Those who follow the market of this camera expect improvements and new solutions by analyzing each square centimeter of the camera, while real buyers are not burdened with the genesis of the product, yet at the moment of the shopping, they expect from the current model the most in comparison to its rivals. The Sony CyberShot RX100 III is the third camera in the RX series, which was initiated in 2012. Introducing a new model each year, Sony didn’t hesitate to apply various solutions to such a small camera, bearing in mind the original idea – the greatest possible sensor, with as many megapixels, in the smallest possible body. What it persevered in are definitely the dimensions of the sensor – 13.2 x 8.8 mm – with 20 MP, which certainly is a factor that makes it stand out. However, lately the market has expanded its wishes and hasn’t stopped at megapixels, high ISO values, or as large optical zoom or aperture as possible; yet, it showed the need for an electronic viewfinder of higher quality. Sony recognized those demands and made its latest model RX100 III different from rivals, precisely in that way – by adding a pop-up electronic viewfinder. Not enough?
Sony RX100 III – table of specifications
DESIGN AND ERGONOMICS
It is hard to talk about ergonomics when cameras of these dimensions are taken into account, since for some brilliant solutions there is simply not enough room. In the case of the RX100 III, there is a feeling that the left side of the camera is heavier that the right, and that something wasn’t balanced right here. Justifiably or not, the said feeling is substantially contributed to by the absence of the front grip, which greatly complicates stable holding of the camera. Like in the case of the RX100 II, the situation is not made easier either by the design of the thumb area from the rear. Namely, except that it is defined more modestly, it is additionally cramped because of placing a button for the video there, which has been organized much better for example on the Canon G7X. With such small cameras, you simply begin to realize how important each gram and millimeter is, and, in fact, how much everything affects the overall impression. In any case, looking for additional safety in the neck strap or the wrist strap is inevitable, unless you want your favorite to finish its career on the ground. Furthermore, I recommend the Flipbac camera grip – it is not expensive, and it effectively solves the problem with handling the camera.
As far as the control buttons are concerned, their amount is such that they numerically and functionally meet the expected standards that offer control over parameters when shooting. Their size is a matter of compromise, since it is impossible to have a large LCD screen and big control buttons on a small body.
UNDER THE ‘HOOD’
The trump card is the already seen 20.1MP Exmor R® CMOS sensor, and since I’m not a follower of sensor 'inching', I’ll define it with its real dimensions – 13.2 x 8.8 mm. For instance, we can also see a sensor of such dimensions in the Nikon J4, a modern mirrorless camera. In contrast to the sensor it inherited from the RX100 II, the processor’s been substituted with Sony’s new BIONZ X. What is useful is that the 3EV ND filter has been added.
In contrast to the previous two models, the Sony RX100 III has got a slightly different focal length. Instead of 28-100mm, which has been the case so far, the wide end of the zoom range is now a little wider, while the maximum focal length has also been shortened. The lens on the RX100 III features the focal length 24-70mm, so, logically, the aperture at the telephoto end of the zoom range is considerably greater than before, with very fast f/1.8-2.8. The SteadyShot optical stabilization is also present, and what deserves special praise is implementing the ND filter.
The lens features a ring, so depending on a selected photo mode, it is possible to change the focal length, aperture, or just zoom in if you are in the auto mode. Since we mention speed, the lens is not a champion in this field, and noiselessness is not what it boasts, too. For example, the lens on the Canon G7 X is only slightly faster and quieter.
I’m a supporter of conspiracy theories where each project of a digital camera features the following motto: “Never give them everything, cut on something, make no concessions.” So, contrary to the Sony RX100 II, the upper platform was denied a hot shoe, and in its place a flash was attached, while the viewfinder was placed on the edge. I’m sure that along with the hot shoe, an external flash such as the one on the Panasonic LX100 would be a more useful solution, but let’s face it – in that situation, the concept of ‘the Swiss knife’ would be significantly violated. Maybe even that pop-up flash from the Canon S110 would be more suitable, but instead of it we got the already seen ‘transformers’ flash, which cries for involuntary detachment. The flash closes by pressing it downwards, and when you do that, make sure that your finger is in the middle. If you press it on some of its ends, you maybe won’t push the other end home. OK, it’s easy to solve – press it once again.
The 1,440,000-dot pop-up SVGA OLED electronic viewfinder is definitely the most interesting part of the camera. Placing such a functional viewfinder on such a small area surely was a challenge. Of course, this viewfinder is a matter of compromise, and in order for it to be functional, two levels of pulling had to be made. First upwards, from the body, and then backwards.
The construction could be slightly better, since the last step reveals minimal signs of instability and vibrations. That isn’t really a problem when shooting, but you do get an impression that you could really rip it off with two fingers in the blink of an eye. Of course, Sony started with the assumption that you didn’t buy the camera in order to rip off the viewfinder and the flash, so don’t be afraid that they will chip off on their own. The camera can be switched on by pulling the viewfinder out, yet it is not clear why the camera switches off when the viewfinder is pushed in. What is more than praiseworthy on this camera is the sensor, which has been discreetly situated, and which detects an eye in the viewfinder, at the same time turning off the LCD screen. The diopter is present as well, and even though it is spartan concerning its look, it deals with problems in a matter of seconds, which is very good. The preview is quite solid; what is more, surprisingly good.
In any case, this viewfinder leaves no room for excuses to others not to improve their own models with such a useful thingy. So, it is a matter of will.
The screen is articulated and covers the range from 180 (for selfies), to 45 degrees for regular use. It is labeled 3” 1,228,800-dot WhiteMagic TFT-LCD. The touch screen option has been left out, while the preview and reproduction are of high quality, as expected. To tell the truth, today it is equally hard to find a bad LCD screen and one that features excellent preview in strong sun. Moreover, I’m prone to mourn for old articulated screens that exhibited a joint on their left side. It seems to me that, aside from wider functionality, they are better for strong light conditions, such as a sunny day at the beach.
The source of energy is an NP-BX1 rechargeable Li-Ion battery, which is actually identical to those used by the previous two models. Unfortunately, the trend that a charger is not included in the package and that the battery must be charged via the Micro USB port continues, so maybe you should consider buying a BC-TRX charger. As for the battery autonomy, it depends on the choice between the LCD or the EVF. When the LCD screen is used, the battery life is declared at 320 shots, whereas using the viewfinder drastically decreases its duration, so it totals 230 shots.
Although it does not support 4K video recording, the Sony RX100 III has plenty to offer, which distinguishes it from its rivals. First, I want to point out that the Sony RX100 III features the XAVC S codec, which enables 1080/60p video recording at 50 mbps. It won’t hurt to mention that unless you own a 64GB SDXC card, these video abilities are no use. A significant innovation is the fact that this time the full potential of the sensor for video recording is used, so the new Bionz X processor reads all the 20 million pixels. Namely, the previous two models didn’t use the full capacity of the sensor, yet they skipped pixels in order to reduce the amount of material. This resulted in the so-called moiré effect, which is now reduced to a minimum. An important piece of information is that in the M mode when recording videos the aperture and shutter speed can be controlled, as well as the ND filter.
At the end, we can say that the Sony RX100 III is a camera that has deservedly found its place on the market for three years in a row. This is no wonder because here we have a considerably smaller package that contains a much larger sensor in comparison to most compact cameras, as well as a lens with decent focal length and more than desirable aperture. The viewfinder is a bullseye, and it can be a key detail when choosing a camera. Of course, a list of wishes can always be expanded, so we notice that the following things are missing: a hot shoe connector, touch screen options on the LCD screen, 4K video, and a grip - any kind of grip. This definitely opens up possibilities for improvement with a new iteration in the RX series.
Today’s sensors have advanced so much that their product simply can’t be unsatisfactory. This is why today’s cameras differ more and more concerning what is surrounding the sensor, which is a field in which this camera leads. And at the very end, if I had to define this camera in three words, those would definitely be ‘the Swiss knife’.
LINK: Sony RX100 III
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