The Sony A7 III is a full-frame, mirrorless camera balanced between resolution and low-light sensitivity. Sony refers to the A7 III as “the basic model” somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It is one of the best values for a full-frame mirrorless camera on the market.
In March of 2018, the Sony A7 III was announced and it was easily one of the most anticipated cameras of the year. Sony’s A7 series has always consisted of 3 models that run somewhat together. The A7 is what is often referred to as the balanced model. The A7r is always a high megapixel camera optimized for high resolution. And then the A7s is optimized for sensitivity in low-light.
The Sony A7 III was a special camera for me as it was the first time I was invited to a Sony press event. I had spoken on the phone several times with Sony and I was not told what camera would be released. I found out at the announcement with the rest of the world.
Honestly, I’d never been a fan of the A7. I’m more interested in high resolution for stills and low light for video. I bought and loved the original Sony A7s when it came out – I still use it today. But the middle of the road model never appealed much to me.
This changed when I started using the Sony A7 III. I was handed a pre-production model for the few days I’d be in Las Vegas along with the 24-105mm f/4 and 85mm f/1.4 GM lenses. I pre-ordered the camera the day it came out – I was completely impressed.
The Sony A7 III :: The Basic Model
The A7 III has been touted by Sony as the basic model – this is a bit of sarcasm on Sony’s part. What is basic on Sony cameras beats most other cameras in higher price points. Honestly, what didn’t impress me on earlier models was changed. This camera is a workhorse.
The Sony A7 III features a 24 megapixel sensor. It features the usual Eye-AF and burst speeds of 10 frames per second. You also get in-body image stabilization, dual card slots, a joystick and 4k video. But there’s more.
When you work with a pre-production model, you can’t see raw files until Lightroom, Capture One, etc are updated to support the camera. This was a new sensor as well so there was no changing the EXIF data to fool the editor. So I was shooting Raw + JPEG through the trip so I could at least see my images and use the raw files later when the software had an update.
First Impressions of the Sony A7 III
The first thing that really impressed me was the autofocus. Sony is now on the level of Canon’s Dual-pixel AF. Its really good. And the camera is depth aware so even though you can set up the screen for touch – you might not need it. This is one of the best autofocus systems that I’ve ever used.
The second thing to blow me away was the low-light performance. I shot indoors at a restaurant one night in Las Vegas that was dimly lit and the camera completely did the job. It made me wonder what the point of the A7s is now. If we can get this kind of performance with a 24 megapixel sensor, then surely Sony has something more in mind for the A7s III if and when its ever released. The Sony A7 III does the job.
To be honest, Sony has had an issue with the way the cameras capture colors. It comes off a little flat and usually requires some post production. This changed significantly with the Sony A7 III. I prefer Capture One since it essentially maps this camera to the Phase One color science if you’re shooting raw, but even in Lightroom… changes have been made.
The Sony A7 III isn’t perfect, but I actually like the improvements. Skin tones become more manageable than they’ve been in the past for example. All-in-all I like that I get a somewhat flat profile because it gives me room in post-production to get the images to match my own intention. If you’re a JPEG shooter and you don’t like to edit, this might not be for you. But if you have a look in mind that you know how to get – the Sony A7 III gives you the latitude to do this.
Video is ultimately what sold me on the Sony A7 III. Its incredible. You have more flexibility on this camera than really anything out there except the Panasonic GH5. And this camera beats it only with autofocus, which is actually a big deal.
As you probably know I produce the Artist Series which is a series of mini documentaries on living photographers. One of the things about this series is that it has always been complete bleeding-edge in terms of video production. I film it by myself. I set up 2 cameras and I conduct the interview. I shoot the b-roll and then I edit the whole thing together. I’m engaging with the artist so I have essentially 2 unmanned cameras.
In the early videos this was a problem that I had to hide in post production. But with the Sony A7 III autofocus – it tracks perfectly. It even exposes perfectly.
You also have more choices in image profiles than on any other camera available. You can set the image profile and the color profiles independently of one another. This is not new, but there are more options on the Sony A7 III.
When I started the artist series, I used Cine4 with a rec709 color profile which I still use, but now I’ve been experimenting with the HLG profile in high contrast situations. It is outstanding. The 4k video is sharp and I’ve had absolutely no overheating issues. I rely on these cameras.
At this price point, there is only one other option I think anyone should consider – and its only for video. The Panasonic GH5 has some video-centric options that aren’t available on the Sony A7 III, but as a hybrid camera or for stills – nothing beats the Sony A7 III for the price point.
Invest in good lenses for this body. They will serve you will over the years and easily survive the next update in 2 years.
• Balanced design for resolution and sensitivity
• 24.2 Megapixel Exmor R BSI-CMOS
• Bionz X Image Processor
• Native ISO: 100-51200
• Expanded ISO: 50-204800
• Hybrid phase detection/contrast detection autofocus
• 425 point contrast detection AF points
• 693 phase detection AF points
• 1/250 flash sync
• 10fps burst rate
• 5-Axis In-body Image Stabilization
• Flash Exposure Lock
• First-Curtain mechanical and electronic shutter
• Gapless On-chip Lens
• Live-view and tethered capture
• Custom minimum shutter speed at auto ISO
• Flexible Spot with Lock on Autofocus
• Continuous Eye AF
• AF Sensitivity -3 ~ 20 EV
• Metering Sensitivity -3 ~ 20 EV
• 4 Custom User Buttons
• 921.6 K dot Monitor Resolution
• 2.4 M dot viewfinder resolution
• 0.78× Viewfinder Magnification
• MPEG-4, AVCHD (28 Mbit/s), XAVC S (100 Mbit/s) 4K internal video recording
• Full-pixel readout video sampling
• 120fps at 1080p
• Clean 4k HDMI output
• Power via USB while tethering
• Full magnesium alloy chassis
• Stainless steel bayonet mount
• Dimension: 126.9×95.6×73.7 mm
• Weight: 650g