Gear: Canon M3


I will start all of my gear reviews with a disclaimer:

I primarily do landscapes, travel and architecture shots. I am not looking for speed demon cameras, lightning fast autofocus, or high aperture lenses. As a result, I’m just going to talk about pros and cons about the camera in terms of the features I use and what I use it for. Also, I almost never record video.


 

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Pros:

  • Tilt screen
  • Flash built in and tiltable
  • Lenses are nice and light, and affordable
  • Lenses get good reviews for image quality
  • Solid build
  • Exposure dial on top is really handy
  • Custom menu (add the menu features you want, all in one place)
  • Menus are simple to use
  • Touch screen, which I still don’t really use, out of habit, but it’s there
  • Adapted EF and EF-S lenses work great

 

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Image from the M3

Cons:

  • Screen isn’t fully articulated, so vertical images are difficult when shooting low to the ground (and when I’m shooting low it’s mostly vertical shots)
  • No good “walk-around” lens, the wide end of the 18-150 is 28.8mm, not wide enough for me
  • The filter sizes on the lenses are different, super inconvenient
  • Touch screen, I feel like I may have missed out on other more useful features (for me) by having this included, I wonder if it will be as durable as regular screens
  • Not great for brightening shadows, older generation sensor
  • Battery life isn’t great
  • No viewfinder, competitors are able to do it at the same size, weight and price point; why can’t Canon?
  • There is only one custom mode on the top mode dial
  • Sometimes the focus says it’s ready but it’s not in focus
  • The 1.6x crop of the Canon’s APS-C cameras isn’t great for wide angle shooters
  • The burst mode is slow
  • I can’t figure out the stabilizer, the options are “off” or “continuous”; I don’t want to kill the battery with continuous, where is the option for having it on just for the shot?
  • Can’t be converted into infrared (apparently there are thin lines across the sensor after conversion)

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Some crops from the church ceiling image above:

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Original shadow area, the shot was underexposed a bit to handle the highlights
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To show noise: exposure +2, shadows +100 (Lightroom)

 

Summary/Overall:

It’s still early in my relationship with the M3. I got it for travel and when I need a lightweight option, so I don’t use it as much as my regular camera. I got the white version to convert to infrared, and I was going to get a black one for regular shooting, so I could tell them apart. But then I found out that it can’t really be converted. So I put my order for a black one on hold, kept the white one for regular shooting, and got an M10 for infrared instead. I’m getting some great images and I’ve read that the M5/M6 sensor has largely fixed the shadow noise issues.

I had a huge dilemma between getting this or the Sony A6000. In the end, I was swayed by the great reviews for the EF-M lenses and by the high price of the Sony lenses; at the time, the Sony 16-70mm lens was $1400 Canadian, that’s ridiculous! The 16-50mm got bad reviews so that was my only option (even though the 16-70mm is not overly great). But for the price of that one little Sony lens, I got the M3 and three lenses!

I’m really happy with what they’re doing with the lenses. Super light and great image quality. The apertures aren’t big, but I’m usually at small apertures anyway. I’m always a bit confused by people saying there are no big aperture lenses available; this would go against the obvious goal of the M series, to be lightweight. If someone wants big heavy lenses I’m not sure why they would want to buy into this system (although some like the electronic view finder of mirrorless cameras). However, I’m not happy with how they’re releasing 18mm lenses at the wide end. The goal of the 18-150mm lens was a good idea but with Canon’s size of APS-C sensor this is 28.8mm which is not wide enough at all, I’d be switching lenses all the time. And one of the downsides of mirrorless cameras is how susceptible to dust they are. Less lens switching is better. So for now I’m stuck with the 15-45mm, not quite a good enough range for a “walk-around” lens but I’ll have to keep waiting either for a 1.5x crop sensor from Canon or an EF-M 15-85mm, that would be a dream come true. Actually, a dream come true would be when a company finally makes something like a 20-120mm, either for full frame or APS-C equivalent. But that might not be possible due to optical constraints. Anyway, I digress…

I love how light this system is!

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