Shoot 960 FPS at a Consumer Price with the New Sony RX10 III [Review]

Shoot 960 FPS at a Consumer Price with the New Sony RX10 III [Review]

It's not every day when you come across a camera like this. We took a look to how the new Sony RX10 III fared with its impressive spec sheet, and it did not disappoint!

When I first heard about the new RX10, the third updated version of this camera, I was very excited to test out its great new features and new lens. Is it a DSLR or is it a point-and-shoot? While it has a DSLR body type, its crop sensor and setup is anything but a full-frame. It's more of a "tweener" than anything when you actually pick it up and test it out. I'd like to mention it also shoots raw files.


New Lens, More Range

While its predecessor was equipped with a 24-200mm Zeiss lens, the most noticeable upgrade is its new 24-600mm Zeiss f/2.8-4 lens. This gives you ability grab images at wider ranges.

I found the lens to be pretty sharp at long ranges. What I like about the new lens is the ability to capture more intimate, macro shots of wildlife and flowers.

With 600mm to play with, the Zeiss lens gives you the ability to reach hard-to-get-to spots
The Sony RX10 III @ 600mm

An interesting feature that I have personally never used before was the zoom lever the camera has next to the on/off button. How it works is if you would like to zoom in or out, all you would have to do is turn the lever right or left. What the great thing about the lever is that it gives you ability to smoothly zoom in and out at ease, this is especially useful when shooting video when the smooth pans in and out are more flattering.

4K Video

Something that is beginning to become pretty standard with most cameras and DSLRs (I'm talking to you Nikon and Canon) is the ability of these little guys shooting at 4K resolution. I was very impressed with the picture quality even at very wide ranges. The autofocus was above average in my book and when shooting manual focus the Sony features a "zoom in focus assist." The LCD screen will pixel-peep to help you make sure your subject is in tack-sharp focus which I found to be very helpful.

For you videographers looking for maximum results when editing in post, the RX10 III does offer XAVC S at a maximum bit-rate of 100 Mbps. It offers Picture Profile as well as S-log2 for those who would like to shoot in those formats for professional-like results.

High Frame Rate (HFR)

I was very excited to try out the RX10's high frame rate feature, with the ability to shoot at 40x super slow motion. HFR mode includes 240p, 480p, and 960p at XAVC S 1080p. Shooting in HFR must be at a minimum of ISO 800.

In HFR mode, the video recording is setup a bit differently than just simply pushing record. In HFR mode, you need to lock in your focus and exposure settings before recording a video. The HFR recording duration is only two seconds. One other thing to note is that shooting in HFR requires at least a SD Speed Class 10 or UHS Speed Class 1 memory card.

My impression of the HFR mode are mixed. In great lighting situations, I absolutely loved this feature. It is amazing to be able to capture super slow motion on a consumer point-and-shoot. While I was realistic about expectations compared high-end speed cameras like an Alexa or RED, shooting at a minimum of 800 ISO is tough in low-light dealing with noise.

Build Quality

My first out-of-the-box impression was a little average. While I wasn't expecting it to be the highest quality build, the camera body seems to be a basic, bare bones build. I kept having to remind myself that it's more of a point-and-shoot, because my finger kept searching for the front control dial to change aperture or shutter speed, which was a minor pet peeve of mine.

The lens is exactly what you would expect from a Zeiss lens. A high quality, solidly built lens with little to no traces of that "plasticy" build cheaper lenses have. 

What I Liked

  • High Range, High Quality Lens - The ability to take great shots wide and zoom to 600mm within seconds is a great feature to have, not to mention on a high quality Zeiss lens.
  • Priced at $1499
  • 4K Video
  • 120p at 1080p - This is beginning to become the standard for 1080p frame rate. The more frames per second, the better. There's no such thing as too many frames per second.
  • High Frame Rate Mode - While there is some limitations, I could see myself using this feature regularly when producing videos. It's an amazing feature to have in your bag.
  • Autofocus - I've always liked my Sony's autofocus capabilities, and the RX10 III did not change my opinion.

What I Didn't Like

  • Bare-bones, Inexpensive Build Quality - The out-of-the-box first impression was not great as far as the camera body's build quality was concerned. "Cheap" build is too harsh of a word for this camera but it's average at best. 
  • A "Tweener" - Not quite a point-and-shoot, not quite a DSLR.​

Who I'd Recommend This Camera To

The Perfect Traveler's Camera

After playing with the camera for a little bit, I kept thinking how perfect this camera would be for traveling. It has everything you need. No need to pack a backpack full of lenses with you, this guy has an all-in-one, high quality lens mounted on with maximum range. Not mention the 4K video and other great features. I'd love to take this with me for my next trip to N.Y.C. and leave my other bodies at home.

The Young Filmmaker 

I remember when I was filmmaking in high school and college, and if this camera existed back then my hands would be all over it. It has a high quality Zeiss lens, great range, 4K video, and high frame rate capabilities for great slow motion shots. I would highly recommend it for filmmakers and videographers starting out.

Beginner Photographers

If you're a photographer starting out that's not too sure what direction you would like to go in photography, this is a great camera to start with. It's an all-around good camera that lets you explore different genres of photography without having to buy special lenses or camera bodies.

For more information and to purchase this camera, check out the Sony RX10 III on B&H.

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Michael Steinbach's picture

Shooting a parrot through a cage is the "Test"?! Man, I can't think of anything but your kidding right?

Thomas Jergel's picture

When uploading or showing the HFR video at 60fps, it's strictly not at 40x slow motion, but more like 16x slow motion.

40x slow motion is when the footage is played back or interpreted at 24fps.

The youtube test video in this case doesn't show off the true framerate unless you are aiming at producing video content at 60fps for example.

In that case it also doesn't hold up in terms of image quality.

Nevertheless, it's an impressive feat considering there aren't many cameras around with this capability at its price.

filmkennedy's picture

I'm actually surprised how it holds up though. At 960fps it looks better then the fs700 does. Still wouldn't use it though