Sony RX100 III Review: A Stylish, Practical Travel Camera that Produces Pro-Looking Photos

Sony RX100 III Review: A Stylish and Practical Travel Camera that Produces Pro-Looking Photos

Note: This review originally appeared on North to South, where my I document my full-time travels. A few minor adjustments have been made for the Stylish Travel Girl audience.

Did you know you can get that professional blurred-background look without carting around a hefty (and expensive) DSLR? This sub-$1000 mirrorless camera by Sony is my favorite camera I’ve ever owned. Keep reading to find out why! 

Sony RX-100 III digital camera front view with flash and viewfinder

My first impression of the Sony RX100 III was a great one. It was a seemingly miniature version of my Sony a6000 (the camera I owned at the time): the photos it produced were just as good, and the interface was almost exactly the same. But the RX100 III trumped the a6000 on 4 immediately noticeable points:

4 Things You’ll Immediately Love About the Sony RX100 III

1. Size

I thought I had the camera size thing all figured out when I got a pancake lens for my a6000. I mean, I found a belt pouch that it fit into that I wore at Burning Man last year. But the RX100? It’s the size of a point-and-shoot, guys. I can’t tell you how AMAZINGLY PRACTICAL that makes this camera for travel. It fits in my purse. Easily. And my purse is TINY. Now I’m so much more likely to bring a camera with me everywhere… and it’s all because of its small size.

Diana with her Sony RX-100 III at Teotihuacan pyramids, Mexico

2. Lens

Before you photography buffs out there have a heart attack, let me explain. I’m not saying the lens is better in every possible way than any lens you could possibly put on the a6000. BUT… the RX100 has an f/1.8 lens which makes it super good in low light and lets me blur out the background just like a DSLR. I had a pancake lens on my a6000 (which, by the way, is a relatively small and lightweight mirrorless camera, too) and I still prefer having the diversity of the zoom lens with the (more important to me) retractability of a point-and-shoot-style lens. And as far as I know, there’s no such thing as a completely retractable interchangeable zoom lens out there… so yeah. The RX100 is my obvious winner here. I should mention: I literally NEVER changed the lens on my a6000, despite having access to two or three other fantastic lenses, in the whole 6? 8? months that I owned it. So yeah… interchangeable lenses, I’ve determined, are NOT that important to me.

3. Style

After I sold it, I finally admitted: the a6000 is actually not that stylish. It’s more compact and doesn’t overpower an outfit like a bulky D-SLR will, but it’s still kinda chunky and plastic-y. With the RX100 III, on the other hand, Sony has got it DOWN. For added style and convenience, you can bundle your camera purchase with the high-quality, non-bulky, attachable leather case. It gives it a vintage, quality look and feel, and it complements the camera itself perfectly. I love how the front and back cover are detachable (by snaps), while the camera remains attached to the bottom portion of the case, which stylishly hugs the camera along the lower third of the camera’s front and sides.

Note: I’ve also replaced the stock shoulder strap with one of my lovely and ever-so-comfortable handmade silk camera straps. DIY instructions for THAT over here.

4. Selfie Mode

Yep. That was a factor. I could name #4 “diversity of use,” but in the interest of being honest, it’s the selfie mode that was the most important diversity point for me. Ian (that professional photographer boyfriend of mine) and I may argue over the best way to aim a selfie shot of the two of us standing in front of a famous landmark on our travels… but the camera we use? That’s never up for debate. We know the RX100 III is the best option. The LCD literally flips completely up to look you straight in the face. No selfie stick required.

Sony RX-100 III digital camera selfie mode

selfie at Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica with the Sony RX-100 III

So now you’ve got a little taste of my approach to choosing a camera. Basically I don’t — and will likely never — call myself a professional photographer. But neither will most of the general public. So, if you fit into the “I know how to generally operate a camera and I want something better than my $300 point-and-shoot” category, this review is for you.

More Reasons I ♥ the Sony RX100 III

I could go on and on, but to keep it concise, I’ll stick to just these 10 12 15:

  • the lens
  • zoom
  • large aperture lens + large sensor combo produces low depth of field photos in a compact camera
  • compact size
  • lightweight
  • pop-up viewfinder
  • video stabilization
  • stylish design — even more stylish with a custom camera strap (shown above)
  • nice attachable leather case can be purchased with the camera
  • selfie mode
  • built-in flash (can be tilted up for bouncing off the ceiling)
  • built-in ND filter (lets you shoot at f/1.8 in bright sunlight)
  • easy social sharing with the PlayMemories app on your smart phone
  • chargeable via USB
  • It takes a mean Milky Way photo, too (see below for proof).

A List of Things to Long for

There’s really not much I don’t like.

  • a quicker way to remove the memory card with the case on — You have to unscrew and remove the leather case completely to access the memory card and battery compartment.
  • someone to take a selfie with — It’s WAY better than doing it with a cell phone, I promise!

Sony RX100 III Photography Samples

Sony RX-100 III photography sample: cooking on a Xochimilco trajinera in Mexico

Sony RX-100 III photography sample: woman's silhouette on beach at sunset

Sony RX-100 III photography sample: Ian at la Fería in Heredia, Costa Rica

Sony RX-100 III photography sample: Arenal volcano landscape photo at Arenal Lake, Costa Rica

Sony RX-100 III photography sample: Diana picking out nose piercing jewelry at Ink Monkey Tattoo in Los Angeles, California

Sony RX-100 III photography sample: lounging in the ocean at a secret beach near Manuel Antonio, Quepos, Costa Rica

Milky Way photograph with the Sony RX-100 III digital camera

Sony RX-100 III photography sample: Frida Kahlo's painting supplies at Casa Azul in Mexico City

Sony RX-100 III photography sample: Ian at Sky Adventures hanging bridges tour in Costa Rica

Sony RX-100 III photography sample: marking off the countries we've visited on a scratch-off map

The Video Quality is Awesome, Too

Crystal clear and with built-in stabilization, videos turn out awesome with basically no effort on this thing. Here’s a video sample:

R.I.P. Andie the sloth, who I had the pleasure of meeting on our visit to the Toucan Rescue Ranch in Costa Rica back in February.

You can also watch a video of me getting my nose pierced, taken with the RX100 III, here. (WARNING: not recommended for those with weak stomachs.)

Planning to Buy the Sony RX100 III?

My boyfriend and I buy cameras from two places: and B&H Photo — I recommend checking both of those links to compare current prices. If you’re planning to purchase the RX100, consider buying through the links in this article. It won’t cost you any extra, and we’ll earn a small commission from the sale, which helps us keep the site running and the content free.

Thanks in advance for your support!

Worthy Accessories for the Sony RX100 III

  • leather case — Sometimes bundled with the camera, it’s the only way to attach a shoulder strap.
  • screen protector — I have the Sony one on mine. It was super easy to put on.
  • custom silk strap — I made my own! I’ve provided DIY instructions here on Stylish Travel Girl.

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you want to read more camera gear reviews from me (or some technical gear reviews from my photographer boyfriend), give these a try:

Do you love your travel camera as much as I love mine? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Diana SouthernSTG Founder & Contributing Editor
Diana is an outspoken, DIY-ing, star-chasing, hockey-loving, dog-owning, veggie-eating professional wanderer. And that's not the half of it. Not long ago she jumped ship from a comfy, predictable American life, sold all her stuff, and set out to explore the unknown. Now a full-time traveler, Diana believes that spontaneity, a smile, and an organized suitcase are the three key elements to a happy nomadic existence. Follow her personal travels on North To South.