Sony RX1 vs RX100 III
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2012 and May 2014. Both the RX1 and the RX100 III are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on a full frame (RX1) and an one-inch (RX100 III) sensor. The RX1 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the RX100 III 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 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.
The physical size and weight of the Sony RX1 and the Sony RX100 III are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions 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 notably smaller (19 percent) than the Sony RX1. Moreover, the RX100 III is substantially lighter (40 percent) than the RX1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the RX1 nor the RX100 III are weather-sealed.
The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, 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. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Sony RX1||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||290 g||320||n||May 2014||799|
|3.||Canon G7 X||103 mm||60 mm||40 mm||304 g||210||n||Sep 2014||699|
|4.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|5.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|6.||Sony RX100 VII||102 mm||58 mm||43 mm||302 g||260||n||Jul 2019||1,199|
|7.||Sony RX1R II||113 mm||65 mm||72 mm||507 g||220||n||Oct 2015||3,299|
|8.||Sony RX100 IV||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||n||Jun 2015||999|
|9.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|10.||Sony A7R||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
|11.||Sony A3000||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||n||Aug 2013||329|
|12.||Sony RX1R||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799|
|13.||Sony RX100 II||102 mm||58 mm||38 mm||281 g||350||n||Jun 2013||749|
|14.||Sony RX100||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||240 g||330||n||Jun 2012||649|
|15.||Sony NEX-7||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The RX100 III was launched at a markedly lower price (by 71 percent) than the RX1, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony RX1 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.
With 24MP, the RX1 offers a higher resolution than the RX100 III (20MP), but the RX1 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 RX1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Sony RX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony RX100 III are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. 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.
For many 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 RX1 provides substantially higher image quality than the RX100 III, with an overall score that is 26 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.7 bits higher color depth, 2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67|
|3.||Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71|
|4.||Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|6.||Sony RX100 VII||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||21.8||12.4||418||63|
|7.||Sony RX1R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||1080/60p||25.8||13.9||3204||97|
|8.||Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
|9.||Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|10.||Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|12.||Sony RX1R||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
|13.||Sony RX100 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.5||12.4||483||67|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. 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).
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), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the RX1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the RX1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1MK. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony RX1 and Sony RX100 III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Sony RX1||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||1440||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y|
|4.||Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|5.||Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|6.||Sony RX100 VII||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||Y||1/2000s||90.0||Y||Y|
|7.||Sony RX1R II||2360||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|8.||Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0 / 1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y|
|9.||Sony A7||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|10.||Sony A7R||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|11.||Sony A3000||202||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|12.||Sony RX1R||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|13.||Sony RX100 II||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony RX100||none||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony NEX-7||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
The RX100 III is equipped with a zoom lens, while the RX1 comes with a built-in prime. The RX100 III has a 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 optic and the RX1 offers a 35mm f/2.0 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the RX100 III provides a wider angle of view at the short end, as well as more tele-photo reach at the long end than the RX1. The RX100 III offers the faster maximum aperture.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the RX1 and the RX100 III write their files to 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 RX1 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 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.||Sony RX1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon G7 X||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Leica X Vario||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Nikon D5300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Sony RX100 VII||-||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Sony RX1R II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Sony A7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Sony A7R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Sony A3000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Sony RX1R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony RX100 II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony RX100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony NEX-7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the RX1 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 RX1 and the RX100 III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The RX1 was replaced by the Sony RX1R, 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 Sony website.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Sony RX1 or the Sony RX100 III – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (26 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.7 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- 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:
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- 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 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/1.8 vs f/2.0).
- Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
- More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 113x65mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 192g or 40 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (320 versus 270) out of a single battery charge.
- 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 affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (71 percent cheaper at launch).
- 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 RX100 III is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 9 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 Sony RX1 and the Sony RX100 III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Prime Lens Compact 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 RX1 and the RX100 III in practical situations. 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 why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.||Sony RX1||5/5||..||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|2.||Sony RX100 III||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||799|
|3.||Canon G7 X||4/5||+ +||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||699|
|4.||Leica X Vario||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|5.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|6.||Sony RX100 VII||4.5/5||..||4/5||..||4/5||5/5||Jul 2019||1,199|
|7.||Sony RX1R II||5/5||..||..||82/100||..||4.5/5||Oct 2015||3,299|
|8.||Sony RX100 IV||4.5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999|
|9.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|10.||Sony A7R||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|11.||Sony A3000||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329|
|12.||Sony RX1R||5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799|
|13.||Sony RX100 II||5/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||749|
|14.||Sony RX100||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4/5||5/5||Jun 2012||649|
|15.||Sony NEX-7||5/5||+ +||..||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 70D vs Sony RX100 III
- Canon 90D vs Sony RX1
- Canon G5 X Mark II vs Sony RX100 III
- Canon SL1 vs Sony RX1
- Nikon B700 vs Sony RX100 III
- Nikon D3X vs Sony RX1
- Nikon D4S vs Sony RX100 III
- Nikon Z6 vs Sony RX1
- Panasonic FZ150 vs Sony RX100 III
- Panasonic GX7 vs Sony RX100 III
- Panasonic LX100 II vs Sony RX1
- Sony RX1 vs Sony RX100 VII
Specifications: Sony RX1 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||Sony RX1||Sony RX100 III|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||35mm f/2.0||24-70mm f/1.8-2.8|
|Launch Date||September 2012||May 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 2,799||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Sony RX1||Sony RX100 III|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.8 x 23.8 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||852.04 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.96 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.82 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||80 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||93||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.1||22.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.3||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2534||495|
|Screen Specs||Sony RX1||Sony RX100 III|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1229k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony RX1||Sony RX100 III|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony RX1||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||Sony RX1||Sony RX100 III|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||270 shots per charge||320 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
113 x 65 x 70 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 2.8 in)
102 x 58 x 41 mm
(4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6 in)
|Camera Weight||482 g (17.0 oz)||290 g (10.2 oz)|
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