Third Time a Charm?

Rx100 III

Sony RX100 III

Before Sony blew the world away by introducing a full featured Full frame camera in a small body they did a similar thing with compact camera market. Realizing the fact that camera phones are killing the typical small sensor Point and Shoot camera market Sony set out to bring a product that is not only small and pocket able but also packs enough horsepower to not only differentiate itself from rest of the crop but also revive P&S market. Hence the RX100 was born.
There have been three models in this series with each iterations Sony has made improvements in both features and in functionality but at the heart the camera remains essentially the same with 1″ sensor mated with a Carl Zeiss lens and BIONZ X image processor.

What’s new?
– New Carl Zeiss lens: 24-75mm eq. with f1.8 – f2.8 aperture
– New BIONZ X image processor
– Pop-up SVGA OLED electronic viewfinder with 1.44M dots resolution
– Built-in 3 stop ND filter
– New LCD articulation mechanism that can now tilt upwards 180 degrees (hurray for selfies!) or downwards by 45 degrees.
– Video codec (XAVC S) capable of capturing up to 50MBps (64GB SD card required)

Rx100 III Tilting LCD

Tilting LCD

Rx100III_LCD2

Tilting LCD rotates 180 degrees.

Handling:
Even though RX100 III has gained a little weight (290g vs 281) and has gotten a little fatter (41mm vs 38mm) than its previous versions the design and handling remains the same. The plus point is that it still remains a small camera that can slip in trouser pocket and can be carried anywhere but on the flip side, due to its small size the handing is bad and the small buttons are difficult to push. Camera has a slippery finish so it is essential to have some sort of strap attached to it in order to protect it from slipping out of hand and falling down.
I would highly recommend that the first thing you buy for this camera is the optional grip that Sony makes. It’s just a stick on grip but it makes a big difference in handling.

Picture Quality:
Like its predecessor, RX100 III features 20 megapixel 1″ Exmor R CMOS sensor developed by Sony that is found in RX100 II. As a result the pictures quality is just as expected i.e. very very good. The newer BIONZ X processor and the faster lens does improve the low light performance but there is not a big difference between this and the RX100 II.
In bright day light, Sony produces excellent images in both jpegs and RAW. Though the jpeg output does not rival Fuji jpegs (my favorite) it is still very good with punchy colors and great detail. In low light the default noise reduction can be excessive causing loss of details so it is better to use RAW in that case.

Rx100 III Popup EVF

Rx100 III Popup EVF

Video Quality:
Thanks to the inclusion of XAVC S codec that can capture data at the rate of 50mpbs and full sensor readout RX100 III is capable of recording videos in excellent quality. The built-in SteadyShot stabilization also does a great job with keeping the video capture smooth without the need of an external stabilization device.
I did not get a chance to extensively but in my short time with video, I was quite impressed with the out.

Connectivity:
Just like Sony’s other recent cameras RX100 III also features built-in Wifi and NFC. This provides the ability to not only wirelessly transfer the pictures from the camera to a phone or tablet but also to remotely control the camera for shooting.

What I liked:
– Excellent pictures and video quality.
– EVF. Not the biggest or brightest but it does it job well.
– Versitile tilting LCD
– Full featured WiFi functionality with NFC.
– Ability to charge via USB. (Every camera should have this option)

What I did not like:
– Just like previous RX100 cameras the handling is horrible. Buying the additional grip is a must.
– Rear screen gets scratched easily so a screen protector is highly recommended.
– Small buttons that at difficult to use.
– Back control dial moves easily causing unintended changes.
– Closing the EVF shuts down the camera. There were rumors that Sony will fix this via firmware update but so far there is no official word from Sony.

Alternative:
– Panasonic LX100
– Canon G1 X II
– Panasonic LX100

Conclusion:
If you are looking for best picture quality in the smallest possible package and tons of features there is currently no substitute for Sony RX100 III. This could be a one camera solution for casual shooters as well as “portable “substitute for PRO DSLRs.

Sample Pictures:

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