• 1 inch 116.2mm2
  • 20.2 megapixels
  • 28mm - 100mm (35mm eq.)
  • 1 inch 116.2mm2
  • 20.2 megapixels
  • 24mm - 70mm (35mm eq.)

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Comparison Review

It says a lot that Sony felt confident enough to keep an nearly 3 year old camera around in its lineup, but the RX100 really is that good. It won our award for the best compact camera of 2012 and it's still probably the best compact camera available for $500. If you're looking at the Sony RX100 for $500 (or less!) and fretting that you can't afford the latest and greatest, fear not. Sony outdid themselves with the RX100 and it's a no-brainer if you've only got $500.

Size matters

Skipping two generations like this means we're comparing two pretty different cameras. The size and weight of each generation inched up a bit, and while the difference was negligible between each generation, it's more pronounced when comparing the Mark III with its grandfather. The original RX100 is a noticeably more compact camera than the Mark III: 17% lighter and 12% thinner.

Much to love in the Mark III, for enthusiasts and casual shooters

Since the RX100 III returns to the original formula in dropping the hot-shoe found on the Mark II, that drawback relative to the Mark II is moot. Enthusiast photographers will sorely miss the superb electronic viewfinder on the Mark III and will be disappointed to lose the built-in 3-stop neutral density filter, among other features. Casual shooters will miss the 180 degree tiltable screen and Wi-Fi (lackluster though it may be).

Low-light performance is a night-and-day difference

The big difference between these cameras is in low-light situations. While the original RX100 is no slouch in this department, the RX100 III is the clear champion. There are two big advances that enable the Mark III to shine here. The first is the backside-illuminated sensor Sony introduced in the RX100 II and retained on the RX100 III. This is good for a 1-stop improvement when comparing JPEGS from the RX100 to the RX100 II: ISO 1600 on the Mark II looks as good as ISO 800 on the Mark I. The second factor is the faster lens at 70mm on the Mark III, which means you can shoot at ISO 800 and f/2.8 on the Mark III when you'd need to jump to ISO 1600 and f/4.0 on the Mark I. Put together, the RX100 III is 2 whole stops faster than the RX100 at 70mm.

Not a fair fight, but an interesting one

It's easy to give the nod to the RX100 III. Its only actual downside in terms of features is the loss of 30mm of zoom, which is compensated somewhat by a 4mm wider wide angle. But that leaves out the RX100 III's $300 premium, meaning this isn't really a fair fight. If anything, it's interesting to see what 3 years of development have yielded. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that a 3-year-old camera still arguably holds the title of best compact camera under $500. That in itself says a lot about the maturity of the digital camera market and Sony's ascendancy.

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Differences

Sony RX100 advantages over Sony RX100 III

  • Less expensive
    $448 vs $798
    Save money for lenses or accessories
  • More lens zoom
    3.6x vs 2.9x
    Zooming is easier than walking

Sony RX100 III advantages over Sony RX100

  • Tiltable Screen
    Tiltable vs Fixed
    Tilt the screen for shooting flexbility
  • NFC
    Yes vs No
    Simplifies pairing your camera with supported phones
  • Fast startup
    ~2.00 vs 2.8 sec
    Faster startup lets you catch the moment
  • Eye-level viewfinder
    Eye-level vs Rear display only
    You'll be able to frame photos even when the sun is out
  • Wi-Fi
    Wi-Fi vs None
    Share your photos wirelessly
  • Higher effective ISO
    495 vs 390 iso
    Take photos in low light with less noise
  • Newer
    12 months vs 3 years old
    Newer cameras often support more advanced features
  • Integrated ND filter
    Yes vs No
    Shoot in daylight with a large aperture or slow shutter
  • Shoots 24p video
    Yes vs No
    Gives your movies a big-screen feel
  • Bigger JPEG buffer
    48 vs 13 shots
    Take more JPEG shots before waiting (burst mode)
  • Slow-motion videos
    Yes vs No
    Shoot slow-motion videos
  • Wider angle lens
    24 mm vs 28 mm
    Capture more of the scene
  • Bigger RAW buffer
    26 vs 13 shots
    Larger buffer for RAW shots (burst mode)

Similarities

Common Strengths

  • Focus peaking
    Both provide
    Your camera will highlight what's in focus
  • RAW file ability
    Both provide
    Gives you more flexibility to develop your photos later
  • In-camera panoramas
    Both provide
    Stitches multiple shots into a panoramic photo
  • In-Camera Image Stabilization
    Both provide
    Reduces the effects of camera shake at slower shutter speeds
  • Manual focus
    Both provide
    AF is for the weak. Real photographers focus manually.
  • HDMI out
    Both provide
    Use an external screen to monitor or review video
  • Internal flash
    Both provide
    Useful in a pinch for fill flash
  • Bulb shutter
    Both provide
    Hold the shutter open manually for long exposures

Common Weaknesses

  • Tilt-swivel screen
    Neither provide
    Tilt and swivel the screen for maximum shooting flexibility
  • Touchscreen
    Neither provide
    Select your focus point more intuitively.
  • GPS
    Neither provide
    Geotag your photos
  • On-sensor phase detect
    Neither provide
    Usually improves live view and video AF performance
  • External Mic Jack
    Neither provide
    Improved sound fidelity when shooting video
  • Headphone jack
    Neither provide
    Monitor audio recording while you shoot video
  • Hot shoe
    Neither provide
    Off-camera flashes open new possibilities

User reviews

The Competition

Compared to Sony RX100 II

Sony RX100
Sony RX100 II
  • $439
  • 1 inch
  • Less expensive
  • Faster RAW shooting
  • $586
  • 1 inch
  • Tiltable Screen
  • NFC
Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II
  • $782
  • 1 inch
  • Fast startup
  • Eye-level viewfinder
  • $586
  • 1 inch
  • Less expensive
  • More lens zoom

Compared to Canon G7X

Sony RX100
Canon G7X
  • $439
  • 1 inch
  • Less expensive
  • In-camera panoramas
  • $636
  • 1 inch
  • More lens zoom
  • Tiltable Screen
Sony RX100 III
Canon G7X
  • $782
  • 1 inch
  • Eye-level viewfinder
  • In-camera panoramas
  • $636
  • 1 inch
  • Less expensive
  • More lens zoom

Compared to Panasonic LX100

Sony RX100
Panasonic LX100
  • $439
  • 1 inch
  • Less expensive
  • More lens zoom
  • $763
  • 4/3
  • Larger sensor
  • NFC
Sony RX100 III
Panasonic LX100
  • $782
  • 1 inch
  • Tiltable Screen
  • Thinner
  • $763
  • 4/3
  • Larger sensor
  • Bigger pixels

Compared to Sony RX100 II

Sony RX100
Sony RX100 II
  • $439
  • 1 inch
  • Less expensive
  • Faster RAW shooting
  • $586
  • 1 inch
  • Tiltable Screen
  • NFC
Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II
  • $782
  • 1 inch
  • Fast startup
  • Eye-level viewfinder
  • $586
  • 1 inch
  • Less expensive
  • More lens zoom

Compared to Fujifilm XQ1

Sony RX100
Fujifilm XQ1
  • $439
  • 1 inch
  • Larger sensor
  • Longer battery life
  • $340
  • 2/3 inch
  • Less expensive
  • Wi-Fi
Sony RX100 III
Fujifilm XQ1
  • $782
  • 1 inch
  • Larger sensor
  • Tiltable Screen
  • $340
  • 2/3 inch
  • Slower slow-motion
  • Less expensive

Review Excerpt

  • Excellent high-ISO performance for such a compact model; Smart controls; Small body; Bright lens; 10fps full-res burst mode; Very fast shutter response; Excellent LCD.

  • Lens flare at night; Poor rendering of yellows; Slow flash recycling; Soft corners wide open; Continuous AF mode slow to lock.

  • Pocket-friendly design; Popup electronic viewfinder; Bright lens across the zoom range; Great performance with very fast autofocus; Very high resolution gives lots of detail in good light; High ISO noise levels much better than most pocket camera rivals; Wi-Fi wireless networking

  • Feels a little unbalanced without an accessory grip; Not as much telephoto reach as its siblings; Noise processing is heavier-handed than in earlier models; Quite pricey for a fixed-lens camera

Sony RX100 vs Sony RX100 III Discussion

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