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Sony Alpha A7 III Reviewed

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To be short:

For:

  • ۶۹۳-point AF system
  • ۱۰fps burst shooting
  • Uncropped 4K video
  • ۱۵-stop dynamic range
  • ۵-axis image stabilization
  • Compact and durable body

Against:

  • Limited touchscreen control
  • Only one SD slot supports UHS-II cards
  • Slight ‘tearing’ in EVF
  • Poor weather-sealing round accessory ports

The Alpha A7 III is a camera designed by Sony to suit the photographing requirements of avid photographers and professionals.

The camera comes in last among Sony’s full-frame mirrorless camera range.

Since inception, the A7 camera series have fared poorly in comparison to the A7R and A7S series. The two latter series have evidently remained top favorites because of their high pixel counts and improved video capabilities. The A7 series, however, have simply been the primary model, having a sturdy build with basic features.

This third-generation camera has many features of both the Alpha A9 and the Alpha A7R III incorporated in it. Defying the conventional basic look and features, the Alpha A7 camera sports some major changes.

Sony AS7 III Features:

  • Now comes with a 24.2MP illuminated sensor at the back.
  • ۵-stop compensation now available using 5-axis image stabilization
  • ۴K video can now be captured utilizing full width of the sensor.

Sony A7S III Tech Specs:

  • Sensor: 24.2MP full-frame back-illuminated CMOS
  • Lens mount: Sony FE
  • Screen: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921,000 dots
  • Burst shooting: 10fps
  • Autofocus: 693-point AF
  • Video: 4K
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 710 shots
  • Weight: 650g

The resolution of the Alpha A7 III has been left intact by the Sony team and is still 24.2MP, same with the last model, Alpha A7 II. However, the Alpha A7 III comes with a completely new sensor. BTW if you’re looking for medium format camera – check out our review of Hasselblad X1D.

Also, a combination of the newest version of the BIONZ X image processor and the back illuminated design has greatly improved the sensitivity of the A7 III. The ISO ceiling has also been extended to 204,800 which is same as that of the Alpha A9.

Sony has mentioned that the Alpha A7 III has been given a dynamic range of 15 stops with 14-bit raw files, and has also made it three stops powerful than the A7 II’s 25,600 limit
.

The Alpha A7 III’s Electronic viewfinder hasn’t been improved to make it at par with the A7R III’s 3.8 million dots.

However, its 2.3 million-dot EVF magnification factor has been increased and is now better than that of the previous model, from 0.71x to 0.78x.

As is common with other Sony cameras recently announced, the 3.0-inch tilt-angle display at the rear has been made sensitive to touch. Now, the focus point can easily be set and images can quickly be browsed, although, one downside remains, the camera’s menu cannot be easily navigated.

Some modifications have also been made to the Alpha A7 III’s 5-axis in-body image stabilization which now is a slight bump from that of its predecessor, it now offers five stops of stabilization.

Unsurprisingly, the 4K video capture on the Alpha A7 III has been long expected and is duly welcome. The full width of the sensor is used while recording in 24p with full pixel readout and the absence of pixel binning. This process collects around 6K of data, which is about double the amount of data needed. An oversampling of the footage then occurs, producing an exceptional 4K footage with great depth and detail. For shots at 30p, you can use the 1.2x crop option which utilizes approximately 5K of the sensor.

The Alpha A7 III bears same HLG function with the Alpha A7R III. This HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) is a profile that works by supporting an Instant HDR workflow which in turn allows a play back of 4K HDR footage by HLG compatible TVs.

In addition to that, the color grade of the S-Log2 and S-Log3 can now be increased and the camera can be set at 120fps for shooting a full HD footage.

The Alpha A7 III has two slots for SD card, however, only one if these slots allows faster UHS-II cards. It also comes with Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, this enables easy transfer of images. It is not Bluetooth enabled, a feature which I feel should really have been considered, so users can have seamless transfer between the camera and smart device.

Build and handling

Key features

  • Bears identical design with the Alpha A7R III
  • Features a multi-selector joystick and AF-On button
  • Weather and Dust resistant

The body design of the Alpha A7 III and the Alpha A7R III are identical. The camera also has a multi-selector joystick that is highly beneficial and peculiar giving the absence of a dedicated drive mode dial in the Alpha A9.

A dedicated AF-On button has been added at the back of the Alpha A7 III. This comes in really handy as focusing, using the back button is now made easier. The button is nicely positioned at the rear but does not really protrude as is supposed to. Also, the joystick is a great addition to the camera as it makes handling easier.

The Alpha A7 III is weather resistant, as all the buttons and dials have been sealed, preventing the effect of dust and moisture.
The scroll wheel at the rear has been raised a little bit away from the body when compared to the Alpha A7 II, reducing the likelihood of changing a setting mistakenly.

Furthermore, Sony has made some great modifications to the eye sensor, which immediately deactivates when the screen at the back of the camera is pulled some distance away from the body. This has ensured the possibility of shooting images at waist level without cutting out the feed.

The body of the Alpha A7 III has been tweaked to give a more redefined grip. The thickness is a little more than that of the A7 II. The Alpha A7 III and the Alpha A7R III are both made from magnesium, giving the cameras a nice feel. The only slight difference between both cameras is that, the back panel of the Alpha A7 III is made up of plastic while that of the Alpha A7R III is purely magnesium.

Giving the price of the camera, the major buttons and dials have been sealed to prevent the effect of dust and moisture. However, just as we found an issue with the level of sealing in the Alpha A9, the degree of sealing of the three doors situated on the side of the Alpha A7 III which allows the various terminals of the camera to be accessed is poor and inadequate. You’d have to be extra careful to keep your camera in a good condition when shooting in harsh weather.

A plus to the Alpha A7 III is its very comprehensive new color-coded system that is really easy to navigate. Once the various custom buttons on the camera has been set up with the help of the various body-mounted control, diving into the menu becomes really rare.

Autofocus

Key Features

  • Has exactly the same 693-point auto-focus detect system of the Alpha A9
  • ۹۳% coverage
  • ۹۳% coverage

I for one, think Sony has done an incredible job concerning the auto-focus system of the Alpha A7 III. The Sony team actually used the same auto-focus system of one of its best cameras, the Alpha A9, in the Alpha A7 III.

Oh yes, isn’t that pleasant to hear, the same 693-point phase-detect auto-focus system of the Alpha A9 goes into the Alpha A7 III, a camera that cost less than half the price of the former. We totally commend Sony for this, we say Big thumbs up!

With this development, the Alpha A7 III can perform far better than its predecessor, the Alpha A7 II. Equipped with this new auto-focus system, the Alpha A7 III can focus in extremely low light levels as -3EV, its 93% coverage across the frame is superb and its focusing has also been greatly improved with increased 425 contrast-detect points.

You can switch between different modes of the auto-focus, varying in simplicity or complexity of the shot you want to take.
Without a doubt, the Alpha A7 III can track very fast moving objects, once again, thanks to the improved auto-focus system. If you have the A7 III in continuous mode and further set it to any of its sophisticated mode, say, Lock-on, its tracking performance becomes remarkable. Shooting action with the Alpha A7 III is now one of the best options for tracking when it comes to camera, and this is really amazing considering its relatively cheap price.

The Alpha A7 III also sports the new Sony Eye AF focusing mode. This activated system will ceaselessly focus and track the eye of the subject to be photographed even if their gaze is averted for a while. This camera is recommended for portrait and social photographers as it will help them get the best of shots while capturing people.

Performance

Key Features:

  • Burst shooting speed twice as that of the Alpha A7 II
  • New silent shutter mode
  • Battery life greatly improved

The Alpha A7 III can shoot twice as fast as its predecessor, shooting at a rate of 10fps while that of the Alpha A7 II is 5fps. This is attributable to the addition of the Front End LSI pre-processor. This addition has boosted the performance of the Alpha A7 III in a variety of ways.

The buffer capacity of the camera is impressive, having a capacity of 89 compressed raw files, the Alpha A7 III’s 177 JPEG file buffer is considerably better than that if the Alpha A7 II with just 52 JPEG. I really think the burst shooting performance of this camera makes it recommendable for photographers careful about price.

For shooting in serene and tranquil environments, you can switch to the electronic shutter of the Alpha A7 III and capture images in silent shooting mode. Not to worry, the burst shooting speed still remains at 10fps guaranteeing the camera performance uncompromised.
The battery life has been greatly extended, the camera can take 710 shots before going off as compared to that of the Alpha A7 II which can only take 350 shots.

The viewfinder is large, bright and very sharp. However, a little ish I find with the viewfinder is that when the camera is briskly moved from side to side you will notice some ‘tearing’.
The display at the rear of the camera is also impressive, but I think the rear is still spacious enough to accommodate integration of a touchscreen, one that can help improve menu navigation and adjustment of settings on the screen.

The Alpha A7 III’s 5-axis, 5-stop image stabilization guarantees sharp shots at lower shutter speeds. This feature is one of the best improvement made by Sony as the possibility of this can be rarely pulled off by other cameras.

Image Quality

Key Features:

  • Excellent high ISO performance
  • Images rich in detail
  • Offers an impressive dynamic range

Since the Alpha A7 III shares the same 24.2MP full-frame mirrorless camera with the likes of the Alpha A9 and other pricier Sony cameras, its sensor has the capability to deliver images with high levels of details. The Alpha A7 III is really good when it comes to this, except you plan to produce large A2 prints for which I recommended the Alpha A7R III with its densely populated 42.2MP sensor.

The back-illuminated design of the sensor of the A7 III allows for delivery of exceptional ISO performance. The files are clean and free of noise at base sensitivities. At ISO6400 the result is brilliant and luminance noise in evidence is very fine yet this does not affect the quality of the image.

If you increase that to ISO12, 800 shooting at such sensitivity, you’ll still have excellent shots. Luminance noise effect is a little bit evident but not that bad, the Chroma noise noticeable in raw files can be easily suppressed during post-processing.

When it comes to dynamic range, the Alpha A7R III might outdo the Alpha A7 III by a little margin. The A7 III’s sensor allows for a lot sensitivity. If the highlights are exposed, huge swathes of shadow detail can be recovered during post-processing of raw files.

Final Verdict

Although the Alpha A7 III may not be at par with the other more expensive Sony models, it’s still a brilliant camera that will meet a wide variety of needs for many photographers.

The Sony team has done a remarkable job with the Alpha A7 III. Combining excellent features from the Alpha A9 and A7R III and distilling these features into the A7 III to give it a wonderful performance coupled with good image quality, and all these at a fair price.

The sophistication of the 693-point AF system in the Alpha A7 III is really amazing considering its price, other cameras valued at the same price cannot boast of such an advanced feature. Excellent result is delivered throughout the ISO range as a result of the full-frame 24.2MP illuminated sensor at the rear of the camera, the dynamic range as well is also worthy of note.

The versatility of the Alpha A7 III stems from its ability to shoot uncropped 4K videos. The bodily refinement of the Alpha A7 III makes it easy to use and also gives it a feel that is satisfying to touch.
As with every good invention, it can only get better and improvements can still be made. The ‘tearing’ that occurs when the camera is moved from side to side should be worked on, more touchscreen control should be incorporated. And lastly, the seal for the major buttons and dials should be improved on for maximum protection of the accessory ports from the effects of weather.

Nonetheless, all these little flaws of this camera can be overlooked when you come to truly acknowledge all the wonderful features the Alpha A7 III has to offer giving its relatively cheap price.

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