Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III Review

We review the third version of the Sony Cyber-shot RX10, the Mark III, with a new telephoto zoom lens.

| Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III in Compact Cameras
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Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III Review: Sony Cyber Shot RX10 MarkIII (12)

The Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III is the third version of the RX10 bridge camera from Sony, with the latest version featuring a 25x optical zoom lens with a bright f/2.4 to f/4.0 aperture, and a zoom range equivalent to 24 to 600mm in 35mm terms. The camera features the same "stacked" 20 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor as the RX10 Mark II, which enables high speed continues shooting as well as high speed video.

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III Features

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III Review: Sony Cyber Shot RX10 MarkIII (5)

The Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III is a premium priced ultra-zoom bridge camera with an impressively bright Zeiss 25x optical zoom lens that gives the equivalent of a 24-600mm telephoto zoom lens. Optical SteadyShot (optical image stabilisation) ensures sharp photos when shooting in low light or when using a lot of optical zoom.

The 20 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor used in the RX10 III is the latest version of Sony's 1inch sensor, and is a "Stacked" design, which enables faster sensor readout, including high speed video, and 14fps continuous shooting.

Other benefits of the new sensor include:

  • Super fast electronic shutter (1/32000s)
  • Super slow motion up to 1000fps (max 2 or 4 seconds)
  • 4K movie with full pixel read-out without pixel binning
  • Simultaneous still image recording up to 17MP during movie recording
  • 14fps high speed continuous shooting without display blackout
  • Anti-distortion shutter

If you're looking for an ultra-zoom camera, with a larger than normal 1inch sensor, then there are a number of alternatives to consider, all featuring a 20 megapixel 1inch sensor. Compared to the Canon Powershot G3 X, Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 and Nikon DL24-500 (not yet available, and then cancelled):

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III Canon Powershot G3 X Nikon DL24-500 Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
25x optical zoom 25x optical zoom 21x optical zoom 16x optical zoom
f/2.4-4.0, 24-600mm f/2.8-5.6, 24-600mm f/2.8-5.6, 24-500mm f/2.8-4.0, 25-400mm
14fps 7fps 60fps 12fps
3inch tilting screen 3.2inch tilting touch-screen 3inch vari-angle touch-screen 3inch vari-angle touch-screen
2359k dot EVF No EVF (optional) 2359k dot EVF 2359k dot EVF
4K video FullHD video 4K video 4K video
Wi-Fi / NFC Wi-Fi / NFC Wi-Fi / Bluetooth Wi-Fi / NFC
Weather-sealed Weather-sealed N/A N/A
Mic / headphone sockets Mic / headphone sockets Mic socket Mic socket
420 shots 300 shot battery life 290 shots 360 shots
1095g 733g 780g 780g


The camera offers an automatic shooting mode, numerous scene modes, plus full manual controls so that you have control over the shutter and aperture speeds. There is a manual aperture ring available around the lens, and this can be switched to clickless if required. There is side access to the memory card slot, which accepts either Sony Memory Sticks or SD / SDHC / SDXC cards.

The weather-sealed body resembles a Digital SLR (with a top LCD screen as well), and the camera has a weight of 1095g (with battery and memory card). The camera features diffraction-reducing technology, designed to maintain clarity even when using smaller apertures. 

Wi-Fi and NFC is built-in so that you can connect the camera to your smartphone or tablet using Sony PlayMemories Mobile (available for Android and iOS). You can also download additional Sony PlayMemories apps, which are available either for free or a small fee. The apps add additional functionality and features that can be used directly on the camera. 

4K video is available at 25fps with optical zoom and stereo sound, and you'll also find microphone and headphone sockets on the side. High speed video is available at 250fps (1824 x 1026), 500fps (1676 x 566) and 1000fps (1136 x 384), for a limited amount of time, which can be extended when shooting at a lower resolution.

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III Review: Sony Cyber Shot RX10 MarkIII (6)

Key Features

  • 20.1 megapixel 1inch BSI CMOS sensor
  • 25x optical zoom lens, f/2.4-4.0, Optical Steadyshot
  • 24-600mm equivalent in 35mm terms
  • Tilting 3inch 1288k dot screen
  • Electronic Viewfinder (XGA OLED)
  • 14fps continuous shooting
  • 3cm close macro performance
  • Electronic shutter (up to 1/32000s)
  • 4K UHD video recording (3840x2160)
  • High speed video recording
  • Triple lens ring (focus, aperture, zoom)
  • Dust and moisture resistance
  • Wi-Fi / NFC connectivity

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III Handling

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III Review: Sony Cyber Shot RX10 MarkIII (4)

Build quality and handling is excellent with the camera featuring a large rubber hand grip surrounding the right hand side where you hold the camera, and on the back this continues all the way round to where there is a shaped area for your thumb to grip. Above the thumb is where you'll find the exposure compensation dial. Holding the camera with two hands is recommended due to the size and weight of the camera which is now 1095g. The left hand side of the camera (viewed from the rear) also features a rubberised grip that goes round to the front of the camera. There is also a focus hold button on the left hand side of the lens.

The Mark III features one custom mode ("Memory Recall"), plus an "HFR" mode, which stands for High Frame Rate (Video) on the mode dial. The delete button is customisable as the third custom button (C3), with two customisable custom buttons on top (C1 and C2).

Surrounding the lens is the focus ring, zoom ring, and a manual aperture ring. The zoom ring controls the power zoom lens, and the aperture ring lets you set the aperture between f/2.8 and f/16, making the camera feel like a more traditional camera. In addition the aperture clicks can be switched off, letting you smoothly and silently change aperture during video recording. You can set the shutter speed using the rear scroll wheel, for manual control over exposure.

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III Review: Sony Cyber Shot RX10 MarkIII (7)

The top left of the camera features the mode dial, and the camera features a sensor plane marking so you know where the sensor sits in the camera. On this side you'll also find the covered microphone and headphone sockets, as well as the Multi(USB) connection and HDMI port. The Sony multi-interface hotshoe means the camera is compatible with a number of Sony accessories.

A small pop-up flash is included, as well as a good size LCD screen (with illumination button above it), which gives shooting information, as well as remaining shots and battery life. The shutter release features a thread for a screw in shutter release cable, and there is a zoom rocker surrounding the shutter release button, with the on/off switch behind. 

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III Review: Sony Cyber Shot RX10 MarkIII (9)

On the back, the tilting rear screen has a high resolution of 1288k dots, and is clear to see, with a recessed gap to make it easier to pull the screen out when you want to tilt it. The electronic viewfinder features a 2360k dot resolution, dioptre correction, as well as an eye-detection sensor so that when it's held up to your eye it will automatically switch to the viewfinder. The viewfinder is clear and bright and updates smoothly and is of a good size, even when wearing glasses.

The menus are clearly laid out and resemble the menus from other Sony Cyber-shot / Alpha cameras, making it easy for anyone familiar with other Sony cameras to switch over to this camera. The function button brings up a set of options on screen, that can be quickly changed without having to go into the menu system, and these options can be customised.

On top are two custom buttons that can be customised, and the 4-way direction pad on the rear can also be customised, along with the AEL button, Delete / C3, and control wheel on the back. The focus point can be set over a wide area of the screen, almost into the far corners, although this would be made easier if the screen was a touch-screen. 

Wi-Fi features - The body features NFC (Near Field Communication) and built-in Wi-Fi so that you can simply touch the camera to a compatible NFC enabled smartphone to setup the connection. The Sony PlayMemories Mobile app will then allow you to remotely control the camera, as well as download and share photos from the device. You can download additional apps to use on the camera, and there are a number of free or paid apps available. 

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 Mark III Review: Sony Cyber Shot RX10 MarkIII (10)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 420 shots according to Sony / CIPA test results, which is a slight improvement over the RX10 Mark II. The camera battery is charged using a MicroUSB cable with the battery in the camera. This means you can easily find somewhere to plug in and charge the camera, although if you wanted to charge a spare battery you'd need to buy a separate charger. 

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Photographs taken using the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III

Bikers' GroveJaguar XK150 (with proud owner)Pecking OrderSomething To Tinker With On A Sunday MorningTalbot Interior1914 DFP 12  40hp Tourist Trophy Speed ModelJagsSouth BankPortrait Of A Young WomanBoard MeetingReflections On The Exeter Ship CanalHanging OutLift Off !Let's Call Him Freddie !Over The Top !

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oselimg Avatar
oselimg 11 Turkey
10 Aug 2016 9:12AM
I can appreciate the qualities and the functions this camera offers but it is priced way over it's worth. Canon G3X with EVF can be purchased for around £900. Cameras like these are purchased for their convenience first IMHO. I don't think that anybody in right mind would dream of replacing ie. Nikon D7200, Canon 80D which can be had with quality lenses less than £2000. Time will tell...
Niknut Avatar
Niknut Plus
13 3.7k 82 United Kingdom
10 Aug 2016 3:51PM
Superb camera, with impressive IQ !!!..........but 1095grms, & £1800 ????...they jest methinks !!.
themak Avatar
themak 10 1.1k Scotland
10 Aug 2016 7:50PM
It's a pretty good answer to all those guys who wanted a superzoom bridge with a big sensor. A big expensive camera. Surprise!
Paintman Avatar
Paintman 17 1.5k 180 United Kingdom
10 Aug 2016 8:27PM
I'd like to have see the tortoise video shot in slow motion and it must have been quite a test for the camera's AF to keep up. Great workSmile
themak Avatar
themak 10 1.1k Scotland
10 Aug 2016 8:35PM
I guess the cheetah wasn't available at the time.
StrayCat Avatar
StrayCat 19 19.1k 3 Canada
10 Aug 2016 9:55PM
I replaced a D7100 and a D7000 with a Panasonic FZ1000, and have absolutely no regrets, honestly. I don't find myself wanting for anything in my pursuit of nature/wildlife shots. The new Sony is a very impressive camera, and there are always people who will pay their exorbitant prices no matter how much they charge. Doing the exchange rate calculations, this would be about $2500+ Canadian dollars. It would have to be a flawless, outstanding piece of equipment for anyone to pay that for it. However, it seems a fancy bit of gear; 200mm more than the FZ1000, I discount the gimmicks, because I use them once, and then forget about them; what I look for is detail in the image, the ability to crop and not loose detail, or gain too much noise, and speed, all of which the FZ1000 has in abundance. I get better results, imo, than I did with either the D7000 or D7100 with the Nikon 70-300mm VR lens, with consistency throughout the 25-400mm range. However, I paid $740 Canadian, ($540 USD) new, including shipping and handling, so again, it's apples and oranges. I like the way these few manufacturers are going though, in a few years we'll have amazing bridge cameras; I think mine is now.Smile
ChrisV Avatar
ChrisV 16 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
11 Aug 2016 11:24AM
Yeah I think this is a superb camera and it will sell shedloads. Of FZ1000s. Sony's marketeers must have been told this RX is a Leica.
Tnt_1 Avatar
Tnt_1 8 Australia
24 Aug 2016 6:25AM
I have been using the Sony Rx10 iii for about a month. It is an excellent choice for outdoors and nature. The Zeiss 24-600mm, 35mm equivalent lens is superb and the 1" sensor renders excellent detail with very little noise at lower ISO's. The combination of good image stabilization and fast maximum apertures yields good results at the long end of the zoom range. A 600mm f4.0 weighing just over 1kg including the camera - Wow! This really is a set up that you can carry and USE for hours.

Apart from the initial startup time, this camera is very responsive and quick. I use the zoom on the fast setting and find it very usable. You can use the zoom toggle which is located around the shutter release or the zoom ring on the lens. Both work well, so it is a matter of personal choice. I find that I tend to use the zoom ring to fine adjust the zoom and the toggle to rake in or out.

This camera has all the modes that we have come to expect in higher end DSLRs as well as formidable video capability. It also allows off-camera multi head flash with Sony's system. Frankly, unless you are going to produce mega-size prints this really is an all in one solution capable of excellent results.

For small birds and critters the 1" size sensor and relatively shorter actual zoom length of 8.8 - 200mm offers considerable depth of field advantage over telephotos which are actually 300mm or longer. At close range this often means that most, if not all of the subject is in focus which gives an overall appearance of sharpness to the image. The movable spot focus feature delivers excellent results where focus is critical. I find that I am achieving a very competitive rate of keepers to what I could achieve with my main system camera.

Will the RX10 iii overcome equipment envy and the need to feel that one is properly prepared? All i can say is that any pangs of doubt tend to dissipate when I remind myself that I can pack the whole system including batteries, chargers and flash in at around 2kg. It makes meeting carry-on luggage requirements at airports a lot easier. If the worst comes to the worst, you can always sling the entire camera system round your neck!

I am the first to admit that using a camera is very personal. Features that I find useful may not appeal to all, however I find that the RX10 iii is quick, accurate and responsive and delivers excellent results. It is a nature photographer's dream.

kris34 Avatar
kris34 5 2 France
6 Aug 2019 8:02PM
bravo, je suis d'accord avec vous, je suis encore au stade de la découverte de ce nouveau boitier que je n'ai que depuis une semaine environ, un seul regret est la stabilisation peu performante comme j'aurais voulu pour un boitier de ce prix...
bonne soirée, a bientôt

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