Sony RX100 III Field-tested: Is it still the best overall point and shoot on the market?

Sony RX100 III Field-tested: Is it still the best overall point and shoot on the market?

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100When Sony introduced the original RX100, it was a ground-breaking use of a 1-inch sensor in a point and shoot. I hesitate to call it a compact camera, as it is pretty beefy for most pockets. But for those who wanted excellent image quality without needing an interchangeable lens, it was a breath of fresh air. Sony has continued to beef up the RX100 product family, with the Mark III version adding some important features like an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). However, image quality has hardly changed over the intervening years, moving up only 1 point – from 66 to 67 in DxOMark’s rankings. After we field-tested the newer, and higher-rated last month, I thought we should catch up with the and give readers more information about how the two cameras compare…


The does a great job even in low light.
This image was post-processed for noise reduction with DxO Prime,
but the fact that it was possible to make it this clean is a tribute to the sensor in the Sony.
St. Lucie River & Bridge, Stuart, Florida
, f/11 @ 1/4s, ISO 3200


First things first. Both the and the have much bigger sensors, and therefore much better image quality than almost any other point and shoot cameras. The one exception is the which is in the same category. However, the Lumix, as excellent as it is, is also noticeably larger, so for those looking to pocket their camera, it wouldn’t be our choice. You can . As far as the Canon and the Sony, you won’t go wrong with either. I was thrilled with both the Raw (as converted with either Optics Pro 10 or Adobe’s software) and the JPEG output of both cameras. The differences between them have more to  do with specs and features than image quality. That said, the Canon does finish slightly ahead in image quality benchmarks (71 compared to 67), and is $100 less expensive, so if IQ is your sole criteria, it is a great choice. You can .

This un-processed (except for rescaling for the web) JPEG shows how good the is even with tricky outdoor scenes.
Here we have a wide-range of light, color, and subject distances – none of which phase the Sony.
Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Boynton Beach, Florida.
, 1/200s @ f/10, ISO 125

Stunning images from a pocket camera

The not only produces images with excellent and accurate color, there is remarkably little distortion. It may not replace a high-end DSLR and prime lens for architectural photographers, but you can see from this fairly tricky scene of several buildings and a gallery at Stanford University, that the camera handles the lighting and creates very accurate lines and angles over the entire field of view:

Stanford University Engineering Quad, f/2.8, ISO 125, 24mm equivalent

Zoom range versus EVF and articulated LCD

In terms of features, the has a longer zoom range (24-100mm) compared to the relatively short 24-70mm of the .  However, the Sony has a pop-up EVF, which is really helpful in bright light, and for those of us that are used to composing images with a viewfinder. Unfortunately, to use the EVF you not only need to pop it up, you need to pull out the eyepiece (much like on a pair of binoculars). I found that greatly reduced the utility of the EVF for me – especially since when I wanted to close the camera up I needed to push the eyepiece back in before pushing the EVF down. It is also not a gorgeous EVF like on Sony’s mirrorless models, but it is quite nice given the small size.

Sony also offers an articulated LCD, which is useful for composing images with the camera held low or over your head. How useful you’ll find it will depend on the kinds of photos you like to take. Canon’s LCD doesn’t articulate, but it is a touchscreen, which is handy if you’re used to poking at the screen on your smartphone to take pictures.

Size versus Price

Size and price are another tradeoff. The Sony is slightly smaller and lighter (amazing given they have added an EVF and articulated LCD). It is only a few grams and a few millimeters, but it is enough to make it easier to fit in a cargo pocket or jacket pocket. However, neither of them are truly “pocket-sized” like the excellent little . However, the Sony is priced $100 more than the Canon – at $699 compared to $798 for the Sony. In fact, Canon is offering an instant $50 discount, so the is .

Even the parking lot at Corkscrew Swamp is picturesque!
, f/11 @ 1/80s, ISO 125

In short, if you are looking for a nearly-pocketable camera that takes great images, the is your best bet if you need a viewfinder or are willing to pay an extra $100 in exchange for its slightly smaller size. Otherwise, the will give you more zoom for less money – and slightly better image quality in the bargain.