Canon EOS M3 Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing Canon EOS M3 image quality to the original, the EOS M (sorry, the M2 never made it into our lab), as well as against several mirrorless models at similar price points or in similar categories: the Fuji X-A2, Olympus E-PL7, Samsung NX500 and Sony A6000.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved, click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Canon EOS M3, Canon EOS M, Fuji X-A2, Olympus E-PL7, Samsung NX500 and Sony A6000 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Canon EOS M3 to any camera we've ever tested!

Canon EOS M3 vs Canon EOS M at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 100
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 100
Canon EOS M at ISO 100

The 24-megpaixel EOS M3 is able to resolve a bit more detail than the 18-megapixel EOS M, and it produces an image that appears a touch crisper as well, though both leave obvious sharpening halos around high-contrast edges. Noise levels are comparable despite the M3's smaller pixels, however the newer model does a bit better at controlling chroma noise. As a result, though, the original M does a better job overall with our tricky red-leaf swatch (the M3 also begins to resolve some of the fabric strands which interferes with the pattern's detail).

Canon EOS M3 vs Fujifilm X-A2 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 200
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 100
Fujifilm X-A2 at ISO 200

The Canon M3 clearly resolves more detail than the 16-megapixel Fuji X-A2, but the X-A2's image is smoother and cleaner-looking with hardly any signs of noise. The Canon offers higher contrast in our red-leaf fabric, but the Fuji actually resolves finer detail. The Canon does noticeably better with in the pink fabric, though.

Canon EOS M3 vs Olympus E-PL7 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 200
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 100
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 200

Again, the M3's resolution advantage is apparent against the 16-megapixel Olympus E-PL7. Noise levels are also lower from the M3, with the PL7 already producing some minor noise reduction artifacts than can be seen the darker areas and shadows, though keep in mind the higher base ISO of the Olympus. The E-PL7's image is however crisper and has more clearly defined detail in the red-leaf fabric.

Canon EOS M3 vs Samsung NX500 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 100
Samsung NX500 at ISO 100

At base ISO, the 28-megapixel Samsung NX500 is able to resolve slightly more detail, and its default processing yields a crisper image, yet with less obvious sharpening halos. The NX500 also shows more detail in our red-leaf swatch, but moiré patterns are also more visible (the M3's image only shows hints of them). The NX500 does much better with the thread pattern in the pink fabric, though we prefer the color and saturation from the Canon.

Canon EOS M3 vs Sony A6000 at Base ISO

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 100
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 100
Sony A6000 at ISO 100

The 24-megapixel Sony A6000 resolves a very similar amount of detail, though its image is crisper while displaying almost no sharpening halos. Luminance noise levels are similar in the shadows, though the Canon's image contains less chrominance noise. The Sony does a better job with the fabrics.

Canon EOS M3 vs Canon EOS M at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M at ISO 1600

The EOS M3 continues to offer better detail in most areas of our studio Still Life target at ISO 1600. Luminance noise is higher, but looks a little more natural with a fine, tight grain pattern. Both smear our tricky red-leaf pattern, but the EOS M does produce a better rendering of the pattern.

Canon EOS M3 vs Fujifilm X-A2 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 1600
Fujifilm X-A2 at ISO 1600

The Canon M3 continues to out-resolve the Fuji X-A2 at ISO 1600 in most areas but only slightly, while the X-A2 produces an image which much lower noise levels. Amazing high ISO performance from the Fuji.

Canon EOS M3 vs Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 1600
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 1600

Here at ISO 1600, the Olympus produces a cleaner image but it contains stronger noise reduction artifacts. The Canon continues to capture more detail, but it's also noisier. Overall, the M3's rendering is more natural-looking, but the E-PL7's is more vibrant, and the Olympus does better in the red-leaf fabric.

Canon EOS M3 vs Samsung NX500 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 1600
Samsung NX500 at ISO 1600

The Samsung NX500 continues to produce better, crisper detail as well as lower noise levels than the Canon M3 at ISO 1600, though saturation is a little lower.

Canon EOS M3 vs Sony A6000 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 1600
Sony A6000 at ISO 1600

Here, the Sony A6000 produces a cleaner, crisper image, though it does look a bit more heavily "processed" than the Canon's. The Sony does much better in our difficult red-leaf pattern, though some of the detail is distorted and not real.

Canon EOS M3 vs Canon EOS M at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M at ISO 3200

Again, the Canon M3 manages to capture more detail than the M in most areas at ISO 3200, while producing a more film-like noise grain, though noise levels do appear a bit higher when viewed at 100% like this. Almost all detail is now lost in our troublesome red-leaf swatch from the M3, while older M at least reproduces some semblance of the pattern.

Canon EOS M3 vs Fujifilm X-A2 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 3200
Fujifilm X-A2 at ISO 3200

The Fuji X-A2 continues to perform extremely well at ISO 3200, producing not only a much cleaner image than the Canon M3, but one with better detail and nicer colors as well.

Canon EOS M3 vs Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 3200
Olympus E-PL7 at ISO 3200

Here at ISO 3200, we can see the Olympus E-PL7 is really working hard to produce a cleaner, crisper image than the M3, but one that contains more processing artifacts. The Olympus does do quite a bit better in the red-leaf swatch.

Canon EOS M3 vs Samsung NX500 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 3200
Samsung NX500 at ISO 3200

Once again, the Samsung NX500 comes out ahead with a crisper, slightly cleaner image containing better detail, though some minor noise reduction artifacts are visible in flatter areas. The Samsung also continues to do better in our tricky red-leaf swatch.

Canon EOS M3 vs Sony A6000 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M3 at ISO 3200
Sony A6000 at ISO 3200

This comparison is a tough call. The Sony image is a little cleaner and brighter but it's starting to look a bit muddled, while the Canon image is grainier but a bit more natural looking. The A6000 appears to show more detail in the red-leaf swatch, but much of it is false, being heavily distorted.

Canon EOS M3 vs. Canon EOS M, Fujifilm X-A2, Olympus E-PL7, Samsung NX500, Sony A6000

100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 200100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Canon EOS M3 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Canon EOS M test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Fujifilm X-A2 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Olympus E-PL7 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Samsung NX500 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony A6000 test image taken at ISO 6400
Canon
EOS M3
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
EOS M
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Fujifilm
X-A2
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Olympus
E-PL7
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Samsung
NX500
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A6000
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it, too. Here, the Canon EOS M3 does well at base ISO, but contrast and detail drop off a little at ISO 3200 and again at ISO 6400. Still, it performs much better than the EOS M, as well as the X-A2 at higher ISOs. The rest in the group shows less of a drop in contrast and fine detail as ISO rises.

 

Canon EOS M3 Print Quality Analysis

High-quality prints up to 30 x 40 inches at ISO 100-400; Nice 11 x 14 inch prints at ISO 3200; and 4 x 6 inch prints squeak by at ISO 25,600.

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageISO 100/200/400 images all look nearly identical, and with lots of fine detail and pleasing, vibrant colors, these images make excellent prints up to massive 30 x 40 inches. At close inspection, there is some slight softness, as we're really pushing the resolving power of the 24-megapixel sensor, but at typical viewing distances for prints of this size, the resolution looks great. 30 x 40 prints are quite large, and the largest we test-print at IR. You're really only limited to how much you want to push the 24MP sensor's resolution should you wish to print larger sizes.

ISO 800 images still look very good, however, we can see that subtle shadow noise has become apparent, making a 20 x 30 inch print the largest size we're comfortable with. With that said, the colors and detail are still very good, so a 24 x 36 print could do well for less critical applications.

ISO 1600 prints look great up to 16 x 20 inches. Noise in the shadows is more visible now, though finely grained, but overall, prints at this size still show a lot of detail and pleasing colors.

ISO 3200 images might work up to 13 x 19 inches for less critical applications, but the increasing appearance of noise has us playing it safe with 11 x 14 inches. Fine detail is still quite good at this print size, but we noticed colors begin to appear slightly drab with a subtle greenish tinge now.

ISO 6400 prints look great up to 8 x 10 inches. Naturally, noise is stronger and more apparent at this sensitivity now, but there's still a good amount of detail.

ISO 12,800 images top-out at 5 x 7 inches. Details become too soft due to noise to really consider any larger print sizes acceptable.

ISO 25,600 prints just manage to squeak by with a usable 4 x 6 inch print. At this size, the increased noise and drab colors are workable, though we're very hesitant to print anything larger at this ISO sensitivity.

Sporting a big upgrade in the sensor and processor department compared to the original EOS M, the new Canon EOS M3 has an impressive showing in the print quality department, particularly at lower ISOs. Surprisingly, prints from ISO 100 up to 400 look virtually identical with lots of detail and great colors allowing for very large prints up to 30 x 40 inches. At the middle ISO ranges, the M3 does well to control noise and balance NR processing with a good amount of fine detail. At ISO 3200, the M3 manages a pleasant 11 x 14 inch print, though colors have begun to appear slightly "off" at this point. Even at the tip-top of the ISO scale, the new Canon EOS M3 achieves a usable 4 x 6 at ISO 25,600.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageTesting hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 



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