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Sony RX100 vs RX100 III

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2012 and May 2014. Both the RX100 and the RX100 III are fixed lens compact cameras that are equipped with an one-inch sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 20 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Sony RX100
versus
Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100   Sony RX100 III
Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
28-100mm f/1.8-4.9 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8
20 MP – 1" sensor 20 MP – 1" sensor
1080/60p Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 25,600) ISO 100-12,800 (80 - 25,600)
No viewfinder, LCD framing Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots)
3.0" LCD – 1229k dots 3.0" LCD – 1229k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (no touchscreen)
10 shutter flaps per second 10 shutter flaps per second
330 shots per battery charge320 shots per battery charge
102 x 58 x 36 mm, 240 g 102 x 58 x 41 mm, 290 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 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.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony RX100 and the Sony RX100 III is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Sony RX100 vs Sony RX100 III
Compare RX100 versus RX100 III top
Comparison RX100 or RX100 III rear

In this particular case, the Sony RX100 and the Sony RX100 III have exactly the same width and height, and, thus, have identically-sized bodies. However, the RX100 III is markedly heavier (21 percent) than the RX100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the RX100 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Sony RX100 102 mm 58 mm 36 mm 240 g 330 n Jun 2012 649ebay.com
2.
 
Sony RX100 III 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 290 g 320 n May 2014 799ebay.com
3.
 
Canon G5 X 112 mm 76 mm 44 mm 353 g 210 n Oct 2015 799ebay.com
4.
 
Canon G9 X 98 mm 58 mm 31 mm 209 g 220 n Oct 2015 529ebay.com
5.
 
Canon G7 X 103 mm 60 mm 40 mm 304 g 210 n Sep 2014 699ebay.com
6.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 n Jun 2014 899ebay.com
7.
 
Sony RX100 IV 102 mm 58 mm 41 mm 298 g 280 n Jun 2015 999ebay.com
8.
 
Sony A5100 110 mm 63 mm 36 mm 283 g 400 n Aug 2014 549ebay.com
9.
 
Sony NEX-5T 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 276 g 330 n Aug 2013 699ebay.com
10.
 
Sony RX100 II 102 mm 58 mm 38 mm 281 g 350 n Jun 2013 749ebay.com
11.
 
Sony NEX-5R 111 mm 59 mm 39 mm 276 g 330 n Aug 2012 749ebay.com
12.
 
Sony NEX-5N 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 269 g 460 n Aug 2011 699ebay.com
13.
 
Sony NEX-C3 110 mm 60 mm 33 mm 225 g 400 n Jun 2011 599ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 19 percent) than the RX100 III, 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

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature an one-inch sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.7. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony RX100 and Sony RX100 III sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 20 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the RX100 and the RX100 III have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the RX100 III is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the RX100, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. 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.

In terms of underlying technology, the RX100 is build around a CMOS sensor, while the RX100 III uses a BSI-CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

RX100 versus RX100 III MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Sony RX100 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066
2.
 
Sony RX100 III 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567
3.
 
Canon G5 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.811.922761
4.
 
Canon G9 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563
5.
 
Canon G7 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671
6.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
7.
 
Sony RX100 IV 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170
8.
 
Sony A5100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780
9.
 
Sony NEX-5T APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60p23.613.0101578
10.
 
Sony RX100 II 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367
11.
 
Sony NEX-5R APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078
12.
 
Sony NEX-5N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977
13.
 
Sony NEX-C3 APS-C 16.0 4912 3264720/30p22.712.2108373
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. 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

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 RX100 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony RX100 and Sony RX100 III in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Sony RX100none n3.0 / 1229 fixed n 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
2.
 
Sony RX100 III1440 n3.0 / 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
3.
 
Canon G5 X2360 n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/2000s 5.9/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon G9 Xnone n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 6.0/s Y Y
5.
 
Canon G7 Xnone n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 6.5/s Y Y
6.
 
Panasonic FZ10002359 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0/s Y Y
7.
 
Sony RX100 IV2359 n3.0 / 1228 tilting n 1/2000s 16.0/s Y Y
8.
 
Sony A5100none n3.0 / 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0/s Y n
9.
 
Sony NEX-5Toptional n3.0 / 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0/s n n
10.
 
Sony RX100 IIoptional n3.0 / 1229 tilting n 1/2000s 10.0/s Y Y
11.
 
Sony NEX-5Roptional n3.0 / 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0/s n n
12.
 
Sony NEX-5Noptional n3.0 / 920 tilting Y 1/4000s 10.0/s n n
13.
 
Sony NEX-C3optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5/s n n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.
The RX100 III has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the RX100 does not have a selfie-screen.

Both the RX100 and the RX100 III have zoom lenses built in. The RX100 has a 28-100mm f/1.8-4.9 optic and the RX100 III offers a 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the RX100 III provides a wider angle of view at the short end than the RX100, but less tele-photo reach at the long end. Both cameras offer the same maximum aperture.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the RX100 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 RX100 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

Connectivity comparison

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-RX100 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Sony RX100-stereo / mono--micro2.0---
2.
 
Sony RX100 III-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
3.
 
Canon G5 XYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon G9 X-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon G7 X-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
6.
 
Panasonic FZ1000Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0YY-
7.
 
Sony RX100 IV-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
8.
 
Sony A5100-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
9.
 
Sony NEX-5TYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
10.
 
Sony RX100 IIYstereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
11.
 
Sony NEX-5RYstereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
12.
 
Sony NEX-5NYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Sony NEX-C3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---

It is notable that the RX100 III offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the RX100 does not provide wifi capability.

Both the RX100 and the RX100 III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The RX100 was replaced by the Sony RX100 II, while the RX100 III was followed by the Sony RX100 IV. Further information on the features and operation of the RX100 and RX100 III can be found, respectively, in the Sony RX100 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony RX100 III Manual.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony RX100 or the Sony RX100 III – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100:

  • More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 50g or 17 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (19 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2012).


Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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.
  • Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
  • 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 modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 11 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX100 III is the clear winner of the contest (9 : 4 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. 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.

RX100 04:09 RX100 III

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony RX100 and the Sony RX100 III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the RX100 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Sony RX1005/5+ +..78/1004/55/5 Jun 2012 649ebay.com
2.
 
Sony RX100 III5/5+ +..82/1004.5/55/5 May 2014 799ebay.com
3.
 
Canon G5 X5/5+ +..78/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 799ebay.com
4.
 
Canon G9 X3.5/5+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529ebay.com
5.
 
Canon G7 X4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699ebay.com
6.
 
Panasonic FZ10004/5+ +..82/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899ebay.com
7.
 
Sony RX100 IV4.5/5+ +..85/1004/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999ebay.com
8.
 
Sony A51004.5/5+....4.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549ebay.com
9.
 
Sony NEX-5T........4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 699ebay.com
10.
 
Sony RX100 II5/5+ +..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749ebay.com
11.
 
Sony NEX-5R........4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2012 749ebay.com
12.
 
Sony NEX-5N3/5+ +..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699ebay.com
13.
 
Sony NEX-C33/5+ +..74/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.

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Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Sony RX100 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 Specifications
    Camera Model Sony RX100 Sony RX100 III
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens 28-100mm f/1.8-4.9 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8
    Launch Date June 2012 May 2014
    Launch Price USD 649 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Sony RX100 Sony RX100 III
    Sensor Technology CMOS BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format 1" Sensor 1" Sensor
    Sensor Size 13.2 x 8.8 mm 13.2 x 8.8 mm
    Sensor Area 116.16 mm2 116.16 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 15.9 mm 15.9 mm
    Crop Factor 2.7x 2.7x
    Sensor Resolution 20 Megapixels 20 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5472 x 3648 pixels 5472 x 3648 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 2.41 μm 2.41 μm
    Pixel Density 17.18 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 - 6,400 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 25,600 ISO 80 - 25,600 ISO
    Image Processor BIONZ X BIONZ X
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 66 67
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.6 22.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.4 12.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 390 495
    Screen Specs Sony RX100 Sony RX100 III
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x
    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 RX100 Sony RX100 III
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/2000s 1/2000s
    Continuous Shooting 10 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 RX100 Sony RX100 III
    External Flash no Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication no NFC NFC built-in
    Body Specs Sony RX100 Sony RX100 III
    Battery Type NP-BX1 NP-BX1
    Battery Life (CIPA)330 shots per charge320 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 102 x 58 x 36 mm
    (4.0 x 2.3 x 1.4 in)
    102 x 58 x 41 mm
    (4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6 in)
    Camera Weight 240 g (8.5 oz) 290 g (10.2 oz)
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