Sony have announced the new RX100 III with built in viewfinder.
When the Sony RX100 was first introduced it was widely reviewed and universally praised as the best compromise between size and quality available in a compact digital camera.
With a 1" 20mp sensor, excellent Zeiss lens with f1.8 at the wide end and an excellent user interface this camera quickly become the compact of choice for pro and enthusiast photographers as the sensor is far larger than available in most competitors and coupled to an excellent image processor and Zeiss lens results are excellent.
Sony then upped the spec further by adding a tilting LCD, built in Wi-Fi and improvements to the sensor including backlighting for even better low light performance.
Now Sony have moved to version three - the RX100 III and improved the specification even further while keeping almost all the great features of version I and II.
The RX100 III sports and brand new design Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length of 24-70 - so usefully wider than the earlier models - 24mm is a very nice wide setting to have - but even better the lens now starts at f1.8 and only drops to f2.8 at the longer end. The trade-off is the lens now stops at 70mm whereas the earlier models were 28-100 equivalents. There is a built-in 3-stop ND filter so you can make use of the wide lens aperture even in bright light for creative depth of field effects too or, conversely slow your shutter speed right down to show movement in water for instance. Macro performance is excellent to with 5cm minimum focus at the wide end and 30cm at the long end. Sony claim a worlds first by including for the first time two Aspheric elements bonded together in the design.
The imaging sensor is a 20.1mp 3:2 ratio unit with back-illumination and is supported by a powerful BIONZ X processor - three times faster than its predecessor and includes detail reproduction technology for better reproduction of fine detail, diffraction reduction technology for use at small apertures and area specific noise reduction technology.
ISO range is an impressive 80 - 25,600 with Auto-ISO selectable with an upper limit between 125 and 12,800. So combined with the fast lens even black cats in coal cellars should be easily captured!
The feature sure to be of most interest however is that Sony have managed to squeeze in to the body a pop-up SVGA OLED viewfinder with 0.59 magnification and 1,440,0000 dots. This is complimented by the 3" Xtra Fine LCD than now flips up 180 degrees - ideal for selfies! The viewfinder takes the position of the pop-up flash on the earlier models - which now moves to the centre of the top-plate. Pressing the viewfinder button pops up the viewfinder and turns the camera on. You then pull the viewfinder towards you and are then ready to shoot. Reversing the sequence also turns the camera off. There dioptre correction built in too so you can match the finder to your eyesight and it is this new viewfinder that will probably be reason enough for RX100 owners to upgrade or those who were hesitating to take the plunge!
Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation is also included for still image use and intelligent active Steadyshot 5-axis stabilisation for movie use.
Movie capability has been significantly upgraded with the RX100 III now offering a clean HDMI output as wells as XAVC S recording for the first time in a Cybershot camera with frame rates of 50p 50m, 25p 50M and 100p 50M (at reduced resolution). The Clean HDMI allows full HD footage to be stored on an external recorder. Zebra patterning on the LCD and viewfinder helps identify the brightest areas in a scene and dual video recording saves a small MP4 format files alongside the AVCHD/XAVC S files. Perhaps bizarrely, Sony have removed the external microphone socket that was introduced on the RX100 II.
4K still image output allows photo viewing on 4K TVs and images can be transferred by Wi-Fi or HDMI to compatible Sony Bravia TVs.
Built in Wi-Fi and NFC together with PlayMemories camera Apps complete the picture (!) with the opportunity to add creative effects and filters to your images quickly and easily.
Another new addition is the new function button which when combined with the control ring around the lens allows customisation of the camera so it works just the way you wish.
All the great features so popular on the previous models are included - such as focus peaking, face detection, digital level, multiple shooting modes including manual and program shift.
Battery is the same as the earlier models and battery life should be similar at around 300 shots. Dimensions are a diminutive 101.6x58.1x41mm and wight with card/battery is just 290g an increase of just 3mm in depth and 9g weight over the RX100 II.
So, to conclude, the RX100 III would seem to have just about everything going for it if you are looking for a truly compact camera with pocketability and image quality useable in all lighting conditions and a built in viewfinder.
Park Cameras are Sony Digital Specialist Stockist and if you would like to pre-order a RX100 III to receive one of the first cameras available in the UK please click here. The camera should be available in Summer and will be available for demonstration at both our Burgess Hill and London showrooms very soon alongside the RX100 and RX100 II.
Steve, Park Cameras London.