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Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III Full Review

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III Full Review - Read our full review of the new Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III - the serious compact camera with a hidden pop-up electronic viewfinder.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sony Cyber Shot RX100 Mark III
Sony's new Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III is designed for those that want better landscapes and portraits, and is only 9g heavier than the RX100 Mark II. The Mark III features a new 24-70mm equivalent wide-angle lens, and built-in pop-up viewfinder. As well as improved auto-focus modes, the camera features a tilting screen that tilts to face you. The Sony RX100 III is a new premium model in the range which includes the RX100 II, and RX100 - these will remain in the market, as a more affordable option.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III Features

Sony Cyber Shot RX100 Mark III (2)
The RX100 III does not feature a flash hot-shoe / accessory shoe, for this you will need to look at the RX100 Mark II. However it does feature a number of enhancements including a built in pop-up electronic viewfinder (EVF), which features a 1.44million dot resolution, and Zeiss T* coating.

The pop-up electronic viewfinder (EVF) features dioptre correction, and can be used to switch the camera on when activated. It also features eye-detection so that it will automatically switch to the EVF from the rear screen when held up to your eye. The EVF measures 0.38inches in size, which is larger than most other compact cameras, which tend to use a 0.2inch EVF.

Focus features have been updated to include: Lock on AF - continuously tracks moving subject, Easier auto focus area settings, Eye-detection auto focus for portraits, Auto object framing, MF assist, Focus peaking, and a Zebra mode has been added. You can also customise the size of the of the focus point, setting the size from large, medium and small.

The camera features a new, brighter Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/1.8-2.8, 24-70mm equivalent zoom lens, with a closer focusing distance at the telephoto end of 30cm. This is designed to enable better background blur and portrait shots in combination with the brighter f/2.8 aperture at the telelphoto end of the lens - a noticeable improvement over the RX100 and RX100 II. The 3inch screen now tilts forwards to enable "Selfie" shots or group shots.

The camera features a new BIONZ X processor as used in other Sony cameras - this offers improved detail reproduction technology, diffraction reducing technology when using smaller apertures, as well as improved area-specific noise reduction. The camera will be available with an optional leather case, and a rubber grip that attaches to the front of the camera is also an option.

Sony Cyber Shot RX100 Mark III (4)

Key Features

  • 20.1 megapixel 1inch BSI CMOS sensor
  • 2.9x optical zoom lens, Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/1.8-2.8, 24-70mm equivalent
  • Improved optical image stabilisation (intelligent active mode support)
  • 9 aspherical lenses, including 3 AA (advanced aspherical)
  • 3inch tilting screen, 1,229,000 dots, 180 degree tilting for selfies, 45 degrees down
  • Pop-up Electronic ViewFinder OLED TruFinder, 1,440,000dots, Zeiss T* coating, built in eye-sensor
  • ISO125 - ISO12800 (ISO25600 Multi-Frame NR)
  • 10fps continuous shooting
  • FullHD 60p video, full pixel readout, 50mbps, XAVC S video format, AVCHD, 120fps at 720p (100p PAL)
  • 5-axis IS, dual video recording (light MP4 version), HDMI clean output for external recording
  • New custom button, upgraded customisation of function buttons
  • 5cm macro focus, 30cm at telephoto end
  • Wi-Fi / NFC connectivity
  • 320 shot battery life
  • 263g weight (without battery / memory card), 101.6x58.1x41.0mm
  • 4K video output for playback on 4K TVs

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III Handling

Sony Cyber Shot RX100 Mark III (10)
The top of the camera features the pop-up EVF, pop-up flash (and release button), stereo microphones for video recording, on/off button, shutter release with zoom rocker, and mode dial. The lens features the same control wheel surrounding the lens as found on the RX100 and RX100 II, letting you adjust settings quickly.

The rear of the camera features the same control layout as the RX100 and RX100 II, with a small rubber thumb grip, however added to the camera is a C (Custom) button that can be set to any one of 41 controls available to give quicker access to your favourite settings. The screen now tilts up 180 degrees, and can also tilt 45 degrees down, for awkward angle shots.

The camera feels well built with a compact metal body, although the lack of a grip at the front of the camera, may make some purchasers wish for more. One solution would be to buy the Sony leather case for the camera, or alternatively a Flipbac camera grip could be added, or you could always use the provided strap to make sure you don't accidentally drop the camera.

The function button brings up a rear control panel, which can also be customised with your favourite options, and the Sony menus have been standardised between the entire Sony range, so that if you have used one of the other new cameras, then you should feel at home using the RX100 III.

To release the built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF), you simply press the button on the side, and then when it has popped up, you pull the viewfinder towards you. The EVF has dioptre adjustment, as well as an eye-detection sensor so that it will automatically switch to the EVF from the screen when held up to your eye. The EVF looks good, and is particularly useful in bright sunny conditions when it can be more difficult to view the screen.

Sony Cyber Shot RX100 Mark III (5)

To use the Wi-Fi features with your smartphone you need to download the Sony PlayMemories Mobile app for Android or iOS. The app lets you remotely trigger the camera, control the zoom and set a self-timer, or send photos to the smartphone for sharing on social networks. You can also use NFC to setup the connection if your smartphone has NFC built in. Selecting photos can be done on the camera or the smartphone, and the app has options to set the image size transferred, from full size, 2 megapixels, and VGA. You can also use Sony PlayMemories Apps - a number are free: Picture effect+, Photo retouch, Direct upload v2 (Facebook, Flickr) to name a few.

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 320 shots according to Sony / CIPA test results, which is reasonably good for a compact camera, although if you shoot more or plan on using Wi-Fi a lot then we would recommend a spare battery.

Sony Cyber Shot RX100 Mark III (7)
Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response 0.0secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.1secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.125secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.0secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.5secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 2.0secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
9fps (61 shots, JPEG Fine)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 1.8s
Continuous Shooting - RAW 6.2fps (25 shots)


Focus and shutter response are both extremely quick, and the camera has a good shot to shot time, although switch on time is a little slow, as is the flash recharge time. Continuous shooting is good at 9fps when shooting JPEG fine images, and 6.2fps when shooting RAW.

Sony Cyber Shot RX100 Mark III (8)

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III Sample Photos


Sample Photos - The camera takes photos with good colour, with good saturation levels, without being overly saturated. Exposure is reliable, and the camera records a good level of dynamic range when DRO (Dynamic Range Optimisation) is left on Auto. This can be altered, or you can use the HDR shooting mode for additional dynamic range. There is no red-eye visible in the portrait photo taken with flash, and skin tones are good.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III Lens test images


Lens Performance - The new lens is much brighter at the telephoto end, now an f/2.8 lens instead of the f/4.9 on the RX100 Mark I and Mark II. It's also wider, zooming from 24mm equivalent wide-angle to 70mm equivalent telephoto. Detail is good and quality remains good into the corners of photos whether shooting wide-angle or telephoto. The lens is quite resistant to flare even when shooting into the sun. Macro photos can be taken with the subject 5cm from the lens when shooting wide-angle, and 30cm at the telephoto end, which is an improvement over the previous model, which had a closest focusing distance of 55cm at the telephoto end. There is some vignetting visible when shooting at the wide-angle end of the lens, but minimal barrel distortion.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO80 to ISO800, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO1600 to ISO6400 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced. At ISO12800 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. ISO12800 and ISO25600 could still be useful when shooting using the multi-frame noise reduction mode, however detail is low.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III White-balance test images


White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a warm colour cast under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving an accurate result. AWB performs well under fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset giving a magenta colour cast.

Panoramic  | 1/500 sec | f/4.5 | 8.8 mm | ISO 125Panoramic | 1/500 sec | f/4.5 | 8.8 mm | ISO 125

Panorama mode - The camera features an automatic panoramic mode, where you simply press the shutter release button and pan the camera from one side to the other. Results are good, and well stitched together, with a good resolution image produced.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III Digital filters


Digital Filters - Picture effects can be selected when shooting JPEG images (raw is not available). There are also colour options (called Creative Style), that let you adjust the contrast, saturation, and sharpness, and this is available when shooting JPEG and raw.

Video - Optical zoom is available while recording, as well as a wind filter. Video quality is very good with the optical image stabilisation helping to steady to image.

Value For Money

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III is available for £699 which makes it quite pricey, particularly up against the following cameras, shown below, and at this price, you could also have a look at a number of compact system cameras.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II, 3.6x optical zoom (28-100mm equivalent), f/1.8-4.9, flash hot-shoe, no EVF, £489
Olympus Stylus 1, 10.7x optical zoom (28-300mm equivalent), constant f/2.8 aperture, built in EVF, £499
Canon Powershot G1 X Mark II, 5x optical zoom lens (24-120mm equivalent), large sensor, f/2-3.9, no EVF, £729

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III Verdict

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III features a 1inch 20.2 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor that delivers impressive noise performance and excellent image quality. Combined with a new high quality Carl Zeiss f/1.8 24-70mm equivalent optical zoom lens with image stabilisation and Sony's skillset in miniaturisation means Sony are able to produce a compact digital camera with a hidden electronic viewfinder, plus Wi-Fi connectivity and NFC. The RX100 III also improves on the previous model with a tilting screen that tilts forwards, great for self-portraits.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III is available now, with an RRP of £699, however if the price seems high, and you don't need or want the new electronic viewfinder and lens, then the previous mode, the RX100 II, makes an excellent option, as well as the RX100. The RX100 III takes the already impressive RX100 II image quality and gives an impressive new 24-70mm lens, that is brighter at the telephoto end, and for those that want an electronic viewfinder, the EVF in the RX100 III is excellent, larger than most, and very neatly tucks away keeping the camera compact and pocketable. 

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III Pros

Pop-up electronic viewfinder
24-70mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens
Large 20.1 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor
Dual axis electronic level
Wi-Fi / NFC connectivity
Sony PlayMemories Apps
Excellent noise performance
Excellent image quality
Tilting 3inch screen

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III Cons

Price
Little grip at the front
Some vignetting

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III is a compact camera with an impressive new lens and a clever pop-up electronic viewfinder.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III Specifications

ManufacturerSony
Lens
Max Aperturef/1.8 - f/2.8
35mm equivalent24mm - 70mm
Optical Zoom2.9x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels20.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5472
Pixels (H)3648
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1 inch
Sensor Size (width)13.2mm
Sensor Size (height)8.8mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 4:3
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution1,229,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • AF Tracking
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • Multi
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • A
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 1440x1080
Video FPS60p, 50p, 50i, 25p, 24p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiYes
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • Memory Stick
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-Ion
CIPA Rating320
Box Contents
Box ContentsRechargeable Battery Pack NP-BX1, Micro USB cable, Wrist Strap, Shoulder Strap Adaptor, Instruction ManualRechargeable Battery Pack NP-BX1, Micro USB cable, Wrist Strap, Shoulder Strap Adaptor, Instruction Manual
Dimensions
Weight290g
Width101.6mm
Height58.1mm
Depth41mm

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Comments


AlanWillis 5 63 England
21 May 2014 10:19PM
I thought my RX100 mk2 was perfection.
and now Sony up the game,

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