The Sony RX10iii in a Camvate cage topped with a Zoom H5 audio recorder equipped with an SSH-6 stereo/shotgun microphone.
I'm a huge fan of the Sony RX10 series of cameras but I am not blind to their shortcomings. I get a sense that we'll be seeing another RX10 (or two) in the next few months and I'm hoping that Sony makes a few tweaks to the RX10iii product to make it even better. At the same time I'm hoping they introduce a new, more niche-y variant which I'll flesh out below.
The original Sony RX10 was a breakthrough product; a highly capable video camera, wrapped up in a high performance, one inch sensor photography camera. The two things that made the original such an important camera (for me) were the introduction of a really good sensor, at an interesting size, as well as a remarkably good zoom lens with a range I found to be just about perfect.
The original camera had a mediocre video codec but this was remedied in a firmware update which elevated the camera from having an AVCHD video file system that capped out at 28 mbs to a more advanced XAVC-S video file system that delivered 50 mbs; which delivered more detailed video images.
The next generation; the RX10ii kept the lens and body pretty much the same but delivered UHD 4K video and a much improved (higher resolution) EVF. Along with the UHD implementation the camera also offered faster fps settings in 1080p.
The current generation; the RX10iii, more of less blew the lid off
what we've come to expect from the lenses on fixed lens cameras. It delivers a 24-600mm (35mm equivalent angle of view) lens with relatively wide apertures, fleshes out the high speed modes and matches the EVF improvements of the previous generation. Two things were removed from the newest model that many miss. First, it lost the built in neutral density filer of the RX10ii. Second, it lost the constant maximum aperture on the lens. Now the aperture shifts as one zooms, from f2.4 at the widest focal length, to f4.0 at the longer focal lengths.
While all three cameras are very good image makers they all suffer (in some use scenarios) from conventional contrast detect autofocus. It can be slower to find focus that more advanced systems and it can be difficult to lock onto moving subjects because of the way CD-AF works. Finally, the magnification of camera shake at the longest focal lengths hampers the focusing system because there can be too much movement to allow the system the temporal discrimination to achieve a lock.
On the other hand the last two generations are wonderful platforms with which to shoot video. Once you've successfully grappled with focus and learning how to optimize your technique to help the camera in dicey situations you will be rewarded with exemplary UHD and 1080p video that is sharp, detailed, color-rich and (relatively) un-noisy.
Here's my hope for the next model: I think it is sensible to assume that the RX10iv will use the latest one inch sensor that arrived this winter in the company's smaller camera; the RX100v. The difference that I am most interested in is the inclusion of phase detection auto focus on the chip. Adding PD-AF to the sensor would go a long way toward ensuring accurate focus tracking and much faster lock in for acquiring locked focus. If Sony does nothing else to the camera I will consider it a success and a "must buy."
But I'm hoping for a few more improvements. Here they are: I would like to see the camera get a second SD card slot so I can record smaller, proxy video files on one card and bigger files on the other card. Or use both slots for simultaneous back-up. I would dearly love to see Sony ditch the micro-HDMI port and replace it with a mini-HDMI or even (wishes can come true!) a full sized HDMI port. I'd like to stop worrying about the functional integrity of the ultra tiny micro port.
With faster SD cards coming to market and faster processing in the camera I would love it if Sony could give us the 10 bit, 4:2:2 1080p XAVC-L codec that they currently use in cameras like the PXW-Z150 camera and the FS-5... If we could also get 4:2:2 color in the UHD files that would be an extra bonus.
My final request in an updated version of the existing camera is to do whatever it is that Panasonic has done with the viewfinder of the FZ-2500/2000. The magnification is greater and the screen seems just a bit more pleasant to look at.
Those are all my wishes for an update to the current product but I would also like to see Sony step into the niche more strongly and offer a variant of their current model with a much shorter and faster lens. A street shooter's delight. An available light shooter's ultimate tool.
What am I looking for? Same body style but instead of going for ultimate range, this model would give us a 24-105mm f1.8 (the aperture being constant through the range). Everything else as wished for in the RX10iii upgrade but with the option to use a lens that covers an important and more traditional range of focal lengths with a great Zeiss zoom lens design.
That's it. That would line me up for two Sony purchases this year, without hesitation. These cameras are already amazingly great tools for the price. The additions I anticipate would make them cult-worthy. Get the ceremonial robes ready....