Personal view of RX100 III

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Rick Evertsz
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Personal view of RX100 III
1 month ago

I've only had this camera for a day, but am delighted (having used the original RX100 for about 2 years). This is a totally subjective account, but there may be info here that is of use to prospective purchasers.

What I like:

- EVF. Bright and clear. I was using it comfortably with my left eye before I realised it probably should be awkward. I have an ample nose (!) but without thinking turned my face about 30 degrees to the right so that my nose doesn't touch the LCD. I think I used to use my DSLR in the same way. To all those who are uncomfortable using their right eye with a viewfinder, have a go with your left; it might be ok.

- Lens. I'd rather have a bright 70mm than a dim 100mm at the telephoto end. The extra stop is invaluable to me when shooting in low light (which I seem to do a lot). 24mm is nice to have, but I'm more excited about the overall brighter lens, even if I lose a bit of brightness at 28mm.

- Articulated LCD. I really missed this on the Mark 1. This morning, I captured a nice video clip of my 18-month old son babbling into the camera lens. He normally ignores the camera, and it's really hard to get him to look at the lens. What was different this time? I flipped the LCD 180 degrees and he was enchanted to see his own image as I was filming.

- Better stabilisation. It "seems" a lot better. I used to have to shoot at about 1/100s at the 100mm end. I don't have a steady hand. I got some sharp pics at 1/20s at 70mm today. Some using the viewfinder, and others with the LCD at 90 degrees, so, these two variables probably helped. Either way, I can work at lower shutter speeds than before. On the Mark 1, even 1/30s at 28mm had unreliable sharpness. I think that the stabilisation on the Mark 1 was woeful. Not sure if it's better on the Mark 3, but it effectively is for me, thanks to the viewfinder and being able to shoot at waist level with the LCD at 90 degrees.

- +/- 3EV exposure bracketing. Hooray, at last! Don't do much HDR, but I sometimes need to without a tripod.

- Auto ISO in Manual mode - I mostly shoot in manual mode. I had ISO assigned to the front control ring so I could manually do the Auto ISO thing, if you get my meaning. No need for that anymore.

- Much better control ring. The Mark 1 was so laggy and unpredictable in this respect. It drove me crazy. It is much more predictable on the Mark 3. So much so, that I've started using manual focus again when needed. The laggy Mark 1 made manual focus a pain. The new stepped control ring function is nice too; I use it for zooming between standard focal lengths.

- Turns on much more quickly. Haven't timed it, but did a side-by-side comparison with the Mark 1. Turns off at the same speed.

- Being able to assign 12 functions to the FN button.

- Extra custom button. (also Quick Navi is nice to have again, missed it from A700).

- Recording XAVC S and smaller mp4 at the same time. Nice for quickly posting stuff online.

- Intelligent Active SteadyShot in movies. Seems VERY effective.

- Can turn off Pre-AF.

- Eye AF. Well, I like the idea, although the implementation is a bit annoying (see "What I don't like", below). Eye AF focuses on one of the subject's eyes. Only seems to work when both eyes are visible.

- Having a button to pop-up the flash.

- Flash can still be bounced. It's a GREAT feature for softening the effect of flash.

- -3EV flash compensation works well. Flash compensation didn't seem to do much on the Mark 1.

What I don't like:

- If you use Intelligent Active SteadyShot, it won't simultaneously record XAVC S and a smaller mp4 version. I guess the processor can't cope with all three tasks (two lots of compression plus steadying the footage in real time).

- Having to hold a custom button in while pressing the shutter button for Eye AF. It's awkward.

- Wish the battery lasted longer with EVF, but third-party batteries are cheap and plentiful. I have two extras and have used them for about a year on the Mark 1 with no issues.

In summary:

I can't believe how rapt I am with this camera. I wasn't expecting it to be this much better (for my typical use cases). The viewfinder, lens and articulated LCD would have been enough of an upgrade on their own. Unlike some people, I really liked the handling of the Mark 1 (apart from the control ring). The handling of the Mark 3 is even better thanks to the viewfinder, articulated LCD, better control ring implementation, extra row of FN entries, extra control button and Auto ISO in manual mode. I don't find the RX100 to be fiddly at all. Well, for such a small camera! I use an Op/Tech Finger Cuff because I'm worried about dropping the camera. Slip my little pinky into it as I remove the camera from its sleeve in my pocket. If I drop it, it dangles from my finger. In two years, I've never let go of the camera, but it's nice to have a fallback option for such a small and expensive item

For me, the camera is as large as it can get and still be pants pocketable. I wouldn't sacrifice pocketability to get a longer telephoto end. I wish the AF was more DSLR-like. It's quite quick, but can't keep up with my 18-month old's bobbing head movements. I'd give up a bit of high ISO IQ to add on-sensor phase detect (assuming that's a tradeoff that would have to be made to get phase detect AF).

Looking forward to DXO Optics Pro and Aperture providing RAW support. Shooting RAW+JPG for now so I can temporarily play with JPGs in Aperture without having to export TIFFs from Sony Image Data Converter.

 Rick Evertsz's gear list:Rick Evertsz's gear list
RX100 III Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Sony 85mm F1.4 ZA Carl Zeiss Planar T* Sony 135mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T*
RX100 III Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony RX100
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