What intrigued me most about this camera was the following:
Battery life is a bit shorter with the RX100 III (rated 320 shots w/ RAW), but I managed to shoot over 390 RAW images w/ ~75% battery charge in about 40 minutes times, so battery life is dependent on how long the LCD and EVF are on. A second battery is highly recommended for a day's shoot.
Digidapter digiscoping adapter to see how it would perform on the Zeiss 85T*Fl Diascope w/ 20-75X Zoom Eyepiece. The tripod mount for the camera is offset, so I had to move the mounting screw from the Digidapter from the center slot to the adjacent slot on the right. No problem! I had to loosen the height-adjustment on the Digidapter platform to center the lens over the eyepiece, and was happy to realize that Paul Sayegh had included slots for side-to-side adjustments. Perfect!
Mounting the camera took a bit of adjustment, however. With the camera turned on, the lens extends to its farthest point (24 mm), which gives about 50% vignette view. As you zoom the camera to about 50mm the vignetting disappears, but the vignette circle is out of focus, so adjusting the camera at the zoom setting where the vignette circle is just visible requires moving the camera a bit closer to the eyepiece. This results in the camera lens crashing into the eyepiece if you zoom back out to 24 mm! I found that the Digidapter (with the set screw 'out') will slide easily outward as the lens contacts the eyepiece, so I don't have to worry about damaging the camera lens or get the 'lens error' message that is possible w/ other zoom lens cameras. Still, I make sure to pull the Digidapter back a bit as I zoom out to 24 mm to avoid having the camera lens push against the eyepiece. The position allows for sharp images across the entire 24 - 70 mm range. For the 25 - 75X Zoom Eyepiece the Sony DSC-RX100 III will provide an effective focal length (EFL) of ~480 - 1400 mm reach at 20X, and up to 5250 mm with the eyepiece at 75X and camera at 70 mm!
Pressing the Function (Fn) button on the back of the camera brings up the operating menu on the LCD. Tabbing over to the Focus Mode I have the option of selecting AF-S, AF-C, DMF or MF. DMF or Focus-Peaking causes the in-focus regions of the EVF to be highlighted (bright white in my case), so if I depress the shutter I can quickly tell if AF causes the highlights to be maximized on my subject (bird's face/eyes). If I rotate the focusing ring on the lens, the highlighted areas will appear/disappear w/ focus. If I rotate the focusing ring while depressing the shutter half-way, the image will magnify about 10X and allow me to perform critical focusing prior to taking the photo. Much better! Suddenly I can focus on my subject and verify that the part I want to emphasize is in focus. Make sure that Manual Focus Assist is Turned On in the menu. A nice YouTube video shows how this works.
Getting the files off the camera was only a small challenge. Nikon Transfer does not recognize the RAW file format of Sony cameras (.Awr), so I used the Finder tool on my Mac to transfer the files from the SD card to desktop. Photoshop CS6 could not read the files, either, so a quick trip to Adobe.Com allowed me to download the latest Camera Raw 8.5 so that I could open the files. I would also go to the Sony site to download their Playmemories Home(tm) software.
I was impressed by the ISO capabilities of the RX100 III. The above image of Asia was taken at ISO 2000 and appears after processing. Below are images before and after processing images that show the noise at ISO's ranging from 100 to 5000. The Northern Cardinals were feeding a fledgeling in the yard, so I tried the RX 100 III using Shutter-Priority (1/500 sec, f/2.8, Auto-ISO). Images below are at full frame (25%) and 100% zoom. Focus Peaking really improved my capture rate and the magnified focusing made critical focusing much more accurate.
|ISO 100 RAW / No Processing|
|ISO 100 RAW / Noiseware / Sharpening|
|ISO 1250 RAW / No Processing|
|ISO 1250 RAW / Noiseware / Sharpening|
|ISO 2000 RAW / No Processing|
|ISO 2000 RAW / Noiseware / Sharpening|
|ISO 2500 RAW / No Processing|
|ISO 2500 RAW / Noiseware / Sharpening|
|ISO 4000 RAW / No Processing|
|ISO 4000 RAW / Noiseware / Sharpening|
|ISO 5000 RAW / No Processing|
|ISO 5000 RAW / Noiseware / Sharpening|
*It is a known issue w/ the new 20-75X Zoom eyepieces that they suffer from a yellow cast. The optical coatings cause yellow/blue fringing along the outside edges of the eyepieces where image sharpness falls off. This is especially problematic in high-contrast situations (overcast skies, backlit scenery or white backgrounds). This is not a problem with the center of the view, and when using the scope under most conditions it is not noticeable. It is a problem when digiscoping, however, when the problem is compounded by the small camera sensors that tend to have issues w/ CA (especially blue channels). The RX100 III handles CA very well (see the DPreview studio tests) so I know the issue is with the eyepiece. Incidentally the older 20-60X Zoom Eyepiece and 40X W eyepiece I'm using now have NO issues w/ CA and are optically excellent (I just can't use the Digidapter with them, yet...).