5.04.2016

Sony RX10iii. It's better than I expected, and I expected it to be quite good. This blog is about my first afternoon with the camera.

This is a wide angle shot of my kitchen shot at the 24mm equivalent. It's my first frame out of the camera. (You can always click on the pix to make them bigger). 

Just by way of background; I have owned the original Sony RX10 twice now and that, of course, led me to buy the RX10ii when it came out. The 2 is a beautiful camera, like the original (which I will call the classic) and I bought it because Sony increased the EVF resolution and also gave it useful and well implemented 4K video. When the RX10iii came out (released into distribution today) I rushed out and got one so that I would be able to take advantage of the new, long lens. I did not do this blindfolded. I knew the camera would be bigger, heavier and also more pricey. 

One of the reasons I decided to go ahead and grab one is that two of my current corporate video clients have both decided that the projects we're starting need to be shot in 4K. The newer two Sony RX10s both feature UHD 4K and all the trim needed to make nice video; including: microphone and headphone jacks, time code, fine-tunable profiles, S-Log (if I ever master grading...), focus peaking, customizable zebras and, most importantly, they share the same basic menu structure with the A7R2 and the a6300, which are also 4K ready video cameras. 

Why not a different camera? Why not just default to the A7r2? Hmm. The RX10iii shoots video at 6K and down samples to 4K. The files (if they are like the RX10ii) should be perfectly sharp and detailed. The camera is built with video in mind which influences handling in a very positive way.
The two models (rx10-2 and 3 and the A7R2) are a nice complement to each other. Handling and robust operation from the smaller sensor cameras and narrow depth of field and lower noise from the bigger camera. What a flexible set of tools for the kind of work I like to do. 

In order to justify the purchase I liquidated the classic, and the two Panasonic fz 1000 cameras I've been using. The Sony RX10 classic found a new home because it doesn't do 4K. The Panasonics found new homes because, dammit, they don't have headphone jacks. Now I can go out on projects and shoot multiple cameras which all share both a common color family, 4K capabilities and the same batteries. 

I killed two test birds with one stone while sitting at the kitchen table after sticking a newly charged battery and a clean SDXC card in the new camera. I did a wide shot to look for vignetting and distortion and then, from the same position, I zoomed all the way out to the 600mm equivalent focal length to test the image stabilization and focus acquisition. So far so good. But I also inadvertently tested one more performance parameter; the high ISO. I'd left the camera in Auto ISO and the image of the dish soap (which you can see on the left side of the sink in the photo just above) was shot by the camera at ISO 6400. Oh, and the image stabilization at 1/60th of a second seems to be working well. 

It's my first day with the camera but it didn't require that much practice to become comfortable with. The focus and zoom rings take a little bit of getting used to but by the end of a 75 image stroll through town I was grabbing the right controls about 90% of the time....

I have not shot video yet with the new camera so that will get covered in another post. I do have some initial observations about the camera just in passing. First, it is bigger than the previous RX10s. The grip is also bigger and deeper. The camera is heavier as well. Do not buy this camera sight unseen if you are one of those folks who love small cameras you think you might like to carry one around in a pocket. You will be disappointed. This is a big and solid camera. It feels much bigger than any of the Olympus cameras and even bigger and beefier than its sibling, the A7R2. Really. It's big. And heavy(er). 

Handheld at the longest focal length in a kitchen dark enough to call for ISO 6400 at 1/60th, f4.0.

While my primary intention in acquiring this camera is to use it in video productions of all kinds I am certain I'll find lots of alternate uses for it. A few come to mind: Shooting from the middle of the house at Zach Theatre during dress rehearsals when there is an audience in attendance. Photographing keynote speakers, on stage, at corporate conferences where low/no audible noise,, and much discretion is called for. And for those rare times when I really do want to use a long lens for compression. As a daily, carry around shooting tool I am partial to the a6300 which is much, much smaller and lighter. It's perfect with a small, 38mm f1.8 lens on the front.....

Compared to the RX10ii the 3 seems to have been tweaked in at least two discernible ways. The first is that the Jpegs out of cameras seem to be better. They have more coherence and feel more solid. And second, the EVF image is sharper and brighter, and seems more accurate. 

As a disclaimer to the forum chum who will immediately start calling me a Sony fanboy I rush to say that I have had no communication or commerce with Sony, and paid the full ongoing U.S.A. price of $1499 for the camera ------ no discount from Precision Camera --- even though they profess to "really appreciate me" as a customer. (And my rejoinder to them, which all sales people hate to hear, is: "Thank you for your time.").

Some random test shots, all done in Jpeg Super Fine, from this afternoon...


24mm eq. is looking really good. Really good. 








So, this is a 24mm eq. frame. Note the star near the top center of the red brick building.....

This is the 600mm eq. from the same shooting position. And it's sharp at f5.6...


Always keeping an eye out for linear distortion.... But not seeing much at the  wide end. 


That's all for now. Having too much fun playing with the new camera. I'll let you know what I think of the video shortly. Should be an interesting week as my video mentor, James, is picking up a new Sony FS7 tomorrow. Maybe we can do a few side-by-side tests.....



11 comments:

Wataru Maruyama said...

Very excited to hear about the improved JPEGs and EVF. You show the 600mm shot at f/5.6 and it does indeed look very sharp. How about at f/4?

Anonymous said...

Hi Kirk. At what point in the focal range does the camera lose f/2.8? Does it hold f/2.8 until 200e like the RX10ii?

Kirk Tuck said...

anon, it is f2.8 till 135mm.

Wataru, I've only shot 75 frames w/the camera so far. I haven't tested all apertures yet. Takes time. Pay me $$ and I'll test it any way you want me to. :-)

Patrick Dodds said...

What's the book on the table in the first shot?

EdPledger said...

Will be following your future tests and use of this one closely. For my images that will probably never be printed large, but viewed on computer and tablet screens, I have to consider this as an alternative to the M4/3 Oly I have. While picky about image quality, and a legacy lens fanatic, there's no escaping the optical flaws of most older lens designs. At 2 1/2 lbs, it's heavy, as you noted, but no more than the M4/3 with a couple light zooms and a 300mm legacy tele. Might be the ticket for Iceland trip in July.

Amit said...

Corporate Video increase the traffic and viewers more than of simple text.It,s really awesome technique to engaged viewers in what we wants to describe.

tbcass said...

I love you fanboy comment. For some people, especially owners of other brands, if you like a camera you must be a fanboy.

Kirk Tuck said...

Patrick, "The Decent Proposal." It's a novel that my wife is reading. Don't know a thing about it.

Kirk Tuck said...

Hmmmm. Someone commented that all the images in this blog are dark. I thought it was a good thing to see detail in the highlights... Guess I need to boost up everything. Maybe I'll just leave the HDR controls on and set them to "high."

Dodge said...

I rarely shoot just RAW with my RX10… it's either RAW+jpg or Extra Fine Jpg. 90% of the time, I don't need the RAW files (from the RX10). It's a vestigial impulse. Your review on the RX10II and its potential for 4K is tempting me. I think that the price of entry into 4K with 2 cameras is very reasonable with the RX10II. In Canadian funds, it's $3000 for 2 cams. Looking forward to your future thoughts.

tbcass said...

They don't look dark to me. Maybe it's the monitor settings.