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Sony RX1 versus Sony 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 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 RX1 vs Sony RX100 III

The physical size and weight of the Sony RX1 and the Sony RX100 III are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the RX1 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony RX1 vs Sony RX100 III
Compare RX1 versus RX100 III top
Compare RX1 and RX100 III rear

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 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
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony RX1» 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799- i
Sony RX100 III« 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 n May 2014 799- i
Canon G5 X« » 4.4 in 3.0 in 1.7 in 12.5 oz 210 n Oct 2015 799 i i
Canon G7 X« » 4.1 in 2.4 in 1.6 in 10.7 oz 210 n Sep 2014 699- i
Leica X Vario« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.7 in 24.0 oz 450 n Jun 2013 2,850 i i
Nikon D5300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799- i
Panasonic FZ1000« » 5.4 in 3.9 in 5.2 in 29.3 oz 360 n Jun 2014 899- i
Sony RX1R II« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.9 oz 220 n Oct 2015 3,299 i i
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A3000« » 5.0 in 3.6 in 3.3 in 14.5 oz 470 n Aug 2013 329- i
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i
Sony RX100 II« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.9 oz 350 n Jun 2013 749- i
Sony RX1R« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i
Sony RX100« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.5 oz 330 n Jun 2012 649- i
Sony NEX-7« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 14.1 oz 430 n Aug 2011 1,349- i

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 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony RX1 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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.

Sony RX1 and Sony RX100 III sensor measures

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.

RX1 versus RX100 III MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 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
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony RX1» Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493
Sony RX100 III« 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567
Canon G5 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p----
Canon G7 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671
Leica X Vario« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
Nikon D5300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
Panasonic FZ1000« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
Sony RX1R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53041080/60p25.813.9320497
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170
Sony A3000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695
Sony RX100 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367
Sony RX1R« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791
Sony RX100« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066
Sony NEX-7« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.4101681

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 RX1 vs Sony RX100 III

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. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony RX1, the Sony RX100 III, and comparable cameras. 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
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony RX1»- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Sony RX100 III«1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y
Canon G5 X« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 2000 5.9 Y Y
Canon G7 X« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 2000 6.5 Y Y
Leica X Vario« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D5300« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n
Panasonic FZ1000« »2359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 12.0 Y Y
Sony RX1R II« »2360 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 4000 5.0 n n
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y
Sony A3000« »202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y
Sony RX1R« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Sony RX100« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 2000 10.0 Y Y
Sony NEX-7« »2359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 4000 10.0 Y n

The RX100 III is equipped with a zoom lens, while the RX1 comes with a build-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.

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.

Review summary: Sony RX1 vs Sony RX100 III

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony RX1 or the Sony RX100 III – has the upper hand? 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).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (4000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • 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 framing and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • 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 build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • 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 (11 : 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.

RX1 07:11 RX100 III

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality 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 rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony RX1»-79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i
Sony RX100 III«HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2014 799- i
Canon G5 X« »HiRec78/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799 i i
Canon G7 X« »HiRec77/1004.5/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699- i
Leica X Vario« »--4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 i i
Nikon D5300« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799- i
Panasonic FZ1000« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899- i
Sony RX1R II« »-82/100-rev4.5/5 Oct 2015 3,299 i i
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A3000« »Rec-4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329- i
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i
Sony RX100 II« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749- i
Sony RX1R« »--4/5rev4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799- i
Sony RX100« »HiRec78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i
Sony NEX-7« »HiRec81/1004.5/55/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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