• 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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Advantages

Sony RX100 over Sony RX100 III

  • Lens zoom ratio
    3.6x vs 2.9x
    Zooming is easier than walking
  • Bigger JPEG buffer
    Unlimited vs 18 shots
    Take more JPEG shots before waiting (single-shot mode)
  • Bigger RAW buffer
    Unlimited vs 20 shots
    Larger buffer for RAW shots (single-shot mode)

Sony RX100 III over Sony RX100

  • Tiltable Screen
    Tiltable vs Fixed
    Tilt the screen for shooting flexbility
  • Fast startup
    2.00 vs 2.80 sec
    Faster startup lets you catch the moment
  • Eye-level viewfinder
    Eye-level vs rear LCD only
    You'll be able to frame photos even when the sun is out
  • Wi-Fi
    Wi-Fi vs None
    Share your photos wirelessly
  • Newer
    6 months vs 2 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
  • 24p
    Yes vs No
    Gives your movies a big-screen feel
  • Slow-motion videos
    Yes vs No
    Shoot slow-motion videos
  • Wider angle lens
    24 mm vs 28 mm
    Capture more of the scene
  • Faster RAW shooting
    6.2 fps vs 1.5 fps
    Faster RAW shooting in single-shot mode
  • Faster JPEG shooting
    5.9 fps vs 2.8 fps
    Faster JPEG shooting (single-shot mode)

The Competition

Compared to Sony RX100 II

Sony RX100
Sony RX100 II
  • $498
  • 1 inch
  • Bigger JPEG buffer
  • Bigger RAW buffer
  • $615
  • 1 inch
  • Tiltable Screen
  • Wi-Fi
Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II
  • $798
  • 1 inch
  • Fast startup
  • Eye-level viewfinder
  • $615
  • 1 inch
  • Lens zoom ratio
  • Hot shoe

Compared to Canon G7X

Sony RX100
Canon G7X
  • $498
  • 1 inch
  • Bulb shutter
  • Higher extended ISO
  • $699
  • 1 inch
  • Tiltable Screen
  • Lens zoom ratio
Sony RX100 III
Canon G7X
  • $798
  • 1 inch
  • Eye-level viewfinder
  • 24p
  • $699
  • 1 inch
  • Lens zoom ratio
  • Touchscreen

Compared to Panasonic LX100

Sony RX100
Panasonic LX100
  • $498
  • 1 inch
  • Lens zoom ratio
  • More pixels
  • $889
  • 4/3
  • Larger sensor
  • Bigger pixels
Sony RX100 III
Panasonic LX100
  • $798
  • 1 inch
  • Tiltable Screen
  • More pixels
  • $889
  • 4/3
  • Larger sensor
  • Bigger pixels

Compared to Olympus XZ-2

Sony RX100
Olympus XZ-2
  • $498
  • 1 inch
  • Focus peaking
  • Larger sensor
  • $364
  • 1/1.7 inch
  • Tiltable Screen
  • Fast startup
Sony RX100 III
Olympus XZ-2
  • $798
  • 1 inch
  • Focus peaking
  • Larger sensor
  • $364
  • 1/1.7 inch
  • Lens zoom ratio
  • Touchscreen

Compared to Sony RX100 II

Sony RX100
Sony RX100 II
  • $498
  • 1 inch
  • Bigger JPEG buffer
  • Bigger RAW buffer
  • $615
  • 1 inch
  • Tiltable Screen
  • Wi-Fi
Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II
  • $798
  • 1 inch
  • Fast startup
  • Eye-level viewfinder
  • $615
  • 1 inch
  • Lens zoom ratio
  • Hot shoe

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

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