While I’m not a friend of miniaturization for the sake of miniaturization — you still have to be able to comfortably hold a camera! — Sony engineers once again cheat physics and make possible what seemed to be science fiction not too long ago. The third edition of the successful RX100 lineup with a new built-in EVC and faster plus wider Zeiss 24-70mm (35mm equivalent) F1.8-2.8 Vario-Sonnar T* is not bigger than most compact P&S cameras, yet the premium Sony RX100 Mark III is packed with a large 20.1MP 1-inch CMOS sensor at its heart, the rear LCD now flips up by up to 180° (new selfie king cam?!), sure thing it has Wi-Fi and video now features a full-sensor readout 1080p stored at up to 50Mbps in the XAVC S format. Add the faster new BIONZ X processor. All this weighing not even 300 grams.
Loved the first RX100 incarnation. Mark I was announced only two years ago. No doubt Sony set a new standard. Now when I heard they gonna pep up the RX100 III (specs) with an electronic viewfinder (a.k.a. battery eater), well I wasn’t too enthusiastic since I tried to like the compact Panasonic LF1 with adjustable electronic viewfinder and Leica glass. Sounds like a match, yet that viewfinder is simply a gimmick and totally not usable. This Sony, however, looks like the perfect pocketable backup camera — knowing Sony they’re more an electronics than optical company. Yet because photography is more and more an electronic affair, Sony enjoys a clear advantage, this OLED viewfinder will certainly deliver.
They invent the pop-up electronic viewfinder. That’s a world’s first and a great addition for people with impaired eyesight. Personally I don’t want and need a built-in viewfinder in a compact camera. A point-and-shoot camera is always a compromise of convenience. You can’t have it all. Yet Sony is trying to get the attention of enthusiast amateurs and pros alike
And they manage to fit in an ND filter when maximum shutter speed of 1/2,000th of a second isn’t fast enough. Cool. Add the “standard” 24-70mm zoom range. Not an ultra zoom, yet certainly a most promising all-rounder. While the shooting experience with an RX100 needs a bit of familiarization, the Mark III as well can be easily customized.
The things missing is touchscreen and yes, the Mark III loses the flash hot shoe and I wish it was made of metal and if I want a proper viewfinder I buy something bigger with more performance. But in the end photography is always about the optics. The lens is a marvel of optical engineering. It doesn’t extend as far as its predecessor at the long end, however it is a brighter optic which allows an aperture of F2.8 to be used at full telephoto. So much imaging power and versatility for not even $800. Anyone seriously complaining?
+++ Now what do reviewers and photographers say about this new compact king? Read our definitive, continuously updated Sony RX100 III bringing you all the relevant hands-on reviews and field reports that matter (latest update on top):
Engadget likes the fantastic and costly point-and-shoot:
When Sony launched its first RX100 back in 2012, we were very impressed. The camera offered tremendous functionality in a pocketable package. Then, when the RX100 II came around last year, Sony added WiFi along with a full size hot shoe (which can accommodate high-end audio gear, among other accessories), besting the original model. This year’s iteration is by far the most capable yet, with a superior lens, XAVC S encoding and a unique popup EVF. At $800, it’s a significant investment, particularly within the point-and-shoot category, but if you need a ton of power in your pocket and you don’t mind paying for it, you can’t do any better than this.
Pocket-lint says autofocus ought to be more effective in all lighting, price is high and buttons controls are small, but:
As has always been the case with the RX100 series, the third-generation model does a sterling job when it comes to its images. Indeed it’s the best in the series yet and not just because of its sensor and new Bionz X processor, but because of the new lens.
It’s hard to believe such a small camera can deliver images with such clarity and its results clear many of our minor performance quibbles(…)
The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III adds key features that were absent in its predecessors and is the camera to shake up the high-end compact market one again. It’s the benchmark pocketable camera to beat.
We love the new built-in electronic viewfinder, the tilt-angle LCD screen, the lens ring’s smooth control and the newer, faster lens. We’re less keen on the physically small controls and the autofocus really ought to be more effective in all conditions, but we can forgive that as similar competitors are no better and the excellent image quality ensures the camera stands out in the category.
The RX100 III isn’t a subtle re-rub of the known formula, it’s a rethink for the better and one that further elevates Sony’s position in the premium camera market. If pocketable is priority then the RX100 III is the best of the bunch. Assuming you can afford it — but then it is worth saving for.
Ming Thein tests the third generation RX100 — more pros and cons, he concludes:
The thing is, I own a GR already, and these cameras aren’t something I use for paying client work; they’re really what I consider to be ‘off duty’ entertainment devices. If I didn’t, I’d probably buy the Mark III straight away; however, for the way I shoot and the way I use the GR, the tradeoffs the RX100III requires are a toss up against the things I gain. I’m going to have to use it a bit more before deciding if I’ll buy one or not; good thing I’ve got a couple more weeks with the loaner. I’d like to finish with one thought: throughout the time I’ve used the camera, I’ve been subconsciously assessing it for what it’s lacking or where it falls short against much larger and more fully featured cameras. This is an important point to note: it is a compact that really plays in a class above, and puts things into perspective, don’t you think?
DP Review‘s verdict? Right, it’s a Gold Award:
The RX100 III is the most capable compact camera we’ve ever seen. With its built-in viewfinder and more consistently fast lens, there’s nothing that can provide better image quality in such a small package. It’s not the perfect camera to take shot-to-shot control over, but it’s capability means it justifies its high price tag (…)
Our concerns about the handling leave us concluding that, if it had a credible rival, there’s every chance the RX100 M3 wouldn’t get a Gold award – we’d like a more enjoyable shooting experience from an $800 camera. Ultimately, though, the additions to what were already the strongest cameras in their class leave the RX100 III literally peerless. At which point it has to go one better than its predecessors, and receive our highest award.
The new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III is once again a better camera than its predecessor, both in terms of features and image quality, but it has gone up in price again. The eye-watering price-tag of $799 continues to be an awful lot to ask for a humble compact camera, making the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II one of the most expensive models on the market and putting it into direct competition with mid-range compact system cameras and entry level DSLRs. Having said that, this camera will actually be a better fit for many people, especially if size is a priority, and it also makes a perfect second camera for professionals. We loved shooting with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III, which proves there’s still a lot of life left in the compact camera yet…
Honorable Luminous Landscape tests the mighty pocket camera, saying the best pro-level compact camera simply gets better:
There’s a lot to like about the Sony RX100 Mark III. The new features over the Mark II and especially the Mark I make it highly attractive. When I first saw the camera I thought — guess I have to get one. But by the end of my two weeks of almost daily shooting, and as I packed the sample camera up to return to Sony, I realized that I probably wouldn’t. The reason is that as good as the Mark III is, and as full-featured as one could likely wish, the original Mark I which I’ve owned for the past two years is still a great little camera and continues to do its job as my go-everywhere camera.
If I didn’t own the Mark I, I would almost certainly order the Mark III immediately. But since this isn’t my main camera, or even my secondary, it’s hard for me to justify an expensive upgrade. On the other hand, for anyone with less cameras that me, or who wants the latest tech in a truly pocketable camera, the new Sony RX100 Mark III is hard to trump.
The Sony fights off smartphone cameras, writes the Australian Financial Review. They especially like that EVF:
The popup viewfinder is the real treat. It’s missing from most cameras this size, including the previous RX100 models. But for a travel camera that you’re likely to use in the bright outdoors, it’s a fairly essential feature. It’s not the highest resolution viewfinder on the market by any means — it’s only got 1.44 million dots, a million less than we’re used to — but it’s bright and clear enough that you’ll find yourself using far more than the technical specs might suggest.
DxOMark talks of a “high-end compact with all the trimmings”:
Almost a year on from unveiling its predecessor, the RX100 II, the new Sony RX100 III appears to be more than just minor upgrade, with some pretty impressive looking additions to the spec’ sheet. Chief of these is the new built-in electronic viewfinder, or EVF, which was a feature sadly lacking from the Mark II version. As we’ve said before, the Sony engineers are certainly keen on innovation (…) Whereas the RX100 II offered a maximum sensitivity of 25,600 ISO, the Mark III now maxes out at 12,800 ISO, offering 1-stop less sensitivity.
SonyAlphaRumors is pretty ecstatic about the new compact Sony, summing up the top improvements (read the whole thing!) — in short:
The new RX100 Mark III has 5-axis stabilization, 3-times faster processing, AA aspherical elements and more!
The Camera Store says the Sony RX100 series are widely considered the most capable compact cameras available. While the RX100 was a ground-breaking camera, the RX100 Mark II offered only incremental improvements. Does Sony up the ante with the Mark III? Chris Niccolls investigates:
DP Review especially likes “that new lens”:
The RX100 III’s lens is much more ambitious than those of its predecessors, offering a much improved maximum aperture range and a wider starting point (if you don’t mind the drop in telephoto reach). Sony is immensely proud of one of the technologies it has developed: the combination of two aspherical lens elements. This has been key to allowing such a wide and bright lens to be built into such a compact design. The lens can focus as close as 5cm at wide angle and 30cm at the long end of the zoom (…)
So when will you see this benefit? First, since the fast lens allows more light to hit the sensor, it improves image quality, particularly in low light. Also, the lower the equivalent aperture, the shallower the depth of field. While the RX100 III won’t perform as well as the G1 X II in this regard (particularly since the Canon is at its best at longer focal lengths, which the Sony doesn’t offer), it’s still excellent by compact camera standards.
TrustedReviews say Sony looks to up its game again:
Our first impressions of the Sony RX100 III are that Sony has once again upped the anti, creating the standout premium compact camera. The new inbuilt EVF is excellent and a very useful addition, while the revised lens range should make this model even more versatile than its predecessors. The powerful stabilization and new video modes also make this a serious videographers tool too.
From Amateur Photographer‘s first impressions:
Some users will appreciate the improved customisation control, and the customisation that’s been added to the control ring is an advantage over the previous model. Anyone coming to the RX100 III from a previous model in the RX100 series will be able to pick it up and use it from the word go — very little has changed in the menu other than a few new additions.
Our overall view is that it’s an improvement on an already excellent premium compact. The RX100 II picked up numerous accolades and there’s no reason to say the RX100 III will be any different. Now with an in-built bright and magnified EVF, it offers the perfect blend of what users want from a premium compact camera.
CNET laments the Mark III costs $100 more than its predecessors, yet in a lot of ways it’s a completely different camera:
Still targeted at enthusiasts, albeit now deeper-pocketed ones, the RX100 Mark III has a potentially better lens, cleverly designed built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) and newer-generation image processing which provides a host of new features (…)
The biggest sadness here: it uses the same, rather lackluster contrast autofocus system as most of Sony’s other compacts. Plus it still lacks a grip.
From Pocket-lint‘s hands on:
We think Sony is on to a real winner with the Cyber-shot RX100 III, albeit one that you’ll need to save up for. But if there’s a camera that could be tipped to be king of the compacts then this is it. There might be larger sensor offerings out there, but none are as small and truly pocketable as the Sony.
Here are two official Sony promo videos offering some insights: