Sony RX100M3--1

Sony RX100M3 with the original RX100

So, it’s been seven months and 15 days, and I’m still getting asked; “is the Sony DSC-RX100M3 the best small camera for the money, and would I still recommend it with more than half a year gone”.

Short answer is really short: Yes!

Ultimately, the best camera for you is the one you form a bond with. That implicitly means, it fulfills your purposes too. That does not necessarily mean, the highest number of pixels or even a digital camera for that matter. That’s why, being the “best” is the toughest question in photography and for cameras. Not only does that imply the best for “you” and not necessarily for me, but it depends on two other factors too :– It’s relative “competition” / at any moment in “time“. Hello Einstein!

Time – Sony DSC-RX100M3 is arguably the best small camera available now, but there will no doubt be better ones coming in the next 9 to 18 months time. That’s Moore’s law!

Two of the most enduring and most admired camera companies ever, are Hasselblad and Leica. One of my favorite cameras ever made, is the Hasselblad 500CM and I still use it frequently. The Sony DSC-RX100 range pays lots of homage to the Leica cameras, only smaller and significantly more feature rich. Leica’s DNA is about simplicity. To the first point above however, the Leica’s are easier to bond with – at least in my case. As for Hasselblad – well, Hasselblad now resells the rebadged Sony DSC-RX100’s with a wooden handgrip, known as the “Hasselblad stellar“. That alone is perhaps the biggest endorsement the little Sony DSC-RX100 range could ever get.

 

Features

Sony RX100M3-top

Sony RX100M3-top

The full feature set takes up a whole manual and more, but for me the key features are:

  • Remarkable 1 inch Exmor R BSI-CMOS sensor with 20.1 megapixel
  • Amazingly bright F1.8-2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm lens – This is a first of its kind with bonded aspherical elements!
  • 50Mbps XAVC S video support at 1080 at 60p – Audio quality is pretty decent too
  • Inclusion of the very high quality electronic View finder
  • Extra movement on an already good LCD display that includes selfies capability now
  • Excellent RAW images with Excellent JPG’s too
  • Customizable lens ring
  • Built-in ND filter
  • Bounce-able onboard flash – Spring loaded, just pull it back
  • Wi-Fi & NFC and the ability to see and shoot remotely on the cell phone
  • Endless ability to add more features with the downloadable apps, on the camera itself

This will be a very long article if I delved into each feature. So, here are the main points:

 

Image quality

Sony RX100M3-back

Sony RX100M3-back

The lens in front of this camera is the first of its kind. They’ve bonded two aspherical elements together on an already impressive T* coated Zeiss lens, resulting in phenomenal performance with lowered diffraction and artifacts. The camera’s  zoom range is less than many of its competition and somewhat less than its own predecessors, but there is a method to that madness. We all know fixed lenses produce the best results. Any lens has an optimal range, where below or above it, performance is compromised. Sony has worked out the optimal range for this lens and it’s 24-70mm equiv. at F1.8-2.8. This lens is hard to fault.

The image quality from the 20.1 Megapixel Exmor R BSI-CMOS sensor makes it hard to believe, it is only a 1-inch sensor! Combine that with the very good RAW image implementation, and you have yourself a killer camera, good enough for Hasselblad to put their badge on it!

 

 

Form factor

Sony RX100M3-leather

Sony RX100M3-leather

Sony DSC-RX100M3 is a stunning camera, remarkably portable, packed with features & capabilities, and a joy just to look at. It feels solid and metallic, giving a sense of quality and assurance in your hand. Everything that was ever good about Sony DSC-RX100 and Sony DSC-RX100II just got better. Sure it would handle better if it was larger, but then it would lose its portability. Sure it would handle better still, if it had a handgrip, but it wouldn’t look as sleek and I couldn’t put my favorite leather cover on it. Hasselblad thought different and made a permanent wooden handgrip for their version!

Living with the Sony DSC-RX100M3

How often did you want to take your camera with you somewhere, but it either wouldn’t produce the image quality you’d hope for, or it just wasn’t appropriate to log that big chunk of black metal and white lenses with red rings around with you? What, with everyone looking at you and shying away – that includes the wildlife at the Christmas party.

Sony DSC-RX100M3 fits in the pocket! It lives in my workbag and at weekends and evenings, it will be either in my pocket or on my belt.

Put the Sony DSC-RX100M3 on P, i, or i+ modes, and anyone at the birthday party can shoot with it. Go to A, M and MR mode and the most demanding Amateur photographer, or even a pro who is looking for a portable is happy. Given the size & form factor, the Video quality is exceptional too!

 

Final Words

Do I still recommend Sony DSC-RX100M3 as “the pocketable camera” ?

Oh yes!


There are some real eye popping images here to show off this little marvel’s capabilities:

https://www.flickr.com/groups/2658789@N20/

 

You can buy the camera from the Sony Store – and if you phone the store, it’s worth asking about any bundled free goodies.

 

Leave me a comment below with your thoughts –

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