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.

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