Canon EOS M3 Performance

Timing and Performance

Mixed performance for a mirrorless camera.

Startup/Play to Record

Power on
to first shot

~2.4 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Play to Record,
first shot

~1.6 seconds

Time until first shot is captured.

Powering on and taking a shot was on the slow side, taking about 2.4 seconds. Switching from Play to Record mode and taking a shot was a bit faster at 1.6 seconds, though that's still a bit sluggish.

Shutter Response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus
Single-point (center) AF

0.126 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture.

Full Autofocus
Single-point AF
TTL flash enabled

0.587 second

Time to capture while forcing flash to fire. Preflash metering pulses from flash often slow shutter response.

Manual Focus

0.112 second

For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".


0.056 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

In terms of the Canon M3's ability to determine that it's properly focused when shooting the same target multiple times using the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM kit lens, its full autofocus shutter response was quite fast a mirrorless camera. We measured only 0.126 second for full AF shutter lag using single point (center) AF. That's faster than some pro DSLRs and a huge improvement over the original EOS M, which tested at almost a full second with the same lens. Enabling the built-in flash added considerable delay for the pre-flash metering, though, resulting in a capture lag of about 0.59 second.

Shutter lag with manual focus was good at 0.112 second. "Prefocusing" the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure resulted in a lag time of only 0.056 second, also quite good for a mirrorless camera.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.

Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

1.11 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over a few frames.

Single Shot mode

1.38 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over a few frames.

Early shutter


Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.24 second (4.22 frames per second);
50+ frames total;
2 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 50 shots with no signs of slowing.

Continuous mode

0.25 second (3.95 frames per second);
4 frames total;
4 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 4 shot buffer capacity, then slowed to an average of 0.96s or 1.04fps when buffer was full.

Continuous mode
RAW + Large/Fine

0.25 second (4.00 frames per second);
4 frames total;
4 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 4 shot buffer capacity, then slowed to an average of 092s or 1.09fps when buffer was full.

Flash recycling

3.5 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s UHS-I SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times were on the slow side, taking about 1.1 seconds for best quality JPEGs, and about 1.4 seconds for RAW+ L/F JPEG files, however that's an improvement over the EOS M's 1.9 and 2.3 seconds respectively. (Note that we no longer test single-shot mode with just RAW files, as the results are usually somewhere in between JPEG and RAW+JPEG modes.)

Full-resolution continuous mode speeds were also slow by today's standards, at about 4.2 frames-per-second for best quality JPEGs, and just a bit slower at about 4 frames per second for RAW and RAW+L/F JPEG files. That's about the same burst speed as the EOS M, but keep in mind the M3's slightly larger 24-megapixel files.

Buffer depth for best quality JPEGs was excellent at over 50 frames with no signs of slowing, while the EOS M slowed after 13 frames. When shooting RAW files, however, buffer depths were quite shallow at only 4 frames with or without JPEGs. The original EOS M managed 6 RAW and 3 RAW+L/F JPEG files.

Buffer clearing times were quite good considering the resolution, ranging from 2 seconds after 50 best quality JPEGs, to 4 seconds after a burst of RAW or RAW+L/F JPEG frames. You can take additional photos while the buffer is clearing, but you can't view just-shot images or change settings until the buffer is cleared.

The Canon M3's built-in flash took an average of 3.5 seconds to recharge after a full-power discharge, which is not bad.

Bottom line, the Canon M3 offers mixed performance, ranging from sluggish startup and slow burst speeds with very shallow RAW buffers to excellent single-point AF speed and low prefocused shutter lag. The vast improvement in AF speed is great news, as very slow autofocus was one of the biggest drawbacks to the original EOS M.


Battery Life
Below average battery life for mirrorless ILC.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard, LCD)

The Canon M3 uses a custom LP-E17 rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a dedicated battery charger. Battery life is below average for a mirrorless camera, rated at only 250 shots per charge with 50% using flash. We recommend you pick up a spare battery and keep it freshly charged and on-hand.

The table above shows the number of shots the Canon M3 is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))


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