Sony RX 10 III review: The DSLR killer

first_imgSony may not be the leader in the market — that distinction belongs to Nikon and Canon — but it is surely the most innovative camera company right now. And this reputation of the company has been largely built on the RX series cameras. Starting with the RX 100 a few years ago, Sony has come out with cameras that are different from those made by Nikon and Canon in ways that are unconventional but super useful and super fun. We have seen this again and again, and most recently with the RX 100 IV, a gem of a little camera that is arguably also the best camera for most consumers. Now with the RX 10 III, Sony is making its boldest bet yet as far as the RX series is concerned. With the RX 10 III, it is gunning for the mighty wildlife and sports cameras like the D7200 and Canon 7D II. It doesn’t entirely succeeds, but the effort is so good that Canon and Nikon should wake up and start noticing the changing world around them. In simple words, the RX 10 III is good enough to be the camera of choice for most consumers, including those who like to shoot fast, action-packed wildlife scenes. That is because with the RX 10 III, Sony has done something impossible by putting a lens with 600mm effective focal length into a body that you can lug around whole day. Doesn’t sound that impressive? See this image. On the right, there is a Tamron lens for DSLR cameras. It has a focal range of 150-600mm. It’s a big lens and difficult to use unless you put the camera on a tripod. It weighs over 1600 grams and costs around Rs 70,000. It is also the lightest and cheapest lenses of its kind. On the left, you have the RX 10 III, with a 24-600mm effective focal length. The camera weighs a little over 1000 grams. And while it does cost more than the Tamron lens, keep in mind that it is a camera and not just a lens. Packed with cutting-edge techSony’s RX series cameras are premium cameras. They come with the best of the technology that the company offers and the RX 10 III is no exception. It uses the same 1-inch image sensor that the phenomenal RX 100 IV does. Now, 1-inch image sensor is actually small compared to the sensors that go into the DSLR cameras, even the entry-level ones like the Nikon D3300. But in the last couple of years, Sony has made big strides in the imaging sensor tech. In fact, almost all of Nikon cameras, including big ones like Nikon D750, have Sony sensors. These sensors, relative to their size, offer mostly very good performance. advertisementIn the RX 10 III, this sensor is paired with a lens that has a focal range of 8.8mm to 220mm. However, due to the crop factor (2.7X), the range in 35mm is 24-600mm. The lens also has good quality construction with 18 elements and a Zeiss tag. The rest of the hardware is similarly impressive. But two bits that stand out are the button & control layout and electronic viewfinder. The RX 10 III is full of buttons and dials that give easy access to various settings when you are clicking images. In fact, even compared to some of the DSLR cameras in its class, this is an easier camera to use, with settings like aperture , shutter speed, focus lock and the ISO all available within the reach of fingertips when you are shooting with the camera. If there is something you specifically require, the camera has 3 function buttons that can be mapped to the functionality you desire. In simple words, the RX 10 III is good enough to be the camera of choice for most consumers, including those who like to shoot fast, action-packed wildlife scenes The electronic viewfinder, meanwhile, is the best I have seen in a camera like this. In terms of brightness and sharpness it is as good as an optical camera! This means not only you get a nice viewfinder in the RX 100 III but you also get the benefits that the electronic nature of the display brings. It has one drawback (we will talk about it in while) but I found that is due to my personal shooting style. For all practical purposes, the viewfinder in the RX 100 III is excellent. The build quality of the RX 10 III is fairly good but it doesn’t inspire the same confidence that a DSLR camera does. While travelling I just toss the DSLR camera in a backpack without any cover but I can’t think of doing the same to the RX 10 III. It’s not that it feels flimsy. It’s just all that plastic around the lens and the camera doesn’t feel that reassuring. advertisementAlthough, Sony says that the RX 10 III is a fairly tough camera with weather sealing applied to its body, which will help it survive some water splashes or dust etc. Quick specsBefore we move on to the performance part, let’s take a look at the specifications of the RX 10 III. The camera, as noted earlier, uses 1-inch image sensor. This sensor clicks 20-megapixel images. The lens has an aperture range of F2.4-F4. The RX 10 III can also record 4K videos — and in mighty find quality I must add — as well as offers a slow-mo mode with up to 1000 frames per second. It has a 3-inch LCD screen, image shooting speed of up to 14 frames per second, manual shutter of 1/2000 and the ISO range between 100-12800. It also has features like Wi-Fi, NFC, charging with USB cable like a phone, and battery that is good enough for 300 to 400 shots (more if lens zoomed manually).  Performance In terms of absolute image quality, the RX 10 III can’t match its peers in the same price bracket. DSLR cameras, with their large image sensors, resolve more details, capture more shadows and highlights, have much better high ISO performance and offer much leeway to RAW shooters in the post processing. But if terms like resolve detail, dynamic range, high ISO, RAW and post-processing sound Greek to you, you don’t have to care about it. In that case, what you need to know is that the RX 10 III offers very comparable image quality to what a DSLR camera manages. It is like 90 per cent up there and while there are photographers who won’t settle for anything less than 100 per cent in terms of image quality, this camera is not for them. This camera is for people who want to click good enough images with minimum fuss and want to have fun while doing so. The RX 10 III excels in good light and captures images that have plenty of details. It gets the exposure and white balance right almost every time and produces JPEG pics that have nice, punchy colours. In low light, the performance goes down somewhat, especially in terms of dynamic range and detail, but a bright lens and decent ISO performance until ISO 6400, ensures that you will get photos that are good enough even if you are shooting in dimly-lit restaurants while partying with your colleagues on Friday evening. The camera can shoot RAW images, if you are into post-processing but then if you are shooting RAW, you may like DSLR cameras more. But image quality, which is good enough, is not the big deal about the RX 10 III. The big deal is the lens and how this camera makes good photography effortless and fun. The range of 24mm-600mm lens is incredible! It makes the camera a great companion for travels. One moment you are shooting a sexy sailboat up-close, filling the frame with the help of 24mm focal length and next moment you are focussed on a seagull 100 meters away using 600mm. This is not possible with any other camera. There are some superzoom cameras out there but the image quality they offer is so bad that they are mostly useless. With a DSLR camera, shooting the same two scenes will require you to swap lenses. On the RX 10 III, all you have to do is zoom in or zoom out. advertisement This camera is for people who want to click good enough images with minimum fuss and want to have fun while doing so For hobby photographers, the RX 10 III replaces a set of a DSLR camera, a telephoto lens, a general purpose zoom lens, and possibly a low-light lens with just one unit.  The performance of the camera while it is shooting images is great. It acquires focus very fast and if you use the dedicated button to lock the focus, it tracks subject well-enough. The shooting speed of the camera is good, although during burst mode, it struggles with buffer and takes a few extra seconds compared to a DSLR camera while writing images to the SD card. But this is a concern more for professional wildlife shooters. For everyone else, the RX 10 III is fast enough and it is definitely fast enough to click photos of active kids or playful pets. The viewfinder, as noted earlier, is excellent. Also, because it is an electronics viewfinder, it shows the actual image that you are capturing, which means actual exposure and actual focus. This helps the photographers, especially if you are not comfortable with settings that DSLR cameras have, to click better images. The only problem that I found with the viewfinder was that the camera has to be powered on before you can see something from it. I have a habit of peering through the camera to compose an image and then decide whether I want to click the photo or not. If I want a photo, I then switch on the camera. On RX 10 III this can’t be done. But this is more to do with the habit of DSLR camera users and is not exactly a fault with the RX 10 III. Although, a small problem with the zoom ring on the lens is something that is totally an issue with the RX 10 III. This zoom ring is very smooth, so smooth that often it requires several rotations before the lens starts reacting. So the zooming in and out is on slower side. The zoom toggle near the shutter-release button, which electronically controls the lens, is faster, though.  Another thing that could have been better with the RX 10 III is the widest available aperture. The F2.4 is only available 24mm. You zoom 2mm extra and the lens moves to F2.8. Zoom just a little bit more (additional 5mm to 10mm) and the aperture moves to the F3.2. I would have liked to see a lens that offers at least F2.8 until 60mm to 70mm. But then it might have also increased the weight and size of the camera. Other than these minor issues, the RX 10 III is flawless. It even shoots great videos in 4K resolution, without any pronounced rolling shutter effect that is often a problem on DSLR cameras. XPreviousNext  Should you buy it?Totally, if you need one of the best cameras you can buy right now. Even with a price of above Rs 1,10,000 — the MRP is 1,14,990 — it is value-for-money camera. It is the kind of camera that you will like to carry when you are on a safari in Kenya or when you are travelling on a multi-city cruise holiday because it does everything, and does it well.No, the RX 10 III is not for professionals shooters or those who need flawless 100 per cent possible image quality. But it is a camera for everyone who wants a versatile shooter that will give them great images day after day, with minimum fuss and in almost all conditions. Best of all, it is a camera that excels at almost everything — landscape, portraits, macro, wildlife shooting… you name it, all because of its state-of-the-art lens. Although it does have a competitor — the RX 100 IV. If you are not interested in wildlife shooting, the RX 100 IV is cheaper and better. You should get that. But if you also want the reach of 600mm to click leopards in Nairobi, RX 10 III is the one you will need to carry. ####Sony RX 10 III####8.5/10########Good stuffVery versatileGreat lens with 600mm reachMakes shooting fun####Bad stuff1-inch sensor can feel limiting in low and dynamic lightBuild qualitylast_img

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