Sony RX10 II vs Canon G3 X vs Panasonic FZ1000

June 23, 2015

RX10 II, Canon G3 X and Panasonic FZ1000 cameras side by side

In this article I compared the Canon PowerShot G3 X vs Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 and Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II.  The FZ1000 is one of my favorites bridge cameras. It’s interesting to see whether FZ1000 faces competition from these two new bridge cameras, the G3 X and the RX10 II. Both the G3 X and RX10 II certainly look like very strong alternatives to the FZ1000. Whether the Sony RX10 II is the best of the three? – we are here to find out. If you are searching for a big-zoom DSLR alternative camera or an advanced camera for serious photographers, this article is for you.

I’ll start with a short introduction to the Sony RX10 II and move on to the comparison section, where you’ll be able to get a very clear view over the differences between those three cameras.

Sony RX10 II

On June 10, 2015 Sony has announced the successor to its popular Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 camera, the RX10 II. Like the RX100 IV, the RX10 II also boats the world’s first 1.0″ type stacked Exmor R CMOS sensor with 20.2MP effective resolution. The new sensor uses an integral DARM memory chip which leads to 5x faster readout image data from the sensor. This allowed Sony to bring some exciting new features, including 40x high-frame-rate motion video recording (up to 960 fps), 4K video recording and more with XAVC S codec, 14 fps continuous shooting speed (in Speed Priority, focus locked on first frame) and more.

Sony RX10 II camera

In comparison, the RX10 (older model) uses Sony’s Exmor R CMOS sensor, which uses back-illuminated technology but doesn’t feature the stacked technology. In stacked technology, the pixels and circuitry reside on individual chips and later joined and assembled as one unit. Among the benefits of Stacked sensors are an additional bandwidth due to the on-board DRAM  chip,  improved sensitivity and other performance factors, lower-power consumption, ease of design for making future improvements (e.g. Adding new functionality), etc.  Of course because Sony design and manufactures its own sensors, this gives Sony an edge over other companies. It allows Sony to push digital imaging technology forward because the sensor is the heart of any camera and  many of the camera’s features are based on its performance.

For those of you whom are not familiar with sensor sizes, the 1-inch sensor i smaller than APS-C which can be found on most DSLR cameras. It’s even smaller than the Micro Four Thirds’ sensor. That said, for a bridge camera, this is relatively very large sensor.  In the past, most of the sensors on bridge cameras were 1/2.3″. Some cameras still use small sensors in order to provide cameras with bigger zoom range. I mean Sony can use a 1-inch sensor with a 50x camera, but that will make the camera significantly larger and certainly much more expensive.

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

On the outside, the RX10 II looks identical to the RX10 II as you can see in the image below from camerasize.com.  Even the lens is the same Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-200mm (35mm equivalent) f/2.8 8.3x optical zoom lens as the RX10.

RX10 II vs RX10 camera size comparison top view

RX10 II vs RX10 camera size comparison top view (via camerasize.com)

I actually don’t mind having the same lens, because this is a superb lens. The lens can shoot at F2.8 in the entire focal length range. This means that the RX10 II will allow you to take well-exposed photos in low-light conditions, even when shooting at the tele-end. With many bridge cameras the aperture at the tele-end is very slow, and therefore you have limited options when shooting in low-light. With the RX10 II you’ll find less need to bump up the ISO in order to compensate for lack of light. f/2.8 and with such large sensor also means much better control over the depth of field. You can take image of subjects with the background being defocused in a high degree, same beautiful effect that you get with DSLR cameras.  This is something which is very important for enthusiast photographers, being able to get more precise control over the DOF, and with the RX10 II you can do just that.

Among the RX10 II other features: up to 0.09 sec. quick precision autofocus system, improved 2359K-dots OLED electronic viewfinder, up to 14 fps burst in full-resolution without blackouts, top info LCD, S-Log2 gamma option to extend dynamic range when shooting videos and reducing the occurrence of blow-out highlights and black crush, MF assist and peaking, 1/32000 sec. shutter speed, NFC and WiFi and much more.

Price Comparison

The RX10 II doesn’t come cheap:

  • Sony RX10 II — ~$1300
  • Sony RX10 (older model) — ~$900
  • Panasonic FZ1000 — ~$730
  • Canon G3 X — ~$1000
* rounded up prices from amazon.com as of 6.23.2015. Visit amazon.com for updated and accurate prices.
As you can see, the RX10 II is significantly more expensive than the Panasonic FZ100 and the G3 X. It almost puts the RX10 II in its own category because of its much higher price. That being said, I’m sure that many photographers will compare the three because each of these cameras can serve as a good alternative to an interchangeable-lens camera and all are large-sensor premium cameras with relatively long-zoom range. If you are searching for a DSLR replacement, a camera that is versatile enough not to limit your creativity, any of the three cameras are good options.

So pricing aside, I’m sure that you want to know which cameras has the most useful features to match your specific needs. In the next section you’ll learn about each camera cons and pros vs its peers and you’ll be able to get a clearer picture of which camera is the best for your specific shooting style and needs.

Here’s a sample video taken with the RX10 II in 4K resolution.

Now check these SUPER COOL slow motion footage – WOW I’m impressed!

 

RX10 II vs G3 X vs FZ1000

Now that you became a bit more familiar with the RX10 II key features, let’s see how it ‘s compared to the G3X and FZ1000.

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Conclusion

The RX10 Mark II is more expensive than the FZ100 and G3 X, but in return you get a more progression-grade camera for both stills and video recording. It’s durable and has weather-sealing, it has a f/2.8 constant aperture Zeiss lens, it uses Sony’s latest innovation in the sensor development department with its new Stacked sensor technology, top LCD, it has a built-in ND filter, EVF fastest burst in the group,  1/32000 sec shutter speed and the most advanced video recording features among the three, including 1080/960 fps slow-mo video recording and S-Log2/S-Gamut adjustments.

These are just s few of the features that makes the RX10 II so appealing to enthusiasts. The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 is the cheapest among the three. You still get to have 4K videos, a very versatile and relatively fast lens, EVF, 12 fps burst and advanced and innovative AF system.  I personally would prefer having f/2.8 all across the FL than longer zoom, just because of the shallower depth of field effect and better low-light performance. Remember all three have the same sensor size and roughly the same effective resolution. For video recording the RX10 II also wins, but I think that not everyone who enjoy shooting videos will need those. So that in mind, the FZ1000 does offer a better value compared to the RX10 II in my opinion.

The Canon PowerShot G3 X is the smallest among the three, but it ain’t pocketable. It does offer the longest zoom range among the three cameras, which should appeal to anyone looking for a good DSLR replacement and a versatile family/travel camera. It’s really an all-around excellent camera with  its  durable weather-sealed body, selfie-friendly tilting touchscreen display, 1080p60 video recording and wireless connectivity. It doesn’t have a built-in viewfinder, it has the slowest burst among the three, weakest battery, and it doesn’t shoot 4K.  The EVF might be a very important feature for some of you and I know that most of you probably won’t be thinking of buying an external EVF. This makes the competition a bit harder for the G3 X. Having a built-in EVF makes it easier to compose your images under bright lighting conditions, and this is one reason why I prefer buying a camera with EVF than one without it. All in all, the G3 X is a great camera to take to the Safari to capture images and photos of animals, great for birds’ photography, sports, etc.

Having said that, I think that many people might be willing to give up on the EVF just to enjoy a longer focal length. The difference in the optical zoom range is quite significant, especially when you compared it to the 200mm FL of the RX10 II. If you want to buy a camera for your next trip, would you prefer a much bigger zoom in favor of a faster lens? – if you ask me, I would probably prefer a bigger zoom, but for general use I would go with the constant f/2.8 aperture of the RX10 II.

Yep, not easy to make a decision. Whatever you pick up, make sure your money is well spent. Don’t buy the most expensive camera if you don’t intend to use its more advanced features. For example, if you aren’t into shooting videos, the unique RX10 II video features are meaningless. If you mainly shoot in daylight or with a flash, you can good with a slower lens of either the G3 X or the FZ1000.  Understanding the features and match them to your specific needs is the key to making a smarter buying decision.

Buy Sony RX10 II from B&H Photo Video Store here
Buy Panasonic FZ1000 from B&H Photo Video Store here
Buy Canon G3 X from B&H Photo Video Store here

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