A hybrid 20 megapixel photo and 4K video camera with a killer built-on 24–600mm lens.
I’ve been using this camera for the past three months on client shoots and doing personal tests with it, so in this video I’m going to do a full review of the camera body, lens, its buttons and features, share how I’ve used the PlayMemories app with it, go into the cons on the camera, and share who I think this camera is perfect for.
Video & Photo Settings
The RX10 III has the same 20 Megapixel, UHD 1" sensor as the Mark II and still has the slow motion modes up to 960 frames per second, although that footage is rarely very usable with the amount of moire and artifacts present. Filming slow motion in 1080p at 120 or 240 frames per second is definitely usable though.
It can take photos at up to 14 frames per second too.
If you’re coming from shooting video on a traditional DSLR, you’ll love the electronic viewfinder, which is a must use when filming in a bright environment.
And you’ll get some of the smoothest handheld video you’ve ever seen, as the in-body image stabilization which makes footage at 600mm usable.
Speaking of the lens, the zoom range on this thing is kinda ridiculous. Below is a shot I took at Petco Park during a San Diego Padres game from the very top row of the stadium at 24mm, its widest angle. Now, let’s go all the way into 600mm. That’s insane. Just for comparison’s sake, the Canon 600mm F4 lens is $11,500 dollars. This camera costs 10% of that.
The zoom ring is electronic, not manual, so it has a little catch-up to do when you turn it. Because of this it has two settings for speed of zooming, fast and smooth. I’d use fast in photo mode and smooth while recording video.
You can also use zoom shuttle next to the shutter button to zoom in and out, which is what I tend to use.
There is an aperture ring built directly on to the lens, which you can de-click so the aperture is smooth for changing aperture when going between a bright and dark environment.
You can focus at about an inch at 24mm for macro shots and two feet away at 600mm, which both are about the same framing with just different compression at about 0.5 magnification. Not quite 1:1.
The RX10 III has 4 focus modes, which you can change with the dial on the front of the camera. Single, Continuous, Manual, and Digital Manual Focus, which allows you to fine tune after the camera has found focus, which is helpful during macro shots.
There is also a focus lock button on the left side of the lens which is helpful when using the continuous focus mode once you know you have what you want in focus.
They also included a zoom assist feature where you can preview what focal length you’re able to change to, although I didn’t find myself using that at all.
Camera Body Features
Looking around the camera body of the RX10 III the hot shoe is smart & active, so it can accept the Sony XLR and wireless mic adapters for better sound input.
You have two custom buttons on the top, which I had set to video specific toggles like focus peaking or zebras.
Unlike on the a7 series, the video record button is in a good spot.
For the back wheel dial I end up putting ISO control there when shooting video since I keep my frame rate the same. During photos, I’ll have that adjust the shutter speed in manual mode and keep my ISO constant or on auto.
On the left side of the camera body is a microphone jack with a decent pre-amp, a headphone jack, a USB plug (which I would sometimes use to keep the camera charging via an external battery pack), and an HDMI port.
As with most Sony cameras you’ll also get clean HDMI out at full UHD, which is great for live streaming or external recording.
The LCD screen on the back pulls out a little and tilts up and down, but you don’t get full articulation towards the front of the camera, which is a bummer.
Like other Sony mirrorless cameras, this eats through batteries quickly so I recommend getting a bunch of extra batteries, like these off brand Wasabi Power versions of the FW–50’s. Or if you’re going to use it in a studio environment pick up the ACPW–20 wall power adapter.
There is also a small pop-up flash I never used.
One of my biggest surprises lately when using Sony cameras is their PlayMemories app.
If you connect to the PlayMemories app on a smart phone or tablet, you can control the main settings of the camera and get a great full-screen preview of what you’re capturing. This is great when filming by yourself or when the camera is out of reach and you want to adjust settings like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, hit record, or evening zoom in and out.
You can also buy and install apps to the camera like time lapse or star trail, although that process was a bit frustrating to get through for me.
The main issue I’ve had with the camera is the inconsistency of the focusing performance. Sometimes it is extremely fast and snaps right into focus on what I want it too. Other times I’ll be zoomed in quite a ways and the camera will just stay out of focus for a long time.
Also, punching in to check focus gives a blurry image on the LCD, which makes it hard to get a subject tact sharp, which you need even more when shooting in 4K. I’d love to see that be a pixel for pixel zoom-in.
I also want a touch-screen for focus like on Canon 80D’s and 5D Mark IV’s, or at least a joystick to toggle to different focus points.
Sony also chose to remove the 3 stop neutral density filter from the RX10 Mark 1 & Mark 2. This means you either need to buy a screw-on filters for the end of the lens or deal with a high aperture or shutter speed when filming outside.
The lens also isn’t a constant aperture anymore. Is an f/2.4 aperture at its widest, but slowly changes to f4 after 100 mm, then stays at that through 600mm. So I find myself sticking to f4 in manual mode while filming so my exposure doesn’t change mid-zoom.
The aperture ring is kinda hard to spin when holding the camera properly too. It is really thin and too close to fingers on the right handgrip.
Who is this camera perfect for?
I think this is the best all-around pro-consumer level hybrid camera on the market. I think it is the perfect camera for a parent or someone traveling, with the ability to not need extra lenses, but have a wide range to zoom in during sporting events, capture stills or video, and have that all in one compact package. Then you can quickly share what you captured wirelessly to your phone or TV.
I think this is also a great B-cam for someone that films on Sony cameras already (whether at the alpha 7 series level or up into the fs7 or fs5), since it has S-Log 2 and UHD 4K with extra zoom reach to 600mm that you probably don’t own a lens for.
This would also be a solid option as an all-in-one for a videographer filming documentary style, you won’t stand out with the small form factor and you’ll be able to capture beautiful footage handheld that is extremely usable in post without any stabilization. You could get solid still Raw photos out of it as well.
Personally I’ve been using it lately on a client project where I need a very detailed overhead camera angle to show calligraphy and being able to put a light 4K camera up high and control it from my phone has been incredible.
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