The Sony Alpha A7 III sits on the rock bottom rung of Sony’s full-frame mirrorless camera range and is meant to appeal to both keen enthusiast photographers and professionals.
In the last few years, the Sony A7 series has always felt like poor relations cameras like the A7R and the A7S series. While the latter two ranges have attended capture the limelight with their high pixel counts and advanced video capabilities, the A7 cameras have always been considered the essential models, sporting a solid but unremarkable set of features.
That looks love could all change with this third-generation A7
camera. Borrowing many features from the top-of-the-range Alpha A9, also because the Alpha A7R III, the Alpha A7 III looks anything but basic.
Sony Alpha a7 III: Specs
|Dimensions||3.9 by 5.0 by 2.5 inches|
|Sensor Resolution||24 MP|
|Sensor Type||BSI CMOS|
|Sensor Size||Full-Frame (24 x 36mm)|
|Display Size||3 inches|
|Display Resolution||921600 dots|
|EVF Resolution||2.36 million dots|
|Memory Card Slots||2|
|Memory Card Format||SDXC (UHS-II), SDXC (UHS-I)/Memory Stick Duo|
|Battery Type||Sony NP-FZ100|
|Connectivity||Headphone (3.5mm), Bluetooth, USB-C, Wi-Fi, |
Micro HDMI, Microphone (3.5mm), micro USB
Sony Alpha a7 III Price Comparison
Sony Alpha a7 III: Features
A bit like its predecessors, the A7 II, and therefore the A7, the A7 III features a 24MP sensor. Resolution is perhaps the primary thing camera buyers search for, and it’s perhaps this camera’s most unremarkable specification. It’s not an equivalent sensor as before, however; this one features a back-illuminated design for improved light-gathering and is teamed up with a front-end LSI and BIONZ X processor that produces much faster data readout and processing speeds than before.
The end result is much-improved noise and high ISO performance, high-quality 4K video, which impresses 10fps continuous shooting speed – double the speed of the previous A7 II.
High-speed shooting isn’t much good without a buffer capacity to match, and while the A7 III can’t compete with sports specialists just like the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III, Nikon D6, or the Sony A9 II, it’s a much bigger buffer than the typical enthusiast camera. It’s capable of capturing up to 177 JPEGs, 89 compressed Raw files, or 40 uncompressed Raw images during a single burst.
One criticism of previous models is that when the buffer is filled you can’t use the camera menus until it’s cleared – but Sony has fixed that with the A7 III. you’ll also find that the viewfinder image at 10fps isn’t quite responsive enough for following fast or erratic subjects, but there’s an 8fps ‘live view’ mode that gives a faster, more stable viewfinder image.
To get 10fps…
…shooting during a full-frame camera at this price is remarkable, but Sony has gone a step further by incorporating the autofocus technology from its flagship A9 sports camera. With 693 phase-detection AF points covering 93% of the image area, protected by an extra 425 contrast-detect AF points, this is, on paper, almost the foremost powerful AF system on the market. it’s more AF points than the Nikon Z6 and its phase-detection AF is clearly superior for continuous AF to Panasonic’s DFD system.
You can choose between Wide-area AF, Zone AF, Centre AF, Flexible spot mode (in which you’ll change the dimensions of the AF area), and now Expand Flexible Spot mode, where the camera will still stay focused on subjects that stray outside the chosen area. There’s an eye fixed AF mode for portrait photographers too, and on the A7 III, this now works in continuous also as single-shot AF modes. A firmware update in early 2019 added Real-Time Animal Eye AF to the present camera’s formidable AF arsenal.
There’s also a sensor-based 5-axis image stabilization system, with its claimed 5-stop shake compensation, alongside twin memory card slots (though just one of those is UHS-II compatible).
The battery is often charged in-camera via a USB cable or, for faster charging, there’s an optional BC-QZ1 charger. This new battery, the NP-FZ100, has 2.2 times the battery lifetime of A7 II’s NP-FW50, yielding 710 shots on one charge (or 610 when using the electronic viewfinder).
The A7 III isn’t done yet…
… As we’d expect from any new Sony camera, the A7III shoots 4K video, but it brings instant 4K HDR playback on compatible devices via its HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) profile and also has Sony’s S-Log3 mode for improving dynamic range (up to 14EV) for editing/grading later. 4K video is captured across the complete sensor width, before being downsampled to 4K resolution, so there are not any boring crop factors and no useless pixel binning.
If we listed every single thing this camera has, or does, or is capable of, there would be no room left to mention whether it’s any good or not – which is that the next bit.
Sony Alpha a7 III: Design
If there’s a chink within the A7 III’s armor, it’s here. The A7III looks like the other Sony A7 models but it is impressively small for a full-frame camera. This is often due partially to its mirrorless design, but also to the ingenuity of its designers. Unfortunately, Sony’s lenses – and especially, its finest ones – aren’t small. As a result, the A7III does feel distinctly front-heavy with the type of lenses you would possibly prefer to accompany it, like the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS or FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM. Thereupon in mind, it’d be worth considering the optional VG-C3EM battery grip, especially if you enter for tons of telephoto-based sports photography.
Burst shooting and autofocus are two of this camera’s top features, so you’d hope that might be reflected in dedicated external controls. you’ll assign these controls and more to the camera’s four function buttons, however, in order that they are only a click away if you would like them.
Apart from that, there’s really little or no to criticize. The electronic viewfinder and LCD display don’t have the very best resolutions we’ve seen on mirrorless cameras. But they’re quite adequate, and therefore the viewfinder’s 0.78x magnification means it’s big and clear.
The rear LCD…
… has an up/down tilting action but doesn’t swing sideways. you’ll tap to position the main target point or maybe drag it around the frame. Alternatively, if you’re not a lover of touchscreen interaction. you’ll use the rear joystick (multi-selector) control instead.
The main dials are reassuringly solid and also have positive feelings. There are three control dials in total – one on the front at the highest of the grip, one on the rear to the proper of the viewfinder eyepiece, and a 3rd round the four-way controller next to the LCD screen.
The A7 III’s menu system is pretty daunting, a long-standing criticism of the A7 family, with no fewer than 35 screens split into five sections, plus a user-customizable My Menu. It can take a short time to seek out the setting you would like, especially if you’re modifying the camera controls or default behavior, but thankfully most regular shooting settings are often accessed via an Fn button on the rear of the camera instead.
This Fn option displays an icon overlay across the rock bottom of the screen for selecting the drive mode, focus area, ISO, metering mode, and more. It’s not touch-sensitive, though – instead, you employ the directional buttons (or the multi-selector) to settle on an option and therefore the rear control dial to vary the setting.
The A7III really gives a premium quality feel. It’s solid and weighty, and therefore the controls are precise, while the outside materials and finish feel first-rate. it’d be the most cost-effective of Sony’s third-generation A7 models, but you wouldn’t realize it.
Sony Alpha a7 III: Performance
The A7 III’s performance is pretty spellbinding too. there’s a touch lag, or tearing within the viewfinder at 10fps, but there’s also 8fps ‘live view’ mode with a more responsive display if you are feeling you would like it.
The autofocus system…
… is impressively quite similar, both for its frame coverage (far better than that of a DSLR) and its speed. It can sometimes lose contact with fast, erratic subjects within the AF tracking mode, and take a couple of frames to lock on again, but it takes some pretty wild subject movement for this to happen. As long as you’ll anticipate your subject’s movement and keep it in your selected focus zone, the A7III will do the remainder.
Following moving subjects requires skill on the photographer’s part too, and therefore the A7 III’s range of focus areas and modes means there’s a setting for practically every situation.
The SteadyShot system proved a touch less convincing. Sony claims a 5-stop advantage, but to quote the tiny print, that’s “CIPA standards. Pitch/yaw shake only. Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA lens. Long exposure NR off.”
In our tests with the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS and FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lenses, we began to get shake creeping into shots at just two to 3 stops of shutter speed slower than normal.
Results will always depend upon the conditions, the lens used, subject distance, and the way good you’re at hand-holding, but an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II tested at an equivalent time has consistently excellent results, yielding perhaps a one-stop more advantage over Sony.
Image stabilization systems offer no guarantees of sharp shots, of course, and a few stabilizations are better than no stabilization – and in every other respect, the A7 III’s performance is first-rate.
While the dynamic range…
… is comparatively strong, the last word resolution is in fact limited by the 24MP sensor, so if that’s not enough then you ought to be watching the 42.4MP Sony A7R III instead. That said, fine detail is rendered all right, with low levels of noise too. Sony claims the new sensor and processing system offer a 1.5EV advantage over the old model, and therefore the signal-to-noise figures we achieved within the lab are excellent.
JPEGs straight from the camera show remarkably good detail, saturation, and contrast right up to ISO 12,800. Fine, textural detail is clearly beginning to disappear at ISO 25,600 and by the quality maximum setting of ISO 51,200, there’s an honest deal of softening and a few blotchiness creeping into even-toned areas, but this is often still a reasonably exceptional performance.
The standard multi-pattern exposure system did an excellent job during a sort of conditions and therefore the auto white balance was mostly reliable too – except once or twice in overcast conditions, where it occasionally chose two clearly different values when all that had changed was the topic framing. The answer, of course, is to use a manual white balance preset to suit the conditions, or shoot Raw files and use Sony’s new Imaging Edge software suite to process your images later.
This software suite originally supplied is pretty basic, consisting of separate Remote, Viewer and Edit applications, but this has now been replaced by Sony’s more up so far Imaging Edge desktop and mobile applications, and therefore the A7 III and Sony lenses are widely supported by third-party Raw processors like Lightroom, Capture One et al.
Power and Connectivity
The a7III uses the Z battery, introduced within the a9 and also employed by the a7R III. It’s good for 710 shots per CIPA ratings with the a7 III, as its power requirements are but the a9 or a7R III, both rated for 650 images per charge. The larger battery may be a boon to enthusiasts who don’t need to shop for plenty of spares, and pros alike. an edge is available; it allows the camera to use two batteries, effectively doubling its life. you will not need to worry about running out of power when shooting a marriage, for instance.
Sony doesn’t give an external charger with the Sony a7 III. If you would like to charge the battery outside the camera, you will need to shop for one. But you have to recharge via USB and an included USB-to-AC adapter in-camera. I like to recommend a wall charger for travelers and pros, especially those that have multiple Z batteries to recharge at the top of an extended day of shooting.
With USB Ports…
The camera has two USB ports (one USB-C and one micro USB), also a micro HDMI, a 3.5mm microphone input, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s a typical hot shoe, with the additional electrical contacts for accessories like Sony’s XLR audio adapter.
And there are two memory card slots. Slot 1, toward the rock bottom of the camera, supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory at UHS-II speeds. In slot 2, above it, Sony A7 III works with all SD formats at slower UHS-I speeds but also supports Sony Memory Stick media. I knocked the choice to only support UHS-II in one slot once I reviewed the a9 and a7R III, and do an equivalent here—both slots should support the newest, fastest memory format. I’d be surprised if anyone outside of Sony cares about Memory Stick now.
In addition to wired connectivity, the a7 III includes Bluetooth, NFC connection, and also Wi-Fi. This enables the camera to attach to an Android or iOS device running the free Sony PlayMemories Mobile app to transfer images and video to your phone for social sharing. you’ll also use your phone as a wireless remote.
- Excellent high ISO performance
- Images rich in detail
- Offers an impressive dynamic range
As we found with Sony’s other 24.2MP full-frame mirrorless camera, the Alpha A9, the sensor is capable of delivering images that provide excellent levels of detail. Unless you’re getting to produce large prints beyond A2. Where you’ll appreciate the more densely populated 42.2MP sensor within the Alpha A7R III, the Alpha A7 III does a terrific job.
While the sensor doesn’t enjoy the Alpha A9’s stacked design. Its back-illuminated architecture helps the A7 III deliver excellent ISO performance. At base sensitivities, files appear incredibly clean and barren of noise. Even at ISO6400 results get up well to shut inspection, with very fine luminance (grain-like) noise conspicuous, but to not the detriment of the image.
Push above that to ISO12,800, and if you finish up shooting at this sensitivity you’ll still be ready to walk off with very satisfactory shots. Luminance noise may be a bit more pronounced, but still not that aggressive, and while chroma (color) noise becomes noticeable in raw files it’s pretty easy to suppress in post-processing.
The Alpha A7R III might just edge the A7III for dynamic range, but it isn’t by much. The A7 III’s sensor offers immense amounts of flexibility here; exposure for the highlights and you’ll happily recover huge swathes of shadow detail within the post-processing of raw files.
Video mode during a stills camera. That old chestnut. Sure, video isn’t the A7r’s, but if you’re getting to put the potential into a full-frame camera, then one would hope they might spend a while tuning it to make it worthwhile. And let’s be honest – tons of the market is buying this stuff purely video.
Specs-wise, the new BIONZ processor gives you to shoot 50p/25p full-frame video at 1920 x 1080 AVCHD progressive. Impressive, if you’ve figured out a post pathway for AVCHD that you’re proud of.
With Full-Size Sensor…
Yes, with the full-size sensor you’ll use the upper ISO (between 50 and 51,200 when boosted), but that’s offset within the fact the so-so lens kit is just the one with stabilization. This is often rather important in terms of video, especially in action shots or within the sporting arena. In other words, if using the other of the Sony lenses (or a third party one) instead of the kit lens, a tripod may be a definite must-have.
Thankfully though, other areas are well thought-through. Areas like sound – there’s a correct headphone jack and external microphone input. There’s also an inbuilt stereo mic, but I’d be loathed to believe that. There’s even an HDMI output that will be used live to watch the shoot while recording. great in the least.
Where we subside for video is in recording capability. Moire patterning and aliasing are clearly evident, so stabilization and not an excessive amount of movement within the shot are vital. This does pare back its flexibility as a filmmaking camera. A score of ‘adequate’ would be my verdict.
Hmmm. seems like we’ve come across the Achilles’ heel. Thankfully it’s not insurmountable, but one that you simply should definitely consider before purchase.
The A7r may be a battery hog, pure and straightforward. It’s mandatory that you simply carry spare batteries with you, particularly if you’re shooting video. Initially, I assumed it’d be my particular usage, but checking around, I see that others have found an equivalent problem. Perhaps bend the retailer or dealer’s arm at the time of haggling for a couple of extras?
Is the Sony Alpha A7 III worthy to you?
The A7r is without any doubt a top-value camera, giving enormous bang for the buck also as for physical size. At a mere 407 grams (body only), at this point, the A7 series can rightly claim to be the world’s smallest full-frame sensor camera.
Images from the A7r are nearly as good because it gets. Video usage isn’t at equivalent excellence, however, but as has been said, this camera wasn’t designed with video as a primary priority.
If you’re within the marketplace for a replacement DSLR but are prepared to require a small change of direction, then you won’t be disappointed with an A7. If you’re currently a compact camera user looking to intensify, then you’ll be delighted!