Imaging-Resource RX100 Mark III Image Quality Analysis - A step back from Mark II

Started Aug 8, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Imaging-Resource RX100 Mark III Image Quality Analysis - A step back from Mark II
Aug 8, 2014

As every review to be taken with pinch of salt but this is a comparison with Mark II and other cameras, results are a bit disappointing

This refers to JPEG and prints off JPEGs

Some snapshots

Base ISO

At first glance the RX100 III crops seem to pop off the page and appear sharper overall, but a careful study shows unnatural sharpening artifacts, while the older mk II images look far more realistic and natural. This sharpening can be turned down for JPEG shooting in-camera, and of course RAW conversions can be made to order, but it's important to remember that unless you want this much sharpening applied at base ISO, it's advisable to turn this setting down before shooting.

ISO 1600

And now the real fun begins, as virtually everything but the best full frame cameras start to show strain at ISO 1600 and above, so it's nice to gauge just which ones handle it the best and which struggle more. The RX100 III's aggressive default processing shows odd and unwanted artifacts in some areas, notably the mosaic tiles, while the mk II delivers more consistent imagery, though obviously not very detailed.

ISO 3200

This ISO is clearly too high for most sensors of this size, although the RX100 II certainly handles the noise much better, with images that appear much cleaner than the mk III.

Detail comparison. Ah... fine detail. Certain types of photography require the ability to render fine detail, and this crop of the "Pure" bottle lettering helps separate those that can. The RX100 III's aggressive sharpening lends itself to this crop, as it looks rather good compared to the mk II and the Stylus 1 and holding it's own against the rest. It loses ground though as ISO rises and the two cameras with larger sensors are still able to resolve some detail in the lettering, especially the GM1. This is one of the reasons why we chose to show different sensor sizes here, so that you would know what you were getting and giving up at this general price point.

Print Quality

The Sony RX100 III takes a slight step backwards in the print quality department as compared to the great strides the RX100 II made. Aggressive default sharpening and noise processing results in visible noise and artifacts in the middle range ISOs that force a print size reduction compared to the mk II across 3 middle-range ISO settings. It is highly possible that conversions in RAW will yield larger sizes, but certainly not a guarantee. The RX100 II was such a big leap ahead for what a premium compact could achieve in low light performance, so we'd hoped for the trend to continue but, at least with print quality, this is not the case. Still, it's an amazing camera for its size, even with the slight step back from its predecessor in low light image quality.

In my little tests the steps back were also in the video department where the sharpening and noise reduction were really making a mess of things let alone the autofocus issue

I wonder if optimised RAW processors can rescue the issues

This seems to be the root of a number of complain posts on here all referring to JPEG and auto or P mode

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