Is the Sony RX100M3 perfection in the pocket?

The automatic lens cap is great. No protrusion to hold the camera more easily is not so good. The on/off switch is pretty awkward - sometimes I hit it three times before it goes on. It has some fun effects like sepia and watercolour. The excellent panorama mode is something I really appreciate. Another feature I like is the fold-out screen. It allows me to shoot at waist level so people are less likely to realise I am photographing them. It can fool mushrooms too.

The big selling point is the image quality and indeed this is excellent, even at ISO 400. There are too many menus and options, many very cryptic, but you can probably skip all but the first two sets. Exposure compensation is quickly accessed. The physical controls are a bit fiddly but that's to be expected on such a small piece of kit. The RX100 is surprisingly good for macro. I bought it as a replacement for my Lumix LX3, which is a reasonable camera, but nothing to rave about. I hoped that the RX100M3 would be a big step up from the LX3 and it is. One drawback is that the printed manual provided is simply inadequate. You need to go on the Net, which is not very practical if you are in the woods. If you use Windows XP then make sure you specify MP4 for movies, or else you won't be able to watch them on your PC.

The dp review cites the front dial as the biggest drawback of the Sony. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was able to use this dial to focus manually. During the five years I used the LX3 I never managed to achieve manual focusing, getting countless unsharp macro shots. This is not a problem with the Sony. I suspect that most people will not see the front dial as a major drawback (I simply don't use it). What is a very real drawback is that the zoom range (24-70mm) is so limited. However, I bought it mainly for wide-angle, as an addition to my DSLR with a telephoto zoom for travelling, and as a take anywhere camera. I recommend wearing it in a small pouch attached to your belt.

Conclusion: the RX100M3 is a very accomplished, high quality pocket camera and I am very glad I bought it. I give it 9/10.

I paid $806 AUD at eGlobal. Here are some sample images:

Update October 2016:
Since I wrote the above review I took the Sony on a few trips and have now taken more than 10,000 shots. The good news is that noise is very low. Even at ISO 1000 the shots look good at 100% crop, which I find surprising and laudable.

There are a number of annoyances. In iAuto you can't choose the focus point, so I don't use it, as I want to be able to decide what I want to be sharp. Another annoyance is that I keep on getting unwanted menus coming up. My copy has a problem in that the lower leaf is sometimes blocked, ie the lens remains partially covered on start-up and requires a knock to make the leaf go down. If you use the zoom lever immediately after a shot then it zooms into the shot just taken, not into the scene, which is irritating. I hardly ever use the viewfinder as it is too fiddly for quick use, though it makes for better composition.

I use the centre focus point and find that focus is not always reliable. Some of the shots taken in low light were unsharp. I think this was due to focus errors, probably because I was too impatient. Focus is not fast. Looking at my trip photos, the two main benefits I see over the LX3 are that I took a lot of good panoramas with the Sony and that the camera was useful for close-up shots.

Apart from the short zoom, the greatest drawback of the camera is its propensity for blowing highlights. Snow scenes, waterfalls and clouds are likely to show this problem. Under-exposure in these situations helps, but only up to a point. The expanded dynamic range feature also helps, but I usually forget to turn it on.

Here is what I mean:

If you click on this photo you will see that the centre part of the image is pure white, with no detail.

Overall, I am now less enthusiastic about the camera but I am still happy that I bought it. I'd give it 7.5/10 now.

Here are twelve more photos taken with the Sony in North Patagonia.

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