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Sony RX100 III Takes on Nikon, Samsung Mirrorless Models

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 7 comments

Selfie lovers are going to be spoiled for choice. Sony today (May 16) announced the Cyber-shot RX100 III, which offers a flip-up LCD screen for better self-portraits, similar to Samsung’s new NX mini. Starting this June, you can get the RX100 III, which also has a pop-up OLED electronic viewfinder, for $800. The RX100 III does not take interchangeable lenses like the NX mini and Nikon 1 camera lines do, but it packs a comparable 1-inch CMOS sensor. It also features a built-in 3X zoom lens with a large aperture range of 1.8 to 2.8.

MORE: Camera Buying Guide 2014

We had a chance to try out a preproduction RX100 III, and were pleased with its solid build, although it felt somewhat chunkier than the Samsung NX Mini. The RX100's electronic viewfinder, which pops up when you push a switch on the camera's left side, offers a nifty option for those who want a DSLR-like experience. The 1.4-million-dot EVF offered richer colors than the camera's rear LCD screen, but it was a hassle to engage. You have to pull out the viewfinder from its pop-up housing to fully activate it. We found it difficult to reach the diopter on the viewfinder side to adjust its focus while we pressed it up to our face.

Sony offers a few selfie-centric features in the RX100 III. Flip the 3-inch (nontouch) LCD screen up 180 degrees so it faces forward, and the camera automatically turns on for quick selfie snapping. By default, when the LCD is flipped up, a timer mode is activated, so you'll get a 3-second window to steady each shot. In this mode, face detection is also turned on. The RX100 III also goes to the largest aperture possible to produce a blurred background effect.

One small complaint: When the camera's flash popped up,it obscured the lower portion of the flip-up screen, making it harder for us to preview our shot. This might trouble you if you often take selfies in low-light situations that require flash, but not so much that it will ruin your experience.

The RX100 III should take better pictures than traditional point-and-shoots, due to its high-end components. It carries a relatively large 1-inch CMOS sensor, Sony's latest Bionz X processor and a ZEISS Vario-Sonnar 8.8-25.7mm (24-69mm, full-frame equivalent) lens with a large f/1.8 (wide)-f2.8 (telephoto) max aperture range. The camera supports a light sensitivity range of ISO 125 to 12,800, which should let you shoot at a good range of light situations, and shutter speeds of between 4 and 1/2,000 seconds. The RX 1000 captures stills in Continuous mode at up to 10 pictures per second. You can also record 1080p movies at up to 60 fps and 720p movies at up to 120 fps, which allows you to play the latter back in slow motion.

At $800 though, the RX100 III is much more expensive than the Samsung NX mini, which also has a flip-up monitor and a 3X zoom lens (in its $500 kit option), and boasts interchangeable lens capability to boot. The RX100 III also out prices some Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras that likewise feature 1-inch sensors and interchangeable lenses, such as the new S2 and J4, which start at $450 and $650, respectively.

Follow Cherlynn Low at @CherlynnLow and on Google+. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • 0 Hide
    AndrewJacksonZA , May 16, 2014 2:10 AM
    So why, exactly, would one spend $500 - $800 when one has already spent the rough equivalent of $900 on a Sony Xperia Z2 (roughly the price in my country) which already has a good camera built in? Can the RX100 III take photos where the sun is in the picture, like a wildlife sanctuary at dawn?

    I'm asking because I'm a camera n00b and already own a Sony Xperia T and am thinking about getting a Z2 (or a Z2 Compact if it comes out) soon. I work near a beautiful bird sanctuary and trying to take a photo of a nature scene in the morning with vegetation, fog, clouds and sun using my phone's camera just doesn't work as well as I want it to.
  • 1 Hide
    asiaprime , May 16, 2014 6:45 AM
    Quote:
    So why, exactly, would one spend $500 - $800 when one has already spent the rough equivalent of $900 on a Sony Xperia Z2 (roughly the price in my country) which already has a good camera built in? Can the RX100 III take photos where the sun is in the picture, like a wildlife sanctuary at dawn?

    I'm asking because I'm a camera n00b and already own a Sony Xperia T and am thinking about getting a Z2 (or a Z2 Compact if it comes out) soon. I work near a beautiful bird sanctuary and trying to take a photo of a nature scene in the morning with vegetation, fog, clouds and sun using my phone's camera just doesn't work as well as I want it to.


    Well it's great that you're admitting you're a camera n00b, we all have to start somewhere, I'll admit that I'm a bit of a camera snob. having a dedicated camera has the advantage of image sensor size. http://www.gizmag.com/camera-sensor-size-guide/26684/. a larger sensor means better quality photos. It also goes along with the whole megapixel "race", having anything larger than 10 megapixel isn't all that necessary for the average user. plus, higher megapixel on a tiny sensor can sometimes lessen the quality. the experience that I've had with lots of phone cameras add a haze on the picture. most people don't wipe off the lens before they take the picture!
    in the case of taking pictures with of the sun, it's fairly difficult without another light source, it tends to overpower the foreground. it might allow processing to account for back lit images. the thing that I find most useful are raw files (digital negative), capturing more data than a straight jpeg.
    ultimately, if you can only afford a z2, then you're stuck with a phone cam, you might be able to use an app to replace your default camera to help in certain situations.
  • 0 Hide
    asiaprime , May 16, 2014 6:45 AM
    Quote:
    So why, exactly, would one spend $500 - $800 when one has already spent the rough equivalent of $900 on a Sony Xperia Z2 (roughly the price in my country) which already has a good camera built in? Can the RX100 III take photos where the sun is in the picture, like a wildlife sanctuary at dawn?

    I'm asking because I'm a camera n00b and already own a Sony Xperia T and am thinking about getting a Z2 (or a Z2 Compact if it comes out) soon. I work near a beautiful bird sanctuary and trying to take a photo of a nature scene in the morning with vegetation, fog, clouds and sun using my phone's camera just doesn't work as well as I want it to.


    Well it's great that you're admitting you're a camera n00b, we all have to start somewhere, I'll admit that I'm a bit of a camera snob. having a dedicated camera has the advantage of image sensor size. http://www.gizmag.com/camera-sensor-size-guide/26684/. a larger sensor means better quality photos. It also goes along with the whole megapixel "race", having anything larger than 10 megapixel isn't all that necessary for the average user. plus, higher megapixel on a tiny sensor can sometimes lessen the quality. the experience that I've had with lots of phone cameras add a haze on the picture. most people don't wipe off the lens before they take the picture!
    in the case of taking pictures with of the sun, it's fairly difficult without another light source, it tends to overpower the foreground. it might allow processing to account for back lit images. the thing that I find most useful are raw files (digital negative), capturing more data than a straight jpeg.
    ultimately, if you can only afford a z2, then you're stuck with a phone cam, you might be able to use an app to replace your default camera to help in certain situations.
  • Display all 7 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    dstarr3 , May 16, 2014 8:55 AM
    Please don't bother with camera news. We have DPReview for that. And I trust their input quite a lot more.
  • -1 Hide
    Steveymoo , May 16, 2014 9:00 AM
    Who the hell spends $800 on a camera to take selfies? I think the target audience (people that can afford these cameras,) probably tend to be a little less narcissistic than normal.
  • -1 Hide
    razor512 , May 16, 2014 9:04 AM
    Good for a point and shoot (should be priced at about $250), but insanely overpriced, someone looking at that price tab will simply decide to spend $50 less and get a nikon D5300 which will offer better image quality, better low light performance, better auto focus, and more robust video and audio controls, in addition to the ability to swap lenses
  • 1 Hide
    everlast66 , May 16, 2014 10:04 AM
    Quote:
    Good for a point and shoot (should be priced at about $250), but insanely overpriced, someone looking at that price tab will simply decide to spend $50 less and get a nikon D5300 which will offer better image quality, better low light performance, better auto focus, and more robust video and audio controls, in addition to the ability to swap lenses


    The biggest feature of this camera is its pocketablility combined with excellent quality!
    It's great to have a D5300, but not as great if it stays most of the time at home. This little camera you can have with you at all times.
    Also this has a Zeiss lens, not sure the D5300 would be $50 less if you combine it with a Zeiss lens.
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