Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III Preview

Sony has updated its flagship compact camera for 2014. At first glance, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III seems like a retread of the RX100 and RX100 II, thanks to its 20.1 MP 1.0-inch back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor, Full HD 1080p video recording capabilities, 3.0-inch LCD display, and the plethora of Picture Effects and Shooting Modes. Heck, you might even be worried that the zoom lens only reaches 2.9x versus 3.6x.

But look a little closer and you'll see the RX100 III is brimming with upgrades and new features.

First up, the new RX100 III is faster, thanks to the BIONZ X image processor that's also in the recently announced Alpha 7/7R and Alpha 7S models. Next, that 2.9x optical zoom lens might be shorter, but with an f/1.8-2.8 maximum aperture, this Mach III captures twice as much light at 70mm as the previous generations. Also, this lens features ZEISS T coating to minimize flare and ghosting. Next, Sony has added an LED Tru-Finder Electronic Viewfinder (there was only an LCD display before) AND this year's 3.0-inch LCD display now tilts -- up by 180 degrees and down by 45.

Video capabilities have also improved. The RX100 III is the first RX-series camera with Intelligent Active Mode, which reduces camera shake, and the first Cyber-shot with the ability to record in the XAVC S format. This allows for Full HD 1080p recording at 50 mbps, a much higher bit rate than the more compressed AVCHD format (which remains as an available option, since it's better for sharing over Wi-Fi). Also, thanks to the BIONZ X processor, this camera can capture 120 fps slow motion video at 720p HD.

Finally, the RX100 III is the first RX-series camera to be compatible with PlayMemories Camera apps, thanks to built-in Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities. This allows users to connect iOS and Android devices to the camera to share images on social networks, back up files, or to even turn a smartphone into a remote shutter (great for longer exposures where you can't bump the camera).

Despite all the aforementioned bells and whistles, if you already own an RX100 or RX100 II, there probably isn't enough increase in still image quality to justify an upgrade (especially since all these new fancy features have raised the MSRP). But if you don't already own a previous generation model and you're in the market for a top of the line, compact point-and-shoot camera, definitely give this RX100 III a look.

Sony DSC-RX100 III Features:
  • 20.1 MP 1.0-inch back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor
  • BIONZ X image processor
  • 2.9x optical zoom lens
    • 24-70mm
    • f/1.8-2.8
    • captures twice as much light at 70mm
    • ZEISS T coating minimizes flare and ghosting
  • OLED Tru-Finder Electronic Viewfinder (1.4M dots)
  • 3.0-inch Tilting LCD DIsplay (1.22M dots)
    • Tilts up by 180 degrees; down by 45 degrees
  • Full 1080p HD Video Recording
    • 120 fps slow motion video in 720p HD
    • "clear HDMI output for external monitors
    • Can record in XAVC S (up to 50 mbps) and AVCHD
  • Intelligent Active Mode (reduces camera shake)
  • "C" (custom) Button with over 40 Assignable Functions
  • ISO 125-12800
  • Shooting Modes
    • Superior Auto
    • Intelligent Auto
    • Program Auto
    • Aperture Priority
    • Shutter Speed Priority
    • Manual Exposure
    • Memory Recall
    • Movie Mode
      • Program Auto
      • Aperture Priority
      • Shutter Speed Priority
      • Manual Exposure
    • Panorama
    • Scene Selection
      • Portrait
      • Sports Action
      • Macro
      • Landscape
      • Sunset
      • Night Scene
      • Handheld Twilight
      • Night Portrait
      • Anti Motion Blur
      • Pet Mode
      • Gourmet
      • Fireworks
      • High Sensitivity
  • Picture Effects (Movie & Still)
    • Toy Camera
    • Pop Color
    • Posterization
    • Retro Photo
    • Soft High-Key
    • Partial Color
    • High Contrast Mono
  • Picture Effects (Still ONLY)
    • Soft Focus
    • HDR Painting
    • Richtone Monochrome
    • Miniature
    • Watercolor
    • Illustration
  • Wi-Fi & NFC
    • Smart Remote Control
    • PlayMemories Mobile app
    • One-Touch Connection*
      • *NFC-only
      • *Requires a compatible Android or Sony Xperia smartphone or tablet

The new Sony DSC-RX100 III will be available this June (2014) for about $800.

Additional Product Views

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Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.