Sony RX10 III Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Sony RX10 III's single-shot image quality to its shorter-zoomed sibling, the RX10 II, as well as to its nearest 1"-sensor rivals, the Canon G3X and Panasonic FZ1000. By way of comparison to other sensor sizes, we've also included the Panasonic FZ300 as an example of a smaller-sensored camera based around a 1/2.3" sensor, and the Sony A6300 as an example of an interchangeable-lens camera based around an APS-C sensor.

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison with the exception of the Sony A6300 have fixed zoom lenses. The A6300 was shot with our very sharp FE 55mm F1.8 ZA reference lens. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved: click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Sony RX10 III, Sony RX10 II, Canon G3X, Panasonic FZ1000, Panasonic FZ300 and Sony A6300 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Sony RX10 III to any camera we've ever tested!

Sony RX10 III vs Sony RX10 II at Base ISO

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 100
Sony RX10 III at ISO 100
Sony RX10 II at ISO 100

At base sensitivity -- ISO 100 for both cameras -- neither the Sony RX10 III or its predecessor exhibit much to speak of in the way of noise. The RX10 III turns in a slightly crisper mosaic label, but this looks to be down to slightly more aggressive sharpening, as there's not really any more detail than in the RX10 II's version. The newer model does better with the difficult fabric swatches, however, with slightly greater contrast in the red swatch and more thread pattern visible in the pink swatch.

Sony RX10 III vs Canon G3X at Base ISO

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 125
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 125
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 125
Sony RX10 III at ISO 100
Canon G3X at ISO 125

Compared to the Canon G3X, which has a slightly higher base sensitivity of ISO 125-equivalent, there's a much more noticeable difference. More noise processing shows itself in the bottle crop, which has a slightly plasticky feel as a result. There's also rather lower contrast in the bottle crop, making the Sony look sharper even though detail levels are actually pretty similar. And the same is true in the red fabric swatch, with the Canon showing noticeably lower contrast. Nor does the G3X pick up on the fine thread pattern in the pink swatch, which is clearly visible in the RX10 III's rendering.

Sony RX10 III vs Panasonic FZ1000 at Base ISO

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 125
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 125
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 125
Sony RX10 III at ISO 100
Panasonic FZ1000 at ISO 125

The comparison to the Panasonic FZ1000, which again has a slightly higher base sensitivity of ISO 125, is nevertheless rather closer. Noise and detail levels are similar, although the slightly higher contrast of the RX10 III gives its mosaic label the impression of being a little crisper. It's in the color renditions that the two differ most significantly. The Sony's image is more neutral, with that from the Panasonic having a cooler, slightly greenish color cast. This shows itself most obviously in the pink swatch and the border of the mosaic label. The RX10 III also does noticeably better with the difficult red swatch, with the FZ1000's result being a bit more muted and with rather less detail retained.

Sony RX10 III vs Panasonic FZ300 at Base ISO

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 100
Sony RX10 III at ISO 100
Panasonic FZ300 at ISO 100

We've included the Panasonic FZ300 in this comparison as an example of a recent, SLR-like long-zoom with a smaller 1/2.3"-type sensor, versus the 1"-type sensor of the RX10 III. At twelve megapixels, resolution of the FZ300 is significantly lower, but the lesser pixel count does offset the smaller sensor size somewhat. The FZ300's bottle crop does look just slightly more processed, but noise levels aren't dissimilar. Just a glance at the mosaic label, though, tells you that even at base sensitivity the smaller-sensored camera is gathering quite a bit less detail. And like that from the FZ1000, the FZ300's image also has a slightly cool, greenish cast along with lower contrast and less detail in the difficult red fabric swatch.

Sony RX10 III vs Sony A6300 at Base ISO

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 100
Sony RX10 III at ISO 100
Sony A6300 at ISO 100

And finally, we've included the Sony A6300 in this comparison as an example of what a recent, larger-sensored camera is capable of. Obviously, this is an interchangeable-lens camera, and so instead of a fixed long-zoom lens, we're looking at the result from a sharp 55mm prime lens. That's perhaps a bit unfair to the other cameras in the roundup, but then that's one of the advantages of an interchangeable-lens camera: You can choose an optic appropriate to the particular shot, rather than using a one-size-fits-all zoom. At base sensitivity, the A6300's slightly higher-res 24-megapixel sensor gathers a little more detail, as you can see both in the mosaic lable and fabric swatches. Its shot is also just a touch cleaner, but interestingly the RX10 III does a much better job with the pink fabric swatch -- the A6300 renders it quite a bit too warmly.

Sony RX10 III vs Sony RX10 II at ISO 1600

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 1600
Sony RX10 III at ISO 1600
Sony RX10 II at ISO 1600

With the sensitivity dialed up to ISO 1600 equivalent, there's a little more difference visible between the Sony RX10 III and its shorter-zoomed sibling. Although noise is now quite noticeable in images from both cameras, the RX10 III's noise reduction is a little less heavy-handed, retaining more detail in the mosaic label and pink fabric swatch. The mosaic label in the RX10 II's image is rather blotchier and more mottled by comparison. The RX10 II's pink fabric swatch is also slightly crisper, although the finer thread patterns have all but vanished. And its red fabric swatch shows a touch more contrast.

Sony RX10 III vs Canon G3X at ISO 1600

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 1600
Sony RX10 III at ISO 1600
Canon G3X at ISO 1600

Now that we're not at base sensitivity any longer, the Canon G3X trails its Sony rival by an even greater distance. On the plus side, its noise processing doesn't leave quite as mottled an appearance in the bottle crop. Unfortunately, its contrast is significantly lower, and a lot of the detail in the mosaic label and fabric swatches has been squashed, giving the Sony RX10 III's image quite an advantage overall.

Sony RX10 III vs Panasonic FZ1000 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 1600
Sony RX10 III at ISO 1600
Panasonic FZ1000 at ISO 1600

At ISO 1600-equivalent, the Panasonic FZ1000 too gives a cleaner, more processed-looking image. In the bottle crops this gives a somewhat plasticky, artificial feeling, but for our money that looks a bit better than the mottled noise processing of the RX10 III, even if it feels a bit oversaturated. But in the mosaic label, the Sony RX10 III has a slight edge in the detail department, although there's still quite a bit of detail in the Panasonic's rendition too -- the white lines in the mosaic just aren't quite as boldly-rendered. The FZ1000 otherwise holds onto contrast pretty well, though. Sony definitely wins in the red fabric swatch, with the Panasonic FZ1000 having lost most of the detail at this point. And the RX10 III's color rendering remains more faithful.

Sony RX10 III vs Panasonic FZ300 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 1600
Sony RX10 III at ISO 1600
Panasonic FZ300 at ISO 1600

It's once the sensitivity is ramped up that the smaller-sensored Panasonic FZ300 really starts to trail the field. Its bottle crop is quite noisy and mottled, and almost all of the finer details in the mosaic label have been lost. Likewise, its red fabric swatch is near-devoid of detail.

Sony RX10 III vs Sony A6300 at ISO 1600

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 1600
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 1600100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 1600
Sony RX10 III at ISO 1600
Sony A6300 at ISO 1600

Conversely, the larger-sensored Sony A6300 really shows an advantage once the sensitivity has been raised above its base. Its bottle crop is still pretty clean, despite obviously much lower noise processing levels. And it retains far more detail in both the mosaic label and fabric swatches, especially in terms of contrast in the hard-to-render red swatch. There's even some thread patterning left in the pink swatch, and only a repetition of the too-warm coloring in that swatch holds the A6300 back from a perfect result.

Sony RX10 III vs Sony RX10 II at ISO 3200

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 3200
Sony RX10 III at ISO 3200
Sony RX10 II at ISO 3200

Finally, we come to the comparison at ISO 3200-equivalent. Here, again, we have to give the edge to the Sony RX10 III over its earlier sibling. Although both cameras have lost all detail in the red fabric swatch by this point, the longer-zoomed RX10 III managed to retain just slightly more in the mosaic crop, and its rendition of the pink swatch is also a little better, with the RX10 II tending a bit too warm. Both cameras are about equally noisy and mottled in their bottle crops, though.

Sony RX10 III vs Canon G3X at ISO 3200

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 3200
Sony RX10 III at ISO 3200
Canon G3X at ISO 3200

It's interesting just how different Canon's approach is from the rest. At ISO 3200-equivalent, the G3X gives an image with a much finer-grained noise pattern, but it also looks quite heavily overprocessed and plasticky by comparison to the Sony RX10 II's shot. Where the Sony still retains a reasonable amount of detail in the mosaic label and pink fabric swatch, the Canon's different approach to noise processing has obliterated most of the finer details, and even some of the not-so-fine ones. Both cameras struggle with the red swatch, but the Canon G3X does have slightly greater contrast for the small percentage of the detail that remains.

Sony RX10 III vs Panasonic FZ1000 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 3200
Sony RX10 III at ISO 3200
Panasonic FZ1000 at ISO 3200

Again, at ISO 3200 the Panasonic FZ1000 offers up a less mottled-looking bottle crop than that from the Sony, and yet it still manages to hold onto quite a bit of detail in the mosaic label. The FZ1000's contrast is also higher, but again it feels a bit oversaturated. In the fabric swatches, the Panasonic still feels a bit too cool, but it definitely does a better job with the red swatch, holding onto at least a little of the printed pattern in the fabric.

Sony RX10 III vs Panasonic FZ300 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 3200
Sony RX10 III at ISO 3200
Panasonic FZ300 at ISO 3200

By the time we reach ISO 3200-equivalent, there's simply no contest between the Sony RX10 III and Panasonic FZ300. The smaller-sensored camera trails in every way, yielding a noiser image with lower contrast and significantly less detail.

Sony RX10 III vs Sony A6300 at ISO 3200

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 3200
Sony RX10 III at ISO 3200
Sony A6300 at ISO 3200

There's equally no contest when it comes to the RX10 III vs. the A6300 at ISO 3200-equivalent. The larger sensor of the A6300 shows itself in a much cleaner, less noisy image, and that's accompanied by far more detail in the mosaic label and especially in the red fabric swatch. Only the too-warm pink swatch keeps the A6300 from a perfect result, but it's the clear winner nevertheless.

Sony RX10 III vs. Sony RX10 II, Canon G3X, Panasonic FZ1000, Panasonic FZ300, Sony A6300

100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 125100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 100100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 100
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 3200100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 3200
100% crop from Sony RX10 III test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony RX10 II test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Canon G3X test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Panasonic FZ1000 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Panasonic FZ300 test image taken at ISO 6400100% crop from Sony A6300 test image taken at ISO 6400
Sony
RX10 III
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
RX10 II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
G3X
ISO 125
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
FZ1000
ISO 125
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
FZ300
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A6300
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. Of course, it's important to look at high-contrast detail too. Here, the Sony RX10 III does noticeably better than its sibling, the RX10 II, with only the Panasonic FZ1000 coming close among the 1"-sensored cameras, and the Canon G3X trailing noticeably. Of course, there's simply no contest from the smaller-sensored Panasonic FZ300, especially as the sensitivity ramps up. And equally, while the Sony RX10 III is at least in the same ballpark at base sensitivity, it's simply demolished by the larger sensor of the Sony A6300 once you dial in a higher sensitivity. Of course, that's with a nice prime lens attached, and to match the Sony RX10 III's incredibly versatile zoom lens with Sony E-mount optics, you'd need to spend more money and carry quite a bit more gear.

 

Sony RX10 III Print Quality Analysis

Excellent 24 x 36 inch prints at base and extended low; a nice 11 x 14 at ISO 1600 and a good 5 x 7 at ISO 6400.

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageISO 64/100 prints look terrific at 24 x 36 inches, with crisp fine detail and pleasing color tones throughout. Wall display images are fine at an even larger 30 x 40 inches, but for critical printing at this resolution and sensor size, 24 x 36 inches is the largest suggested size.

ISO 200 images look quite nice at 20 x 30 inches, with virtually no issues to report. 24 x 36 inch prints are fine for less critical applications, but there is a bit of noise in a few flatter areas of our Still Life target apparent at this size.

ISO 400 yields a 20 x 30 inch print that also passes our good grade for prints. There is now a trace of noise seen in a few shadowy areas of our target behind the bottles, but otherwise fine detail and color reproduction are quite good at this size.

ISO 800 is generally where the corner starts to turn for image quality delivered by 1-inch type sensors, as there's simply too much visible noise apparent even in 16 x 20 inch prints to warrant our good seal. A reduction in size to 13 x 19 inch prints does the trick, although there is a bit of contrast detail now lost in our target's tricky red-leaf swatch, but this is quite common.

ISO 1600 delivers a good 11 x 14 inch print. There are a few mild and fairly typical issues with noise in flatter areas of our target and not much contrast detail remaining in our red-leaf swatch, but otherwise the print has good fine detail and full colors present at this size.

ISO 3200 prints are similar at 8 x 10 inches as the 11 x 14 at ISO 1600. There are a few of the same minor issues, but it's still a fairly good print all around for this sensitivity.

ISO 6400 produces a 5 x 7 inch print that just passes our good ranking. Anything larger is simply too noisy and muted to be usable.

ISO 12,800 prints are acceptably good at 4 x 6 inches, although just barely. It's a tad on the muted side, but still manages enough fine detail to pass the grade.

The Sony RX10 III delivers print sizes we'd expect based on the performance of both its predecessor and most 1-inch type sensored cameras in general. You can expect high-quality 24 x 36 inch prints at base and extended low settings, and then a typical size reduction occurring predictably after about ISO 800. Even ISO 12,800 allows for a reasonable 4 x 6 inch print, while good 8 x 10 inch prints are possible all the way up to ISO 3200.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageTesting hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 



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