Canon EOS M3 Review | Mirrorless Camera

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Canon EOS M3 Review

What is the Canon EOS M3?

Canon EOS M3 is the company’s third mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera (ILC). It was released in the summer of 2015. Canon is producing mirrorless cameras since 2012, in addition to point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras. The company released its first mirrorless camera, EOS M, in the summer of 2012. It had an 18MP APS-C sensor but it had autofocus problems and it did so badly Canon didn’t release its successor, the EOS M2, in the US, UK or Europe. The EOS M2 was only released in China and Japan. With the EOS M2, Canon added EOS M system Wi-Fi, phase detection autofocus and a few other features.


Canon EOS M3: What is in the box?

When you buy the Canon EOS M3 mirrorless digital camera, the items in the box are as follows:

  • EOS M3 Camera Body
  • EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
  • Battery Pack LP-E17
  • Battery Charger LC-E17
  • Neck Strap EM-200DB
  • USB Cable IFC-400PCU(USB Cable, SD Card and Solutions Disk Not Included)

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Canon EOS M3: Body and Design

Canon EOS M3’s design, build, handling and are great. Compact system cameras are trying to offer more lifestyle features and designs. This means more style, fewer millimeters in any size.

However, the Canon EOS M3 doesn’t play that game. It looks more like what you would get if you were taking an EOS DSLR, take out all the bits separating mirrorless cameras from DSLRs and adjust the body accordingly. There is no eye-catching styling here, only a sensitive body finished either in black or white.

Construction, however, is much stronger than an entry-level Canon DSLR. It has an inner shell of steel while aluminum is the outermost layer, making you feel cool and hard. Of course, the grip that has a fake leather finish like many of Canon’s cameras is what you’ll most touch.

Build quality is equal to Canon’s magnesium-alloy DSLRs, though without the sealing of the weather. When seized tightly like plastic cameras, the magnesium-alloy/stainless-steel body is not prone to cracking. The recessed grip strikes a nice balance between usefulness while a low profile is maintained. The vulcanized rubber gives it a DSLR’s familiar feel.


Canon EOS M3: Handling and Controls

Another positive feature of the Canon EOS M3 is its chunky grip. This grip allows you to get a firm grip even when you use the camera with one hand. It makes this camera one of the more comfortable ILCs.

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The shutter speed and aperture have special dials. ISO sensitivity can be easily adjusted with directional pad/toggle wheel located at the thumb.  The manual-focus can be changed via thumb dial along with flash modes if there is no manual-autofocus switch button on the lens.

Those who are accustomed to Canon’s recent menu system will not have trouble navigating through the menu of the M3. Photographers can also edit the menus according to their wishes so that they can add up to six of their favorite menu options.

Canon EOS M3: Screen

The Canon EOS M3 screen is 3 inches across and provides 1.04 million dot resolution.  It is an LCD screen that gives you pretty precise colors and maximum brightness that can handle outdoor shooting in sunlight. However, you need to keep an eye on the level of brightness, as otherwise, the display can make your shots look overexposed when they aren’t. Such are the limitations of the style of an LCD screen.

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The touch screen gives the photographer a sharp image of the photo scene. It is very easy to use and sensitive, photographers can also use all the functions with dials. With the touch screen, the focus point can be selected. Selecting the focus point with the touch screen is much faster.

The quick menu button on the top right of the touch screen provides fast access to AF mode, image size and quality, video recording quality, white balance, metering and aspect ratio and also self-timer. It reduces the time spent in the menu and simplifies the shooting experience. 

The Canon EOS M3 screen is also tilting in a first for the EOS M series. It flips up all the way around 180 degrees to act as a selfie monitor and can tilt 45 degrees the other way to make it easier for you to shoot overhead.

The tilting screen is also handy and offers three alternative styles of shooting. The screen can angle down 45 degrees to hold up the camera that works well for street photographers or those looking to shoot from a lower angle. Paired with the self-timer function and the screen rotated 180 degrees, and the next selfie is ready to be taken.


Canon EOS M3: Photography Features

Canon EOS M3: Autofocus

One of the biggest reasons for the lack of the original Canon EOS M was that the AF performance was extremely bad. After a string of software updates, this eventually improved, but did Canon finally put that to rest of is M series?

Canon EOS M3 has the same Hybrid CMOS AF III system as the Rebel T6s (EOS 760D). This AF system has 49 phase-detect points, up from 31 points in the EOS M. This phase-detect points cover 80% of the horizontal frame and 70% of the vertical frame. It’s a big improvement, but focusing still isn’t one of the fastest compact system cameras.

Canon EOS M3 has two different “AF modes” which are One-Shot AF in other words Single AF (AF-S) and Servo AF in other words Continuous AF (AF-C). It also has two different “AF methods” which are Face Detect + Tracking and 1-point AF.

You notice that this is merely a satisfactory AF system at this point, not a great one, especially when tracking objects. Also, we were not all that happy to see that you don’t have any control over the focus area size, which can make it difficult to focus on very small objects using AF.


Canon EOS M3: Image Quality

EOS M3’s 24.2-megapixel sensor provides excellent detail and noise performance as you move up the ISO range. It begins at ISO 100 and goes up to 12800 before finishing off with an extended emergency mode of 25600. This camera gives perfectly good results at ISO 6400, where some ILCs start to degrade more significantly at ISO 1600 or 3200. This means the Canon EOS M3 works pretty well for handheld twilight photography, particularly if you attach a reasonably fast lens such as the 22 m f/2.

JPEGs look clean and sharp through ISO 800, you can see some obvious smoothing in out-of-focus areas between ISO 800 and ISO 1600, and ISO 3200 begins to degrade some detail due to noise. Shooting in raw format at mid-to-high ISO sensitivities will achieve much better results. Like many cameras, the JPEG processing of the EOS M3 enhances sharpness in low light and maximizes tonal detail.

However, certain other fields of the EOS M3 are not as impressive. Dynamic range simply does not reach the kind of heights that we have come to expect from an APS-C camera at low ISO settings. This means that the level of shadow detail is simply not impressive, and it obviously has a significant impact on the potential for image quality.

Canon EOS M3: Sample Images

Canon EOS M3: Performance

Although its buffer size is small, the EOS M3 can shoot bursts at about 4 fps. If you’re using a fast card and shooting JPEGs, it can keep firing away but you only get 5 shots in Raw mode before the buffer is full and that drops to 4 when using Raw+JPEG, which isn’t enough to try to catch that fleeting moment.

Canon EOS M3: Battery Life

If you’re going to take a few photos of activity, that’s not a big problem for you. But if you are going to take photos and videos all day long and use wi-fi, you should definitely take extra batteries with you. Canon includes in the M3 box an external charger. It is not possible to charge the camera via USB.


Canon EOS M3: Video Features

The Canon EOS M3 has many shortcomings in terms of video. Users are not only deprived of the 4K video but also cannot record 1080p 60fps video. The Canon EOS M3 can only record up to 1080p 30fps video.

During video recording, the tracking and continuous autofocus work very well on moving subjects. But you have to use one of the few STM lenses to get the most out of video autofocus.

The only feature we can count as positive for video is that this camera has an external microphone input.

Canon EOS M3: Other Features

With Canon’s EOS Remote app, remote shooting with an Android phone is easy. Pairing the NFC spot via the camera and phone is easy and you are guided through the steps to connect your phone and camera via Wi-Fi. An iPhone is a slightly more involved process without NFC pairing that requires you to go into the Wi-Fi settings of the phone. Both versions of Android and iOS offer exposure control and selection of AF points as well as the ability to preview images on your phone.


Canon EOS M3: Lenses

The EF-M-mount 18-55mm IS STM lens that comes with the kit is very good. It does not offer a very wide maximum aperture across the zoom range at f3.5-5.6, like most consumer kit lenses. By no measure, distortion of the lens is not bad and it handles aberrations well. Canon knows what it does with lens design and when coupled with the sensor of the EOS M3, the 18-55 mm IS lens performs well.

Canon M3 has a Canon EF-M lens mount and 20 native lenses for this mount are currently available. Because Canon M3 has an APS-C sensor, it has a 1.6x focal length multiplier so that you need to multiply the original focal length with this multiplier to find the lens’ full frame equivalent focal length when mounted on M3.

Standard Zoom Lenses

  • Canon EF-M 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM

Standard Prime Lenses

  • 7artisans 35mm F1.2
  • Canon EF-M 32mm F1.4 STM
  • 7artisans 35mm F2

Wide-angle Zoom Lenses

  • Canon EF-M 11-22mm f4-5.6 IS STM
  • Canon EF-M 15-45mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM

Wide-angle Prime Lenses

  • Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM
  • Samyang 12mm f2.0 / 35mm F1.2 / 10mm f2.8 / 16mm f2.0

Telephoto Zoom Lenses

  • Canon EF-M 55-200mm f4.5-6.3 IS STM

Telephoto Prime Lenses

  • Samyang 300mm f6.3
  • Rokinon 85mm F1.8 Samyang 85mm F1.8

SuperZoom Lenses

  • Canon EF-M 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM

Wide-angle Fisheye Prime Lenses

  • Kamlan 8mm F3.0 Fisheye



Canon EOS M3 Specifications

Body type Rangefinder-style mirrorless
Max resolution 6000 x 4000
Effective pixels 24 megapixels
Sensor size APS-C (22.3 x 14.9 mm)
Sensor type CMOS
ISO Auto, 100-12800 (expandable to 25600)
Lens mount Canon EF-M
Focal length mult. 1.6×
Articulated LCD Tilting
Screen size 3
Screen dots 1,040,000
Max shutter speed 1/4000 sec
Format H.264
Storage types SD/SDHC/SDXC
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Weight (inc. batteries) 366 g (0.81 lb / 12.91 oz)
Dimensions 111 x 68 x 44 mm (4.37 x 2.68 x 1.73)
GPS None

You can reach full specifications of the Canon EOS M3 and Canon EOS M3 Manual from the official Canon website.

Should I buy the Canon EOS M3?

The Canon EOS M3 has its own charms. Its shell and its strong handheld controls should be well connected to the keen crowd of photographers and take good photos. This may not be the right choice for so many, but it is not a flat out the wrong choice for the majority.

This camera is for those looking for a well-built compact mirrorless camera for studio and landscape photography and people who want a modern camera to adapt non-native lenses.

It is not for who wants to shoot children’s pictures and quick action photos. Those who want to take photos without carrying extra batteries throughout the day. 

Do you have any other information about the Canon EOS M3? Left your ideas and questions in the comments section below! and please don’t forget to follow kuulphoto.com on Twitter @kuulphoto

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