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Sony A99 versus Sony RX100 III

The Sony Alpha SLT-A99 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and May 2014. The A99 is a DSLR, while the RX100 III is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (A99) and an one-inch (RX100 III) sensor. The A99 has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the RX100 III provides 20 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Sony A99 vs Sony RX100 III

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A99 and the Sony RX100 III. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the A99 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony A99 vs Sony RX100 III
A99 versus RX100 III top view
A99 and RX100 III rear side
Body view (A99 on the left)

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 (64 percent) than the Sony A99. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A99 is splash and dust resistant, while the RX100 III does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 III has a lens build in, whereas the A99 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

Concerning battery life, the A99 gets 500 shots out of its NP-FM500H battery, while the RX100 III can take 320 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A99 (⇒ rgt) 147 mm 111 mm 78 mm 812 g 500 YES 2012 2,799discont. check
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft) 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 290 g 320 no 2014 799discont. check
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 112 mm 76 mm 44 mm 353 g 210 no 2015 799 latest check
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 103 mm 60 mm 40 mm 304 g 210 no 2014 699discont. check
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 no 2014 899discont. check
Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 560 YES 2013 1,299discont. check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 YES 2017 4,499 latest check
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 143 mm 104 mm 76 mm 849 g 490 YES 2016 3,199 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 YES 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 298 g 280 no 2015 999discont. check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 YES 2014 1,999discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 474 g 340 YES 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 465 g 340 YES 2013 2,299discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 102 mm 58 mm 38 mm 281 g 350 no 2013 749discont. check
Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt) 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 732 g 470 YES 2011 1,999discont. check
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 117 mm 82 mm 895 g 880 YES 2009 1,999discont. check
Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 117 mm 82 mm 895 g 880 YES 2008 2,999discont. check

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The RX100 III was launched at a lower price than the A99, despite having a lens build in. 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.


Sensor comparison: Sony A99 vs Sony RX100 III

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A99 features a full frame sensor and the Sony RX100 III an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX100 III is 86 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony A99 and Sony RX100 III sensor measures
Sensor size

With 24MP, the A99 offers a higher resolution than the RX100 III (20MP), but the A99 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 2.41μm for the RX100 III) due to its larger sensor. However, the RX100 III is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the A99, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

A99 versus RX100 III MP
Sensor resolution

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the A99 provides substantially higher image quality than the RX100 III, with an overall score that is 22 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.6 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A99 (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 25.0 14.0 1555 89
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.4 12.3 495 67
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p - - - -
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 23.0 12.7 556 71
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.1 11.7 517 64
Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.1 6016 4000 1080/60i 23.7 13.4 1216 80
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.9 13.3 3517 92
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 25.4 13.4 2317 92
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 26.0 13.9 3434 98
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 4K/30p 22.8 12.6 591 70
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.9 13.6 2449 90
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 14.2 2248 90
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/60p 25.6 14.1 2746 95
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 1-inch 20.0 5472 3648 1080/60p 22.5 12.4 483 67
Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24 13.2 801 78
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032 no 23.8 12.2 1415 79
Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032 no 23.7 12.3 1431 79

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60p).

Feature comparison: Sony A99 vs Sony RX100 III

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A99 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the RX100 III (2359k vs 1440k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A99 and Sony RX100 III along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony A99 (⇒ rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 1229 full-flex no 8000 6.0 no YES
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft) 1440 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 10.0 YES YES
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 2000 5.9 7 YES
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 2000 6.5 7 YES
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 921 swivel no 4000 12.0 13.5 YES
Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1037 fixed no 8000 8.3 13 YES
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3686 no 3.0 1440 tilting YES 8000 20.0 no YES
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 YES 3.0 1229 full-flex no 8000 12.0 no YES
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 no 3.0 1228 tilting no 2000 16.0 10.2 YES
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no no
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 4.0 no no
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1229 tilting no 2000 10.0 15 YES
Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 921 full-flex no 8000 12.0 12 YES
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 8000 3.0 no YES
Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 8000 5.0 no YES

Both the A99 and the RX100 III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A99 was replaced by the Sony A99 II, while the RX100 III was followed by the Sony RX100 IV.

Review summary: Sony A99 vs Sony RX100 III

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A99 and the Sony RX100 III? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Sony Alpha SLT-A99:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (22 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.6 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2359k vs 1440k dots).
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • More flexible LCD: Has full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 320) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2012).

Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III:

  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the A99 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 147x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens build in (unlike the A99).
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a build-in lens.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 8 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A99 is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

A99 13:07 RX100 III

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A99 or the RX100 III. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A99 (⇒ rgt) - 84/100 Gold 4.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2012 2,799discont. check
Sony RX100 III (⇒ lft) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 799discont. check
Canon G5 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2015 799 latest check
Canon G7 X (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 3.5/5 4.5/5 2014 699discont. check
Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2014 899discont. check
Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 83/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,299discont. check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 89/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 4,499 latest check
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) - 85/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 3,199 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 90/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony RX100 IV (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2015 999discont. check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 1,999discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2013 2,299discont. check
Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2013 749discont. check
Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 81/100 Silver - 4.5/5 5/5 2011 1,999discont. check
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 75/100 - 4/5 4.5/5 2009 1,999discont. check
Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt) 90/100 HiRec HiRec 4.5/5 4/5 5/5 2008 2,999discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.


Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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