Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III Review
A lot of camera, for starters. The RX10 sits like a trusty steed in the palm of your hand, complete with its dust and moisture-resistant magnesium alloy chassis. All this metal does come at a price, which is the weight. All up, with battery and memory card inserted, the RX10 is 813 grams.
It is a 20.2-megapixel Exmor R sensor, teamed up with the new Bionz X image processor for faster results. It’s the same processor that appeared in the A7 and A7R, for those playing along at home.
Around the lens is a touch that photography enthusiasts will enjoy: an aperture ring. Elsewhere on the barrel is a switch that lets you change how the ring feels when it is rotated. Choose from having a smooth, fluid movement or having the ring move in click stops. Further inside the camera is a 3-stop ND filter that can be turned on or off as needed.
The lens has an impressive minimum focusing distance of 30cm at the telephoto end of the zoom. It even illuminates with a deep orange glow for night-time use.
Apart from the top LED panel, you also get a 3-inch, 1.22-million dot tilting screen at the back of the camera. Video buffs get the option of 1080/50 interlaced or progressive filming (or 60i/p when shooting in NTSC) as well as a built-in stereo microphone located just behind the pop-up flash. The OLED electronic viewfinder is bright and crisp, meaning that it’s easy to achieve correct focus as needed.
Connectivity is provided via Wi-Fi and NFC, while there is also a headphone and microphone jack on the side of the camera. A multi-interface shoe accepts a number of different Sony-branded accessories.
Exposure modes are pretty standard for a Sony camera, and on par with other superzooms on the market. Full PASM control is provided while there is also an automatic, scene, movie, sweep panorama and two custom options on the dial.
To use the RX10 with your smartphone or tablet, download the PlayMemories Mobile app for iOS or Android. The app allows users to transfer photos and videos from the camera or use the smart device as a remote viewfinder. With this latter option, there is no manual exposure control, but you do get full control over the extent of the zoom from the app itself.
The RX10 can take a burst of 20 JPEG shots or 9 RAW shots in its fastest continuous shooting mode until the camera slows to buffer.
We found that the RX10 had patchy AF in low light situations. Changing the AF area didn’t seem to help things much either; a half-press of the shutter button to focus often did not pick out the right point of focus even when the subject was in the centre of the frame. We suggest turning on peaking for a clear indication of where your focus plane is, or use expanded focus and your manual focusing lens on the ring to double-check AF when needed.
Ergonomically, the RX10 is very nice to shoot with. For photographers who prefer manual exposure modes, the combination of the aperture ring and the rear dial for shutter speed adjustment works particularly well. The lens feels sturdy and the body is weighted well for two-handed photography.
Like to leave the camera on automatic and just point and shoot? The RX10 can do that without any trouble. There are plenty of good things to write home about in terms of image quality.
Images stay relatively clean up to and including ISO 800. ISO 1600 and 3200 are definitely usable, but if you want to crop images or make enlargements you may want to perform some noise reduction.
In automatic exposure modes, the RX10 does tend to err on the side of overexposing in bright situations, which can cause some highlights to blow out. Automatic white balance is accurate, leaning towards slightly warm when used in indoor (fluorescent) conditions. Outdoor results are on the money, with the RX10 delivering good results in full sunshine and overcast conditions.
Shooting on JPEG delivers good results straight out of the box. If you prefer to shoot in RAW you get photos with lots of usable detail, but at the widest end you do see quite a lot of barrel distortion that needs to be corrected in post. If you shoot exclusively in JPEG the camera will automatically apply some correction for you. Note that if you like to shoot in RAW+JPEG, you don’t get the option of having the highest-quality (extra fine) JPEG capture
For a camera with a constant f/2.8 lens and a relatively large sensor for a superzoom, the RX10 does deliver some nice bokeh, but it obviously can’t be a match for an SLR. Though the pop-up flash looks small, it does offer decent coverage across the focal length of the lens.
Sony has really tried to raise the bar when it comes to video performance. The zoom moves smoothly during filming, though it is still at the same slow speed as usual. For precision adjustments to focus and exposure for the video image, focus peaking and zebra stripes come in very handy.
Video quality is excellent from the RX10, with fluid motion and a sharp image captured. You can de-click the aperture ring for fluid, noise-free transitions if you need to stop up and down during filming. The audio recording input has 32 steps to choose from, with the quality from the built-in stereo microphones turning out very good quality sound. You have the option to turn on or off the wind cut function for the internal mic.
It certainly stands alone in the field of superzooms — there really isn’t any comparison on the market at all. If you are in the market for a fixed-lens camera that can (almost) do it all, the RX10 is hard to pass by.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III
|Body type||SLR-like (bridge)|
|Max resolution||5472 x 3648|
|Other resolutions||4864 x 3648, 5472 x 3080, 3648 x 3648, 3648 x 2736, 3648 x 2592, 3648 x 2056, 2544 x 2544, 2736 x 1824, 2592 x 1944, 2720 x 1528, 1920 x 1920, 640 x 480|
|Image ratio w:h||1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9|
|Effective pixels||20 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||21 megapixels|
|Sensor size||1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)|
|ISO||Auto, 100 – 12800 (expands to 64-25600)|
|Boosted ISO (minimum)||64|
|Boosted ISO (maximum)||25600|
|White balance presets||9|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|JPEG quality levels||Extra fine, standard, fine|
|Optics & Focus|
|Focal length (equiv.)||24–600 mm|
|Digital zoom||Yes (4X)|
|Normal focus range||3 cm (1.18″)|
|Macro focus range||3 cm (1.18″)|
|Number of focus points||25|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Screen type||TFT LCD|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/2000 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed (electronic)||1/32000 sec|
|Manual exposure mode||Yes|
|Subject / scene modes||Yes|
|Flash range||10.80 m (at Auto ISO)|
|External flash||Yes (Multi-interface shoe)|
|Flash modes||Auto, fill-flash, slow sync, rear sync, off|
|Continuous drive||14.0 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2 or 10 sec, continuous)|
|Exposure compensation||±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|Resolutions||3840 x 2160 (30p, 25p, 24p), 1920 x 1080 (120p, 60p, 60i, 24p) ,1440 x 1080 (30p), 640 x 480 (30p)|
|Format||MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S|
|Videography notes||High speed modes at 240, 480, 960 fps|
|Storage types||SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Duo/Pro Duo/Pro-HG Duo|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|HDMI||Yes (micro-HDMI with 4K still and uncompressed HDMI output)|
|Wireless notes||802.11b/g/n with NFC|
|Remote control||Yes (via smartphone)|
|Battery description||NP-FW50 lithium-ion battery and charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||420|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||1051 g (2.32 lb / 37.07 oz)|
|Dimensions||133 x 94 x 127 mm (5.24 x 3.7 x 5″)|