Three’s a charm for Cybershot
By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
Sony’s made many dazzling improvements in its latest RX10 camera
Sony’s much-acclaimed Cybershot RX10 digital camera has been much improved for its third edition, complete with a newly developed 25x super-telephoto lens with an extensive focal range. The large-aperture, high-magnification zoom lens with 600mm equivalence lets you to get close to difficult subjects. And the 24-mm-equivalent focal length ensures excellent scenery shots.
Together these features make the RX10 III the perfect allpurpose camera for travellers. In other improvements over the RX10 II, this one has a 24600mm lens with f/2.44 aperture (up from 24300mm with a constant f/2.8 aperture). The wide-angle 24mm focal length just adds to the resulting extra brightness.
Thanks to an improved Optical SteadyShot algorithm, the RX10 III has a better exposure compensation, with 4.5 stops compared to its predecessor’s three stops.
The RX10 III has triple rings on the side of the lens for focus, zoom and aperture, up from the single ring-plus-aperture ring previously. So it’s much smoother to operate. There’s an extra control button, called Focus Hold, on the lens barrel so you can lock the focus distance. Alternatively, the same button can customised for other uses as, as can two other buttons up top.
You can now assign up to 58 more options to the custom buttons, up from 40 previously. Serious photographers will appreciate the improved shape of the grip.
It feels more secure when the camera is held at eye level. You can now change the first three characters of file names from the default “DSC”. This is handy, for example, when you want different photo designations for different trips.
With the ultra-telephoto zoom, choose Zoom Assist and then press and hold the C (Custom) button and the lens will automatically zoom out so you can reframe your subject and zoom back in when you release the button.
Anyone who’s ever lost track of a subject at long range will be grateful for this. For all of these advances, there is one drawback to the RX10 III.
The builtin ND filter found on the RX10 II is gone, and that was quite useful when shooting in bright sunlight.
The RX10 III is a little larger and weighs 282 grams more its predecessor – apparently because of the longer lens – but that’s not really much of a drawback.
Such quibbles weren’t enough to stop the RX10 III from winning the Red Dot Award for product design in the compact-camera category.
As for other specifications, the RX10 III has a 1.0 type stacked 20.1 MP Exmor RS CMOS sensor with a DRAM chip and advanced signal processing, along with a powerful Bionz X image processor.
These components work together to ensure high image quality throughout the entire zoom range and to capture 40x super-slow-motion video at up to 960 frames per second.
You also have an ultrafast Anti-Distortion Shutter with a maximum speed of 1/32,000 second and can take high-resolution 4K movies.
The impressive autofocus system relies on spatial object detection to predict the subject’s motion before the shutter is activated.
The AF response is incredibly fast and efficient when the shutter is pressed halfway, locking onto the subject in as little as 0.09 seconds.
The stacked sensor and powerful image processor also allow the camera to achieve a readout of 20-megapixel image data, resulting in continuous shooting at up to 14fps with reduced blackout. This is wonderful for shooting sports and other fast action.
A wide sensitivity range of ISO 644 to 12800 and images with exceptionally low noise, even at higher sensitivity settings, are possible thanks to the back-illuminated CMOS sensor and Bionz X processing engine.
You have an impressive 24600mm Zeiss VarioSonnar T lens with large maximum aperture of F2.4F4.0. At the maximum 600mm focal length, the aperture is f/4.0, very good for such range, so your zoom shots will be exceptional.
The aperture unit itself has nine blades that are designed to create a near-perfect circle in the F2.4F11 range. The result if a lovely bokeh effect – the subject standing out against a soft-focus background.
Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation helps reduce camera shake and image blur, even at those longer focal lengths. It’s equivalent to shooting at a shutter speed 4.5 stops faster than your actual setting.
Builtin WiFi means you can link in a PlayMemories Mobile phone app to use your phone as a viewfinder or remote control and post photos and videos online.
This applies to NFCenabled Android devices, which only need to be tapped against the camera to connect. The RX10 III is quite easy to use. Rookies can choose Intelligent Auto or Superior Auto. The latter is better, since it has the same automatic scene-recognition as Intelligent Auto but works better in dark or backlit situations.
It takes multiple shots at different exposures and churns out a nice composite. More experienced photographers will go for Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual Exposure.
They’re all on the mode dial, alongside Memory Recall, Movie and Scene Selection. In my test I mostly shot with Superior Auto. The camera recognised the conditions and selected the best mode, such as Backlight or Handheld Night Scene.
At 24-mm-equivalent focal length, the RX10 III captured beautiful landscapes with fully saturated colours and good detail. The 600-mm-equivalent zoom pulled in faraway objects superbly.
Shooting on Hua Hin Beach, I was able to get great zoom shots of Khao Takiab, which looked tiny to the naked eye.
Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation worked very effectively. At the highest zoom, I managed to capture sharp and clear shots without a tripod. And the autofocusing was really fast, pulling me into a jetski skimming across the waves for more crisp images. The RX10 III’s backlighted sensor is terrific in low light.
I got clean shots at night with great light effects in Handheld Night Scene mode, the camera snagging four shots for a superior single composite.
Sony’s Cybershot RX10 Mark III has a suggested retail price of Bt56,990.
KEY SPECS: Sony Cybershot RX10 Mark III
– Sensor: 1.0-inch-type Exmor RS CMOS, aspect ratio 3:2 with 20.1 effective megapixels
– Lens: Zeiss VarioSonnar T with 24600mm equivalent focal length, f/2.44 – Focus area: Wide, centre, flexible spot – ISO: ISO 64/80128000
– Light metering: Multi pattern, centreweighted, spot
– Exposure compensation: Plus or minus 3.0 EV, 1/3 EV step
– Shooting modes: Auto, P, A, S, M
– Screen: Three-inch TFT LCD with 1,228,800 dots – Viewfinder: 0.39-type electronic (XGA OLED), 2,359,296 dots
– Highest movie resolution: 4K – 30p 100M
– Interface: Multi/Micro USB Terminal 10, HighSpeed USB (USB 2.0), Micro HDMI, Microphone (3.5mm stereo minijack), Multi Interface Shoe, Headphones, NFC, WiFi 802.11n
– Battery: Approximately 42 shots per charge
– Dimensions: 132.5x94x127.4mm
– Weight: 1,095 grams with battery and Memory Stick Duo