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Sony RX10 III versus Sony A7R

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III and the Sony Alpha A7R are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2016 and October 2013. The RX10 III is a fixed lens compact, while the A7R is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an one-inch (RX10 III) and a full frame (A7R) sensor. The RX10 III has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the A7R provides 36.2 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 RX10 III vs Sony A7R

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony RX10 III and the Sony A7R is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. 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. 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 RX10 III – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony RX10 III vs Sony A7R
Compare RX10 III versus A7R top
Compare RX10 III and A7R rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7R is somewhat smaller (5 percent) than the Sony RX10 III. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX10 III has a lens build in, whereas the A7R is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the A7R and their specifications in the Sony FE Lens Catalog.

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)
Camera
Model
Sony RX10 III» 5.2 in 3.7 in 5.0 in 37.1 oz 420 Y Mar 2016 1,499 i i Sony RX10 III
Sony A7R« 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Canon G1 X Mark III« » 4.5 in 3.1 in 2.0 in 14.1 oz 200 Y Oct 2017 1,299 i i Canon G1 X Mark III
Canon G3 X« » 4.8 in 3.0 in 4.1 in 25.9 oz 300 Y Jun 2015 999 i i Canon G3 X
Canon 7D II« » 5.9 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 32.1 oz 670 Y Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
Sony RX10 IV« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 5.7 in 38.6 oz 400 Y Sep 2017 1,699 i i Sony RX10 IV
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony RX100 V« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 220 n Oct 2016 999 i i Sony RX100 V
Sony A7R II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Sony RX10 II« » 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 400 Y Jun 2015 1,299- i Sony RX10 II
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 17.2 oz 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Sony RX10« » 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 420 Y Oct 2013 1,299- i Sony RX10

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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 RX10 III was launched at a lower price than the A7R, despite having a lens build in. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony RX10 III vs Sony A7R

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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 RX10 III features an one-inch sensor and the Sony A7R a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7R is 643 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony RX10 III and Sony A7R sensor measures

With 36.2MP, the A7R offers a higher resolution than the RX10 III (20MP), but the A7R nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 2.41μm for the RX10 III) due to its larger sensor. However, the RX10 III is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 5 months) than the A7R, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A7R has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

RX10 III versus A7R MP

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 consideration, the A7R offers substantially better image quality than the RX10 III (overall score 25 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.5 bits higher color depth, 1.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.5 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Sony RX10 III» 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.112.647270Sony RX10 III
Sony A7R« Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695Sony A7R
Canon G1 X Mark III« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Canon G1 X Mark III
Canon G3 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.412.352163Canon G3 X
Canon 7D II« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.411.8108270Canon 7D II
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483Nikon D500
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397Nikon D810
Sony RX10 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----Sony RX10 IV
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785Sony A6300
Sony RX100 V« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.458670Sony RX100 V
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498Sony A7R II
Sony RX10 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.012.653170Sony RX10 II
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28321080/60p23.913.2370287Sony A7S
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890Sony A7
Sony RX10« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.912.647469Sony RX10

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the RX10 III provides a higher video resolution than the A7R. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the A7R is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony RX10 III vs Sony A7R

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A7R offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the RX10 III (2400k vs 2359k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony RX10 III, the Sony A7R, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
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
Camera
Model
Sony RX10 III»2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 14.0 Y Y Sony RX10 III
Sony A7R«2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n Sony A7R
Canon G1 X Mark III« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 2000 9.0 Y Y Canon G1 X Mark III
Canon G3 X« »- n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 2000 5.9 Y Y Canon G3 X
Canon 7D II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 8000 10.0 Y n Canon 7D II
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n Nikon D500
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Nikon D810
Sony RX10 IV« »2359 Y 3.0 1440 tilting Y 2000 24.0 Y Y Sony RX10 IV
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6300
Sony RX100 V« »2359 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 24.0 Y Y Sony RX100 V
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7R II
Sony RX10 II« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 3200 14.0 Y Y Sony RX10 II
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »2400 n 3.0 921 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7S
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7
Sony RX10« »1440 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 3200 10.0 Y Y Sony RX10

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The RX10 III has one, while the A7R does not. While the build-in flash of the RX10 III is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, the RX10 III features an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

Both the RX10 III and the A7R write their imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Sony RX10 III»YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10 III
Sony A7R«YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R
Canon G1 X Mark III« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YYYCanon G1 X Mark III
Canon G3 X« »YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-Canon G3 X
Canon 7D II« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Canon 7D II
Nikon D500« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYYNikon D500
Nikon D810« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--Nikon D810
Sony RX10 IV« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10 IV
Sony A6300« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony A6300
Sony RX100 V« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 V
Sony A7R II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R II
Sony RX10 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10 II
Sony RX100 IV« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 IV
Sony A7 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S
Sony A7« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7
Sony RX10« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10

The RX10 III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the A7R has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R was succeeded by the Sony A7R II.

Review summary: Sony RX10 III vs Sony A7R

So how do things add up? Is the Sony RX10 III better than the Sony A7R or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens build-in, whereas the A7R requires a separate lens.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (420 versus 340) on a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a build-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 5 months of technical progress since the A7R launch.


Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7R:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 35%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (25 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.5 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2013).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX10 III emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 9 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

RX10 III 11:09 A7R

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the RX10 III or the A7R handle or perform in practice. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony RX10 III»Rec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2016 1,499 i i Sony RX10 III
Sony A7R«HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Canon G1 X Mark III« »Rec79/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Oct 2017 1,299 i i Canon G1 X Mark III
Canon G3 X« »Rec-4.5/53.5/54/5 Jun 2015 999 i i Canon G3 X
Canon 7D II« »Rec84/1004/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,799 i i Canon 7D II
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i Nikon D500
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
Sony RX10 IV« »Rec84/1004.5/5-5/5 Sep 2017 1,699 i i Sony RX10 IV
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony RX100 V« »HiRec83/1004/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 999 i i Sony RX100 V
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Sony RX10 II« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2015 1,299- i Sony RX10 II
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »-86/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Sony RX10« »Rec80/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i Sony RX10

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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