Canon EOS M3

24MP APS-C, 4.2 FPS, Touch Flip LCD

Sample Images   Intro   Compatibility   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations   More

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Canon EOS M3

Canon EOS M3 (12.8 oz./364 g with battery and card, about $579) and EF-M 22mm f/2 STM. bigger. I got my EOS M3 at Adorama. I'd just as well have gotten it at Amazon, at Crutchfield or at B&H. It comes as a body-only or as kits with various lens options.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to my personally-approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Canon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

Canon EOS M3

Canon EOS M3 and EF-M 22mm f/2 STM. bigger.

 

Canon EOS M3

Canon EOS M3 and EF-M 22mm f/2 STM. bigger.

 

November 2015   Canon Reviews   EOS-M Reviews   Canon Lenses   Canon Flash   All Reviews

NEW: Canon EOS M3 vs 5DS R vs Sony vs Fuji vs iPhone at 12MP and 35mm! 11 November 2015

EOS to EOS-M lens adapter (to use all regular EOS EF and EF-S lenses on this camera).

 

Sample Image Files

(more throughout the review)

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Jewlery OC

Jewelry, 31 October 2015. Canon EOS M3, Canon EF-M 22mm f/2, f/5.6 at 1/1,000 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (portable devices usually can't show the complete resolution).

Canon's color rendition is superior for real-world subjects.

 

VIP Room, 01 November 2015

ISO 800: VIP Room, 01 November 2015. Canon EOS M3, built-in flash ON, Canon EF-M 22mm f/2, f/8 at 1/125 at ISO 800. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (portable devices usually can't show the complete resolution).

The built-in flash works great. There is a shooting delay, and it balances well with ambient light. This shot is still super-duper sharp at ISO 800, which the Auto ISO system chose so that the flash had enough power to shoot at f/8.

 

Aviara Balcony at Sunset, 01 November 2015

Balcony after Sunset, 01 November 2015. Canon EOS M3, Canon EF-M 22mm f/2, f/5.6 at 1/3 hand-held (rested on railing) at ISO 100. bigger.

Great colors for real-world subjects.

 

Introduction

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Good   Bad

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

This Canon EOS M3 has the world's best mirrorless picture quality, but it has no viewfinder, forcing us to shoot it at arm's length like an iPhone. The results are great, but it feels silly not being able to hold it to my eye like a real camera.

There is an optional EVF-DC1 external electronic finder which slips into the hot shoe.

The EOS M3 excels for anyone who wants to carry as little as possible and get top-notch results.

The EOS M3 has the world's best mirrorless picture quality because Canon has better color rendition than any other mirrorless brand. Canon's real-world color rendition is far better to the critical artist than Fuji, Sony, or LEICA.

While others make more expensive cameras with more features or more pixels, when it comes right down to pictures, Canon and Nikon are the leaders in having the secret, proprietary sauce that allows their digital cameras to give better colors under more conditions than other brands. Nikon makes no APS-C or larger mirrorless, leaving Canon as the picture quality leader by default.

Yes, Fuji's cameras use very different sensors that excel for people pictures, but give suboptimal colors for nature and landscape work.

Sony's still cameras lack the chops for great colors. Sonys can make good enough colors for most people and they test well in labs, but don't cut it in the field for making real pictures; their colors just don't look as good unless you resort to software tweaks later.

LEICA's digital cameras have substandard color rendition. Yes, they are expensive, but no, you need to twiddle with the colors to get good images for any serious use.

The EOS M3 has the same great color rendition we take for granted with Canon DSLRs. The EOS M3's pictures simply look better than what I get from other brands of mirrorless.

This EOS M3 has nothing to do with the ancient EOS M; which made great pictures but was too slow for almost anything. This new EOS M3 is as fast as other mirrorless cameras for trying to catch action. The EOS M3's face recognition works automatically to find and focus on whomever is in your picture.

The EOS M3 is a top-quality made-in-Japan product, not something quietly outsourced overseas.

 

Good

Stellar image quality.

Can use every Canon lens made since 1987 with a Canon adapter.

Touch screen works well.

Has the familiar Canon [ Q ] screen to set everything.

Fast response and fast autofocus.

"C" memory mode on dial. Use it for one setup, while the P/Tv/Av/M modes stay as set for a second setup for easy multi-mode shooting.

Similar controls and menus to Canon DSLRs; "My Memory" page and several programmable function buttons.

Wi-Fi & NFC.

 

Bad

No finder; buy the EVF-DC1 if you want one.

Only one card slot.

Noisy shutter; I expect a small camera to be nearly silent. No quiet mode.

No auto brightness control for the rear LCD.

Long shutter delay with flash.

Too many confusing button pushes needed compared to a pro DSLR; some buttons do different things at different times and there are some screens that look similar but do different things to confuse shooting.

No GPS.

 

Lens Compatibility

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Canon EOS M3

Front, Canon EOS M3. bigger.

The Canon EOS M3 works with a new kind of smaller-mount EF-M lenses.

With a Canon adapter, the EOS-M also takes all our EF and EF-S lenses, with everything like autofocus and image stabilization working perfectly.

With this adapter, every Canon lens made since 1987 is perfectly compatible. Bravo!

 

Canon EF-M adapter

EF to EF-M Adapter. bigger.

 

Canon EOS EF-EF-M Adapter

Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS M on an EOS-M. Note larger EF mount.

Want a great ultrawide? The superb EF-S 10-18mm works great when you use the adapter, and so do all of your teles, fast primes, macros and other Canon lenses. You don't have to go buying more lenses; if you shoot Canon, you probably already have exactly what you need.

Just as EF-S lenses only work on small DSLRs or this EOS-M with adapter, these newest EF-M lenses are an even more restricted subset that only work on the EOS M. There are no adapters to use EF-M lenses on DSLRs or 35mm cameras. This is because 1.) EF-M lenses only cover small sensors, not 35mm or full-frame, and 2.) they have a very short back focus to take advantage of the shallow EOS M which has very little depth from mount to sensor.

35mm and DSLR cameras are much deeper from mount to sensor, so one couldn't possibly get EF-M lenses close enough to a DSLR's sensor to focus at anything other than super-macro distances. You'd have to hack away a half-inch of lens or camera to get the combination of EF-M lens and SLR to focus properly.

 

Lens Compatibility Table

 
EF
(1987-)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
EF-S
(2004-)
no
no
no
Yes
EF-M
(2012-)
no
no
no
no
Yes

© 2015 KenRockwell.com.

 

Specifications

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Identification

Canon EOS M3

Canon EOS M3 and EF-M 22mm f/2 STM. bigger.

It only says "EOS M3" in one place: the top left of the LCD frame.

The type acceptance and serial number sticker is hidden behind the flipping LCD, where it proudly proclaims MADE IN JAPAN.

 

Sensor

24MP CMOS.

14.9 x 22.3 mm.

1.6x crop factor.

3:2 aspect ratio.

3.72 µm square.

Ultrasonic cleaner.

 

Image Sizes

6,000 x 4,000 (24MP) native, JPG and CR2 raw.

M: 4,320 x 2,880 (12MP).

S1: 2,880 x 1,920 (5.5 MP).

S2: 2,304 x 1,536 (3.5 MP).

S3: 720x480 (0.35 MP).

 

ISO

ISO 100 ~ 25,600. (ISO 25,600 needs to be activated in the CFn 1 menu).

 

Auto ISO

Auto selects ISO 100 to a selectable maximum of ISO 400 to ISO 12,800.

 

White Balance

Auto (AWB); "Ambience priority" means it will leave tungsten orange.

Daylight

Shade

Cloudy

Tungsten

White fluorescent light

Flash

Custom manual gray/white card.

±9 units amber/blue and magenta/green tweaks.

 

Color Spaces

sRGB and Adobe RGB.

 

Autofocus

"Hybrid CMOS III."

49 zones.

Face recognition.

One-shot and servo modes.

Amber AF-Assist LED.

 

Finder

None, use the optional EVF-DC1.

 

Light Meter

384 zone Evaluative meter.

10% Partial metering.

2% Spot meter.

Center Weighted Averaging meter.

 

Shutter

Vertical metal focal plane.

1/4,000 ~ 30 seconds + Bulb.

1/200 maximum with flash.

 

Frame Rates

4.2 FPS with locked focus.

2.4 FPS with tracking focus.

 

Flash Sync

1/200.

 

Flash

1/200 sync speed.

 

Built-In Flash

Yes, pops up.

GN 5m (16') at ISO 100.

 

External Flash

Canon hot shoe.

No Prontor-Compur (PC) terminal; use the built-in flash to trigger your slaves or use a hot-shoe adapter for corded sync.

 

Live View

Of course, this is the only way the camera shoots unless you buy the optional EVF-DC1 external finder.

 

Video

Video Resolution and Rates

1,920 x 1,080 at 29.97 or 23.976 FPS.

1,280 x 720 at 59.94 FPS.

640 x 480 at 29.97 FPS.

 

Video ISO

ISO 100 ~ 3,200 in 1,080.

ISO 100 ~ 6,400 in 720 and VGA.

 

LCD Monitor

Canon EOS M3

Canon EOS M3.

The LCD flips up and down to pretty much any angle.

It doesn't swing from side to side.

3" TFT.

3:2 aspect ratio.

1.04 megadots.

170º visibility.

Manual brightness setting only.

 

Storage

One SD card slot.

Works with SD, SDHC, SDXC and UHS-I cards.

 

Connectors

Canon EOS M3

Canon EOS M3 and EF-M 22mm f/2 STM. bigger.

No analog outputs.

3.5mm diameter stereo mini-jack for mic.

Combination USB and Extension System terminal.

 

Canon EOS M3

Canon EOS M3. bigger.

Type C mini HDMI (not CEC compatible).

 

Power

It uses the same battery and charger as the T6i and T6s, among others.

 

Battery

LP-E17 battery rated 250 shots with 50% flash. (360 in eco mode, 185 at 0º C.)

LP-E17 Battery

LP-E17 Battery. bigger.

 

Charger

LC-E17 folding plug 100-240V 50-60 cps charger.

LC-E17 Charger

Battery Charger LC-E17. bigger.

 

LC-E17 Charger

Back, Battery Charger LC-E17. bigger.

 

Clock Battery

MS614 internal rechargeable 3.1V 3.4 mAh lithium clock battery. Takes 4 hours to charge, runs clock for three weeks without other power.

 

AC Adapter

Optional ACK-E17 AC adapter

 

Size

4.4 x 2.7 x 1.7 inches WHD.

110.9 x 68.0 x 44.4 millimeters WHD.

 

Weight

12.835 oz. (363.9 g) with battery and card, measured.

12.9 oz. (366 g) with battery and card, rated.

 

Quality

Made in Japan.

 

Environment, operating

0º ~ 40º C (32º ~ 104º F).

85% RH or less, non-condensing.

 

Announced

Thursday, 27 August 2015 in USA (February 2015 elsewhere).

 

Price, USA

November 2015: $579, body-only.

Canon EOS M3

Box, Canon EOS M3. bigger.

 

Performance

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Overall   Auto & Manual Focus  Ergonomics   High ISOs   Auto ISO

Metering & Exposure   Flash   Sharpness   LCD Monitor

Mechanical Quality   Playback   Data

 

Overall

Performance          top

The EOS M3 is a fast, perky little camera that delivers top results from a tiny body.

It has no finder unless you buy the EVF-DC1.

 

Focussing

Performance          top

 

Autofocus

Autofocus is fast; no problems here.

I had no problem focussing in the dark, either.

Face recognition is fast and sure, finding faces and focussing on them pretty much instantly.

 

Manual Focus

Manual focus isn't on the lens, it's the MF marking on the rear circular controller.

There is also an AF+MF mode, set in the CAMERA 2 menu. When activated, you can adjust focus manually only after the lens has autofocused, and only for as long as you keep your finger held halfway down on the shutter button to keep the AF system active.

 

Focus Mode Switching

There are no switches.

You have to set all this in several different places.

AF or MF mode is selected with the MF portion of the rear circular multi controller.

AF settings mostly are in the CAMERA 2 menu.

 

Ergonomics

Performance          top of EOS M3 review

It has two command dials: one cleverly around the shutter release, and another around the rear four-way controller.

The built-in grip works great; it's grippy and fits my American hands.

The C mode is programmable and saves your settings, while the P and other modes all can be set separately, so it's easy to swap between two completely different sets of settings.

The shutter is noisier than I'd like, making this an inelegant copy of an iPhone.

Too many buttons have more than one function. This confuses when you expect one thing and now the same button does something different.

It also seems to have two different "Q" screens depending on how you get into them. This is also confusing. There are too many similar screens.

Sometimes the touch-activated "Q" screen won't clear when you press the shutter and want to take a picture.

it always seems to wake in its own favorite display mode. If you prefer a different Live View mode, you'll always have to tap the INFO button a few times to get to your favorite.

There is no slow continuous shutter mode. The regular 4.2 FPS mode is so fast it will give two frames when I'm trying to hold the shutter steady for a long exposure.

The Program mode seems to pick odd combinations at times, tending towards faster shutter speeds.

The flip LCD is great, and lets me shoot from any angle easily.

The flash release lever goes the wrong way; I have to push it away from me to pop up the flash.

 

High ISOs

Performance          top of EOS M3 review

High ISOs look great.

For normal online uses like this page and Facebook and websites, it looks fine at even at ISO 12,800:

Night, OC 31 October 2015

ISO 12,800: Night, 31 October 2015. Canon EOS M3, Canon EF-M 22mm f/2, f/2 at 1/8 hand-held at ISO 12,800. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (portable devices usually can't show the complete resolution).

Only at ISO 25,600 does it start to get blotchy, as seen at normal print and online sizes.

 

Full Images

Click any for its camera-original © JPG file to analyze on your computer (mobile devices usually can't show all the pixels clearly).

These are shot at f/5.6 on a tripod.

These are deliberately dark to preserve detail in the white clock face, shown in greater detail later.

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

(I made this ISO 25,600 shot the next day; don't try to compare it directly to the others; the light comes from a different side!)

As you can see, at normal sizes here, even ISO 12,800 looks pretty much the same as ISO 100.

 

Crops from above at 100%

We see more differences as we enlarge the images.

In the crops below, if these are about 8" (20 cm) wide on your screen, the full images printed at this same high resolution would be 40 x 60" (100 x 150 cm)!

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

Canon EOS M3 High ISO sample image

(I made this ISO 25,600 shot the next day; don't try to compare it directly to the others; the light comes from a different side!)

As you can see for yourself, noise is never particularly annoying. What happens is that modern noise reduction smooths over all the noise, and the visible effects are that the image gets progressively more erased as ISO increases.

Look at the higher ISOs, and you'll see details in the black wood get softer by ISO 400.

Details in the wood grain and the darker part of the gold circle around the clock dial gets softer by ISO 800.

A white speck on the wood is smudged-over by noise reduction by ISO 1,600.

The minute ticks on the clock dial are gone by ISO 6,400.

There isn't much left at this high magnification by ISO 12,800, even though the large fundamental details are relatively untouched.

 

Auto ISO

Performance          top of EOS M3 review

Auto ISO works well, but it is not particularly adjustable.

The only setting is the maximum ISO, settable from ISO 400 to ISO 12,800.

The slowest shutter speed isn't selectable. It typically hinges at 1/160 with a 22mm lens.

This is great for people pictures, but faster than I want for photos of things.

 

Metering and Exposure

Performance          top of EOS M3 review

Metering is typical for Canon: very good in most conditions, but often requires -⅔ stops compensation in contrasty daylight.

One oddity is that the Face Recognition works so hard that often similar frames will wind up with different exposures depending on what and how it sees faces.

 

Flash

Performance          top of EOS M3 review

The little flash works great, but doesn't have much range.

That's OK, since the M3 is smart enough to bump-up the Auto ISO as needed to get whatever range youy need.

There is significant shutter delay with flash. It's not the flash waiting to recycle; the preflash exposure system is pretty clippity-cloppity and takes a while to calculate and then make the final exposure after the first preflash. It's just a fraction of a second, but that may as well be forever when snapping people pictures.

 

Sharpness

Performance          top of EOS M3 review

Walkway in sunlight, 01 November 2015

Walkway in afternoon light, 01 November 2015. Canon EOS M3, Canon EF-M 22mm f/2, f/7.1 at 1/400 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original file to explore on your computer (portable devices usually can't show the complete resolution).

Of course it's super sharp.

Even better, the shutter is smooth enough and the release button is well enough designed that I usually get perfectly sharp shots with the standard EF-M 22mm f/2 STM hand-held at 1/8 of a second.

The only limitations are your skill as a photographer and the lenses you use.

As shown at High ISOs like all cameras, it's sharpest at the lowest ISOs. High ISOs, as in all modern cameras, get much softer due to noise reduction.

 

LCD Monitor

Performance          top of EOS M3 review

The LCD is super sharp, like an Apple Retina display.

It has no auto brightness control, so it may be too bright in the dark and not bright enough in daylight.

The black frame edge makes it impossible to see how you're framing a subject with black background: you can't see where your picture ends!

The LCD is much smaller than an iPhone, and the advantage to this is that it helps us to compose more strongly, which leads to better pictures.

 

Mechanical Quality

Performance          top of EOS M3 review

The EOS-M3 is very well made in Japan.

The case covers are mostly plastic, and the buttons and dials all feel great.

 

Playback   

Performance          top of EOS M3 review

Playback is fun because you can zoom and scroll with your fingers.

Better than most cameras, the image can be set to rotate as you rotate the camera — just like an iPhone.

What's weird is that with Image Review set to show what you've shot right after you've shot it, you'll first see a different, uncorrected image for a fraction of a second, which will then redraw as a corrected image. The final image shown a second later is the image with the white balance, highlight and shadow compensation and peripheral falloff correction all applied. It's weird to see this, and highlights just how much clever processing modern cameras do to our images to make them look even better.

As Canons have always done, most playback controls are locked-out and held hostage until you hit the PLAY button.

 

Data

Performance          top of EOS M3 review

Better than Canon's DSLRs, it has the option to create a new folder for each day's shooting automatically.

A first for a Canon, Auto ISO reads properly in Phase One Media Pro.

Cards are titled EOS DIGITAL.

Vertical image files are not actually rotated, but merely flagged. This is typical.

JPG file sizes vary with image complexity.

 

Usage

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The battery charger has two LEDs: amber while charging, and green when done.

To get to ISO 25,600, set CFn 1 to ENABLE. Auto ISO range remains the same.

To switch between auto and manual focus, use the MF section on the rear circular multicontroller.

Auto and manual focus settings are set in the CAMERA 2 menu.

For face recognition, set AF Method (second item in CAMERA 2 menu) to "Face + Tracking." Now Face recognition can be turned off and on via the window button on the top right of the rear four-way selector, and at the top left item on screen when you press the top right Q on the touch screen or the center Q/SET button.

The strap slots are smaller than larger DSLRs, but my favorite straps still slip through.

Since the C setting always resets itself to your presets and the P/Av/Tv/M settings are independent, you can use these two for two different kinds of shooting. I set C for kid photos (normal saturation and 6MP resolution) and set the P/Av/Tv/M settings for things (24 MP resolution and extreme saturation).

Even when off, hold the Play button for a few seconds to enter the play mode.

Use the [ Q ] screen or any other way to force the flash to ON from its default AUTO setting. This way it fires whenever you pop it up, and of course it doesn't fire if you've left it down.

Turn off the transition, scroll and index effects in the Play Menu so it just plays your images without time-wasting theatrics.

 

Recommendations

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The EOS M3 is for someone who demands first-rate picture quality from a tiny camera. It has the same quality as any of Canon's APS-C DSLRs, in a smaller package.

The EOS M3 is superb for travel and nature photos, but for people and action pictures a DSLR will respond even more quickly.

If you want to carry as little as possible, the EOS M3 is a superb general-purpose camera. Use it as your main camera and never look back.

Hobbyists who love to twiddle more than they shoot, sell or exhibit love fiddly brands like Fuji and Sony, but the images from the M3 look better because the color rendition is better in the real world, if you're as picky as I am. (Fuji looks fantastic for people pictures, but that's about it.)

The Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 is a fantastic lens, and what I use most of the time with my M3. The whole point of the M3 is size, weight and picture quality, and the 22/2 dishes that all out in spades.

 

Where to Get Yours

I got my EOS M3 at Adorama. I'd just as well have gotten it at Amazon, at Crutchfield or at B&H.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Canon does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. I use the stores I do because they ship from secure remote warehouses where no one gets to touch your new camera before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.

Thanks for helping me help you!

Ken, Mrs. Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

More Information

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Compatibility   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Canon USA's EOS M3 page.

Canon USA's EOS M3 Owner's Manual.

 

© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

 

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02 November 2015