Despite its billing as a ‘basic’ model, the Sony a7 III is a supremely capable full frame camera. Though it doesn’t have the most megapixels or shoot the fastest bursts, its well-judged mix of resolution, speed, features and price point make it an easy recommendation for all kinds of photographers and all kinds of photography.
- 24MP full frame BSI CMOS sensor
- 93% autofocus coverage (693 phase detection points, 425 for contrast detection)
- Oversampled 4K/24p video taken from full width 6K (cropped-in 5K for 30p)
- In-body image stabilization
- 10 fps continuous shooting
- 2.36m dot OLED viewfinder, 0.78x magnification
- AF joystick
- Larger, ‘Z-type’ battery (CIPA rated to 710 shots)
- Dual SD memory card slots
- USB 3.1 Type C
Compared to its predecessor, the Sony a7 III has been updated in almost every way; when compared to other similarly priced full frame options, the a7 III looks to be a cut above in many respects. For generalist photographers, wedding and event shooters and even sports specialists, the a7 III gets an awful lot of things just right. But as with previous Sony mirrorless full-frame cameras, there are some foibles that persist with this new model.
We’ve now spent dozens of hours shooting the a7 III in our studio and out in the real world – read on to see how it performs.
The a7R III arrives as Sony’s highest resolution MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera) and is rivaled only by the a9 as the most-fully-featured Sony option.
With a “III” in its product name, you know that the Sony a7R III is the successor to a “II”, specifically, the Sony a7R II. The “II”, delivering especially great image quality, was a wildly-successful camera model for Sony, helping to launch them into the major contender category for high end cameras. The highly-anticipated Sony a7R III delivers a significant upgrade to the II, ticking many of the check boxes remaining on the a7R II need list. Many of the new and/or upgraded features are individually worth the upgrade cost.
Here are the Sony-selected highlights for this camera:
Summary of Sony a7R III Features
- 35mm Full-Frame 42.4 MP [i] Back-Illuminated Exmor R CMOS Image Sensor with Evolved Image Processing
- Continuous Shooting at up to 10 fps [ii] with either Silent Shooting or Mechanical Shutter and full Auto Focus/Auto Exposure tracking
- 399 phase-detection AF points covering 68% [iii] of image area, 425 contrast AF points and approximately 2 times more effective Eye AF [iv]
- 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization with a 5.5 step [v] shutter speed advantage
- High Resolution 4K [vi] Movie Shooting with full pixel readout and no pixel binning [vii]
- Completely redesigned for professionals, including upgraded Auto Focus, Dual SD Card Slots, Extended Battery Life, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) USB Type-C Terminal and more
- Compact, Lightweight body at only 23 oz [viii]
As usual for a Sony Alpha camera press release, it is footnote-dense and Sony managed to pack 8 footnote references into their 7 a7R III feature bullets:
[i] Approximately, effective
[ii] Up to 10 fps in continuous “Hi+” mode, and up to 8 fps in continuous “Hi” mode. Maximum fps will depend on camera settings
[iii] Approximately 68% of the image area in both the horizontal and vertical directions
[iv] Compared to the a7R II, according to Sony testing
[v] CIPA standards. Pitch/yaw shake only. Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA lens. Long exposure NR off
[vi] A Class 10 or higher SDHC/SDXC memory card is required for XAVC S format movie recording. UHS speed class 3 or higher is required for 100 Mbps recording
[vii] In Super 35mm mode.
Fortunately, overall, these references are rather mild.
Sensor and Image Quality
Image quality has been the biggest driver behind the popularity of the a7R II and the Sony a7R III gets the similar ultra-high resolution 42.4 MP full-frame Exmor R CMOS imaging sensor featuring a back-illuminated, gapless on-chip lens design coupled with a BIONZ X processor. Two differences are that the III has a “new” front-end LSI (Large-Scale Integration circuit) and an “updated” BIONZ X processor.
|Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R||1.0x||36.0 x 24.0mm||4.14µm||8688 x 5792||50.6||.71x||100%||f/6.7|
|Canon EOS 5D Mark IV||1.0x||36.0 x 24.0mm||5.36µm||6720 x 4480||30.4||.71x||100%||f/8.6|
|Sony a7R III||1.0x||35.9 x 24.0mm||4.5µm||7952 x 5304||42.4||.78x||100%||f/7.2|
|Sony a7R II||1.0x||35.9 x 24.0mm||4.5µm||7952 x 5304||42.4||.78x||100%||f/7.2|
|Sony a9||1.0x||35.6 x 23.8mm||5.9µm||6000 x 4000||24.2||.78x||100%||f/9.6|
While the a7R III trails the Canon EOS 5Ds / 5Ds R (50.6 MP) and Nikon D850 (45.7 MP) in resolution, most will find 42.4 MP of resolution very adequate (and extremely nice), especially considering the quality of those megapixels.
High on my list of a7R III testing was to look at the image quality and the site’s standard noise test is always illuminating in that regard.