Gear Review: Sony a7 III Sets the Gold Standard for “Basic” $2,000 Fullframe Cameras

Sony a7 III las vegas

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 Body Only ($1,998 at B&H Photo | Amazon)
Sony a7 III bundled with FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens ($2,198 at B&H Photo | Amazon).

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″³ 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.

Sony a7 III Elvis Las Vegas
Sony a7 III + Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM OSS • 1/40 • F/4 • ISO 160

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.


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM OSS • 1/400 • F/7.1 • ISO 100


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM OSS • 1/400 • F/9 • ISO 100

15-Stop Dynamic Range

Dynamic Range gets a one-stop boost to 15 Stops to capture even more detail in high contrast images.

Sony a7 III aerial las vegas
Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/640 • F/4 • ISO 100

Improved BIONZ X Image Processor & Front-End LSI


sony-a7-iii-bionz-x-lsi-processor
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-pdaf-points
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

Sony NP-FZ100 Battery Size
Size comparison of Sony 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 UHS-II SD Card Slots

Sony a7 III Dual UHS-II 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 portsSony 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.


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/1250 • F/4.5 • ISO 100

Sony a7 III high speed action test
Sony a7 III + Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS • 1/320 • F/5 • ISO 6400


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS • 1/200 • F/4.5 • ISO 6400

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%)

FULL IMAGE:


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA • 1/1000 • F/2.5 • ISO 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. Flexible Spot AF locks in quickly and accurately even in dim lighting.

Sony a7 III low light sensitivity
Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/160 • F/2.5 • ISO 1600

Video Features

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-Before-After-Color-Grading.jpg
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

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.

Proxy Support

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.

More Images:


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/60 • F/8 • ISO 100


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM OSS • 1/160 • F/13 • ISO 100


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM OSS • 1/200 • F/8 • ISO 100


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM OSS • 1/160 • F/9 • ISO 100


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/2500 • F/5 • ISO 200


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/1250 • F/5 • ISO 200


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/200 • F/7.1 • ISO 100


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/640 • F/4.5 • ISO 400


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/800 • F/4 • ISO 400


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/1600 • F/4 • ISO 400


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM OSS • 1/160 • F/2.8 • ISO 5000


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/160 • F/4 • ISO 5000


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/100 • F/4.5 • ISO 25,600


Sony a7 III + Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS • 1/1000 • F/10 • ISO 51,200

Drawbacks…

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.

No Apps

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 Body Only ($1,998 at B&H Photo | Amazon)
Sony a7 III bundled with FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens ($2,198 at B&H Photo | Amazon).

Sony a7 III will 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.

When you pre-order from B&H Photo, your credit card is not charged until your camera arrives at the their warehouse.

ORDER YOURS NOW!

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-np-fz100-battery
Sony NP-FZ100 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries ($78 at B&H Photo | Amazon)

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 BC-QZ1 Z-series Battery Charger ($98 at B&H | Amazon)

Sony VG-C3EM Vertical Grip

sony a7 iii vertical grip
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 SF-G UHS-II SD cards available in 32GB, 64GB & 128GB (Stick to 64 or 128 GB SDXC cards for video)

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)

sandisk extreme pro uhs-ii sd cards/a>
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 sdxc cards
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.

Hoodman 64GB Steel 2000x SDXC UHS-II Memory Card (Order from B&H | Amazon)
Hoodman 128GB Steel 2000x SDXC UHS-II Memory Card (Order from B&H | Amazon)

See More Sony a7 III Accessories

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21 thoughts on “Gear Review: Sony a7 III Sets the Gold Standard for “Basic” $2,000 Fullframe Cameras”

  1. Brian, thanks for the review! I was wondering about the sensitivity of the sensor, as it is (said to be) improved. So my question is whether I can use it with higher ISO before I can notice noise. Have you experienced better sensitivity or tested it?

      1. High ISO Noise is virtually equal to a7R III but to clarify, when compared at the same file size of 24MP the A7R3 as expected pulls ahead.

        1. I only compare noise based on similar output size as that’s what you’d see in a print. High ISO Noise performance is so close between a7 III and a7R III that it should not be a reason to pick one camera over the other.

      2. Actually I meant the dynamic range, which is claimed to be 15 stops. The DxOMark dynamic range score for the a7 II is 13.6, while the a7R III scores 14.7. Given Sony’s claim for the a7 III I hope / guess the a7 III is more like the a7 III in this respect, but I was looking for some confirmation.
        However, the noise info you provided is perhaps even more useful! Thanks.

        1. DPReview’s Dynamic Range tests of a7 III showed 1/3 stop more Dynamic Range than a7R III.

          If you do the math with DxO’s a7R III score that would confirm 15 stops.

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  3. I’m not sure what to believe at this point if the a7III has a low pass filter or not .
    I keep seeing different opinions on this issue. Is there anyway to get to the truth on this issue ? Also does it really make much of a difference if the 7III does have a low pass fitler ?

    1. Sony ain’t sayin’ and given the number of “armchair engineers” who seem to have an opinion, I doubt that will change. I agree with your last statement, because the only thing that really matters is how the images look.

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  5. If you’re a landscape photographer, disregarding the mirrorless or DSLR argument, and you need high resolution images, the Pentax K1, 36megs, FF, adjustable AA filter, pixel shift, at about $1700 easily beats the a7III. If you shoot video and have a need for shooting in low light, the a7III winds hands down. I own the K1 and I’ve ordered the a7III. Choose the right tool for the job, there is no single best.

    1. I know that sensor well. It was used in the first generation a7R as well as Nikon D800 & D810. It was a great sensor for it’s time, but Sony’s current 24mp technology easily matches it. Throw in all the a7 III features that trump K-1 like 693-Point Hybrid AF, Eye AF, Silent Shooting, 10 FPS, 4K Video and better low light performance and a7 III wins hands down.

      1. And I know both sensors well, as well. The new sensor in the a7III is spectacular for DR, S/N but it still won’t match the resolution of the K1, which has a defeatable AA filter, pixel shift, and you can take that to the bank. If you want to see the comparison go to DPR.com and check it out.

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  12. Hi Brian,
    I have a FeelWorld external display for my Sony A7RIII and I can display 4k videos on it, coming from my Sony.
    But as soon as I hit the REC button, my Sony starts registering the 4k rush but no more signal is sent to the hdmi on which my monitor is plugged. His screen becomes dark.
    Do you know f there is a solution to register 4k videos on the Sony A7RIII and have also the display on the external monitor through the hdmi output ?
    (can’t find anything on this on Sony Help web site).

    Thanks,
    Olivier.

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