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Canon EOS M3 CSC Review

Reviewed: Canon's new EOS M3, the mirrorless compact system camera with a new 24 megapixel APS-C sensor.

| Canon EOS M3 in Mirrorless Cameras
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Canon EOS M3 Black (5)

The Canon EOS M3 is Canon's latest mirrorless compact system camera and features a new 24 megapixel APS-C sensor with Hybrid AF system. The camera features a tilting touch screen, plus built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. The Canon EOS M3 is available for £599 with 18-55mm IS kit lens. 

Canon EOS M3 Features

Canon EOS M3 Black (6)

Updating the original Canon EOS M, the EOS M3 has been improved with additional controls, larger grip, and a tilting 3inch touch screen to aid visibility when using the camera outdoors. The camera is designed to give Digital SLR quality, with a more compact sized camera body and lens. The camera uses the same 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 6 processor as the Canon EOS 750D and 760D. The sensor features a 49-point Hybrid CMOS AF III system covering a large area of the frame, which is said to give focus that is 6.1x faster than the original EOS M. 

The EOS M3 has an ISO range of ISO100 to ISO12800, which can be extended to ISO25600. On the back the 3inch touch screen tilts up 180 degrees and down 45 degrees, which will help viewing the screen outdoors or when shooting at different angles. The camera uses the EOS EF-M lens mount, which means you will need to use EOS-M lenses, or alternatively you can use EF / EF-S lenses with an adapter, which is sold separately. An optional electronic viewfinder is available, the EVF-DC1, (0.48 type), 4:3 aspect ratio, with 2,360,000 dots, and 100% coverage, although this adds £199 to the cost of the kit. 

The camera has full P/Av/Tv/M shooting modes, as well as scene modes, and creative assist to make it easier to take creative shots with the camera. There are customisable controls and buttons on the camera that can be adjusted to suit your shooting preferences. Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity makes it easy to setup remote shooting, images transfer as well as wireless backup of images. 

Video options include fullHD video recording with stereo sound thanks to built-in stereo microphones, or alternatively the camera has a microphone socket on the side. 

Canon EOS M3 Black (1)

Key Features

  • 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Canon EOS EF-M mount
  • DIGIC 6 image processor
  • 3inch tilting touch screen, 1040k dots
  • 49 point Hybrid AF III 
  • FullHD video recording, 30/25/24fps, stereo sound, mic socket
  • ISO100 to ISO12800 (expandable to ISO25600)
  • 4.2fps continuous shooting
  • Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity
  • 14-bit RAW shooting
  • HDR mode

Canon EOS M3 Black (7)

Canon EOS M3 Handling

Canon EOS M3 Black (10)

The Canon EOS M3 has a much-improved grip compared to the original EOS M, and now features a deep rubberised grip on the front, with a rubbery grip on the rear for your thumb making the camera feel good in your hand. On the rear thumb grip there are video record and playback buttons, and you might be wondering if you will accidentally press these, however, we found that they were suitably recessed so as not to cause issues.

Build quality is good with a solid metal and plastic construction. The pop-up flash is activated by pressing a side button and features a tough metal hinge that can be tilted backwards to use the flash as a bounce flash. The top features a mode dial, on/off button, shutter release surrounded by a control wheel, exposure compensation, and an M-Fn button. This can be customised, along with the video and delete buttons. The exposure compensation dial is recessed far enough to avoid accidentally turning it. 

The controls, buttons and dials are neatly arranged and can all be accessed with your right hand, and the Q. Menu button makes it easy to quickly change settings on screen. You can use the 4-way controller / scroll wheel on the back or alternatively use the responsive touch screen to change settings. You can use the touch-screen to set the focus position, and the 49 AF points covers a fairly large area of the screen, covering 80 percent of the frame vertically and 70 percent horizontally. The touch-screen has a high resolution of 1040K dots, and looks good, with good colour reproduction and viewing angles, and the ability to tilt it helps with viewing images outdoors in bright light, although you may prefer the optional electronic viewfinder if you shoot outdoors reguarly.. 

Canon EOS M3 Black (9)

Menus – The menus are clearly laid out into five main areas, and can be adjusted using the controls on the back of the camera, or using the touch-screen, making it easy and quick to change settings. 

Wi-Fi features - NFC is designed to make it much easier and quicker to connect to the camera. Canon's Camera Window has been replaced by Canon Camera Connect which is available in the iOS and Android app stores. However, we were unable to successfully setup a connection with the camera from / to our Android smartphone. Hopefully, this will be resolved with a future version of the app that correctly supports the Canon EOS M3. From the camera there are options to connect to another camera, connect to a smartphone, print from a Wi-Fi printer, view images on a DLNA device, and upload to a web service (via Canon Image Gateway). 

Canon EOS M3 Black (11)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 250 shots according to Canon / CIPA test results, which is below average for this class of camera - therefore we would recommend a spare battery if you plan on shooting more, or want to use Wi-Fi a lot.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.0secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 1.0secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.2secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
4.2fps (30 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 2fps
Continuous Shooting - RAW 4.2fps (4 shots)

Focus performance is significantly improved over the original EOS M, with focus speeds at least 6x quicker. The camera could only take 4 raw shots before slowing down to around 1fps, and for anyone who wants to predominantly shoot raw then this is likely to be disappointing. 

Canon EOS M3 Black (8)

Canon EOS M3 Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Canon EOS M3 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Photos have excellent colour reproduction and exposure is reliable. Photos taken with flash have no red-eye, and skin tones are good. Focus is good even in low light, with face detection working well, and the camera gives good noise performance.

Canon EOS M3 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Detail is good at the wide-angle or telephoto end of the lens. The lens is quite susceptable to lens flare if a bright light source is in the frame such as the sun. There is quite strong barrel distortion at the wide end of the lens, even if lens correction is switched on in the menus. Macro performance is reasonably good, although we had to use manual focus to get closer to the subject. Purple fringing and chromatic aberrations are fairly well controlled. 

Canon EOS M3 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO100 to ISO1600, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO3200 to ISO6400 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced. At ISO12800 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. ISO25600 is best avoided as noise is extremely high, and detail is very low. The 24 megapixel EOS M3 has improved noise performance and detail at ISO6400 compared to the 18 megapixel EOS M, with better results at ISO12800 as well. There isn't a massive difference in noise levels between other 24 megapixel APS-C cameras, such as the Nikon D7200 and Sony Alpha A6000, with different noise characteristics visible, and overly strong noise reduction applied in the case of the A6000, and weaker noise reduction applied to the EOS M3 images. 

Canon EOS M3 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs quite well with a warm result under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving a more accurate result. AWB performs very well under fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset giving a magenta colour cast.

Canon EOS M3 Outdoor images

HDR modes are shown above. You can shoot HDR photos whilst hand holding the camera without the need of a tripod, however for best results a tripod is recommended, as any movement in the frame (such as people walking or leaves swaying in the wind) is likely to cause ghosting. 

Canon EOS M3 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The Creative Assist mode makes it easy to adjust background defocus, brightness, contrast, saturation, colour tone, and colour effects. In the Creative Effects mode there are a number of different filters including HDR, as well as miniature and others. 

Video - Video is recorded in FullHD (1080p) quality at 30fps / 25fps and focus performs well. The camera gives good audio quality and performs well even in low-light. You can set the microphone sensitivity manually or leave it on auto. Some moire was visible in videos where there were areas of fine detail, for example on clothing. You can use the touch screen to set the focus point when focusing as well. Built in lens-based image stabilisation helps keep videos steady, but for best results we'd recommend the use of a tripod. Additional low-light videos can be found on the ePHOTOzine YouTube channel.

Value For Money

The Canon EOS M3 is available for £599 with 18-55mm IS kit lens which means it's priced somewhere in the middle of mirrorless cameras. Alternatives to look at are listed below, with the number of lenses available in brackets:

Olympus OM-D E-M10, 16mp, 8fps, £499 with lens (over 52+)
Olympus PEN Lite E-PL7, 16mp, 8fps, £385 with lens (over 52+)
Panasonic Lumix GF7, 16mp, 5.8fps, £389 with lens (over 52+)
Panasonic Lumix GM5, 16mp, 5.8fps, £569 with lens (over 52+)
Panasonic Lumix G7, 16mp, 8fps, 4K video, £599 body only (over 52+)
Sony Alpha A6000, 24mp, 11fps with C-AF, £479 with lens (over 18)
Nikon 1 J5, 20mp, 60fps, or 20fps with C-AF, £399 with lens (9 lenses)
Samsung NX500, 28mp, 9fps, 4K video, £599 with lens (17 lenses)
Fujifilm X-A2, 16mp, 5.6fps, £369 with lens (18 lenses)

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Canon EOS M3 Verdict

There is now, more than ever, an enormous amount of competition and choice available in the mirrorless compact system camera market, with each manufacturer trying to gain as much market share as possible in this growing area. Because of this the competition is packed with features and options all trying to out perform the other, with prices lower than ever. As some mirrorless camera systems are more mature than others, the number of lenses and accessories available varies greatly from system to system, and in this respect, the Canon EOS M system has just 4 lenses available. Therefore the EOS M3 would be most suited to someone who wants one of the 4 lenses, or alternatively has a number of EF / EF-S lenses that they want to use with the camera, with an adapter. 

As a camera (and if you ignore the lack of native lenses) the Canon EOS M3 deliver high image quality, with good nosie performance up to and including ISO6400, and the camera has siginificantly improved focus performance, making it almost as quick as other mirrorless cameras, and quicker than some. Images have excellent colour and exposure, and look good on the tilting 3inch touch-screen. For a Canon user with a number of EF lenses, then the EOS M3 would make an excellent companion to another DSLR, letting you use your favourite lenses with a smaller camera body. However, the EOS M3 will look much more apealling, if and when the price comes down to a level more in line with the competition. 

Canon EOS M3 Pros

Much improved focus speeds
Good image quality 
Excellent colour saturation
Built in Wi-Fi and NFC
Good noise performance
Microphone socket
Good handgrip
Built in HDR
Dual-axis electronic level

Canon EOS M3 Cons

Limited EOS-M lenses with 4 native lenses - an adapter for EF lenses is available
4.2fps continous shooting isn't particularly quick compared to the competition
Short battery life
Panoramic mode not available
Small raw buffer


The Canon EOS M3 delivers very good image quality and has a quick focusing system.


Canon EOS M3 Specifications

Image Sensor
Pixels24Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)6000
Pixels (H)4000
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)22.3mm
Sensor Size (height)14.9mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution1040k
Touch ScreenYes
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Centre
  • Touch AF
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Viewfinder ResolutionNo Data
MagnificationNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting4.2fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS30, 25, 24fps
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion Battery LP-E17
Battery Life (CIPA rating)250shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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Photographs taken using the Canon EOS M3

Portraits in subwayLittle helping handCome in the waters finePassageMushroom sellerA tiny shop near the small oneCinema theatre buildingFishingAutumnPreparing to flyWhen will it turn on?Old house

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StrayCat 18 19.1k 3 Canada
29 May 2015 7:16PM
It's up against some formidable competition.
josa 10 25 Czech Republic
30 May 2015 11:04AM
Better than mk1 and not very cheap...Sad
ChrisV 16 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
30 May 2015 9:37PM
I really can't understand why the original M camera didn't have the hybrid AF sensor. When Canon first announced that I thought it was designed for mirrorless.

This has been a long time coming, but it's perhaps a little too late. Those who wanted a compact ILC have probably mostly switched to other systems, which as you point out are now much more mature with MFT in particular offering a more complete system and more deeply developed features. A shame really, but perhaps Canon have sufficient muscle to make a success of the M series nonetheless.
StrayCat 18 19.1k 3 Canada
31 May 2015 6:23AM
It takes time to build a good stable of lenses, and the other manufacturers aren't waiting around twiddling their thumbs. I'm disappointed really, in the efforts of the big two, it somehow seems like an afterthought, and doesn't instill confidence in their mini systems. Why would one invest in this system, with such lack of effort. They might abandon it altogether, and then it's back to square one for whoever takes a chance on them putting some effort into it.
dannyr 13 46 United Kingdom
1 Jun 2015 10:42AM
If you have invested heavily in the Canon system and want a small camera as a backup/fun walkabout I can see the appeal, but for people who don't have any commitments into Canon I cant see any advantage for owning this camera.

Its not that its a bad camera its seem perfectly fine, but it's just well.....nothing special.

Hopefully they don't give up on the system like the Pentax has for the Q or Samsung for the NX Mini.

The more competition the better.
lemmy 15 2.9k United Kingdom
2 Jun 2015 2:19PM
The problem from Canon's perspective is that if they sell a lot of these to Canon DSLR users as a backup, there is the danger that many will find that this is all they need, quality wise and start looking at other mirrorless cameras. They then try some of the EVF equipped cameras from Sony, Panasonic, Olympus etc and realize that the modern EVFs are better than their optical counterparts, bigger images, more info, brighter.

Thus, if this camera is too good, they are in danger of slitting their own throats and if it is pretty average, like this, they look like they've lost the plot. Very difficult for them. I think they should have gone the Sony A7 style FF route a long while ago, in tandem with their DSLRs and made their huge range of lenses work with them if they could. Or launched into a really slick new lens system.

As it is, Canon/ Nikon sales were down about 30% year on year while Olympus, for example, were up 20%. Canon are massively complacent and remind me of Microsoft in the 1990 and 2000's. I agree totally with dannyr that the more competition the better but a camera like this isn't competition and will sell only to those who want the prestige of the Canon name and don't have enough nous to compare it with the competition.

JohnHoppy 13 5 United Kingdom
3 Jun 2015 11:09AM
It may be a perfectly good camera in its own right, but I agree with Lemmy and DannyR's comments, and particulalry Andy Westlake at AP when he says "EOS M3 still feels a generation behind the state of the art". This is Canon all over, still trying to hedge its bets whilst protecting its cash cows. Outside of those 4 native lenses, it's evidently slow to use EF lenses, which already dilutes the argument for existing Canon users to take an M3: what's more, it's tilting at Canon's own budget SLRs, which are not a lot bigger and have a viewfinder. Canon should bite the bullet, which it should have done long ago, accept that mirrorless is a valid future and launch a series of OMD competitors with its full backing - its present course only serves to slow up a drowning market and hold back the inevitable.
lemmy 15 2.9k United Kingdom
3 Jun 2015 11:20AM

Quote: launch a series of OMD competitors with its full backing
That would be an exciting development for MFT but I doubt that Canon have the expertise for it. I'd like to be proved wrong. Possibly a financial bonanza for Panasonic and Olympus engineers if Canon decided to buy it in.
JohnHoppy 13 5 United Kingdom
3 Jun 2015 12:54PM
Apologies for my lack of clarity. I didn't mean to imply Canon opting for MFT, but rather, a fully fledged system of mirrorless SLR-style cameras based on an extensive range of optics for their EFM mount. I do think Canon have expertise and resources for it, I imagine they have been covering mirrorless all along waiting for the 'tipping point'. Canon are arrogant but not stupid. The next couple of years are going to be very interesting.
lemmy 15 2.9k United Kingdom
3 Jun 2015 2:12PM

Quote:, I imagine they have been covering mirrorless all along waiting for the 'tipping point'.
They've missed the boat already, I think. All my friends on national newspapers opt for Fujis as their 'take everywhere cameras' for the task. They are the very people who would have jumped on a 'modern' camera from Canon or Nikon. My friend who has just retired from his staff job on a national newspaper couldn't wait to dump his Nikon D whatevers and buy some Olympus MFT for whatever he chooses to shoot from now on. Ditto, last year, a friend on Associated Press.

Both would have stayed with their familiar Canon/ Nikon brand if they had something competitive to offer. Now they are committed to the smaller formats and aware that that is all they need.

Arrogance is worse than stupidity - stupid people can learn. Arrogant ones never do, witness the British motorcycle industry or Microsoft. Cameras like this reviewed one illustrate that Canon do not even know they have a problem looming. Nothing wrong, really, every dog has its day.

Should Canon EOS M's not at least be compatible with the same LP-E6 batteries as their DSLR's ..?
lemmy 15 2.9k United Kingdom
3 Jun 2015 3:37PM

Quote:Should Canon EOS M's not at least be compatible with the same LP-E6 batteries as their DSLR'
But that would mean you didn't have to buy any new batteries. Who would that benefit, other than the customer: Sad
my point : It would have benefited Canon to make it this way truly much more attractive as a light (backup) option to Canon professional photographers.
lemmy 15 2.9k United Kingdom
3 Jun 2015 4:57PM

Quote:my point : It would have benefited Canon

I was joking. But I doubt that a professional photographer would be influenced by a few quid for batteries.
it's NOT (always) a question of money (!!)
lemmy 15 2.9k United Kingdom
4 Jun 2015 9:02AM
There is a saying that when someone says it is not about the money, it is about the money Grin

Apple say their proprietary connectors are for technical reasons, not to force you to buy new ones every time you buy an Apple product, for example. Hmmm! Android phones have more connectivity using a standard 2 quid USB cable.

I remember a Nikon rep telling me that they made more money on Nikon accessories than they did on the cameras - which when you look at the prices compared to 3rd party items, often of perfectly good quality, is not surprising. A battery for one of my MFT bodies costs around 55. A 3rd party item with a capacity about 9/10s of the makers costs about a seven pouns. And, I can attest from long experience of many ff them, lasts just as long.
agednovice 16 10 United Kingdom
5 Jun 2015 3:12PM
A good camera by all accounts but it would be far better with an Optical view finder--------I wouldn't touch it without one !
agednovice 16 10 United Kingdom
5 Jun 2015 3:39PM
Oh. I forgot to say in my previous comment that I boutht the first of this M series as a backup to my Canon DSLR and i found it adsolutely useless in bright sunlight as I ouldn't see on the viewing screen the picture of what I wanted to take.
lemmy 15 2.9k United Kingdom
5 Jun 2015 5:44PM

Quote:A good camera by all accounts but it would be far better with an Optical view finder

An optical VF would be pointless on camera like this - the lenses and camera would be as big as a DSLR. The point of mirrorless cameras is that they and the lenses can be smaller because of the shorter flange top sensor distance.

An EVF would be more appropriate but Canon wouldn't want to encourage any of their fans to try a modern EVF. Most people don't have a clue how much brighter and bigger the E-M1's EVF is than an optical finder. As I said before, Canon would be cutting their own throat. They and Nikon have a tightrope to walk, I think.
neil163 11 14 United Kingdom
7 Jun 2015 7:56PM
Top of my wish list got M1, great

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