Sony RX10 M3: Lens

Lens Characteristics in Short | A Few Technical Data | Some Quotations from Lens Reviews | My Own Two Cents... | References

On this page, I would like to discuss one the specific characteristics that lead me to buy the Sony RX10 M3, namely the lens. I investigate what the available test results and the reviewers say, and I also offer links to camera reviews.

Note: Since the lens on the Sony RX10 M4, which I bought as a replacement for my Sony RX10 M3, is identical to the one on the M3, this page is also valid for the Sony RX10 M4.


Lens Characteristics in Short

The Sony RX10 M3/4 features a fixed Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar T* 8.8-220mm (24-600 mm equiv.) f/2.4- f/4.0 lens with a zoom range of 25 x (18 elements in 13 groups, including 6 aspheric lenses). Thus, it offers the equivalence of numerous "classic" prime lenses between 24 mm and 600 mm. Zoom is set using the zoom lever or using the zoom ring at the lens (this is configurable). Manual distance is set using the focus ring. There are marks for the equivalnt focal length on the lens, and the camera regrettably lacks distance and depth of field indicators on the LCD screen (only a coarse distance scale is shown when focusing manually).

Photos of the Lens (RX10 M3)


Front view with lens hood, off


Ditto, no lens hood


Top view with lens hood


More oblique front view, off


Top view, off


Ditto, turned 90 degrees


Top view, on, 24 mm focal length


Top view, on, 600 mm focal length


More oblique front view, on, 24 mm focal length


More oblique front view, on, 600 mm focal length


Side view


Oblique top and side/rear view


Oblique top and front view


Oblique top and side/front view


Oblique top and rear view


Oblique top and rear view

The lens does have a 72 mm filter thread for attaching filters or close-up lenses, which is rather large. Of course, I do not have filters, lenses, or adapters with with diameter...

Find more technical information about the lens below.

In-Camera Correction of Lens Deficits

All lens designs are a compromise between different requirements and therefore have certain deficits - the Sony RX10 M3/4's lens is no exception to this rule. Therefore, the lens's deficits are corrected in software for JPG images, but not for RAW images (ARW format).


A Few Technical Data

Data Sony RX10 M3/4 Comment

Carl Zeiss® Vario-Sonnar T* 8.8-220 mm (24-600 mm equiv.) f/2.4-f/4
18 elements in 13 groups (6 aspheric elements, including AA lens)

The same lens is used in the RX10 model 4.
Zoom Optical Zoom: 25 x
Clear (Image) Zoom: 20 MP approx. 50 x / 10 MP approx. 70 x / 5 MP approx. 100 x / VGA approx. 380 x
Digital Zoom: up to 100 x
There are two types of digital zoom: Clear (Image) Zoom (higher quality, lower range), and Digital Zoom (lower quality, wider range)
Filter diameter 72 mm  
Aperture range From 2.4 to 16 in 1/3 EV increments Maximum aperture depends on focal length.
Distance setting range (from front lens) AF (W: Approx. 3 cm to infinity, T: Approx. 72 cm (28.35") to infinity; at fl = 250 mm (equiv.): 140 cm (55.12") to infinity Distances are measured from the lens (as advertised by Sony); the camera provides larger values (measured from the focal plane).
Macro is practically usable only at the wide end (up to 50 mm) and at the long end (500-600 mm).
Smallest object field Approx. 72 x 48 millimeters at wide angle and long end (my own measurement) > 0.18 = 1:5.5 Magnification: 1:5.5 (without close-up lens)

Maximum Aperture Versus Focal Length

This is what I found out:

Focal Length (mm)
24 28 35 50 70 85 100 135 200 300 400 500 600
Actual* 8 10 12 18 25 31 36 49 73 110 146 183 220
Maximum f-stop*
2.4 2.8 3.2 3.2 3.5 3.5 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0

*) As indicated by the camera

Smallest Object Field (Minimum Object Width)

These are my own coarse measurements on this topic:

Focal Length
Distance from
Sensor Plane*
MF AF (DMF) Max.
mm equiv. cm cm cm f
24 18 6.8-6.9 7.1-7.2 2.4
28 18 6.9-7.1 6.6-7.1 2.8
35 18 6.8 7.0-7.4 3.2
50 18 6.2-6.3 6.1-6.3 3.2
70 22 7.6 7.3 3.5
85 28 9.2 9.5 3.5
100 36 11.4 11.4-12.7 4.0
135 69 18.9 18.8 4.0
200 140 26.6 26.0-26.6 4.0
300 150 18.9 18.9 4.0
400 110 10.8 10.7 4.0
500 96 8.6 8.6 4.0
600 92 6.9 6.8 4.0

*) According to camera; note that the distance from the front of the lens body (not the lens) is much shorter (the distance between the focal place and the front of the lens body differs depending on the focal length).

These are just coarse numbers, because I did not do "controlled" tests, and it was sometimes difficult to perform the test. So there are variations in the numbers, but I think that the overall performance can be extracted from these numbers.

On another page, I consolidated these numbers a little bit and added Panasonic TZ202 data to be able to create diagrams from them and to compare the close-up behaviors of both cameras. Both diagrams show my mean minimum object width values across the focal length scale.

Focal Length
Mean Minimum Object Width
Sony RX10 M3 Panasonic TZ202
mm mm mm
24 7.0 5.6
28 7.0 5.0
35 7.2 6.0
50 6.2 7.7
70 7.5 9.7
85 9.3 10.5
90 10.6 11.3
100 12.0 11.8
135 18.8 12.4
160 22.4 11.2
200 26.3 12.4
250 22.4 14.0
300 18.9 12.3
360 15.0 11.0
400 10.8 --
500 8.6 --
600 6.9 --
Here are the resulting diagrams:

Blue: Sony RX100 M3 (also valid for M4), Brown: Panasonic TZ202

The top diagram uses a linear focal length scale, the bottom one a kind of step-scale. The bottom diagram seems easier to read for me. The interpolation lines also make the diagrams easier to read for me.

Bold: Interpolated values

Do not take all this too seriously, but a few things can be easily read from these diagrams and the tables above. Here, I comment only on the RX10 M3/4:

A few more remarks:

Close-Up Samples - "Sweet Spots"

The following close-up samples taken with the Sony RX10 M3 demonstrate the "sweet spots" of the lens for taking optimal close-ups (the maximum width of the butterfly Hamadryas belladonna is about 6.8 cm):


50 mm (6.1-6.3 cm)


85 mm (9.2-9.5 cm)


400 mm (10.7-10.8 cm; approx. 90 cm from lens)


600 mm (6.8-6.9 cm; approx. 75 cm from lens)


1200 mm, Clear Image Zoom (digital zoom; 3.5 cm; approx. 72 cm from lens)


Ditto, for comparison purposes

Sharpness Data

See the Lens Reviews below.


Lens Reviews and some Quotations from Reviews (M3)

In the following, I cite a few sections about the lens of the Sony RX10 M3 from reviews that I found on the Internet. This selection is, of course arbitrary, but may help readers gain a certain "feeling" for the lens.

In the review of the Sony RX10 M3 on, the authors summarized the following about the lens:

For details of the lens' performance at various ISO values and in comparison to other cameras, you can have a look at the studio scene on the same page. (Free and Pay Content)

The German photography Website published a test of the Sony RX10 M3 (in German, performed with DxOMark software). Here is an excerpt of the result for the lens (too long for translation...):

The lp/mm values have been scaled to 35 mm values, but I do not quite understand what this means.

They also published a thorough technical lab test of the Panasonic TZ202 (in German), which can be downloaded for a fee from this page. Since this is pay content, I cannot report on this test here.


Excerpts from Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III (Digitalkamera) - Bridge-Kamera der Luxus-Klasse (Moritz Wanke, Chip):


My Own Two Cents...

It is still too early to state any opinions here...



The following online reviews of the Sony RX10 M3 typically include a review of the lens:

Reviews in German


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