the RX100 III 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. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews 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 RX100 III»HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2014 799- 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 T6i« »-75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749- i
Canon G5 X« »HiRec78/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799 i i
Canon G7 X« »HiRec77/1004.5/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699- i
Canon M« »Rec-4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599- i
Panasonic FZ1000« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899- i
Ricoh GR II« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699- i
Ricoh GR« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799- i
Sony RX100 V« »HiRec83/1004/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 999 i i
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A5100« »Rec-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony RX100 II« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749- i
Sony RX100« »HiRec78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 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. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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