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Why the Sony RX100 III Point & Shoot is a Vacation Must-Have

Gear Talk

Do you agonize over sacrificing quality in favor of comfort when packing camera gear for vacation? I tossed my hefty Nikon D800 aside and rented the Sony RX100 III from BorrowLenses.com for vacation. I wasn’t going to shoot much so if the camera sucked then no harm, no foul.

The camera definitely didn’t suck. Sony’s third iteration of an already well-regarded model opened my eyes to just how far point and shoots have come.

I didn’t expect to write this blog post so I don’t have very many traditional “camera review” photos. What I have, however, will demonstrate how one can get big results from a camera the size of a deck of cards.

Part I: Sample Shots

Night Photography

They’re no National Geographic contenders but considering that I wasn’t expecting anything from laying my camera on the ground with a 15 second exposure, I am impressed. Being somewhere with very little light pollution (Rarotonga in this case) helps.

RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-1
The noise is bad in the clouds but I am really cranking it at ISO 5000.
RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-2
I didn’t spend time perfecting exposure times but I urge you to take this camera out and test its limits on night sky photography. RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-9Capturing average night scenes was fruitful as well. This is where we ate dinner every night. Taken handheld at 1/30th of a second, f/1.8 at ISO 800.RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-5The Macro Mode on the RX100 III is pretty good, too – even in low light!

Macro Photography

I didn’t play with this feature a whole lot but what I saw was promising. It’s no Olympus but that’s hardly a fair comparison. This is a point and shoot, after all, with a fixed zoom lens and a tiny sensor (about 35 % of the average crop sensor size in DSLRs).

RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-10Shot of my ice coffee, cropped way in. 1/80th of a second, f/3.5 at ISO 125.RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-13A hermit crab moving much faster than I expected him to. 1/500th of a second, f/4 at ISO 125.

Dynamic Range

My skies were mostly blue and my shadows retained detail all in the same shot. These are important features for any camera to have and it is often something that gets given up with tiny cameras like this. The RX100 III performs well in this area.

RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-12Taken from a shady area on a sunny day. 1/60th of a second, f/2.8 at ISO 80.RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-7Detail is retained in the roof and the road across the way. Taken from inside a dark cafe.RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-6
Crop of the same scene. 1/60th of a second, f/4 at ISO 125.

Fun Stuff

As with most point and shoots, there are a lot of auto settings like Toy Camera and Miniature. I played with a few on the local foliage.

RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-3
In the menu you can access Picture Effect then Toy Camera. From there you get a couple of temperature options.RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-4You can also shoot in Pop Color, Posterization (which still looks as bad as ever), Retro, Soft High Key, Partial Color Red, a couple of B/W choices, Soft Focus, HDR, Watercolor, and Miniature. Miniature lets you choose the area of blur. I used that for the above shot.

Zoom Range

The fixed lens on the RX100 III is about the equivalent of a 24-70. I found myself wanting more reach but that’s what you sacrifice when leaving your big glass at home. This boat seen from the side of the road would have been served well with a longer lens but the little fixed zoom lens did alright.

RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-11File sizes are 5472 x 3648 so there is a lot of room to crop if needed.

Goat on a Car

RX100_BL_Alex_Huff-8This demonstrates nothing about the RX100 III. This goat is just really awesome.

Part II: The Camera

RX100_BL_ALexHuff-1

A few features you can look forward to when using the Sony RX100 III:

• Tilting Screen: Great for shooting at weird angles and (if you must) selfies.

• Pop Out Electronic Viewfinder: Great for those who are already used to holding their eye up to a diopter. Some folks (including yours truly) hate shooting from the LCD and with this camera you get both.

• Scene Selection: For beginners and for the lazy. They are pretty good!

• Option to shoot in RAW and/or shoot fully manually.

RX100 2

• Manual Focus Ring: Unlike a lot of point and shoots, you can actually artistically take advantage of the f/1.8 lens (not to mention practice some effective star photography, where manual focus is a must).

•  Pop Up Flash: I didn’t use this but it’s nice to have.

Other perks: Built-In Wireless, Full HD Video, and Optical Image Stabilization.

Reserve your Sony RX100 III for your next trip – you’ll be just as surprised by it as I was.

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Alexandria Huff is a portrait photographer based in San Francisco. Her tutorials can be found here on the BorrowLenses Blog, 500px, Shutterfly, Snapknot, and SmugMug. She specializes in studio lighting. Follow her work on 500px.

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