Sony RX10 M3 - First Impressions
Some First Comments by Me
So what can I say about the Sony RX10 M3 after a few months of
use? First of all, I had to get used to it! Second, here are some first observations:
- The camera is indeed large and heavy. For details see below...
- It has quite a number of external buttons and controls that compact
cameras do not offer. So, there is less need to dive into the menus than
for compact cameras. On the other hand, I have to get used to this fact again,
including using the display on the camera top for doing some settings...
- The viewfinder image is comparatively large, which I really appreciate.
Although I can see the pixels, which I cannot see in viewfinders with
lower magnifications (and the same resolution), it is really size
that matters for me, not only for manual focusing, but also in general.
- The camera is easy to carry around despite its weight thanks to its grip.
But for safety reasons, I always use a wrist or shoulder strap when doing
- My computer's hard disk is getting full now much earlier, because
of the 20 MP sensor and JPEG images in "extra fine" compression - and thus,
larger image files.
Photos: My Sony RX10 M3, about 1100 g heavy (left), and my
Sony RX10 M4, which replaced it, about 1140 g heavy with lens cap that is
not shown (right)
At the end of March 2019, I replaced my RX10 M3 with its successor RX10 M4,
but the above comments also apply to the new camera, because both cameras are
It's all there!
When using the Sony RX10 M3 and M4, I have to say that "it's all there" what
- Focusing (Focus Ring): Can be "manually" set at the lens by turning
Ring - and needs some practice, because it it "by wire" and not mechanical.
But using Focus
Magnification and Focus
Peaking, I am successful most of the time. And since there are two lens
rings (Front and Rear Lens Ring), the camera allows me to decide,
which one I want to use for focusing (I chose the Front Lens Ring,
which is the default) - and I can even set the direction of rotation.
Cons: The manual focus has quite some hysteresis, and the correct
focus point seems to move over time (not so on the Panasonic TZ202, thus,
it can be done better...).
- Zooming (Zoom Ring, Zoom Lever): Can be done using the Zoom
For the Zoom Ring you can also set step zoom (zooms in steps). The Zoom
Ring has the same options as the Focus Ring and both rings
can exchange their functions.
- Aperture (Aperture Ring): Is selected manually at the lens
(Aperture Ring). Typically, you need this only in A or M mode.
- Shutter speed: Mostly, I use the camera in P mode, sometimes
in A or M mode. In the first two cases, shutter speed is set
automatically. Switching to A or M mode is easy thanks to the
Mode Dial on the camera top.
- ISO: Can be easily accessed using a custom button on
the top of the camera. But since this button is labelled C1, you have
to remember which button sets ISO...
- Exposure compensation (Exposure Compensation Dial): There is a dedicated dial (Exposure Compensation
Dial) on top of the camera for setting exposure compensation. The only
issue that I have is that I have to look at this button to see in which state
it is (it is also shown in the viewfinder)...
- Focus magnification: Is set to automatic by me and activated when
I turn the lens's focus ring (Manual Focus Assist). Changing the magnification
using the OK button is convenient. I also use Down button
for activating focus magnification manually (Focus Magnifier).
- Level: Can be activated using the DISP button; I
use it most of the time.
- Self-timer: Is rarely used by me... I can access it by presssing
Left button of the camera, which I set to Drive
I just have to remember this...
- Focus mode (Focus Switch): There is an explicit switch (Focus
for setting the focus mode next to the lens.
- Lock focus (Focus Hold Button, AF/MF Toggle Function):
I "reuse" the Focus Hold Button close to the lens for the AF/MF
Function, which also provides me with kind of a focus hold function.
- Lock exposure (AEL Button): AEL is provided by the AEL
which I set to toggle mode so that I need not press the button all the time...
- Quick Menu (Fn Button): Provides access to many functions
that I use more often so that I need not dive into the menu system for these
Much more I (usually) do not need. My main issue is that I do not look
at the camera when I start shooting... And I also do not care for the displays
in the viewfinder...
Front view with lens hood RX10 M3
Rear view RX10 M3
Front view with lens hood RX10 M4
Rear view RX10 M4
Photos: Views of the Sony RX10 M3
from the front and rear (top) and of the Sony RX10 M4
from the front and rear (bottom)
Some of My Settings
Favorite camera settings vary from photographer to photographer and also depend
on the situation at hand. Therefore, it is difficult to recommend camera settings
to other people. Nevertheless, I list some settings that I typically used
on the RX10 M3 and now use on the RX10 M4 - maybe, they offer one or the other
inspiration for others:
- Image Format: JPEG extra fine, 20 MP
- ISO: Between 100 and 1600 (often between 200 and 800), when it
is dark ISO 1600, rarely ISO 3200
- Exposure Simulation: I set the function Live View Display to
Settings Effects On - that is, yes!
- Exposure Compensation: Usually 0, sometimes -0.3 or even -0.7. Other
values in special situations. I had set my previous cameras often on EV -0.3
to avoid blown-out highlights, but the sensor is "better behaved" in
- (Light) Metering Mode: Multi
- Focus Area: Flexible Spot or Center
- White Balance: Auto
- Acoustic Signal: Off
- Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation: Standard
- Focus Magnification: Automatic = As soon as you turn
the Focus Ring on the lens, the enlarged detail appears (MF Assist).
Moreover, I reserved a function key for activating this functionality manually
(Focus Magnifier). In both cases, the enlargement
factor can be changed pressing the OK button.
- Focus Peaking: Red and Mid or High
- Level: On
For details see page Configuration.
Photo: Top view of the Sony RX10 M3
Weight and Size
The Sony RX10 M3 is indeed heavy (about 1100 g). The camera hanging over
my shoulder is too heavy for me after an
hour or so. All in all, weight-wise, the Sony RX10 M3 is not my "ideal" camera...
The Sony RX10 M4, which replaced my RX10 M3 after three months, has the same
dimensions and weights on paper. In practice, however, I measured a weight
of 1140g, that is, a little more...
The RX10 M3/4 is not at all a pocketable camera (and it is expensive,
too). That is why I bought the Sony RX100 M4 and later the Panasonic TZ202
before I decided to buy this camera.
Size and weight comparisons can be found here.
After all, the lens is definitely the most important ingredient of this camera,
no matter whether RX10 M3 or M4 (it is identical in both models). With a focal
length ranging from 24 mm to 600 mm (equiv.), it offers the largest range for
a 1" sensor
camera to date (April 2019). Given the issues with camera shake that I have
at a focal length of 600 mm, I think that the zoom range suffices for me. If
Image Zoom might be a solution in some cases...
For me, the close-up behavior of the lens is also important. For me, this
mostly means that I want to achieve high magnifications from a distance (1
m and more). And that means using long focal lengths. So the closest
focusing distance must be short enough to still achieve sufficient magnification.
This is unfortunately not the case with the Sony RX10 M3/4 in the focal length
range between 100 mm and almost 400 mm. Above that (400 mm - 600 mm) it is
good, and it is best at 600 mm, that is at the long end of the focal length
Of course, high magnifications at the wide end are also welcome, if
the objects are close enough and do not run away or fly away (shading can
be a problem, though). Magnification is highest at 50 mm, where shading is
less of a problem than with 24 mm or 28 mm.
Details can be found here.
Here are the technical data for the viewfinder of three of my cameras:
- Panasonic TZ202: Field-sequential display 2,330,000 dots / 0.53 x magnification
- Sony RX100 M4: 0.39-type electronic viewfinder (OLED) / 2,359,296 dots
/ 0.59 x magnification
- Sony RX10 M3/4: 0.39-type electronic viewfinder (XGA OLED) / 2,359,296
dots / 0.7 x magnification
So, the viewfinders all have the same resolution, but offer a different magnification.
I do not like the Panasonic TZ202's viewfinder very much. It has the lowest
magnification, and often the view looks of pale and blurred.
I like the viewfinder of the Sony RX100 M4 better. It has a slightly higher
magnification, shows no pixels yet, has nice colors, but sometimes I have problems
with the sharpness.
I like the Sony RX10 M3/4 viewfinder best. It has the highest magnification
and the view almost looks like that from a DSLR camera. It has nice, but
different colors than the RX100 M4, and because of the size of the viewfinder
image I can recognize pixels. But that is no problem for me. With this viewfinder,
I like to photograph the most - it is amazing what this factor means to me!
What Is Missing or Could Be Improved (in My Opinion)?
- Manual focusing: Manual focusing with the focus ring at the lens
is a pain for me, because it is "by wire" and poorly implemented. So
my wishes for improvement are
- No hysteresis when turning the focus ring "by wire"
"in focus" position (no "wandering" of this position around the lens...)
- Autofocus: Autofocus is often hunting, particularly at long focal
lengths and in low-light conditions. Sony's answer to this issue was
the Sony RX10 M4, which has a phase detection autofocus system. So there
is little hope that there will be any improvements for the RX10 M3, and so
I replaced my RX10 M3 with a RX10 M4...
- Noise reduction: Less aggressive noise reduction with respect to
fine details; dpreview.com recommends setting High ISO Noise Reduction to
These are just a few preliminary ideas, comment, habits, opinions, and so
on. This page will therefore change and perhaps also grow a little over time...