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Sony RX100 III Takes on Nikon, Samsung Mirrorless Models

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.

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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.

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