To compare real-life performance, I shot this scene with the Canon EOS M3 and Sony A6000 within a few moments of each other, using their base sensitivities and taking care to match their vertical field of view. On this page I’m comparing out-of-camera JPEGs using the default settings. On the next page you’ll find my noise results for JPEG and RAW files. Both bodies were using their respective kit zooms set to f5.6 in Aperture Priority.
Canon’s new APS-C sensor allows the EOS M3 to share the same 24 Megapixel resolution as Sony’s A5100 and A6000, so the crops below show the same areas of the image.
Comparing the crops reveals two main differences involving image processing and optics. Taking image processing first, it’s clear from a glance that the EOS M3 is applying greater contrast than the A6000 and a little more sharpening for a punchier-looking result on out-of-camera JPEGs. Which approach you prefer is entirely personal though and it’s easy to adjust the processing styles to deliver the effect you prefer.
Moving onto optics, it’s clear the Canon kit zoom performs better in the corners and edges than the Sony kit zoom. I’ve said many times before that the 16-50mm kit zoom is the weak point in Sony’s mirrorless system – it may be very small and light, but the quality is compromised as a result. Of course it may be a compromise you’re willing to make, but don’t kid yourself you’ll enjoy the full benefit of a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor with this lens. In contrast, Canon’s EF-M 18-55mm IS STM kit zoom is relatively large compared to many mirrorless lenses, but it does perform much better in the corners as a result.
So while the EOS M3 and Sony A5100 / A6000 share the same potential resolving power, you’ll enjoy superior results with the Canon if you’re using their respective kit zooms.
Now scroll down to see how they compare throughout their sensitivity range in my Canon EOS M3 noise results, or skip to my Canon EOS M3 sample images or head back to my verdict.
Canon EOS M3 noise
To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Canon EOS M3 and Sony A6000 within a few moments of each other at each of their ISO settings. Both cameras were set to RAW+JPEG and the noise reduction settings to their defaults. Auto contrast adjustments were disabled. Both bodies were using their respective kit zooms. I’m presenting the JPEG results in the first table and a RAW comparison in the second table below it.
Canon’s new APS-C sensor allows the EOS M3 to share the same 24 Megapixel resolution as Sony’s A5100 and A6000, so the crops below show the same areas of the image. The pixel size will also be similar so I’d expect the results below to show more about the respective differences in their processing and optics, but let’s see!
As we saw on the previous pages, the JPEGs out of the EOS M3 have higher contrast and a little more sharpening than those from the A6000, giving them a punchier appearance. Look closely though and the degree of real-life detail is similar through most of the sensitivity range.
Both cameras deliver clean results up to 800 ISO and only really begin to reveal noise artefacts from 1600 ISO upwards. From this point, Canon’s punchier processing inevitably reveals more noise than the Sony, but I prefer the approach as the A6000 crops look a little mushy in comparison.
Scroll below my table of JPEG images and you’ll find RAW images processed using Adobe Camera RAW with 50 / 36 / 0.5 / 10 for sharpening, zero noise reduction and the same white balance. Interestingly despite sharing the same processing settings, the Canon EOS M3 crops still look more contrasty than the A6000, indicating potential differences in their optics and sensors.
Noise levels are similar though, making an appearance from 800 ISO and steadily increasing from there on. It’s interesting to compare the RAW crops with their JPEG counterparts to see the impact of noise reduction applied in-camera.
I think ultimately though the biggest difference between the two cameras here is contrast and it’s easy to reduce or increase for the desired effect.
Above right: Sony A6000 / 16-55mm. 100% crops from JPEGs at 25600 ISO
Canon EOS M3 vs Sony A6000 RAW noise
Now it’s time to check out my sample images or skip back to my verdict!