Unbeknownst to many, Canon has been selling mirrorless cameras since 2012, in addition to SLRs and point-and-shoots. Marketing for the EOS M system is starting to pick up - at least in the U.S. - with two models to choose from: the entry-level EOS M10 and step-up EOS M3, which we'll be covering here.

The EOS M3 (left) with its cheaper sibling, the EOS M10.

The EOS M3 is very much like a Rebel T6s stuffed into a compact body that resembles the company's PowerShot models. It uses the same Hybrid CMOS AF III 24.2MP CMOS sensor as the T6s as well as a Digic 6 processor, touchscreen LCD and Wi-Fi with NFC. Unlike the Rebel and EOS DSLRs in general, EOS M bodies use the EF-M lens mount, though EF lenses can be used via an optional adapter.

Trying to figure out where the EOS M3 fits into the mirrorless landscape is tough. Its closest peers, based on price and features, are the Fujifilm X-A2, Olympus E-M10 II and Sony a6000 (we're leaving Nikon 1 cameras out of the list, as we believe the series is no longer being developed.) Like the EOS M3, the Fujifilm lacks a built-in EVF and has an LCD that flips upward 180°. The Olympus E-M10 II and Sony a6000 offer EVFs but don't have the 'selfie' LCD.

Compared to EOS M10 and Fujifilm X-A2

Below is a spec comparison pitting the EOS M3 against its cheaper sibling, the EOS M10, as well as the Fujifilm X-A2, which is one of its closest competitors.

  Canon EOS M3 Canon EOS M10 Fujifilm X-A2
Lens mount Canon EF-M Canon EF-M Fujifilm X
Crop factor 1.6x 1.6x 1.5x
Hybrid AF Yes Yes No
LCD type Tilting
(180° up/45° down)
(180° up)
(175° up)
LCD resolution 1.04M-dot 1.04M-dot 920k-dot
Touchscreen Yes Yes No
Electronic VF Optional No No
Control dials 2 1 2
Burst rate 4.2 fps 4.6 fps 5.6 fps
Video 1080/30p/24p 1080/30p/24p 1080/30p
Mic input Yes No No
Hot shoe Yes No Yes
In-camera Raw conversion No No Yes
Battery life 250 shots 255 shots 410 shots
Dimensions 111 x 68 x 44mm 108 x 67 x 35mm 117 x 67 x 40mm
Weight 366 g 301 g 350 g

The features that differentiate the M3 vs the M10 are pretty obvious - the M3 offers one more control dial and another for exposure compensation plus a hot shoe (to which you mount the optional EVF), an LCD that can angle downward and superior build quality. All of which suggest Canon has a more committed photography audience in mind. Comparing the M3 versus the X-A2 is a bit more complex, as there are clear tradeoffs for both cameras. One thing is for certain, though: Canon needs to work on battery life - badly.

The EOS-M system

The six currently available EF-M lenses from Canon

Despite being around for over four years, there are just six EF-M lenses available from Canon. They include four zooms (11-22 F4-5.6, 15-45 F3.5-6.3, 18-55 F3.5-5.6, 55-200 F4.5-6.3) and two primes (22mm F2 and 28mm F3.5 macro). There are lenses from third party manufacturers such as Tamron and Samyang/Rokinon (which are manual focus).

The EF to EF-M adapter lets you use giant lenses like this 70-200 F2.8L II.

To get access to the full collection of Canon EF and EF-S lenses, you can use an optional adapter, which sells for about $80. As it turns out, there are adapters for nearly every lens mount you can think of, from Leica to Olympus OM.