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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. 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. 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 – the RX100 III – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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)
Camera
Model
Sony RX100 III» 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 n May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
Canon M3« 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.7 in 12.9 oz 250 n Feb 2015 679- i Canon M3
Canon M50« » 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.3 in 13.8 oz 235 n Feb 2018 779 i i Canon M50
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 G5 X« » 4.4 in 3.0 in 1.7 in 12.5 oz 210 n Oct 2015 799 i i Canon G5 X
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
Panasonic FZ1000« » 5.4 in 3.9 in 5.2 in 29.3 oz 360 n Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Ricoh GR II« » 4.6 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 8.9 oz 320 n Jun 2015 699- i Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« » 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 8.6 oz 290 n Apr 2013 799- i Ricoh GR
Sony RX100 V« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 220 n Oct 2016 999 i i Sony RX100 V
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 A5100« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
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 RX100« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.5 oz 330 n Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100

Any camera purchase will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony RX100 III 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 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

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 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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 RX100 III» 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567Sony RX100 III
Canon M3« APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.811.8116972Canon M3
Canon M50« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/24p----Canon M50
Canon M6« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Canon M6
Canon M5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277Canon M5
Canon G5 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p----Canon G5 X
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
Panasonic FZ1000« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764Panasonic FZ1000
Ricoh GR II« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278Ricoh GR
Sony RX100 V« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.458670Sony RX100 V
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV
Sony A5100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780Sony A5100
Sony RX100 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367Sony RX100 II
Sony RX100« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066Sony RX100

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 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. 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 RX100 III and Canon M3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Sony RX100 III»1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 III
Canon M3«- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.2 Y n Canon M3
Canon M50« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 10.0 Y n Canon M50
Canon M6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n Canon M6
Canon M5« »2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n Canon M5
Canon G5 X« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 2000 5.9 Y Y Canon G5 X
Canon G7 X« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 2000 6.5 Y Y Canon G7 X
Canon M« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 4.3 n n Canon M
Panasonic FZ1000« »2359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 12.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ1000
Ricoh GR II« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n Ricoh GR
Sony RX100 V« »2359 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 24.0 Y Y Sony RX100 V
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV
Sony A5100« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n Sony A5100
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 II
Sony RX100« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The M3 has a touchscreen, while the RX100 III has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The RX100 III writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the M3 uses SDXC cards.

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 RX100 III»-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 III
Canon M3«YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon M3
Canon M50« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YYYCanon M50
Canon M6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon M6
Canon M5« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYCanon M5
Canon G5 X« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Canon G5 X
Canon G7 X« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Canon G7 X
Canon M« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon M
Panasonic FZ1000« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic FZ1000
Ricoh GR II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« »Ymonomono--micro2.0---Ricoh GR
Sony RX100 V« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 V
Sony RX100 IV« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 IV
Sony A5100« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony A5100
Sony RX100 II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 II
Sony RX100« »-stereomono--micro2.0---Sony RX100

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 how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony RX100 III and the Canon M3? 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 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).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • 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.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (8 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX100 III comes out slightly ahead of the M3 (10 : 9 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.

RX100 III 10:09 M3

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the RX100 III or the M3 handle or 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony RX100 III»HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
Canon M3«rev75/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2015 679- i Canon M3
Canon M50« »Rec79/100--3.5/5 Feb 2018 779 i i Canon M50
Canon M6« »-80/1004/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 779 i i Canon M6
Canon M5« »Rec82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i Canon M5
Canon G5 X« »HiRec78/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799 i i Canon G5 X
Canon G7 X« »HiRec77/1004.5/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699- i Canon G7 X
Canon M« »Rec-4/53.5/54/5 Jul 2012 599- i Canon M
Panasonic FZ1000« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Ricoh GR II« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699- i Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799- i Ricoh GR
Sony RX100 V« »HiRec83/1004/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 999 i i Sony RX100 V
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony A5100« »Rec-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
Sony RX100 II« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II
Sony RX100« »HiRec78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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.

 

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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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