This is going to be a really short look at the new Sony RX100III, not because there isn't a lot to write about, but because most of it has already been written!
We were given a sneak look at the new compact last night thanks to Sony Singapore and while they had five sets for us to take out to test, there wasn't all that much in the immediate vicinity to take pictures of! I didn't waste time trying out too many things. As the new Mk III uses the same sensor as the MK II, I know how well it performs in good lighting and at low ISOs, so I opted to test out the camera at higher ISOs. Now I'll come clean, in my haste to test out the camera, I forgot to set it to save my files as RAWs, so the JPGs will not look their best, but I think these are enough to give you a basic idea about what this compact can do.
First impressions, the MKIII works and feels very much like it's predecessor the MKII. Actually, calling it a predecessor isn't very accurate as Sony will continue to sell the MKII and MKIII cameras side by side as they see the two catering to different market segments.
- The built in EVF is quite a nifty little feature. It may look small, but once you've adjusted the diopter to suit your eye, it works pretty darn well. It also automatically starts up the camera the minute you pop up the viewfinder so you can start taking pictures without waiting. However, if you decide to switch from the EVF to the LCD screen while the camera is on, and push the EVF back into the camera body, the whole camera will shut down and the lens will retract. I didn't get the chance to dig into the menu system, but I can't see why they wouldn't give you an option to override the auto shutoff.
- The lens. What else is there to say? It's 24-70mm f1.8-2.8 vs 28-100mm f1.8-4.9. That little bit wider goes a long long way and I'd willingly trade the 70-100mm range for the additional stop and a half. It's just as sharp as the MKII, and when compared side by side, is only marginally thicker (I'd venture to say that if you didn't have a MKII to compare with side by side, they would look the same).
- The barrel ring is much smoother on the new MKIII but sadly, it doesn't seem to have increased the speed of changing aperture or exposure compensation.
With an RRP of S$1,199, it's a big jump from the S$999 that the MKII was on launch (Sony has since dropped the price a further S$100 to S$899). This 20% price hike will probably rub a lot of consumers the wrong way, but to me, for that additional $200, you get a built in EVF (the external one that was used with the RX100II was in the S$700 range I believe) and a wider/faster lens. Selfie lovers will also like the flip screen.
So should you get it? I think a lot of consumers would find the MKIII a little overkill for their needs, and coupled with the hefty price tag, would give this new iteration a miss. However, there are also going to be a lot of professional and semi-pro photographers who will greatly treasure the faster, wider lens and the built in EVF and these folk would probably fork over the S$1,199 (somewhat grudgingly it must be said) for a chance to keep a MKIII in their pocket.
Release date is set for the middle to end of June 2014, so if you feel that a MKIII is out of your budget and something like the MKII will better serve your needs, well you need only look at some of the more popular photography forums and marketplaces to see the sudden glut of people selling off their old RX100II cameras in anticipation of this latest model.