Canon EOS M3 review

Has Canon finally got serious about compact system cameras? We give the EOS M3 a full test to find out

Canon EOS M3

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With Canon's new 24.2-million-effective-pixel CMOS sensor and DIGIC 6 processor the M3 has a lot of potential, but this is restricted by a few factors. The first of these is the lack of a built-in viewfinder, which makes it hard to compose images in very bright conditions. Happily there is a solution for this in the guise of an external electronic viewfinder.

Canon EOS M3

The EOS M3 does not have a viewfinder built in, but you can get one as an optional extra.

Canon EOS M3

The optional EVF-DC1 viewfinder can flip upwards to a maximum of 90 degrees.

The autofocus system can also be very frustrating in some situations, as it has a habit of indicating that the subject is sharp when it's not. This makes you doubt the camera and you find yourself checking images on a regular basis to make sure that the subject is sharp. Lastly, we found that the kit lens is a lacklustre performer that doesn't do the sensor justice.

It's a shame because with the right lens mounted the M3 is capable of capturing lots of detail and attractive, vibrant colours.

Canon EOS M3

The EOS M3 can capture lots of detail, but the 18-55mm STM kit lens doesn't necessarily do it justice.

We liked

Once again Canon has implemented the touchscreen well giving users the opportunity to switch between using the screen and using buttons or dials to control the camera and navigate through images. Image quality is also very high.

We disliked

As mentioned earlier, the lack of a built-in viewfinder is annoying, but the inconsistent performance of the autofocus system is more worrying. Other cameras like the Panasonic GX7, Olympus OM-D E-M10 and Sony Alpha 6000 allow more precise focus point selection and they get the subject sharp more consistently, rarely giving false positives (when the camera thinks the AF system has focused on the target, but it hasn't).


The M3 has some tough competition and as with the original M, the new camera is capable of producing high quality images that are at least a match for those from cameras such as the Olympus OM-D E-M10 and Sony Alpha 6000. However, the occasionally frustrating autofocus system and Canon's lack of commitment to the system, with a failure to bring out an enticing line-up of lenses or accessories, means that those looking for a smaller alternative to an SLR are better off looking elsewhere.

Canon EOS M3

There are just four lenses in the Canon EF-M system, though you can fit other Canon lenses using an adaptor.

Inexperienced photographers are less likely to be concerned about the limited number of directly compatible lenses and will be happy with the step up in image quality in comparison with a point-and-shoot compact camera or the average smartphone. Nevertheless, there will be times when they struggle to get the subject sharp.