IntroductionThe Sony RX10 III is the third edition of Sony’s bridge camera offering. It has a 20.1MP sensor coupled with a 24-600mm fixed lens (25X) and a maximum aperture of 2.8 or 4 depending on the focal length it is on. The Sony RX10 III offers a lot of possibilities to photographers looking for a flexible device.
Vertical – only – tiltable LCD screen, electronic viewfinder, SD card, mic in and line out jacks, 4k video and high frame rate features allow the camera to be even more versatile. It reaches out to photographs as well as to anyone interested at taking videos.
With a price tag of just under $1400 at the time of writing, current price on Amazon, Sony is confident that the image quality and features of their this bridge are enough to justify its cost.
The Sony RX10 III positions itself as the one device that can do it all. But does it actually perform good enough in order to be the only camera to have in your bag for all situations?
At the time of writing this review, I have used the camera for a little over 3 months. It’s been with me pretty much all the time during these 3 months. I purchased the camera on my own / it was not given/lent by Sony.
Size wise, the Sony RX10 III is similar to a regular DSLR full frame body. It’s rather big. In terms of weight, it’s ligher than you could expect for a 24 to 600mm (35mm equivalent) focal length.
The hand grip is comfortable and doesn’t feel as cramped as on their a7 series.
Under the fixed zoom lens, there is a switch to set the aperture ring feedback / click mode on or off. It allows the camera to be more flexible and accomodate situations when you need to change the aperture during filming.
The zoom and focus rings are digitally/assisted meaning that there is a small lag when you start zooming/focusing. It should not be a deal breaker as it fast enough to not become an annoyance.
At the bottom right of the lens at the front, there is a mechanical switch to set the desired focus mode, automatic, continuous, DMF or manual.
And at the top of the camera, there is a scene selector allowing to choose from a range of pre-defined modes. It also includes a custom mode memory mode that allows to retrieve a set of saved settings.
Zooming can either be done directly on the lens with the zoom ring or via the sensitive zoom control located on each side of the the shutter button.
Also at the top, there is an exposure wheel.
The Sony RX10 III has an integrated flash and a traditional shoe connector for accessories such as a microphone or other accessories. That’s where the stereo microphone is located.
At the rear of the camera there is a tiltable screen and right above it on the left, the a menu button. Video record start button just at the right of the viewfinder. There is a scrolling wheel with a button at its centre + addistional buttons to navigate through the camera’s interface.
Ease of Use
Menus are similar than on the alpha series and other cameras from Sony. Not very intuitive or user friendly compared to Canon or Nikon. It is essentially a few tabs grouping settings from a similar family sorted in a more or less logical sequence. The display is not touch screen.
As mentioned above, although the menu system is not the most intuitive, you eventually get used to it. It just that it sometimes takes a while to find specific settings.
Being able to go from 24mm up to 600mm without having to change lens is so practical. The Sony RX10 III zoom ring is completely motorized meaning that when you turn it in one way or the other, there is a little bit of a lag before it starts changing the focal length. The zoom control at the shutter is nice to use and happens to be more natural after using the camera for a while. It also allows for a smoothly constant and gradual zoom speed depending on the level of pressure you put on it.
Handheld pictures taken at the maximum zoom range of 600mm are understandably not always very sharp but overall the stabilization system is doing an impressive job at limiting shaking. Have a look at the sample pictures below taken all at 24mm, 100mm, 200mm and at 600mm. I put the camera on a tripod for these pictures.
The image quality is excellent considering the small sensor. Whatever the zoom length at which pictures are taken, there is no apparent distortion. There is probably an in camera correction.
As mentioned above, the Sony RX10 III stabilization is doing a great job at keeping everything sharp even when pushing the zoom beyond 400mm.
Exposure is spot on most of the time and it is really difficult to actually find anything wrong with how the camera behaves and renders images.
ISO and low light, the camera does a good job with acceptable noise up to 1600 ISO. From 4000 it is too visibly noisy to make a good use of the images shot.
Everything works almost flawlessly. It’s logically not to the level of the more recent RX10 IV or of the a7 series. For instance, the memory buffer gets saturated after taking several pictures in a row pretty quickly. It is impossible to continue shooting until everything got transfered to the memory card. It can be quite annoying sometimes…
The Sony RX10 III is a camera that wants to do it all and that is very good at most of what it does. Pictures, videos, super zoom range. The full solution in a relatively small and light package considering its zoom range. It allows you to not have to double think about what to take in your bag regardless of what you intend to shoot. ‘Should I rather take this lens or this one instead ?’ No more of these with the Sony RX10 III.
Perhaps low(er) light could be an issue however with such a small sensor, its ISO performance remains impressive.
This being said, this camera can do it all at a fraction of the volume, weight and cost of a traditional changeable lens camera covering a similar zoom range. Yes, at this price the Sony RX10 III is more expensive that other bridge cameras on the market however the competition isn’t offering these features, large zoom range combined with such image quality. Amazing all rounder camera!