For the past few years, Sony's RX100 has been the go-to device if you want a pocketable compact camera with a zoom lens – that also offers a massive step up from your smartphone. But now the Cyber-shot RX100 III looks like it has some competition in the shape of the recently-announced Canon Powershot G7 X. Gizmag compares the specs and features of the would-be pocketable compact champions.
There isn't a huge size difference between the G7 X and RX100 III. Both cameras are small enough to fit into your pocket or bag, and a lot easier carry around than lugging an interchangeable lens camera system with you at all times.
The Canon G7 X is about 5 percent heavier than the Sony, which really isn't going to make that much of a difference to anyone other than the most ardent travel-light photographer.
The weights given are with battery and a memory card. Also keep in mind that, with built-in zoom lenses, you're not going to need worry about also carrying a selection of glass.
Metal bodies mean the Canon G7 X and Sony RX100 III will both feel like solid pieces of kit. Unfortunately, without weather-sealing you'll still need to be careful when using these cameras in adverse conditions.
Both cameras also feature nice design touches like control rings around the lenses which can be used for changing settings like focus, aperture and shutter speed in a natural-feeling manner.
The one-inch type sensor size is what makes this pair stand out compared to most other compact cameras, but not against each other.
Their CMOS sensors are considerably larger than those typically found in compact cameras and, as such, can deliver better quality images. Back side illumination means they should also perform better in lower-light situations.
With almost identical 20-megapixel resolutions, either camera should be capable of delivering detailed images which could be printed out (can you remember doing that?) at a large size.
This sort of resolution also means users can get away with more cropping in post-production and still have a reasonably detailed shot at the end of it.
The image processors used in the Canon G7 X and Sony RX100 III should be enough to keep things running smoothly in these compacts as they're both also perched higher up in their respective manufacturer lineups.
Lens focal length
Both cameras are capable of wide angle shooting with 24-mm equivalent lenses. However, the zoom lens on the Canon is more versatile as it stretches further into telephoto territory with a 100-mm equivalent, compared to the 70-mm equivalent of the Sony.
There's optical image stabilization in the Sony and the Canon, which will help reduce the number of blurry shots caused by wobbles when shooting handheld. This is particularly useful at telephoto focal lengths, or with slow shutter speeds.
Lens maximum aperture
With the same sort of variable maximum apertures, both cameras should be capable of shooting with a narrow depth of field and in lower light situations when a lens needs to allow more light in.
Contrast-based autofocus systems are the order of the day in these cameras, rather than the faster hybrid systems we typically see in mirrorless cameras.
Both manufacturers claim their respective AF systems are capable of shooting high-speed action, but when it comes to the sheer number of AF points, the Canon comes out on top with 31 AF points, compared to 25 in the Sony.
If you want to rattle off a series of shots to help capture a fast moving subject, the Sony RX100 III has a distinct advantage with its 10 frames per second, compared to the 6.5 fps of the G7 X.
However, it's worth remembering that these top speeds are without autofocus. If you want to use that at the same time, burst speeds drop down.
While low-light shooting is typically the downfall of most compact cameras, respectably wide ISO ranges mean that shooting in a variety of lighting conditions should not be a problem for this pair. The Sony RX100 III can also be expended to ISO 25,600 at the high-end, if you really must.
It's no surprise that these high-end compacts can shoot Full HD video footage. However, the Sony RXI00 III has the edge when it comes to shooting options. In addition to Full HD recording at up to 50 Mbps, a 120/100 fps setting at HD 720p means it can shoot video which can be used to create slow motion effects.
Built-in wireless abilities mean it's easy to share images or video instantly from either camera. Smartphones or tablets can also be used to control remote shooting, and NFC makes connection nice and simple with compatible devices.
A built-in pop-up OLED electronic viewfinder with 1,440K dots means users of the Sony RX100 III are not limited to composing shots on the rear LCD screen.
This enables a more traditional shooting experience, while displaying exactly what will appear in recordings. This could be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight when all you'll see on most rear LCD monitors is glare and reflection.
Three-inch LCD monitors are order of the day, and both of these offerings will tilt upwards 180 degrees so that you can see yourself while shooting, making them ideal if you are looking to take better self-portraits. However, the Sony can also tilt 45 degrees downwards for easier overhead shooting.
When viewed in bright daylight, the Sony is also likely to have the edge thanks to the use of WhiteMagic technology which uses white subpixels to increase brightness. That said, the monitor on the Canon is also a touchscreen which can be used to control the camera and offers additional functions such as Touch Autofocus.
While a lack of hot-shoes limits the ability to use external flashes with this pair, built-in pop-up flashes mean that users of either camera will have the option of a bit extra light when needed.
Aimed at the higher-end of the compact camera market, the Sony RX100 III and the Canon G7 X, can both shoot JPEG, or more post-processing friendly RAW files, or both at the same time if you want to cover your options.
Both cameras can shoot to SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards, but the Sony can also accept Memory Stick PRO Duo cards in its dual compatibility slot.
Obviously, some features such as continuous shooting or 50 Mbps video recording will depend on the speed of your memory card, so you might want to invest in a SDXC to get the most out of the camera.
If you want to spend longer shooting and not worrying about your battery levels, the Sony is the better bet. Its battery is said to last for around 320 shots compared to the 210 of the Canon.
Coming in with US$699 and $799 price-tags, these are not cheap compact cameras. That's because they both have specifications, features, and can deliver the sort of image quality normally associated with higher-end cameras.
After having its own way for some time now, the Sony RX100 (now in its third generation) is finally up against some serious competition. And we think it's safe to say that either of these cameras would make a great choice for a compact camera.
However, there are a couple of big differences, which could mean one or the other is the right compact for you. For example, if you're drawn to a longer reaching lens, or the use of a touchscreen, then the Canon will suit you better. But if you're more smitten by the inclusion of an EVF, and more versatile video options, then the Sony is going to be the better option.
While image quality is undoubtedly the elephant in the room, and is always going to be in a specification-based comparison, it's safe to assume both of these compacts will offer a massive step up from your smartphone in terms of image quality, and perform closer to a mirrorless or DSLR camera. As ever, we'd suggest that before shelling out for either, you should try them out and see which feels right in your hand, and produces the images you like most.