When Sony introduced the RX100 back in 2012, we were quite impressed with the little shooter and didn't see too many ways such an impressive camera could be improved on. Well, they blew us away with the RX100 II and now, they've introduced the RX100M III, arguably the most feature-packed advanced compact on the market.
Where the RX100 line excels is in the the large 1" sensor paired with a bright lens. The sensor remains unchanged from that original RX100, but the RX100M III has seen a big improvement in the lens. While it starts at the same excellent f1.8 that works well for low light shots and creating that out-of-focus effect called bokeh, when you're zoomed in, the lens is still quite bright at f2.8. Both the RX100 and RX100 II hit a much slower f4.9 at the long end of the zoom. Of course, Sony did have to make one sacrifice for this change--the Sony RX100 III doesn't have as much optical zoom as it's two predecessors. The latest model covers a optical zoom range equivalent to a 24-70mm DSLR lens (or a 2.9x zoom) while the earlier models covered a 28-100 range (a 3.6x zoom).
One of our comments on the initial model was that we would have loved to see a viewfinder--the RX100 II had one that could be purchased separately and added to the hot shoe slot, but now the RX100 III has a built-in viewfinder that retracts when the camera needs to be more compact. It's an electronic viewfinder, which has it's pros and cons over the optical type (pros: viewing special effects as you shoot, cons: hard to use if you wear glasses). The second model, the RX100 II, was the only one to include the accessory slot, the first and latest models don't have that option.
|The tilting LCD screen on the Sony RX100 III tilts as far as 180 degrees.|
Along with the viewfinder, the RX100 III also includes a tilting LCD. Thge first model didn't have a tilting screen, while the second did but it wouldn't flip 180 (for selfies, of course). The RX100 III has the best tilting screen of the bunch with one that will indeed flip so those in front of the camera can see what's being shot.
As an advanced compact, the Sony RX100M III includes full manual modes. The shutter speed hits up to 1/2000, which is good but there's a few options that will head up to 1/4000. For those that like to experiment with long exposures, the RX100 II includes a built-in neutral density filter. Neutral density filters block out some of the light so that you can use slower shutter speeds outdoors without overexposing the image.
Speed with this line has always been solid, but this 2014 model includes the latest processor for improved speed. The Sony RX 100 III still features an excellent 10 fps burst mode for capturing action.
With all these changes, the camera still comes in quite a small package. It's a few ounces heavier than the earlier models, but not enough to make a noticeable difference and the features are certainly worth it. The RX100 III has a similar design as the older versions, including that control ring around the lens that makes adjustments easy.
While it's a little disappointing to see that smaller zoom, the speed of the lens more than makes up for that change. If you're looking for a tiny camera that can capture a variety of excellent shots while giving the photographer a lot of control over that final image, the Sony RX100 III is an excellent option. And while it's the best option out of the three, the budget-conscious might still enjoy the older models with prices dropping as low as under $500 with the announcement of the latest version. For those who are disappointed by that lack of zoom, there's also the larger and pricier Sony RX10 with similar advanced features.