Canon EOS M3 Digital Camera Review
When will Canon get mirrorless right?
By the Numbers
On its own merit, the Canon M3 isn't that great of a camera. Though it has decent marks in dynamic range, the kit lens hinders the camera severely. While color reproduction is top-shelf, sharpness, noise, and video all suffer greatly.
The included 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens is about as sharp as a rubber ball. Hyperbole aside, if you notice a missed focus in your shots, it may not be a camera error: the lens itself isn't that sharp.
On its own, the lens is able to resolve about 1576 line widths per picture height: a perfectly mediocre result. But while the center sharpness is a bit better than that, it's the off-center areas that bring the average down considerably. Weirdly enough, the edges are fine, but the midway points are duller by half. That's tough to swallow.
Common problems like coma, and chromatic aberration are all present, but not absurdly so. Still, watch out for errors in high-contrast situations.
Color and White Balance
While sharpness is bad, color is great. With a ∆C 00 (saturation corrected) error of 2.04 and an overall saturation of 99.4%, color on the Canon EOS M3 is about as good as you can ask for.
White balance is another issue. The presets are very effective and easy to use, but most people will lean on the automatic setting. That's not a problem if your auto white balance is good, but this one is not.
Errors in daylight and fluorescent light aren't anything to write home about, but incandescent light is just too much for the M3 to handle. Errors top 2400 kelvin—meaning your snaps will have an orange glow to them that just doesn't go away unless you shoot in RAW.
Unless you're able to use an ISO setting of under 800, shots taken on the M3 are going to be noisy and that's all there is to it. Once you get to ISO 1600 and 3200, you'll notice 2% or more noise depending upon what NR setting you use.
Going into the menu, you'll find the "High ISO NR" settings. Leave them at standard, because changing them to "Low" or "Off" will increase the level of noise in your shots over 2%. If you leave noise reduction at the default setting "Standard," shouts don't net >2% noise until you go over ISO 3200.
A lone bright spot of this camera is its very good dynamic range. At base ISO, you can expect 7.29 stops of high quality (10:1 SNR) dynamic range—about the high end of average for a camera.
But it's how well the sensor is able to output high quality dynamic range up until ISO 6400 that makes it stand out among other mirrorless cameras near its price point. Normally we see cameras have about a stop or just under at ISO 6400, but the M3 is able to output 1.44 stops of high quality DR at ISO 6400. Not Earth-shattering, but surprisingly good for a sub-$500 camera.
If you stray any higher than that, you'll find that dynamic range tails off sharply. Even if you were to measure dynamic range by low-quality DR (1:1 SNR), the camera starts at 11.4 stops at ISO 100 and drops to 7.14 at ISO 12,800.
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