Since we're already on the topic of video, I'll start with some analysis there. The XAVC S codec available with Sony's latest cameras is a significant step up from AVCHD. Video looks great on the camera, of course, but when evaluating footage on a laptop, it's hard to believe this level of quality came from a camera you can slip in your pocket. The new f/1.8-2.8 lens also deserves some of the credit, I'm sure, but the improvement is clear. The one con is that you'll need to use a file converter to edit and output your footage using a computer. I used Pavtube ($35), which worked very well.
Unfortunately, once you convert footage and upload it to the web (with further compression), you lose a lot of that captured detail. The resulting clips, as you'll see in the footage reel above, look better than what you'd shoot with some other compact cameras, but unless you're maintaining that high 50 Mbps bit rate, you'll notice some degradation for sure. In the reel above, exposure was spot-on, and the RX100's integrated optical image stabilization helped keep things steady, even as I moved around.
Moving on to still images, the RX100 exposed this late afternoon, backlit shot beautifully, with an aperture of f/4 and a shutter speed of 1/640 second at ISO 125. Details are very sharp and colors are accurate.
This plate of cacio e pepe, a typical Roman dish, is slightly underexposed, at f/4 and 1/320 second, with a sensitivity of ISO 125. The camera may have been thrown off by the metal fork, but it's nothing a slight levels tweak in Photoshop won't fix.
I saw dozens of tourists shooting tablet photos each day during my short trip to Rome. Moments like these come and go in only a few seconds, so this was a great test for the RX100. I was able to turn the camera on and snap a few shots as I walked by on the sidewalk. Details are sharp and colors are accurate in this 1/200-second, f/5 exposure at ISO 125.
This is where gelato cups go to die. The camera opted for an exposure of 1/100 second at f/4 here, with a sensitivity of ISO 125. Details are sharp; colors are accurate; and the exposure is spot-on.
Like the iPad shot above, this is another opportunity that came and went in only a few seconds. Fortunately, the RX100's speed enabled me to grab this sharp shot, at 1/50 second and f/2.8, with a sensitivity of ISO 125.
The Pantheon is remarkably dim, yet the RX100 did a fine job of capturing this stranger with sharp details, assuming you're uploading for the web. In-camera processing counteracts the high sensitivity of ISO 6400, but results in softer details, as you can see in the inset of this 1/60-second, f/2.8 exposure.
The RX100 really excels at night, capturing consistently exposed images with limited noise. The camera's optical image stabilization helped keep details sharp in this 1/20-second, f/2.8 exposure at ISO 800.
I returned from Italy just in time to capture this shot of New Yorkers making their way home after the July 4th fireworks. With plenty of vapor light, colors are accurate, believe it or not, though details are soft due to in-camera processing in this ISO 6400, 1/50-second, f/2.8 exposure.
Given all of the features that Sony's managed to pack into the RX100 III, including a 1-inch sensor, an f/1.8-2.8 lens, an LCD that flips forward 180 degrees and that one-of-a-kind pop-up viewfinder, this is currently the only camera you can buy that includes that identical feature set. There are a few similar options on the market, though, with Canon's PowerShot G1 X Mark II offering the most comparable specifications while still maintaining a point-and-shoot form factor. That camera, also priced at $800, includes a larger 1.5-inch sensor and a longer 24-120mm f/2-3.9 zoom lens. And while there's no pop-up EVF, you can attach one to the hot shoe.
If you're looking for even more power, you're not going to find it in a pocketable form factor. Instead, consider stepping up to a mirrorless camera or a DSLR. Our mid-range pick in the mirrorless category, the Sony Alpha 6000, which also retails for $800, offers many of the same features as the RX100, such as an integrated EVF and plenty of hardware controls, with the added benefit of a larger APS-C sensor and interchangeable lenses. You should also consider purchasing last year's RX100 II ($650) or the original RX100 ($500) at a discount. Both are excellent cameras, and they're considerably less expensive than this year's model.
When Sony launched its first RX100 back in 2012, we were very impressed. The camera offered tremendous functionality in a pocketable package. Then, when the RX100 II came around last year, Sony added WiFi along with a full-size hot shoe (which can accommodate high-end audio gear, among other accessories), besting the original model. This year's iteration is by far the most capable yet, with a superior lens, XAVC S encoding and a unique pop-up EVF. At $800, it's a significant investment, particularly within the point-and-shoot category, but if you need a ton of power in your pocket and you don't mind paying for it, you can't do any better than this.