After the reorganization of business that happened about 2 years ago, Sony decided to emphasize it’s digital cameras division. This has been working out pretty well for them; not only has Sony become the single largest sensor manufacturer in the world (its sensors can be found in almost any modern smartphone and all Nikon cameras) but they have also started to battle long established market leaders such as Nikon, Canon and Panasonic.
And today, in their efforts to continue their momentum in the digital market, Sony announced the new RX10 III.
It’s a high-end zoom camera which has the same great specifications as Sony’s RX100 IV a (20 MP 1-inch sensor, burst mode of 14fps, electronic shutter with a max speed of 1/32000 second, 4k UHD video recording and high speed video modes up to 960fps), but what is very different from the RX100 IV is the body design and lens. The body is bulkier and more rigid, in fact it’s bigger than Sony’s full frame A7 series, and offers dust and moisture resistance, so you’ll be able to take pictures under the rain or even in a dust storm in the desert.
Like every new Sony camera, it features tilting display and good communication capabilities that include Wi-Fi and NFC that can be easily paired to a smartphone app.
But the biggest news is lens: it has an amazing reach from a 24mm wide angle all the way to a 600mm telephoto. That is at a 25x zoom and you don’t find this often. To top it off, the lens is also fast - wide open its aperture reaches f/2.4 – which is enough for everything, even astro-photography – and goes down to f/4 at the telephoto lens, which is very impressive as well.
And you don’t need to worry much about cameras stability when taking zoomed in shots, because the RX10 III offers optical SteadyShot stabilization that, as Sony claims, can offer up to 4.5 stops of benefit.
Where this camera also shines is in it's video capabilities. Sensor size doesn’t play a huge role here (instead of photographs) because most cameras end up doing line-skipping or cropping anyway, but not the RX10 III. It utilizes the full sensor readout, which got 20 MP, and downsamples it to 8 megapixels resolution of 4K video (3840x2160) in real time. This means high quality sharpness and high ISO capabilities. In fact, the amount of detail you will capture will probably be higher than from their flagship full-frame A7S II. Even better, it offers several video-centric Picture Profiles as well as very accurate controls over tonal and color responses. As an example of such, there’s the flat S-Log2 gamma curve that allows for a great deal of dynamic range to be captured, this gives you much more power during color-grading in post-processing. To make this mode simpler to use, there’s also Gamma Display Assist that shows you the correct preview of the scene.
With all these features in place, it makes for a great alternative to a typical DSLR or mirrorless camera. True, it's not cheap and a 1" sensor won't deliver the same image results as its bigger counterparts in low-light, but in terms of versatility and for use as an all-around vacation camera, it makes for a good option. Besides, the RX10 III video capabilities are one of the best on the market, so it will also address the needs of videographers. And don't forget that for roughly the same price you not only get the body but the lens as well, so when comparing the price of full setup this 1" camera might end up costing you half as much as the combo of a good Full-Frame or APS-C sized body with comparable lenses.
Taking in the account all the specifications, there is little doubt that Sony is aiming to overthrow the currently best zoom camera – Panasonic FZ1000 and has a good chance of doing so. Not only does it have the same sensor and good-for-video features but it also outperforms the Panasonic in high frame capabilities both for photo and video, plus it offers a longer and faster lens. The only potential downsides are the weight and the price, which is set at $1500 when camera starts to ship in May.
The current RX10 II will not be replaced by Rx10 III and will continue selling with a $200 price reduction.
|Sony RX10 III||Sony RX10 II||Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000|
|Dimensions||133 x 94 x 127 mm (5.24 x 3.7 x 5″)||137 x 99 x 131 mm (5.39 x 3.9 x 5.16″)|
|Weight||1051 g (2.32 lb / 37.07 oz)||831 g (1.83 lb / 29.31 oz)|
|Sensor size||1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)||1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)|
|Resolution||5472 x 3648 (20MP)||5472 x 3648 (20MP)|
|Video resolution||3840x2160 30p|
HFR: 240, 480, 960 fps
HFR: 1280x720 240p 640x480 360p
|Color depth*||n/a||23 bits||22.1 bits|
|Dynamic range*||n/a||12.6 Evs||11.7 Evs|
|Low-light performance**||n/a||531 ISO||517 ISO|
|Lens||24-600 mm, F2.8-F4.0||24–200 mm, F/2.8||25–400 mm, F2.8-F4.0|
**Low-light performance is a DxOmark measurement which indicates maximum usable ISO. Above the value provided significant increase in image noise occurs