Canon 550D vs Sony RX100 III
The Canon EOS 550D (called Canon T2i in some regions) and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2010 and May 2014. The 550D is a DSLR, while the RX100 III is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (550D) and an one-inch (RX100 III) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 20 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 550D and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 550D and the Sony RX100 III is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX100 III is considerably smaller (53 percent) than the Canon 550D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 550D nor the RX100 III are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 III has a lens built in, whereas the 550D is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the 550D and their specifications in the Canon EF Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the 550D gets 440 shots out of its LP-E8 battery, while the RX100 III can take 320 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the RX100 III can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||290 g||320||n||May 2014||799||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 4000D||129 mm||102 mm||77 mm||436 g||500||n||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 750D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 760D||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 1200D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 650D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||575 g||440||n||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 600D||133 mm||100 mm||80 mm||570 g||440||n||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 1100D||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||102 mm||58 mm||43 mm||302 g||260||n||Jul 2019||1,199||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||n||Jun 2015||999||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony RX100 II||102 mm||58 mm||38 mm||281 g||350||n||Jun 2013||749||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony RX100||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||240 g||330||n||Jun 2012||649||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 550D features an APS-C sensor and the Sony RX100 III an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX100 III is 65 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the RX100 III offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixels, compared with 17.9 MP of the 550D. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 2.41μm versus 4.31μm for the 550D). However, it should be noted that the RX100 III is much more recent (by 4 years and 3 months) than the 550D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Sony RX100 III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX100 III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 550D are 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 550D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-25600.
In terms of underlying technology, the 550D is build around a CMOS sensor, while the RX100 III uses a BSI-CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Sony RX100 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67|
|7.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||21.8||12.4||418||63|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
|16.||Sony RX100 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.5||12.4||483||67|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the RX100 III provides a faster frame rate than the 550D. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the RX100 III has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the 550D has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the RX100 III offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the 550D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the RX100 III has a higher magnification (0.59x vs 0.54x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 550D and Sony RX100 III in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 550D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||1440||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon 4000D||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 750D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Canon 760D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Canon 1200D||optical||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Canon 700D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Canon 650D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Canon 600D||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.7/s||Y||n|
|11.||Canon 1100D||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Canon 500D||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4/s||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||Y||1/2000s||90.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0 / 1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0/s||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony RX100 II||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony RX100||none||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/2000s||10.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The 550D writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the RX100 III uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The RX100 III supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the 550D cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 550D and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 550D||Y||stereo / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon 4000D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon 750D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|5.||Canon 760D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Canon 1200D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Canon 700D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 650D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 600D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 1100D||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 500D||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D5100||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||-||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony RX100 II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony RX100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the 550D has a hotshoe, while the RX100 III does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the 550D and the RX100 III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 550D was replaced by the Canon 600D, while the RX100 III was followed by the Sony RX100 IV. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 550D better than the Sony RX100 III or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 550D:
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (440 versus 320) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2010).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 6%.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.59x vs 0.54x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1040k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 3.7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the 550D requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 129x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the 550D).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 3 months of technical progress since the 550D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX100 III is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 8 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 550D and the Sony RX100 III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 550D and the RX100 III in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 550D||..||+ +||..||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||799||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 4000D||..||o||3/5||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 750D||5/5||..||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 760D||5/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 1200D||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 700D||..||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 650D||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 600D||3/5||o||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 1100D||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|12.||Canon 500D||..||+ +||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||4.5/5||..||4/5||..||4/5||5/5||Jul 2019||1,199||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony RX100 IV||4.5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony RX100 II||5/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||749||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony RX100||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4/5||5/5||Jun 2012||649||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 550D vs Canon T3i
- Canon 550D vs Contax N Digital
- Canon 550D vs Fujifilm X100T
- Canon 550D vs Leica X1
- Canon 550D vs Nikon D200
- Canon 550D vs Sony NEX-7
- Canon G1 X Mark III vs Sony RX100 III
- Contax N Digital vs Sony RX100 III
- Nikon A1000 vs Sony RX100 III
- Nikon D3100 vs Sony RX100 III
- Panasonic G3 vs Sony RX100 III
- Sony HX99 vs Sony RX100 III
Specifications: Canon 550D vs Sony RX100 III
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 550D||Sony RX100 III|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||24-70mm f/1.8-2.8|
|Launch Date||February 2010||May 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 699||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 550D||Sony RX100 III|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.31 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.39 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||66||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||22.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||784||495|
|Screen Specs||Canon 550D||Sony RX100 III|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 550D||Sony RX100 III|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.7 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 550D||Sony RX100 III|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 550D||Sony RX100 III|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440 shots per charge||320 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
102 x 58 x 41 mm
(4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6 in)
|Camera Weight||530 g (18.7 oz)||290 g (10.2 oz)|
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