MANILA, Philippines â One of Time magazineâs best inventions for 2012, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 was an engineering marvel and the first of its kind â a pocket-sized camera with an image sensor nearly 5 times bigger than a typical compact camera.
Paired with a fast f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss zoom lens, the original RX100 was arguably the best pocket digital camera ever made. The only thing better was its successor, the Mark II, and now it is probably safe to say its latest iteration, the Mark III.
Announced on Friday, May 16, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III continues Sonyâs highly innovative and thoughtful design. The new digital point and shoot sports the same Bionz X image processor from Sony’s high-end interchangeable lens cameras, a built-in pop-up electronic viewfinder â yes, thatâs right, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity and a full tilt screen for the ever-important selfie.
Faster wider lens, less Zoom
The most notable upgrade though has to be the 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 Carl Zeiss lens, which is 4mm wider than the previous versions and brighter when zoomed all the way in. The first two RX100s zoomed in more, up to 100mm, but at the cost of a less bright f/4.9 aperture. Not only should this lens enable better pictures in low light, it should also produce dreamy DSLR-like bokeh â the out of focus areas in front of and behind the subject.
Pop-up electronic viewfinder
One of the most interesting and useful aspects of this camera has got to be the built-in pop-up viewfinder. Not immediately noticeable, this brilliant bit of engineering gives you access to a 1.4-million-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) at the push of a button. While weâre used to pop-up flashes, a pop-up viewfinder is not something you see on a camera; on its predecessor, the EVF was an optional $300-accessory.
The flash hot shoe introduced on the Mark II is gone as a result. However, it hardly needs a big flash with its excellent low light capabilities and it does have a pop-up flash. Plus carrying a big flash accessory sort of defeats the purpose of this camera anyway.
Same imaging sensor
About the only thing Sony didnât change on the RX100 III is the imaging sensor. The proven, Sony-made 1-inch 20.9-megapixel CMOS sensor resting comfortably behind the new Zeiss lens and a more powerful Bionz X image processor should capture stunning images.
Video too gets a bump thanks to its new XAVC format which Sony says allows you to shoot Full HD video at a faster data rate but with very little compression.
Step up to serious photos without the bulk
Retailing for $799 USD when it hits stores in June, the RX100 III is a very serious camera despite its small footprint. While just a dollar shy of $800 may sound steep for a compact camera, for a bit of perspective, a good 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for a DSLR can cost more than that â the RX100 III is an entire camera that fits in a pocket.
This remarkable little camera clearly isnât aimed at the casual smartphone picture taker, rather it will appeal more to the photography enthusiast who probably already has a DSLR but needs a second camera to take with when lugging around heavy camera gear isnât an option.
Those who enjoy taking pictures with their smartphone, but want to step it up and shoot better photos should also consider the RX100 III. Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC (Near Field Communication) makes it extremely quick and easy to transfer the high quality images from the camera to a smartphone for quick sharing on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.