Sony RX100 III vs RX100 II - first impressions

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Sony RX100 III vs RX100 II - first impressions
3 months ago

By now, there have been a few thorough reviews of the Sony RX100 III and it looks like there are people out there wondering which model to buy or whether to upgrade or not. I’ve been an RX100 II user since July 2013 and recently bought an RX100 III. Here are a few personal impressions on the usability of the M3 vs the M2. This is by no means a review - just some user impressions (after a few thousand exposures). I don’t shoot video, so I ignore the aspects related to video.

Ergonomics

  • The M3 body is more flush without the M2’s accessory shoe. That makes it a few mm shorter and smooth on the top.
  • The lens ring sticks out just a little more, adding thickness but the knurled area is larger, making it easier to grasp. It still fits in my jeans pocket.
  • My M3 sounds a bit less smooth when it’s turned on. The lens cover now contains four blades instead of two (a more pronounced click when opening and closing). Zooming makes a louder whirring noise but that could be just my sample.
  • Having a dedicated lever to pop & select the flash is far faster than going to the menu to select the flash. I love that and hardly have to use the flash menu.
  • The flash is hinged in a way that it faces forward more than the M2 but doesn’t go quite as high. Possibly because of the wider angle of the M3 and possibly because of its position over the center of the lens, it causes vignetting at the bottom of the frame at the widest angle setting.
  • Bouncing the flash was easier on the M2. Because of the flash’s new hinging, bouncing it takes more effort. It was trivial to use a finger to slide the M2’s flash back to a bounce position. The M3 isn’t conducive to that and requires pulling back on one of the arms that holds the flash.
  • If you want to tilt the display down, it’s easier to do so on the M2: just pull from the top. On the M3, the display slides under a bezel and you need to either pull on the little tab on the left or pull the display out from the bottom and then tilt it.

Displays and information

  • Switching modes shows the new mode letter (P, A, S, M, etc.) in the top-left corner of the display. This is a huge benefit in the dark. On the M2, I had to keep the stupid Mode Dial Guide set on just so I could see the mode.
  • The EVF is better and more useful than I expected it to be.
  • The greater angle of the rear display is handy. I use the camera with the display tilted out to a 90 degree angle (mimicking the waist-level finder of an old Hasselblad or TLR). I like the fact that the M3 display tilts to be flush with the top of the camera instead of halfway down the body.
  • The level indicators are closer to the center (they touch the grid lines in the “rule of thirds” grid). This is inconsequential.
  • The “ISO” text is a smaller font size and in bold on the M3, making it look like a failed attempt at a small caps font.
  • The addition of zebra stripes to warn of overexposure is nice. 

Controls

  • The Help button, which I couldn’t reprogram on the M2, is now a programmable button. This makes it useful. I set mine to change the ISO. Having this extra programmable button really makes the camera more useable to me.
  • The menu system shows a two-level hierarchy, allowing you to scroll to the topic more directly.
  • Movie settings aren’t in a separate menu hierarchy anymore. This makes the camera menu look more cluttered with stuff I normally don’t care about. It looks sloppy since the video controls aren’t even placed in a single sub-menu.
  • Formatting a card is really inconvenient: it’s the third item down in the fourth sub-menu of the toolbox menu. On the M2, it was the first item in the card menu. I understand that you don’t want a user to do this accidentally but it’s a really common operation.
  • As with the M2, formatting takes an eternity. I don’t know why. It’s much, much faster on my Olympus, Nikon, and Canon cameras.
  • At a 70mm equivalent (maximum range of the RX100M3), the M2’s maximum aperture is f/4, which makes it only one stop slower than the M3.

Sample RX100 III image

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III Sony RX100 II
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