A premium compact that apes both DSLRs and smartphones, you say? Don’t mind if we do. The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III is a premium, pocket-sized camera with superb low-light performance, thanks in part to a fast aperture of f/1.8 at the wide-angle end of its lens reach, and a pretty respectable f/2.8 achievable at maximum zoom.
Such a bright aperture enables us to shoot close ups – here, as near as 30cm away from the subject – and also to achieve attractively soft bokeh effects, with our subject staying sharp but the background progressively blurring.
Shopping for the RX100 III can be confusing. The RX100 is now in its seventh generation, and although the latest Sony RX100 VII is the most recent, and least five versions are still on sale including the RX100 III.
OK, so the RX100 III’s actual lens reach may be modest, stretching from 24-70mm in 35mm film camera terms, and offering the equivalent of a 2.9x optical zoom, but this camera is all about precision engineering the best compromise between compactness and picture quality.
Resolution here is 20.1MP, which is standard for Sony across its compact camera range. Image processing is taken care of by a BIONZ X X processor – the same one as found in its DSLRs and SLT (Single Lens Translucent) cameras.
Familiar controls include a multi directional dial/scroll wheel at the back and bottle top-type shooting mode dial at the top. Plus, there’s a pop up OLED electronic viewfinder, which will please any enthusiast who likes to shoot with the camera held up to an eye.
Picture wise, even on dull days we’re pleased to report that the RX100 Mark III holds its own, shoehorning in bags of detail to every frame while that bright maximum aperture does the job of selectively blurring the background and bringing detail to the fore for a 3D-like effect. Furthermore, it's great to find that common issues such as fringing affecting images where bright skies contrast with dark foreground aren’t problematic here.
To conclude, anyone picking this up as a more pocket-friendly, occasional alternative to the DSLR or CSC they already own will feel well served.
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