The Canon EOS M3 Review – A Sturdy Workhorse

What is the Canon EOS M3?

Another entry in the mirrorless camera market, the Canon EOS M3 takes near-DSLR quality photos without the bulk and weight of the bigger cameras. It is an interchangeable lens camera (ILC), which means you can attach a vast array of lenses to the body. This type of camera tends to be great for casual use such as on vacations, as they are smaller than DSLRs and easier to carry.

The DSLR needs a mirror to reflect light to the optical viewfinder. By doing away with the mirror, the Canon EOS M3 also loses the optical viewfinder. Instead, you need an electronic viewfinder (EVF) attachment that uses the hot shoe. The benefit of this arrangement is that the camera is much smaller without the mirror box, although the EVF attachment protrudes a bit awkwardly. The disadvantage is that the battery life is quite short because the sensor is in constant use.

What makes the Canon EOS M3 Stand Out?

Canon EOS M3 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is STM Lens (Black) - International Version (No Warranty)

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As you would expect from Canon, this camera is beautifully designed and solidly built. It is compact and ergonomic, with a good feel in the hands. It includes some top-notch features that make it an appealing choice:

  • It’s fully compatible with Canon’s EF and EFS lenses and other EOS accessories, such as Macro Ring Lites and Speedlites.
  • Built in Wi-Fi means you can upload photos directly to social media or your smartphone.
  • The Creative Assist feature allows users to change camera settings, observing the effects as they happen. Six personal settings can be saved.
  • A hot shoe and external microphone jack add versatility and options to your setup.
  • The touchscreen is fast and responsive, letting you quickly choose a focus point.

In addition to the above, the 24.2mp APS – C CMOS imaging sensor produces photos that rival mid-range DSLRs.

Price Range

The prices for this camera are all over the map, so take your time and do your research before buying. You can purchase the camera body alone, or you can get a kit that includes the EOS M3 camera body, and EF-M 18-55 mm lens, a battery pack, a battery charger, a neck strap, and a USB cable. This will cost you anywhere from $600 to $850. There are also used camera kits in the $500 range. Just the camera body, with no lens, costs about $350.

With such variation in prices, it’s a good idea to check with reputable resellers for a good used kit. Unless you already own your own lenses, the kit is definitely a better bargain for the novice photographer as it comes with a good starter lens. You can always expand your lens collection as you become more experienced.



Our Rating

Good Deal

How’s the Competition?

There are several mirrorless ILCs in direct competition with the Canon EOS M3. Fujifilm, Samsung, and Sony all have offerings that we compare here. Taking a look at a few of the important specs for the Canon, we get the following:

Canon EOS M3

Canon EOS M3 Mirrorless Camera Kit with EF-M 18-55mm Image Stabilization (IS) STM Lens - Wi-Fi Enabled (Black)

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  • Sensor size – 22.3 x 14.9 mm
  • Sensitivity range – ISO 100-12800, expansion to 25600
  • Viewfinder – Optional EVF
  • Autofocus – 49-point phase detection
  • Shutter speed – 30-1/4000 sec.
  • LCD – 3-inch tilting touchscreen
  • Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price – $800 (for the kit)

For the Samsung NX500 we have the following:

Samsung NX500

 canon eos m3- photo of Samsung NX500

  • Sensor size – 23.5 x 15.7 mm
  • Sensitivity range – ISO 100-25600, expansion to 51200
  • Viewfinder – none
  • Autofocus – 205 phase detection (153 cross-type) 209 contrast AF
  • Shutter speed – 30-1/6000 sec.
  • LCD – 3-inch, AMOLED tilting touch screen
  • Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price – $650 (for the kit)

Looking at the Sony Alpha A5100 we see:

Sony Alpha A5100

 canon eos m3 -  photo of Sony Alpha A5100

  • Sensor size – 23.5 x 15.6 mm
  • Sensitivity range – ISO – 100-25600
  • Viewfinder – none
  • Autofocus – 179 point phase detection, 25 area contrast AF
  • Shutter speed – 30-1/4000 sec.
  • LCD – 3-inch flip-up touchscreen
  • Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price – $600 (for the kit)

The Fujifilm X-A2 has the following:

Fujifilm X-A2

 canon eos m3 -photo of Fujifilm X-A2

  • Sensor size – 223.6 x 15.6 mm
  • Sensitivity range – ISO 200-6400, expansion to 25600
  • Viewfinder – none
  • Autofocus – 49-area contrast AF
  • Shutter speed – 30-1/4000 sec.
  • LCD – 3-inch tilting
  • Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price – $550 (for the kit)

By looking at these specs, we can see that the Canon is a respectable camera, but it does not distinguish itself from the competition in any remarkable way. All three of the competitors have larger sensors, and all but the Fujifilm have a greater sensitivity range. Given that the Canon is the most expensive of the four, it may not be the best choice even though it can deliver the goods just fine.

Pros and Cons of the Canon EOS M3 Camera

This camera has all the Canon quality you would expect from the brand. The body is magnesium-alloy/stainless steel for lightweight strength and durability. It has a vulcanized rubber recessed grip for easier handling and holding. These small but important features contribute to the great feeling of tactile control. Other pros in the Canon’s favor include:


  • Four dials increase control over handling and two of them are customizable.
  • It comes with a pop-up flash and a hot shoe.
  • The tilting LCD screen can flip a full 180 degrees for selfie mode.
  • check-circleAdapters allow users to attach the full range of Canon EF and EF-S lenses.
  • check-circleThe simplified menu system is easy and intuitive to understand.

One of the sticking points for this camera that keeps it from excelling is the slow autofocus. It has a difficult time tracking and locking in on subjects. For this reason, it is not a good camera for action photography. Other detractions for this camera are:


  • The battery life is poor. Don’t expect more than 300 photos from your battery.
  • The optional EVF is an additional $220 and takes up the hot shoe.
  • The video quality is only average with low frame rates and resolution.
  • closeWhen shooting in low light with high ISO settings, the resulting images are poor.
  • closeThere is no image stabilization.

Specs for the Canon EOS M3


24mp CMOS, 22.3 x 14.9

Supporting Hybrid CMOS AF III


Hybrid CMOS AF III method, 49 points

Working range EV 2-18

ISO Speed Range

Manual setting range: ISO 100-12800, expansion to ISO 25600 equivalent

Auto setting range: ISO 100-12800, default setting is ISO 6400


Vertical-travel, mechanical, focal-plane shutter with electronic first curtain and mechanical second curtain

1/4000 sec. to 30 sec. shutter speeds, highest flash-sync shutter speed: 1/200 sec.

LCD Monitor

TFT color, liquid-crystal monitor with Vari-angle Touch Screen

Screen aspect ratio of 3:2, adjustable to five brightness levels

25 interface languages


File format: Video – MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio – MPEG-4 AAC-LC

File size: 1920 x 1080 Full HD, 1280 x 720 HD, 640 x 480 VGA

Frame rates: 1920 x 1080 – 29.97 fps/23.976 fps, 1280 x 720 – 59.94 fps, 640 x 480 – 29.97 fps

Recording System

Format: Design Rule for Camera File System 2.0

File size: L – Approx. 24.0 mp (6000 x 4000)

M – Approx. 12.4 mp (4320 x 2880)

S1 – Approx. 5.5 mp (2880 x 1920)

S2 – Approx. 3.5 mp (2304 x 1536)

S3 – Approx. 350,000 pixels (720 x 480)

RAW: Approx 24.0 mp (6000 x 4000)

Our Findings

For Canon aficionados, and we know there are a lot of you, the Canon EOS M3 is a perfect companion to your Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or other DSLR. If you are looking for a smaller version of your favorite DSLR that is easier to cart around and take on trips, this camera can do the job nicely. You’ll be used to the interface, the handling will feel similar, and the quality of the photos will be nearly the same. With an adapter, you can attach your old Canon EF and EF-S lenses with full compatibility and save money by not purchasing more.

Canon EOS M3 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is STM Lens (Black) - International Version (No Warranty)

  • Hybrid CMOS AF II system, Sensitivity: ISO 100-12,800, expandable to ISO 25,600
  • 8% reduction of body size than older models, remote operation of the smartphone
  • 1080p full HD video, Movie Servo AF continuous subject tracking
  • 4.6 FPS high-speed burst, 3-inch touchscreen LCD display
  • 18.0-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, DIGIC 5 processing

If you’re looking for a fast camera with a more dynamic range in the sensor, one of the Sony offerings, such as the A6500, may be a better choice for you. That one’s focus speed is great for sporting events whereas the Canon EOS M3 is a good camera for static subjects. The Sony is at a higher price point, however, so it is less appealing for those on a tight budget.

For portability, there is the Fujifilm X100T, which is also lightweight and easy to tote. As it is a fixed lens camera, it doesn’t have the lens flexibility of an EOS M3, and at $400 more, it may be out of range for many buyers. The compact, easily gripped body of the EOS M3 makes it nearly as handy for street photography.

The Canon EOS M3 is a useful, well-built camera that will produce quality results. It’s not flashy, fast, or exciting, but what it lacks in pizzazz, it more than makes up in dependability. The main weaknesses are the slow autofocus and the lack of a built-in EVF. Its greatest strengths are the outstanding image quality and reasonable price. It’s a good buy for anyone looking for a smaller Canon camera.

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