Do you agonize over sacrificing quality in favor of comfort when packing camera gear for vacation? I tossed my hefty Nikon D800 aside and rented the Sony RX100 III from BlueHillco.com for vacation. I wasn’t going to shoot much so if the camera sucked then no harm, no foul.
The camera definitely didn’t suck. Sony’s third iteration of an already well-regarded model opened my eyes to just how far point and shoots have come.
I didn’t expect to write this blog post so I don’t have very many traditional “camera review” photos. What I have, however, will demonstrate how one can get big results from a camera the size of a deck of cards.
Part I: Sample Shots
They’re no National Geographic contenders but considering that I wasn’t expecting anything from laying my camera on the ground with a 15 second exposure, I am impressed. Being somewhere with very little light pollution (Rarotonga in this case) helps.
The noise is bad in the clouds but I am really cranking it at ISO 5000.
I didn’t spend time perfecting exposure times but I urge you to take this camera out and test its limits on night sky photography. Capturing average night scenes was fruitful as well. This is where we ate dinner every night. Taken handheld at 1/30th of a second, f/1.8 at ISO 800.The Macro Mode on the RX100 III is pretty good, too – even in low light!
I didn’t play with this feature a whole lot but what I saw was promising. It’s no Olympus but that’s hardly a fair comparison. This is a point and shoot, after all, with a fixed zoom lens and a tiny sensor (about 35 % of the average crop sensor size in DSLRs).
My skies were mostly blue and my shadows retained detail all in the same shot. These are important features for any camera to have and it is often something that gets given up with tiny cameras like this. The RX100 III performs well in this area.
Taken from a shady area on a sunny day. 1/60th of a second, f/2.8 at ISO 80.Detail is retained in the roof and the road across the way. Taken from inside a dark cafe.
Crop of the same scene. 1/60th of a second, f/4 at ISO 125.
As with most point and shoots, there are a lot of auto settings like Toy Camera and Miniature. I played with a few on the local foliage.
In the menu you can access Picture Effect then Toy Camera. From there you get a couple of temperature options.You can also shoot in Pop Color, Posterization (which still looks as bad as ever), Retro, Soft High Key, Partial Color Red, a couple of B/W choices, Soft Focus, HDR, Watercolor, and Miniature. Miniature lets you choose the area of blur. I used that for the above shot.
The fixed lens on the RX100 III is about the equivalent of a 24-70. I found myself wanting more reach but that’s what you sacrifice when leaving your big glass at home. This boat seen from the side of the road would have been served well with a longer lens but the little fixed zoom lens did alright.
Goat on a Car
This demonstrates nothing about the RX100 III. This goat is just really awesome.
[Tweet “Sony’s well-regarded model opened my eyes to just how far point and shoots have come:”]
Part II: The Camera
A few features you can look forward to when using the Sony RX100 III:
• Tilting Screen: Great for shooting at weird angles and (if you must) selfies.
• Pop Out Electronic Viewfinder: Great for those who are already used to holding their eye up to a diopter. Some folks (including yours truly) hate shooting from the LCD and with this camera you get both.
• Scene Selection: For beginners and for the lazy. They are pretty good!
• Option to shoot in RAW and/or shoot fully manually.
• Manual Focus Ring: Unlike a lot of point and shoots, you can actually artistically take advantage of the f/1.8 lens (not to mention practice some effective star photography, where manual focus is a must).
• Pop Up Flash: I didn’t use this but it’s nice to have.
Other perks: Built-In Wireless, Full HD Video, and Optical Image Stabilization.
Reserve your Sony RX100 III for your next trip – you’ll be just as surprised by it as I was.