Sony delivers the New Gold Standard in fullframe cameras with the new third-generation a7 III. It’s the camera many of you have been waiting for looked with high-end features yet priced just under $2,000.
Sony a7 III represents the best value of Sony’s fullframe mirrorless line-up. If you’re a Sony a7 or a7 II owner who’s been waiting to upgrade, now is the time! Sony a7 III is loaded with great new features!
If you’re a DSLR shooter who’s been waiting to switch to mirrorless, THIS is the camera you’ve been waiting for…
What’s New Since a7 II?
- • IMPROVED 24MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
• IMPROVED BIONZ X Image Processor & NEW Front-End LSI
• NEW 693-Point Phase-Detection AF + 425-Point Contrast AF
• NEW Silent Shooting Mode – not found on a7/a7II
• NEW Touch Focus & Joystick Controller
• NEW 10 FPS Mechanical or Electronic Shutter
• NEW Dual SD Card Slots & USB 3.1 Type-C Port for Tethering
• NEW Sony NP-FZ100 Lithium-Ion Battery
• NEW ISO up to 204800
• NEW UHD 4K30p Video with HLG & S-Log3 Gammas
• NEW Fast Hybrid AF for Video
• IMPROVED 89 Shot RAW Buffer
• IMPROVED AF Sensitivity Down to EV-3
• IMPROVED Enhanced Eye AF
• IMPROVED 15-Stop Dynamic Range
• IMPROVED 5-Axis SteadyShot Stabilization
The new Sony a7 III shares a lot of DNA with it’s Sony mirrorless siblings. How does it compares depends on many factors outlined here: Sony Fullframe Comparison: Sony a7 III -vs- a7 II, a7R II, a7R III & a9
[PLEASE NOTE: All images posted in this review are from in-camera JPEGs. Expect Sony a7 III RAW Support in the next updates of Capture One, Adobe Camera Raw & Lightroom CC versions closer to the launch date.]
Weight & Build
Sony a7 III tips the scales at 1.43 lb (650 g) and is 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9″ that’s 1/2″ deeper than a7 II, due to slightly larger grip to accommodate the new NP-FZ100 Lithium-Ion battery. Most users will not notice any difference in size between the bodies unless you look at the specs.
24MP Full-Frame Exmor R Back-Illuminated CMOS Sensor
Sony a7 III gets a New & Improved 24MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor. The Back-illuminated full-frame sensor gives a7 III higher sensitivity and readout speed compared to a7 & a7 II. The back-illuminated structure enhances light collection efficiency, expands circuitry scale and the copper wiring layer contributes to quicker data transfer, outputs data at very high speed, while minimizing noise to reveal fine details. Though it lacks the best-in-class read-out speed of a9’s Stacked BSI sensor, this allows a7 III to capture finer and sharper detail.
15-Stop Dynamic Range
Dynamic Range gets a one-stop boost to 15 Stops to capture even more detail in high contrast images.
Improved BIONZ X Image Processor & Front-End LSI
Sony a7 III gets a horsepower boost from a NEW, FASTER, MORE POWERFUL 2nd Generation BIONZ X Processor and new front-end LSI (introduced on a9 and a7R III).
693-Point Phase-Detection AF + 425-Point Contrast AF
Sony a7 III features lightning fast Hybrid AF using 693 phase-detection AF points covering 93% of image area, 425 densely positioned contrast-detection AF points (up from 117 Phase-Detection & 25 Contrast points on a7II).
Sony NP-FZ100 Lithium-Ion Battery
Size comparison of Sony a9 NP-FZ100 Lithium-Ion battery, left, next to NP-FW50 Lithium-Ion battery.
Sony a7 III uses the slightly larger but greatly improved NP-FZ100 7.2 V, 16.4 Wh, 2280 mAh battery ($79.95) from a9 & a7R III. While “officially rated” at a modest 710 shots, I’ve gotten as many as 5,000 shots from a single NP-FZ100 battery and have yet to burn through one in a full day of shooting.
Dual SD Card Slots
Dual SD Card Slots include faster UHS-II compatibility in Card Slot 1 compatible with Sony SF-G cards featuring blistering fast 299MB/s Write Speed & 300MB/s Read Speed perfect for Sony a7R III’s 10 FPS burst shooting, 4K video, and other buffer-busting uses. If you plan to shoot video, you’ll want to stick to 64GB (or larger) SDXC cards for the best recording Codex.
USB 3.1 Type-C Port for Tethering
If you tether, this might be your favorite upgrade! First introduced on a7R III, USB 3.1 Type-C connection is blazing fast compared to the USB 2.0 found on previous models. Since the USB-C port is used for tethering the multi-terminal port is available for remote release or intervalometer triggering.
Sony a7 III has USB 3.1 Type-C, Multi-terminal, Mini-HDMI, Headphone and Microphone ports
10 FPS Mechanical or Electronic Shutter
Shooting speed is increased from 5 FPS (Mechanical Shutter only) to 10 FPS with either the Electronic or Mechanical Shutter with minimal blackout up to 8 FPS.
Improved 89 Shot RAW Buffer
Cameras that shoot 10 FPS needs a BIG Buffer and Sony a7 III delivers with a bigger buffer that’s improved to hold 89 RAW Images or 177 Jpegs. For fastest buffer clearing, be sure to use Sony SF-G cards in UHS-II compatible Card Slot 1.
Silent Shooting Mode
Sony a7 III finally gets Silent Shooting Mode – not found on a7/a7II! While noise is greatly dampened on the Sony a7 II mechanical shutter, Silent Shooting is perfect for situations when complete silence is needed. Silent shooting is also possible up to the full 10 FPS.
Touch Focus & Joystick Controller
Sony a7 III gets Touch Focus & Joystick Controller – first introduced on a9 and a7R III. When activated in the menu, Touch Focus allows you to tap the LCD screen where you wish to focus – great for focus stacking for landscapes, interiors or product photography. The Joystick Controller allows you to quickly move Flexible Spot or Zone Focus are where you want them.
Enhanced Eye AF
While Sony a7 II has Eye AF, the added processing speed thanks to the front-end LSI adds horsepower which a7 III to take it up several gears with Enhanced Eye AF introduced on a9 & a7R III. Enhanced Eye AF is finally fast enough for professional use in a camera under $2,000.
Enhanced Eye AF quickly locks in on an eye rather than objects in front of the eyes. (Click View 100%)
AF Sensitivity Down to EV-3
Advanced AF algorithms contribute to high AF precision down to light levels as low as EV-3 (two-stops better than a7 II), for more reliable auto-focus in dark shooting environments.
While Eye AF won’t work when your subject is wearing sunglasses at night, Flexible Spot AF locks in quickly and accurately even in dim lighting.
UHD 4K30p Video with HLG & S-Log3 Gammas
Sony a7 III now supports 4K30p and 4K24p Video with full pixel readout with no pixel binning makes it possible to condense 6K readout 2.4 times into 3840 x 2160 4K output. This oversampling process plus full-frame pixel readout without binning results in the highest possible 4K movie image quality. In addition to 4K, it’s possible to shoot 1080 HD up to 120 FPS for super-smooth slow-motion.
Movies recorded using the Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) profile will appear true-to-life with fewer blocked shadows and blown highlights when played back on an HDR (HLG) compatible TV, providing a wider color gamut without the need for color grading.
In addition to S-Log2, S-Log3 is available for better gradation from shadows to mid-tones (18% gray) and a wide dynamic range of up to 14 stops for 4K and other movie formats. A new color S-Gamut3 color space that is a refined version of S-Gamut is also provided.
S-Log3 Gamma Before and After color grading.
Fast Hybrid AF for Video
A first for E-mount cameras, Fast Hybrid AF is now available for movie recording, providing a wide AF area similar to that provided for still images. AF now accurately locks onto the subjects over a wider area while recording video with native lenses.
Touch Focus allows you to tap the LCD screen where you want to focus during movie recording which allows smooth rack focus to the selected point.
A7 III allows you to record 4K video to card slot 1 and low-res Proxy for editing to card slot 2 with zero lag between the two.
Reduced Rolling Shutter
Though it lacks the best-in-class readout of a9, Rolling Shutter is great reduced on a7 III to the point you’d probably give viewers motion sickness with your videos before any jello effect shows up.
Lower Resolution Tru-Finder OLED EVF & Touchscreen LCD
While Sony didn’t cut corners when it came to image quality and shooting speed, the one place Sony saved money on a7 III is its 2,359,000-Dot Tru-Finder OLED EVF & 921,600-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD, compared to Sony a7R III’s 3,686,400-Dot Tru-Finder OLED EVF & 1,440,000-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD. While a higher resolution EVF & LCD would improve the shooting experience, it does not affect image quality.
Like a7 III and a9, Sony a7 III does not have Camera Apps, No official word from Sony about whether Camera Apps may be coming back in a different form to the latest cameras – but I’m told it’s in discussion. In the mean time, if you’re Jonsin’ for your Intervalometer app, you’ll either need to use a hardware intervalometer – or check out Slow & Quick Shooting which can be set to one frame per second.
Price & Availability:
Sony a7 III is expected to begin shipping in the USA in mid-April 2018. If you want a Sony a7 III camera in April, I strongly recommend that you Pre-Order Now! Pre-orders allow Sony to allocate cameras to customers based on when the orders were placed. Sony does a very good job of covering all early pre-orders in the USA and I expect the same with a7 III. But cameras will only appear “on shelves”, once all pre-orders are filled.
Handy Accessories for a7 III
As with most cameras, there are a handful of accessories that you might want to purchase to make shooting easier or more convenient. Here’s a short list of my favorites
Quick Release Base Plates & L-Plates
One of my favorite accessories for any camera is an L bracket which allows you to easily move your camera from vertical or horizontal when shooting on a tripod that accepts Arca Swiss standard. No more hanging your camera off one side of the tripod to shoot verticals.
Really Right Stuff Base Plate for Sony a9/a7III/a7RIII ($85 at B&H Photo)
Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set for Sony a9/a7III/a7RIII ($200 at B&H Photo)
Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set for VG-C3EM Vertical Grip for Sony a9/a7III/a7RIII ($205 at B&H Photo)
Really Right Stuff is the ‘gold standard” of camera plates and L Brackets. Their Sony a9/a7R III will also fit a7 III. These plates are all precision machined from solid blocks of 6061-T6 aluminum. Fully compatible with any Arca-Swiss style quick release system with contoured anti-twist flanges to prevent twisting between camera and plate.
GABALE QR L Plate Bracket for Sony a7III/a7RIII/a9 ($57 on eBay) is a less expensive alternative machined from lightweight aircraft-grade anodized aluminum. It’s two-part construction allows you to control the offset of the side bracket for access to camera ports when mounted vertically.
Batteries and Chargers
Despite greatly improved battery life, I always suggest that you buy an extra battery and external charger with any camera simply because you can shoot if you’re charging your only battery. For most users, one extra Sony NP-FZ100 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery should be enough.
Sony a7 III does not ship with an external battery charger, so you definitely want to pick one up. In fact if you shoot heavily, you may want to purchase a second Sony BC-QZ1 Z-series Battery Charger so that you can charge two batteries at once. Featuring a 100-240 Volt compatible power adapter, this charger will be able to charge a battery completely in 150 minutes. It also features an LED indicator for checking charge status and has a slim design with a detachable AC cable.
Sony a7 III camera + Sony VG-C3EM Vertical Grip ($348 at B&H Photo | Amazon) is probably a MUST for sports or wildlife shooters…or anyone suffering from DSLR-withdrawal-syndrome. In addition to making a bigger body to grip, you get the added bonus of room for two NP-FZ100 batteries for double the battery life. Portrait photographers will appreciate the added vertical release.
UHS II SD Memory Cards
SD Card Slot 1 is UHS II compatible with Sony’s world’s fastest Sony SF-G cards featuring blistering fast 299MB/s Write Speed & 300MB/s Read Speed perfect for Sony a7R III’s 10 FPS burst shooting, 4K video, and other buffer-busting uses. If you plan to shoot video, you’ll want to stick to 64GB (or larger) SDXC cards for the best video codex. [Please Note: UHS-II SD cards will work in other Sony cameras – however only Sony a7R II & a9 can take advantage of it’s blazing write speed]
• Sony 32GB SF-G UHS-II SDHC Memory Card (Order from B&H | Amazon)
• Sony 64GB SF-G UHS-II SDXC Memory Card (Order from B&H | Amazon)
• Sony 128GB SF-G UHS-II SDHC Memory Card (Order from B&H | Amazon)
If you can’t get your hands on the Sony cards listed above, the next fastest option is SanDisk 32GB Extreme PRO UHS-II SDHC, 64GB Extreme PRO UHS-II SDXC or 128GB Extreme PRO UHS-II SDXC Memory Cards with 260 MB/s Max Write Speeds. Once again, stick to 64 or 128 GB SDXC cards for video.
• SanDisk 32GB Extreme PRO UHS-II SDHC Memory Card (Order from B&H | Amazon)
• SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO UHS-II SDXC Memory Card (Order from B&H | Amazon)
• SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO UHS-II SDXC Memory Card (Order from B&H | Amazon)
Hoodman Steel 2000x SDXC UHS-II Memory Card available in 64GB & 128GB fall short of Sony SF-G speed, but their 260 MB/s a Max Write Speed equals the speed of SanDisk cards with better construction and a lower price.