The original Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 was a landmark release, with excellent image quality and high-speed performance, all packed into a metal body around the size of a pack of playing cards.
We’re now on the fifth iteration of the RX100, and all five models are still available as new today. Although the heart of the RX100 range has remained the same, Sony has added various features and made changes to the handling of each successive release.
In this article, we’ve compared the last three models in the line: the RX100 III, RX100 IV and the RX100 V. By looking at where the models are the same and where they differ, you'll have better idea of whether the newer models are better suited to whatever it is you plan on capturing.
Sony RX100 III vs RX100 IV vs RX100 V: Sensor and processor
- Sony RX100 III: 1in-type BSI CMOS sensor, 20.1MP; BIONZ X processor
- Sony RX100 IV: 1in-type BSI stacked CMOS sensor, 20.1MP; BIONZ X processor
- Sony RX100 V: 1in-type BSI stacked CMOS sensor, 20.1MP; BIONZ X processor
Although all five models in the RX100 line have offered 20.1MP 1in-type sensors, they have not been the same unit.
While the RX100 III maintains the back-illuminated sensor of the Mark II, the RX100 IV features a sensor with a stacked architecture. This was done to improve light-gathering efficiency, helping to deliver images with lower noise.
That sensor also includes a separate DRAM chip, something that was maintained for the RX100 V's sensor. Even so, Sony did not simply use the same sensor once again; instead, it developed a new one that incorporated phase-detect AF pixels into its design. Despite these differences, however, all three sensors offer a native sensitivity range of ISO 125-12,800.
All three also make use of a BIONZ X processor, although it looks like the processor is more powerful with each new camera. Not only does Sony promise better noise performance in the RX100 V than with the previous RX100 IV, but with each successive model, you also get faster high-speed shooting and more frames in a single burst, plus longer slow-motion sequences – more on this later.
Sony RX100 III vs RX100 IV vs RX100 V: Lens
- Sony RX100 III: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* lens; ND filter
- Sony RX100 IV: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* lens; ND filter
- Sony RX100 V: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* lens; ND filter
The lens is identical in all three cameras. The 8.8-25.7mm focal length is equivalent to 24-72mm in 35mm terms, and the aperture range of f/1.8-2.8 on each is very respectable.
This is a significant improvement on the first two cameras in the series, which have longer 24-100mm lenses but a considerably narrower f/4.9 maximum aperture at the telephoto extension.
All three models have also been designed with a Control Ring around their respective optics, and these can be used for a range of purpose – not least zooming. All three also have built-in ND filters to help out when capturing long exposures and for video shooting.
Sony RX100 III vs RX100 IV vs RX100 V: Video
- Sony RX100 III: 1080p up to 60fps, 120fps slow motion
- Sony RX100 IV: 4K up to 30fps, 960fps slow motion
- RX100 V: 4K up to 30fps, 960fps slow motion
Sony has been at the cutting edge of developing video technology in cameras primarily designed for photography, so it's no surprise that many differences can be found between these three models here.
The RX100 IV and RX100 V can shoot 4K videos at 30fps, while the RX100 III is restricted to Full HD (1080p) shooting at frame rates up to 60fps. Sony has also added an S-Log2 video profile in both the RX100 IV and RX100 V, which makes these feel all the more video centric.
Although both the RX100 IV and RX100 V are capable of 4K video recording, the way this is captured is not the same. The RX100 V oversamples footage at a 5K resolution, before this is downsampled to 4K, a process that should make for slightly crisper results. Both, however, have an anti-distortion shutter for reducing rolling shutter effects, something that wasn't included on the RX100 III.
One of the headline features of the RX100 IV and RX100 V is what Sony calls High Frame Rate (HFR) videos. Users can shoot at up to a staggering 960fps for slow-motion output, although this comes at a reduced resolution. Essentially, the faster you go in frame rate the lower the output resolution.
One point of difference here is that the RX100 V is able to record sequences twice as long as the RX100 IV, when each camera is set to its High Frame Rate (HFR) setting.
You can also shoot slow-motion footage with the RX100 III, but only to a frame rate of 120fps, which is output at 720p. There's also a 1.69x crop factor to take into consideration here.
Unsurprisingly for such small cameras, you won't find ports for headphones or microphones on any of these models. Even so, there is clear progression in the series with video, and the RX100 V is the most comprehensive yet.
Sony RX100 III vs RX100 IV vs RX100 V: AF system
- Sony RX100 III: 25-point contrast-detect AF system
- Sony RX100 IV: 25-point contrast-detect AF system
- Sony RX100 V: 315-point phase-detect AF and 25-point contrast-detect AF system
The RX100 V is the first camera in the range to feature on-sensor phase-detect AF. This is a 315-point array with wide coverage across 65% of the frame, and this works with the same 25-point contrast-detect AF system that features in the previous two models.
On-sensor phase-detect AF usually improves a camera’s AF performance, especially for continuous high-speed shooting and also when capturing videos. This new feature is a potentially real trump card for the RX100 V.
Otherwise, the three cameras use the same 25-point contrast-detect AF systems, with five focus-area modes: Wide, Center, Flexible Spot, Expand Flexible Spot and Lock-on AF.
Sony RX100 III vs RX100 IV vs RX100 V: Burst shooting (fps)
- Sony RX100 III: 10fps
- Sony RX100 IV: 16fps
- Sony RX100 V: 24fps
All three cameras are capable of capturing fast-moving action, although the difference in burst rates is significant.
The RX100 V offers a staggering 24fps burst shooting at full resolution, with full-time phase-detect AF. This is a marked improvement on both the RX100 IV's 16fps option and the RX100 III's 10fps setting.
The RX100 V can shoot up to 150 Raw+JPEG images in one go, while the RX100 III and RX100 IV can each shoot up to 48 Raw+JPEGs, so you'll end up with considerably more images per burst with the RX100 V when you consider the faster frame rate.
So, once again, the RX100 V steams ahead.
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