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Sony RX100 III versus Panasonic LX100

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in May 2014 and September 2014. Both the RX100 III and the LX100 are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on an one-inch (RX100 III) and a Four Thirds (LX100) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the Panasonic provides 12.7 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 RX100 III vs Panasonic LX100

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony RX100 III and the Panasonic LX100. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size 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 RX100 III – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony RX100 III vs Panasonic LX100
Compare RX100 III versus LX100 top
Compare RX100 III and LX100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic LX100 is notably larger (28 percent) than the Sony RX100 III. Moreover, the LX100 is substantially heavier (36 percent) than the RX100 III. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the RX100 III nor the LX100 are weather-sealed.

Concerning battery life, the RX100 III gets 320 shots out of its NP-BX1 battery, while the LX100 can take 300 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLG10 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
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 RX100 III» 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 n May 2014 799- i
Panasonic LX100« 4.5 in 2.6 in 2.2 in 13.9 oz 300 n Sep 2014 899 i i
Canon G5 X« » 4.4 in 3.0 in 1.7 in 12.5 oz 210 n Oct 2015 799 i i
Canon G1 X Mark II« » 4.6 in 2.9 in 2.6 in 19.5 oz 240 n Feb 2014 799 i i
Canon G7 X« » 4.1 in 2.4 in 1.6 in 10.7 oz 210 n Sep 2014 699- i
Fujifilm X30« » 4.7 in 2.8 in 2.4 in 14.9 oz 470 n Aug 2014 599 i i
Panasonic FZ1000« » 5.4 in 3.9 in 5.2 in 29.3 oz 360 n Jun 2014 899- i
Ricoh GR II« » 4.6 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 8.9 oz 320 n Jun 2015 699- i
Ricoh GR« » 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 8.6 oz 290 n Apr 2013 799- i
Sony RX100 V« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 220 n Oct 2016 999 i i
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A5100« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony RX100 II« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.9 oz 350 n Jun 2013 749- i
Sony RX100« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.5 oz 330 n Jun 2012 649- 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 somewhat lower price (by 11 percent) than the LX100, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 RX100 III vs Panasonic LX100

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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony RX100 III features an one-inch sensor and the Panasonic LX100 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the LX100 is 94 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 2.0. The sensor in the RX100 III has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the LX100 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Sony RX100 III and Panasonic LX100 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Sony RX100 III offers a higher resolution of 20 megapixel, compared with 12.7 MP of the Panasonic LX100. This megapixel 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 4.21μm for the LX100). Moreover, it should be noted that the LX100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 months) than the RX100 III, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

RX100 III versus LX100 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. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony RX100 III» 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567
Panasonic LX100« Four Thirds 12.7 4112 30884K/30p22.312.555367
Canon G5 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p----
Canon G1 X Mark II« » 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
Canon G7 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671
Fujifilm X30« » 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p----
Panasonic FZ1000« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
Ricoh GR II« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880
Ricoh GR« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278
Sony RX100 V« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.458670
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170
Sony A5100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
Sony RX100 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367
Sony RX100« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the LX100 provides a better video resolution than the RX100 III. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony RX100 III vs Panasonic LX100

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 LX100 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the RX100 III (2764k vs 1440k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony RX100 III and Panasonic LX100 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

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 RX100 III»1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y
Panasonic LX100«2764 n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 11.0 n Y
Canon G5 X« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 2000 5.9 Y Y
Canon G1 X Mark II« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 5.2 Y Y
Canon G7 X« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 2000 6.5 Y Y
Fujifilm X30« »2360 n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 12.0 Y Y
Panasonic FZ1000« »2359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 12.0 Y Y
Ricoh GR II« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n
Ricoh GR« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n
Sony RX100 V« »2359 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 24.0 Y Y
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y
Sony A5100« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y
Sony RX100« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 2000 10.0 Y Y

Both the RX100 III and the LX100 have zoom lenses build in. The RX100 III has a 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 optic and the LX100 offers a 24-75mm f/1.7-2.8 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Sony and Panasonic provide the same view at the wide-angle end, but the Panasonic has more tele-photo reach at the long end. The LX100 offers the faster maximum aperture.

The LX100 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the RX100 III has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the RX100 III was succeeded by the Sony RX100 IV.

Review summary: Sony RX100 III vs Panasonic LX100

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Sony RX100 III or the Panasonic LX100 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (20 vs 12.7MP) with a 28% higher linear resolution.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 921k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 115x66mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 103g or 26 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (11 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2014).

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100:

  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2764k vs 1440k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (4000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/1.7 vs f/1.8).
  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (4 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX100 III emerges as the winner of the contest (8 : 6 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.

RX100 III 08:06 LX100

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the RX100 III or the LX100. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews 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 cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony RX100 III»HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2014 799- i
Panasonic LX100«HiRec85/1005/54/55/5 Sep 2014 899 i i
Canon G5 X« »HiRec78/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799 i i
Canon G1 X Mark II« »Rec77/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799 i i
Canon G7 X« »HiRec77/1004.5/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699- i
Fujifilm X30« »-76/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Aug 2014 599 i i
Panasonic FZ1000« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899- i
Ricoh GR II« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699- i
Ricoh GR« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799- i
Sony RX100 V« »HiRec83/1004/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 999 i i
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A5100« »Rec-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i
Sony RX100 II« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749- i
Sony RX100« »HiRec78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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. 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu 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, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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