Canon EOS M3 Review

Canon M3 review
With an improved image sensor and image processor versus previous Canon mirrorless models, the M3 offers strong performance levels. Canon

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The Bottom Line

Canon has not been a heavy contributor to the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market, preferring to remain focused on DSLRs and fixed lens cameras. But as my Canon EOS M3 review shows, Canon's lack of cameras in this category doesn't mean the manufacturer isn't competing strongly in mirrorless models.

The mirrorless M3 offers an APS-C sized image sensor with 24.2 megapixels of resolution, giving it a significant advantage versus older M series Canon mirrorless ILCs in terms of image quality and overall resolution.

Although the EOS M3 does struggle a bit when you're shooting in low light conditions, its very strong image quality when shooting in typical lighting is attention grabbing.

Another clear upgrade for the Canon M3 versus older mirrorless models from the manufacturer is in terms of its image processor, as Canon gave the M3 the DIGIC 6 processor. This gives the M3 fast performance levels, a noticeable improvement over its predecessor.

Its price is very competitive with other mirrorless ILCs on the market, making this a model well worth considering for those looking for an intermediate level camera. It doesn't have enough highly advanced features to appeal to someone seeking a professional level model, so those photographers may want to consider one of Canon's powerful, high-end DSLRs.

Specifications

  • Resolution: 24.2 megapixels
  • Optical zoom: NA, uses interchangeable lenses
  • LCD: 3.0-inch, 1,040,000 pixels (touch and tilt enabled)
  • Maximum image size: 6000 x 4000 pixels
  • Battery: Rechargeable Li-Ion
  • Dimensions: 4.37 x 2.68 x 1.75 inches
  • Weight: 12.9 ounces (including battery and memory card)
  • Image sensor: APS-C (22.3x14.9 mm)
  • Movie mode: HD 1080p

Pros

  • Great image quality in normal shooting situations
  • Small camera versus other intermediate models
  • Fast working camera in terms of autofocus and in speed of recovery between shots
  • Strong LCD screen that also offers touch and tilt capabilities
  • Good price point versus other mirrorless cameras
  • M3 creates very good movie quality, and HDMI port allows you to easily share video on a TV

Cons

  • Camera doesn't perform well when shooting at high ISO settings in low light scenes
  • Battery life could be better
  • Limited number of lenses available
  • Camera doesn't have image stabilization built into it
  • Viewfinder must be purchased as an extra accessory

Image Quality

With 24.2 megapixels of resolution and an APS-C sized image sensor, the Canon M3 creates vibrant and sharp images when the lighting conditions are good. Even though most cameras perform well in outdoor lighting, the Canon M3's images seem to be just a bit better than most cameras when the light is just right.

But if you must shoot in low light conditions, you, unfortunately, will notice some flaws in this camera's images. If you have to increase the ISO setting to 1600 or higher, you can expect to see noise in the images, which is a below average performance level. You can improve the image quality a bit by making use of the popup flash unit that's built into the camera or by attaching a flash to the M3's hot shoe.​

You will have the option of making use of several special effect shooting modes on the EOS M3, which are fun to incorporate into your photos.

Movie quality is very good with this model, allowing you to create vibrant full HD movies. Audio quality is also strong with the M3, and you can use the included HDMI port to replay your movies on a nearby TV.

Performance

Because of the inclusion of the DIGIC 6 image processor with the EOS M3, Canon was able to provide top-end performance speeds with this model. The camera's autofocus works accurately and fast, resulting in little to no shutter lag. You won't miss many spontaneous shots when using the Canon M3.

 

It was a disappointment to discover Canon did not include image stabilization capabilities into the camera body of the M3, meaning if you want to use IS with this camera, you'll need to make use of a lens that has image stabilization built into it.

Battery life is another area where the Canon M3 struggles a bit compared to other mirrorless cameras. Don't expect to shoot more than about 200 photos per charge, which is below average performance. And if you choose to make use of the M3's built-in Wi-Fi or NFC wireless connectivity options, battery life will be poor.

Design

Measuring only 1.75 inches in thickness (before you add the lens, of course), the Canon EOS M3 is even a small model versus other mirrorless ILCs. It's still pretty easy to hold and use comfortably, though, as the camera body has a raised area on the front of the camera that serves as a right-hand grip. Some mirrorless models skip a grip area, which can make them difficult to hold.

Another key design feature for the Canon M3 is its high-quality LCD screen. You'll receive more than 1 million pixels of resolution with the display screen, making it one of the sharpest LCDs on any digital camera on the market. Additionally, the M3's display screen is a touchscreen, which simplifies the operation of this camera, and is tiltable, which makes it easy to shoot odd angle photos or to use the M3 while it's attached to a tripod.

As a viewfinder is only available as an add-on feature with the M3, having a great LCD screen is very important.

Finally, Canon gave the EOS M3 a full complement of shooting modes, including various automatic and manual control modes. Although this will give you plenty of flexibility in how you want to use the M3, its overall feature list probably isn't quite powerful or extensive enough to appeal to advanced photographers.

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