Sony CyberSot RX10 Mk 3: As good as a bridge camera gets… BUT
The Sony RX10 Mark III is a high-end DSLR esq bridge / super-zoom camera equipped with a 20 Mp 1-Inch sensor, 4k video, and an impressive high quality 25x / 24-600mm zoom.
The “older” mark 2 RX10 remains on sale whilst the “newer” camera retains many identical features ie the 1 inch stacked sensor with super-slow-motion video, 14fps continuous shooting, 2.3 million dot 0.7x electronic viewfinder and 3- inch 1.3 million dot rear screen that for some unfathomable reason remains a non touch-screen type.
In reality its the RX10 III’s lens that really sets it apart from its predecessor, with a three-fold increase over the 200mm telephoto coverage of the earlier RX10 Mark I and II. The maximum aperture is also a little brighter at the wide angle setting – f2.4 compared with f2.8 on the earlier models, but the big increase in telephoto focual length means the Mk III no longer enjoys a constant f2.8 focal ratio and the lens closes to f4.4, at the long-end. The lens gains a third control ring (handy) but for some strange reason loses the built-in ND filter of earlier versions.
This new RX10 version retains the Mk 2’s robust weather resistant build, but gains one hell of a significant price hike in the process making it by far the most expensive bridge / super-zoom on the market.
On-line review site Cameralabs conducted a full and detailed review of the Sony RX10 III and here’s some quotes and thoughts:
” The biggest competition for the RX10 III is the less expensive Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500. It’s similar in very many respects to the RX10 III, with a 20 Megapixel 1 inch sensor, a slightly bigger electronic viewfinder with the same resolution as the RX10 III, a 3 inch fully articulated touch-screen and a broadly comparable (but not the same) range of video modes with 4K 25p plus Cinema 4K at the top.
But if you’re having trouble deciding between these two models there’s also loads to differentiate them, starting with their respective lenses. The Sony has a 25x zoom starting at the same 24mm wide angle as the FZ2000 / FZ2500, but extending a bit further to 600mm equivalent compared with 480mm. It’ll get you just that bit closer in to distant subjects. The Sony lens is also a little bit brighter at f2.4-4 compared with f2.8-4.5 on the Lumix.
One other important difference is that the Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 lens now incorporates a pair of neutral density filters allowing you to reduce the amount of light it transmits by up to 64x in 2 stop increments. Interestingly, though the earlier RX10 II had a built-in 3x ND filter it’s been dropped on the latest Mark III. One thing in the RX10 III’s favour though is that its lens has a smallest aperture setting of f16 compared with f8 on the FZ2000 / FZ2500, what’s more, the Sony lens has a dedicated aperture ring which can be configured for stepped or smooth operation.
The screens are the same size and similar resolution, but the RX10 III’s screen can only tilt up or downwards whereas the FZ2000 / FZ2500’s panel is side hinged and can face in any direction including forwards which can be invaluable for video recording. More importantly, the Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500’s screen is now touch sensitive, allowing setting of the AF area with a tap, silent control of movie exposure and much more.
Both models provide full PASM exposure control for movie recording, and exposure can be adjusted silently during recording using the FZ2000 / FZ2500’s touch-screen (which can also be used to adjust focus) or with the RX10 III’s stepless aperture ring. The new zoom buttons and the internal structure of the FZ2000 / FZ2500’s zoom provide better control of zooming for slower, smoother, and steadier results.
Both models are fairly evenly matched for continuous shooting speeds using their mechanical shutters, but the FZ2000 / FZ2500 cleverly exploits its sensor to deliver 4K photo modes offering not just 30fps continuous shooting at 8 Megapixel resolution, but post-focus and focus stacking modes.
Both models feature built-in Wifi and the Sony also has NFC so you can tap it with an NFC-equipped android phone for a quick connection. Other than that both offer quite similar Wifi features in terms of remote control and image transfer, though you can extend the RX10’s capabilities with downloadable apps. Battery life is significantly better on the RX10 III and you can charge the RX10 III battery in the camera over USB. Both camera’s offer a high degree of customisation, but the FZ2000 / FZ2500’s touch screen gives it and edge with programmable touch buttons in addition to the physical ones.
Depending on where you shop, the Sony RX10 III is around 30 percent more expensive than the Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500. For many people that will be enough to swing it in the FZ2000 / FZ2500’s favour, given that these two models are closely matched in many respects and the Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 is ahead in some areas, namely a wider selection of movie modes, fully articulated touch screen, slightly bigger viewfinder, better continuous shooting and better zoom control on the lens. The thing that pulls you back to the RX10 III is the lens, not just the longer range but the quality which outperformed the Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500 in my tests. The Sony is also officially weather-sealed and supports more professional audio connectivity accessories.
Cameralabs have summed it up perfectly. The Sony RX10 III’s lens is optically superior ‘to that on the Panasonic FZ2000 and its body is weather sealed but in other respects (ie fully articulated touch screen, bigger viewfinder and more varied video features) the FZ2000 has the upper hand and in the process also happens to be a fair bit CHEAPER.
Sure the RX10 III’s new lens should in theory deliver slightly superior image quality over the FZ2000 but in the real world the differences are not hugely significant althought from what I’ve seen they do exist.
Personally I’d be hard put to justify the outlay for a RX10- III, yes its the best bridge camera / super-zoom on the market but the Panasonic FZ2000 is 80% of the RX10 III for a fair bit less cash.
If the RX10 III’s rear screen was a fully articulated touch screen and if it re-aquired a ND filter I think I’d fully recommend the RXD10 III even at its current retail price. But for the time being I’d suggest the Panasonic FZ2000 is the more pragmatic purchase.
Mark Baynham ( Janauary 2017)