Sony's RX10 III is, on paper, the most sophisticated bridge camera yet made, with a 20-million-pixel 1-inch sensor, 24-600mm equivalent f/2.4-4 zoom, and 4K video recording. See our image samples below for a first look at what it can do.

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Sony’s RX10 III is an SLR-shaped bridge camera with an ambitious lens

There’s little doubt Sony’s Cyber-shot RX10 III is one of the most exciting cameras of 2016. It builds on the previous RX10 models with broadly the same design,  but hugely extends the zoom range to 24-600mm equivalent with an impressively fast f/2.4-4 maximum aperture. The 20-million-pixel 1-inch type stacked CMOS sensor offer a standard ISO range of 100-12-800 (64-25,600 extended) and allows high speed continuous shooting at fully 14 frames per second. It’s very pricey, at £1250, and quite large and heavy too (1.05kg including battery and card), but then again on paper it looks very much like the best bridge camera anyone has ever made.

The lens extends substantially to its full zoom position

The lens extends substantially to its full zoom position

In-hand the camera feels really well-made. It has three control rings around the lens to control the aperture, zoom and focus; the latter two have almost identical ridged grips. There’s also a dedicated exposure compensation dial, and an excellent built-in electronic viewfinder that’s both large and detailed.

The rear screen tilts up and down to high- or low-angle shots

The rear screen tilts up and down to high- or low-angle shots

Many of the usual criticisms of Sony’s camera design and interface remain – the screen inexplicably isn’t touch-sensitive, and the default control layout makes it about as difficult as humanly possible to set an off-centre focus point. But with a bit of tweaking of its control setup, the RX10 III can be made much more pleasant to use.

So how about image quality? See the samples below, taken at a wide range of zoom settings and ISO sensitivities. Initial impressions are that the lens acquits itself very well, and the image stabilisation does an impressive job too (although naturally it isn’t a panacea). We’re pretty excited by the potential shown from these initial shots.

See also our initial Sony RX10 III 4K video sample footage on our sister site The Video Mode