Sony RX100 III vs Canon G1 X Mark II vs Canon S120

May 20, 2014

In this post I will compare the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III (M3) premium compact camera, versus two other advanced compact, the Canon PowerShot G1 X II and Canon PowerShot S120. The RX100 III is the latest cameras of the Cyber-shot R series to be announced by Sony as of the time of writing. It replaces the RX100 II, one of the best, if not The Best compact cameras on the market today. Therefore, it’s interesting to see how it stands against two other high-rated premium compacts. If you are really excited about the new RX100 III but still haven’t decided to buy it or not, this comparison is for you.

Let’s start with a short introduction to the new Sony RX100, and then we’ll continue talking about the differences between the three.

Sony RX100 III

Sony RX100 III selfie shooting using the rotating LCD

Sony RX100 III selfie shooting using the rotating LCD

The Sony RX100 III is the third iteration of Sony’s highly-acclaimed range of premium compact cameras. The first Sony RX100 was announced in June 6, 2012 and grabbed lots of positive reviews and awards from leading camera review and gadget websites. It seems that Sony has hit the jackpot with this camera, and in each generation, Sony vastly improved upon the older model.

The RX100 III certainly presents the biggest jump in terms of spec differences compared to its predecessor in my opinion. The new RX100 III just put the competition in a very uncomfortable positioning of the large-sensor compact market.

The Sony RX100 III does carry the same 1″ 20.1MP Exmor R sensor as its predecessor, which might frustrate some. However, from that point on, there are substantial differences that makes this new RX100 camera unique in its category and even a well-worthy upgrade over its predecessor, the RX100 II.

The first update that I was very excited about is the new lens. The RX100 III now features a 24-70mm F1.8-2.8 Vario-Sonnar T* lens, 5-axis image stabilization and a built-in ND filter (3 stops). This is a very bright lens all across its zoom range. Sony did shorten the focal length range, dropped from 100mm to 70mm, but did spoiled us with a 24mm wide-angle instead. I personally prefer having a wider angle for interior shots, architectural, group and landscape shots.  I think that people who really after a long zoom will prefer buying a superzoom camera instead, and there are plenty of those available. You can check out the Sony RX10 with its 8.3x optical zoom Carl-Zeiss lens and 1″ sensor, really impressive combo.

Having said that, the great thing about the Sony RX100 III is its size. This is a pocketable camera, one that you can put in your pocket and take everywhere you go.  Talking about size, the RX100 III is almost exactly the same as the other RX100 III in size, but Sony put a little surprise inside.  Sony dropped the Multi-interface shoe, so you can’t connect an external mic or flash, but instead, Sony gave us a built-in 1.44K-dots OLED electronic viewfinder with ZEISS T* coating. The viewfinder has a pop-up mechanism, so it’s hidden inside the camera, and retracts when the user wants to use it. This is great feature, because the viewfinder doesn’t take space in your pocket and is less likely to break.

With the other RX100 II (not the first RX100) you do have the option to attach an external electronic viewfinder, but it’s very expensive and you need to mount in on the MI shoe, so it also takes lots of vertical space.  This is not the highest EVF resolution we’ve seen to date, but I who am I to complain about it — so kudos to Sony for giving us this great feature.

At the back of the camera you’ll find a multi-angle 3″ ‘selfie-ready’ LCD display. Sony calls it ‘Selfie-ready’ because the screen can be tilted 180 degrees up for selfie shots. You can also tilt it 35 degrees down for low-angle shots as well.

If you love shooting videos, you’ll love the new XAVC S video format recording option. You can now choose this new XAVC S video format that records  at 50 Mbps and therefore results in higher video image quality, useful for post editing. The RX100 III can also shoot videos at 720p at 120 fps (slow motion).

The Sony RX100 III included a few features that first appear in the RX camera series, including the 5-axis stabilization, built-in EVF, XAVC S video format, built-in ND filter, 24mm wide-angle lens, new technology for the lens optics to improve edge-to-edge clarity and sharpness, BIONZ X image processor, 180-degrees tiltable display, 24p Full HD video recording and Eye-AF. On the other hand, the RX100 III does feature the same 25-point AF system as the its predecessors, and many people where eager to see Sony improve in that respect, but it didn’t. Furthermore, Sony also didn’t improve the continuous shooting speed, which still stands on 10 fps as the other models (in speed priority).

I think that if we look at the camera as a whole, there is very little to be disappointed about.  I think that the built-in high-resolution viewfinder (higher resolution than most compact cameras on the market right now), NFC/WiFi, XAVC S video format, selfie-ready rotating LCD, faster and improved optics (better low-light performance, of an already excellent performer in this category), 24mm wide-angle, the newer Bionz X processor (same processor as in Sony’s flagship interchangeable lens cameras), all make the RX100 III an amazing replacement for the RX100 II, and a well-worthy upgrade in my opinion. I think that Sony made a smart move removing the MI shoe and giving space for both the built-in pop-up flash and EVF, as in my opinion, only a few will consider using an external flash with this camera.

So am I excited about the new RX100 III, hell yeah! — Sony don’t want to leave the competition any chance this year. No doubt that Sony made a very smart move with this camera, and I think that the main competitors will be next generation cameras that will replace the current offering from Sony’s competitors. Yet, there are some excellent large-sensor compacts that well worth considering, so don’t finalize your buying decision just yet.

RX100 III vs G1 X Mark II vs S120 – Comparison

No doubt that Sony released an amazing new update to the RX100 II. We can see that Sony really listens to its customers and put a great deal on effort to photographers the compact camera they always craved for.

The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II and Canon PowerShot S120, both are premium compact point-and-shoot cameras with advanced features. Price-wise, both the DSC-RX100 III costs ~$800, the Canon S120 costs around $450. So the Canon G1 X Mark 2 is more of a direct competitor to the RX100 Mark III compared to the S120, although the RX100 III is much more compact in size, very close to the size of the S120 in fact.

People who search for a camera that they can put in their pocket, we’ll certainly give a higher weight to the RX100 III and the S120. So the question that you might ask yourself is whether the Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II has something to offer over the RX100 III that will justify the purchase of a camera that is not as portable as the RX100 III.

In the next comparison table you can clearly see and understand the differences between the three cameras.

Sony RX100 IIICanon G1 X Mark IICanon S120
AnnouncedMay 16, 2014February 12, 2014August 22, 2013
Build QualityAluminumstainless steel chassis and aluminium metal exterior magnesium alloy and aluminium
All three have excellent build quality. Magnesium is more lightweight and stronger compared to magnesium. The Canon G1 X Mark II takes the first place, but I'm sure that you'll be satisfied with the build quality of all three.

Having said that, the G1 X Mark II is significantly heavier and also larger and the RX100 III and S120. You can put the G1 X in a jacket pocket or a small bag, but it's not the camera the camera to fit into your jeans pocket. So yes, the G1 X Mark II is more bulky, and that's something to keep in mind when buying the G1 X MK2 instead of the other cameras.
Dimensions102 x 58 x 41 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.61″)116 x 74 x 66 mm (4.57 x 2.91 x 2.6″)100 x 59 x 29 mm (3.94 x 2.32 x 1.14″)
Weight290 g (0.64 lb / 10.23 oz)553 g (1.22 lb / 19.51 oz)217 g (0.48 lb / 7.65 oz)
Sensor20.1 MP (effective)
1.0" (12.2 x 8.8 mm)
BSI CMOS (Exmor R)

2.41 micron pixel size
13.1 MP (effective)
1.5" (18.7 x 14 mm)

4.5 micron pixel size
12.1 MP (effective)
1/1.7" (7.44 x 5.58 mm)

1.86 micron pixel size
The G1 X MK2 has the largest sensor among the three cameras. From how I see Canon and in the recent years, it didn't strove to increase the megapixels, but rather find the optimal point that will give superior image quality and image resolution that will satisfy the target audience.

I think this is a smart move, because Canon has shown excellent image quality performance in its bridge and premium compacts, and the G1 X and S120 is not different.

The RX100 on all its models have shown excellent image performance as well, although Sony preferred using much higher sensor resolution.

You can also see that the G1 X Mark II sensor pixels are much larger than the other cameras, that should give it a low-light performance / high-ISO advantage. Furthermore, the Canon S120 although having smaller resolution, still have smaller pixels due to its much smaller sensor dimensions.

25600 Extended
LensZeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Lens
24-70mm F1.8-2.8 (equiv.)

10 elements in 9 groups

9 aspherical glass elements, 2 advanced aspherical (AA) elements (cemented together, * world's first)

7 diaphragm blades

2.9x optical zoom

5cm macro focus range

Optical SteadyShot image stabilization

Built-in 3-stop ND Filter

Manual lens ring
Canon 24-120mm F2.0-3.9 (equiv.)

14 elements in 11 groups

1 double sided aspherical UA lens and 2 double-sided aspherical lenses

9 diaphragm blades

5x optical zoom

5cm macro focus range

Canon IS optical image stabilization (Intelligent IS)

Built-in 3-stop ND Filter

Dual lens control rings
Canon 24-120mm F1.8-5.7 (equiv.)

7 elements in 6 groups

1 double-sided aspherical, 1 double-sided aspherical UA lens and 1 single-sided aspherical lens

5x optical zoom

3cm macro focus range

Canon IS optical image stabilization (Intelligent IS)

Built-in 3-stop ND Filter

Manual lens ring

The lens has a major part in people's decision. Both the S120 and G1 X II feature the same optical zoom range and equivalent focal length. However, the G1 X Mark II is faster at the tele-end, whether the S120 is slightly faster at the wide end.

The RX100 II is faster than both across the zoom range. The RX100 II lacks the range of the Canons. I personally find the G1 X Mark II to be an excellent choice for those whom are looking for more versatility and getting splendid Bokeh due to the 9 diaphragm blades. On the other hand, I think that some of you will have no problem living without the 70-120mm range. It's really come to personal preference.

I personally prefer the RX100 III offering for its very faster wide-to-tele aperture.

The RX100 III accept filter adapters and has a programmable lens ring that provided intuitive control over the camera settings , including the zoom, aperture and focus. It's 5-axis stabilization and built-in ND filter makes it very attractive for the enthusiast crowed.
AF Points25 AF Points

Contrast-detect AF
31 AF Points

Contrast-detect AF
9 AF Points

Contrast-detect AF
S120 offers the least AF points. This should give the G1 X MK2 and RX100 III an advantage with subject tracking.
Shutter Speed30-1/2000 sec60-1/4000 sec15-1/2000 sec
Tiltable (Up by approx. 180 degrees, down by approx. 45 degrees.)

Not touchscreen
Tiltable (Up by approx. 180 degrees, down by approx. 45 degrees.)

Touchscreen (capacitive)

Touchscreen (capacitive)

Both Canons offer a touchscreen rear LCD display, but the S120 lacks the tilting mechanism of the G1 X MK2 and RX100 III.
Built-in (pop-up mechanism)
0.59x magnification
ZEISS T* coating
Not built-in, optional accessoryNo
A big advantage for the Sony RX100 III. This is not a cheap viewfinder that can easily found on many compact cameras, but one with decent size and resolution.

A viewfinder makes it easier to compose the shot in bright daylight and give you more connected to the subject you are shooting.

The great thing about the RX100 III viewfinder is that it is discreet and embedded into the body , so it doesn't take space until you decide to use it, so the camera still keep its portability.
Built-in FlashYesYesYes
Burst Speed10 fps 5fps12 fps
Exposure Compensation±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±3±3±2
Video Recording1080p60 (progressive scan)



MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S (50 Mbps)

Star Time-Lapse movie (full HD) 30/15 fps

Miniature effect 6fps, 3fps, 1.5fps


MPEG-4, H.264
1080p60 (progressive scan)

Start Time-Lapse movie (full HD) 15fps

Super Slow Motion movie 640x480 120fps, 320x240 240fps

Miniature effect 6fps, 3fps, 1.5fps


MPEG-4, H.264
The RX100 III offer in my opinion the best options for video enthusiasts, including 1080p60 progressive video recording and Sony's XAVC S for very high quality video recording. Add to this the versatile tilting LCD display, faster aperture and large sensor that improved low-light video shooting image quality, and you'll get a pretty impressive camera for video shooting.

Having said that, the RX100 III lacks miniature effect and miniature effect like on the Canons and lacks super slow motion movie recording as on the S120. So if you want more versatile frame-rate shooting modes, the S120 wins in this regard.

On the negative side, due to the lack of a Multi-Interface shoe on the RX100 III, you cannot attach an external microphone. The G1 X MK II and S120 doesn't have a mic input either. The G1 X hot-shoe permits an external flash only.
Environmentally SealedNoNoNo
Battery Life (CIPA)320240230
Quite surprising, even with its very small size, the RX100 III was able to achieve very decent battery life per single battery charge.
Dimensions102 x 58 x 41 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.61″)116 x 74 x 66 mm (4.57 x 2.91 x 2.6″)100 x 59 x 29 mm (3.94 x 2.32 x 1.14″)
Weight290 g (0.64 lb / 10.23 oz)553 g (1.22 lb / 19.51 oz)217 g (0.48 lb / 7.65 oz)
Both the RX100 III and the Canon S120 are compact and pocketable cameras, ones that you can put in your pocket and take everywhere you go. That's something that you can't say on the G1 X Mark II, which is significantly larger. You might be able to put it in a large jacket pocket and will certainly be fitted into a small bag, but in my opinion, the portabilitiy of the S120 and RX100 III are of a great significance for people who search for a premium compact camera.
WirelessWi-Fi / NFCWi-Fi / NFCW-Fi
Both the G1 X Mark II and the RX100 III offer easier pairing using Near Field Communication protocol -- however all cameras support wireless binding with a mobile device using Wi-Fi wireless connectivity.
Timelapse RecordingNoYesYes
Built-in GPSNoNoNo


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  • j

    You pointed out that the sony has programmable lens ring, accepts filter adapter, built in 3 stop nd filter, and 5 axis IS, just wanted to mention that g1x mark ii also has these features (except the canon has 2 programmable rings rather than 1).

  • Idan

    thanks J for the insight.

  • j

    Your welcome :)

  • j

    Also wanted to mention that the mark ii lens is actally faster across the entire range than the sony. When cameras have different sensor sizes their ‘equivalent arpetures’ show a more accurate representation..just sayin :)

    • Eche

      Yeah. Why is it that everyone lists focal length in 35mm equivalent terms but never aperture? The RX100 iii is f/4.9-7.6 and the G1X ii is f/3.7-7.2
      The Canon also gives us f/7.2 @ 120mm. The Sony is already at f/7.6 at 70mm.