Sony RX100 III Low Light Performance

August 29, 2014

In my last post about the Sony RX100 III, I wrote about the issue of the high price of the Sony RX100 III versus its photo quality. I concluded that the camera is worth the price (about $768) because its features and photo quality are outstanding.

Amphitheater In Cascades Park

f2.8, 1/8 sec, ISO 3200, 28mm

However, the photos I posted were made in daylight – with plenty of available light. But Sony also advertises the RX100 III as a nighttime shooter, basically because of its fast f1.8 – f2.9 lens and also due to its one-inch 20.1 MP Exmor R sensor.

I decided to test that claim by shooting photos with the RX100 III in various low light situations.

Park and Monroe, Tallahassee, FL

f4.0, 1/16 sec, ISO 3200, 31mm

My photos are shown in this post, along with their camera settings. I didn’t use a tripod. It seems to me that most people will like to use this little camera as an impromptu “city shooter” at night, rather than taking time to install it on a tripod. Besides, who’s going to carry a tripod at night – especially on an informal city excursion?

College and Monroe, Florida

f4.0, 1/16 sec, ISO 3200, 24mm

These photos were shot in the A (aperture or f-stop) setting. My starting point for taking photos was f5.6 and ISO 800. If that didn’t work for a particular scene, and especially if the camera’s indicated shutter speed was 1/20 second or below, I lowered the f-stop to a bigger lens opening so I could capture more light, and/or I raised the IS0 above 800 (also allows more light, but at the expense of more noise in the image).

All the photos were taking in jpg “fine” mode, and were lightly post-processed.


f4.0, 1/4 sec, ISO 3200, 24mm

I was amazed at the low light performance of these RX100 III photos. They’re sharp, even when ISO was set at 3200. Of course, you can see some noise in the Photos above 800; but still, they’re quite acceptable (unless you intend to make a large print). Of course, you can remove noise in post-processing.

Bank, Tallahassee, Florida

f5.6, 1/32 sec, ISO 1250, 25mm

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised at my ability to take photos at slow shutter speeds. Well, it’s not really my ability. It’s the Camera’s ability to account for shaky human hands. Sony’s SteadyShot system is outstanding!

Fountain downtown Tallahassee, FL

f4.0, 1/32 sec, ISO 1600, 34mm

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  • Reply jake October 3, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    hiya, were those images shot handheld? only asking coz noticed slow shutter speed on most of them so was hoping for improved image stabilization. any chance of accessing full resolution files please? thanks jake

    • Reply Kevin Taylor October 3, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      Hi Jake, yes these were all hand held. I don’t have the full resolutions, I scaled them down for my blog and did not want to keep the high rez. I can tell you from using this camera a lot the high rez looks just as good. The stabilization in this camera is crazy good!

      You can expect some noise at 3200. I still have yet to find another point and shoot as good as this one. You might want to check out it’s competitor the Canon GX7, it just came out and it has a longer focal length. here is the link to the Canon:


      • Reply jake October 4, 2014 at 12:12 pm

        thanks Kev for taking time to respond, much appreciated. I am aware of canons g7x but i dont need longer zoom nor touch screen. I usually shoot auto hdr(i own hx400v) at night but one needs good in-camera IS to make it work(which hx400v does have but its bulky and has small sensor and slower lens). I loved the pics you u uploaded and seeing the slow shutter speed it gave me hope that I could replace my hx400v for night shots with something more pocketable and larger sensor yet with simillarly good IS. thanks again for responding all the best jake

      • Reply Irene November 18, 2015 at 4:11 pm

        any guidance on taking low light action photos, as in a theater trying to capture the actors?

        • Reply Kevin Taylor November 18, 2015 at 4:49 pm

          If you want to use the Sony RX100 III, you should put the camera in aperture mode, then use burst shooting and a high ISO (at least 800). The shutter rate probably will be slow (like 1/30), but if you have good concentration, maybe you won’t “shake.” At any rate, your photo probably will be somewhat noisy. Another way is to get your shutter speed at about 1/250, you’ll have to manipulate your f stop and ISO to do this, which means you won’t have to use burst mode and can take one shot at a time. Of course, if you use a wide f stop, such as 1.8 or 2.18, your depth of field will change. This camera has great image stabilization and you should have no problem holding it at 1/30 of a second. I hope this helps as it is hard to explain this through writing. It’s always easier to show someone how to do this.

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