Sony RX10 M3: Comparison with Panasonic TZ202

Introduction | The Lens | Size and Weight Comparisons | Sample Photos (References) | References

On this page, I try to compare two cameras that are very different and, on the other hand, similar: the Sony RX10 M3 and the Panasonic TZ202. I bought both cameras with the intention to have more zoom range with an 1" sensor camera as well as a camera that I can use for shooting close-ups with a telephoto lens from a larger distance. Typical objects are butterflies that fly away if you get too close...

 

Introduction

The Sony RX10 M3 and the Panasonic TZ202 are two very different cameras that, by chance, share an 1" sensor (not the same one...). Comparing these cameras may not do justice either one. Nevertheless, I provide some comparison data here, because I bought both cameras for a similar purpose, namely for taking close-ups, particularly telephoto close-ups.

I bought the Sony RX10 M3 after I had used the Panasonic TZ202 for more than half a year and on three vacations, but felt that I was not content with the camera in some respects, particularly when taking photos of butterflies farther away. On the TZ202, the digital zoom would achieve a sufficient magnification (at 720 mm equiv.), but the results disappointed me (grainy). So I mused whether a camera with a 600 mm optical zoom, as the Sony RX10 M3 offers, might do the trick - and bought one fairly spontaneously... Actually, taking close-ups with a focal length of 600 mm may not be for everyone, for quite a number of reasons. Only experience will show, whether I will be happy with this...

On this page, I focus more or less on the lenses. For size and weight comparisons and data, see below.

 

The Lens

The lens was for both cameras my main argument for buying it. Therefore, it will play a prominent role in my comparison.

For opinions on the lenses of both cameras, see pages Sony RX100: Lens and Panasonic TZ202: Lens

Technical Data

Data Sony RX10 M3 Panasonic TZ202 Comment
Lens 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)
Leica DC Vario-Elmar 8.8-132 mm (24-360 mm equiv.) f/3.3-f/6.4
13 elements in 11 groups
Sony: 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
Optical Zoom:15 x
Intelligent Zoom: up to 2 x (= 30 x)
Digital Zoom: up to 4x (= 60 x)
Sony: There are two types of digital zoom: Clear (Image) Zoom (higher quality, lower range), and Digital Zoom (lower quality, wider range)
Panasonic: There are two types of digital zoom: Intelligent Zoom (higher quality, lower range), and Digital Zoom (lower quality, wider range) - to be refined
Filter diameter 72 mm None Panasonic: No possibility for attaching adapters...
Aperture range From 2.4 to 16 in 1/3 EV increments From f/3.3 to f/8 (wide angle) / f/6.4 to f/8 (telephoto) Both: 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 AF (W: 50 cm to Infinity, T: 1 m to Infinity)
AF Macro (W: 3 cm to Infinity, T: 1 m to Infinity)
Sony: Distances are measured from the lens (as advertised by Sony); the camera provides larger values (measured from the focal plane)
Panasonic: Distances given by camera
Smallest object field Approx. 72 x 48 millimeters at wide angle and long end (my own measurement) => 0.18 = 1:5.5 56 x 37 / 50 x 33 mm at maximum wide angle (24/28 mm) => 0.236 = 1:4.24; 109 x 73 mm at the telephoto end (360 mm) My own measurements

Zoom and Digital Zoom

The following comparison photos demonstrate the extreme ends of the lenses of both, the Sony RX10 M3 and the Panasonic TZ202, including the focal lengths that can be achieved with higher quality digital zoom (Clear Image Zoom or i.Zoom). For the Sony RX10 M3, I also show samples taken at a focal length of 400 mm for a comparison with the 360 mm achievable with the optional zoom of the TZ202.

Sony RX10 M3

 

Panasonic TZ202

    

24 mm, slightly made brighter

 

24 mm

 

400 mm

 

360 mm

 

600 mm

 

720 mm, i.Zoom (digital zoom)

 

1200 mm, Clear Image Zoom (digital zoom)

 

720 mm, i.Zoom (digital zoom) - for comparison

 

1200 mm, Clear Image Zoom (digital zoom)

 

720 mm, i.Zoom (digital zoom)

 

600 mm

 

720 mm, i.Zoom (digital zoom) - for comparison

 

400 mm

 

360 mm

Minimum Object Width and Zoom

Neither Sony nor Panasonic disclose the maximum possible magnification for their cameras in macro mode. I took test shots to find out the minimum object width (which I find more useful than magnifications values) for both cameras and present my results in the table below (I also added our Sony RX100 models for comparison purposes):

Sony RX10 M3
Panasonic TZ202
Sony RX100 M4
Sony RX100 M1
Focal Length
(equiv.)
Distance from
Sensor Plane*
Minimum Object
Width
Max.
Aperture
Distance
normal*
Distance
macro*
Minimum Object
Width macro
Max.
Apert.
Focal Length
(equiv.)
Distance Minimum Object
Width
Max.
Apert.
Focal Length
(equiv.)
Distance Minimum Object
Width
Max.
Apert.
Focal Length
(equiv.)
mm cm cm f cm cm cm f mm cm cm f mm cm cm f mm
24 18 6.8-7.2 2.4 50 3 5.5-5.6 3.3 24 5 10 1.8 24        
28 18 6.6-7.1 2.8 50 3 4.9-5.0 3.5 28 9 14 2.5 28 5 8 1.8 28
35 18 6.8-7.4 3.2 50 5 5.9-6.0 3.7 35 20 19 2.8 35 n.a. 21 2.8 35
50 18 6.1-6.3 3.2 50 10 7.6-7.7 4.2 50 30 21 2.8 50 n.a. 30 3.2 50
70 22 7.3-7.6 3.5 50 20 9.6-9.7 4.7 70 30 16.2 2.8 70 n.a. 25 4.0 70
85 28 9.2-9.5 3.5                          
90 31-32     50 30 11.2-11.3 5.0 90                
100 36 11.4-12.7 4.0                   55 20-20.5 4.9 100
135 69 18.8-18.9 4.0 50 50 12.3-12.4 5.7 135                
160 120     50 50 11.0-11.4 5.8 160                
200 140 26.0-26.6 4.0 70 70 12.3-12.5 6.1 200                
250 160     100 100 14.0 6.3 250                
300 150 18.9 4.0 100 100 12.3 6.4 300                
360 130     100 100 11.0 6.4 360                
400 110 10.7-10.8 4.0                          
500 96 8.6 4.0                          
600 92 6.8-6.9 4.0                          

*) According to camera; for the Sony RX10 M3 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 tests. So there are variations in the numbers, but I think that the overall performance can be extracted from these numbers.

Notes:

Some Personal Remarks on the Lenses

The Panasonic TZ202's lens is the lens with the widest focal range for a compact 1" sensor camera (24-360 mm equiv. = zoom range 15 x), whereas the one of the Sony RX10 M3/4 the lens with the widest range of any 1" sensor camera (24-600 mm equiv. = zoom range 25 x) at this date (January 2019). And this is, probably, where the commonalities between both lenses end... The two photos below demonstrate that the two lenses are very different beasts:

    

Oblique front view, off (RX10 M3 to the left)

 

Oblique front view, 600 and 360 mm (RX10 M3 to the left)

The huge Sony RX10 M3 lens is considerably faster across the zoom range (f/2.4-4) than the one of the Panasonic TZ202 (f/3.3-6.4), which also extends quite a bit, allowing you to play around with aperture even at longer focal lengths. The RX10 M3 is limited to f/4 starting with a focal length of 100 mm, the TZ202 gets there already between 35 and 50 mm. Above 200 mm, the TZ202's maximum aperture lies beyond f/6, and since its aperture range already ends at f/8, this leaves very little room for changing aperture and playing around with depth of field. At least, the TZ202 offers an ND filter for the case that the sun is too bright, whereas the RX10 M3 does not (in both cases, you may want to switch to the electronic shutter or let the camera decide automatically which shutter type to use).

Since, depending on your point of view, fuzziness caused by diffraction may already become noticeable at f/6.4*, the "soft" lens of the TZ202 (as most reviewers tell us...) also fights with diffraction at the long end (there is a "diffraction compensation" setting, but the manual warns of artifacts...). So I am a little bit "uneasy" with the technical concept of the TZ202's lens...

*) I discuss this topic on page General: Calculating the Optimum Aperture for Different Sensor Sizes (Diffraction Limit), and there state that diffraction gets visible for 1" cameras at f/8, but other people may feel that it already starts at larger apertures (actually, it does; the relevant question is, however, from which aperture value on diffraction visibly limits a lens' sharpness).

With respect to close-up shots, both cameras seem to be good choices. The TZ202 gets even a little bit closer, whereas the RX10 M3 excels at the long end. But shooting close-up at long focal lengths is not easy. You have to fight camera shake and "unwilling movement", that is, you have to use short shutter speeds (and thus, to increase ISO if it is too dark), may have problems with finding your photographic objects, and also with maintaining the optimal section for your motif (because you move around quickly...). Thus, taking close-ups at long focal lengths may not be the right thing for you... In the end, I decided for the RX10 M3 because of the "extra bit" that it offers at the telephoto end, but only experience will show, whether I will be happy with shooting close-ups at 600 mm...

Note: For opinions on the lenses of both cameras, see pages Sony RX100: Lens and Panasonic TZ202: Lens

 

Size and Weight Comparisons

Size and weight-wise, the Sony RX10 M3 and the Panasonic TZ202 are very different beasts that seem to share an 1" sensor by chance... Despite its huge zoom range, the TZ202 is a still pocketeable camera, albeit not as tiny as the Sony RX100 models. But this size increase is welcome for me, the TZ202 handles much better than my Sony RX100 M4. The RX10 M3, on the other hand rivals DSLRs and system cameras in size and weight. It is nearly as if you put a super zoom lens on such a camera - and probably the RX10 M3 is a little big lighter and smaller than such a combination would be (but to my knowledge, such a zoom lens currently does not exist...).

Sony RX10 M3 and Panasonic TZ202

 

Rear view, off (RX10 M3 to the left)

 

Top view, off (RX10 M3 to the left)

 

Oblique front view, off (RX10 M3 to the left)

 

Oblique front view, on (RX10 M3 to the left)

 

Oblique front view, 24 mm (RX10 M3 to the left)

 

Oblique front view, 600 and 360 mm (RX10 M3 to the left)

    

Top view, 24 mm (RX10 M3 to the left)

 

Top view, 600 and 360 mm (RX10 M3 to the left)

Sony RX10 M3, Panasonic TZ202, and Sony RX100 M4

I also included my smallest camera, the Sony RX100 M4 in the comparison...

    

Top view (RX10 M3, TZ202, RX100 M4)

 

Rear view (RX10 M3, TZ202, RX100 M4)

 

Front view (RX10 M3, TZ202, RX100 M4)

 

Front view (RX10 M3, TZ202, RX100 M4)

In Numbers...

  Sony RX10 M3 Panasonic TZ202 Sony RX100 M4
Dimensions 132.5 x 94.0 x 145.0 mm, 132.5 x 94.0 x 127.4 (from front of lens to monitor) / 5 1/4 x 3 3/4 x 5 3/4", 5 1/4 x 3 3/4 x 5 1/8" (from front of lens to monitor) (W x H x D) 111 x 66 x 45 mm / 4.37 x 2.6 x 1.77" (W x H x D) 101.6 x 58.1 x 41.0 mm / 4 x 2.29 x 1.61 in (W x H x D)
Weight Approx. 1051 g (2 lb 5.1 US oz.), with accessories approx. 1095 g (2 lb 6.7 US oz.) Approx. 298 g, with accessories approx. 340 g Approx. 271 g (9.56 US oz.), with accessories approx. 298 g (10.51 US oz.)

I also included my smallest camera, the Sony RX100 M4 in the comparison...

 

Sample Photos (References)

Sample photos made with the two cameras can be found on the pages listed below.

Sony RX10 M3

Panasonic TZ202

 

References

Sony RX10 M3

See page Sony RM10 M3 Links

Panasonic TZ202

See page Panasonic TZ202 Links

 

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19.01.2019