A first look at the new Sony A7III mirrorless camera

Apr 16, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

A first look at the new Sony A7III mirrorless camera

Apr 16, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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The new Sony A7III is undoubtedly the hottest topic in the photography world right now. As a “basic model” costing under $2,000, it’s insane how well it performs and the features it contains. It contains many of the same features found in its more expensive A7RIII and A9 siblings, and is a significant upgrade over the previous model A7II.

Amongst the upgrades, the first is the sensor. While the resolution is roughly the same, the A7III sensor is a newly developed Exmor R CMOS sensor with BSI (back-side illumination) technology. This means that it allows it to perform better at higher ISO as well as offer an increased dynamic range. A dynamic range of 15 stops, according to Sony. The ISO has had a one stop bump, too thanks to the new sensor, with a native range of 100-51200, vs the A7II’s 100-25600. On the A7III, this is expandable between ISO50-204800.

The autofocus system features the same 693 phase detection autofocus points as the A9. But the big difference is the A7III’s 425 contrast detection AF points, whereas the A9 has a mere 25. At slow apertures or in low light conditions where phase detection might not work as well as one would hope, this can make a big difference.

As with the A9, A7RIII and its predecessor the A7II, the new A7III features 5-axis in-body image stabilisation. Sony say the new A7III IBIS stabilises up to 5 stops, whereas the A7III would max out at 4.5 stops.

Shifting over to the video side of things, it’s seen some very nice improvements. It shoots 4K with no sensor crop at 24 or 25fps (1.2x crop at 30fps). It will let you shoot S-Log3 as well as HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma). At 1080p it’ll shoot up to 120fps for a bit of slow motion. It also contains zebra, focus peaking and the other tools we’d expect from a Sony mirrorless when shooting video.

But what I found really interesting was something Mark said during our chat above. That the A7III will actually shoot lower resolution proxy files while it’s recording your main video simultaneously. Despite 4K becoming more of the standard every day, and computers becoming more powerful than ever at relatively low prices, it still needs a fairly powerful system to edit 4K video smoothly. Proxy files allow you to edit in a lower resolution, but then render from the original high resolution source files. Normally, you’d have to create these low resolution files yourself, potentially adding hours or even days to your workflow. Having them created in-camera will make a lot of lives much easier.

One of the biggest complaints about the A7II (and most other older generation Sony cameras) is the battery life performance. Thankfully, with the new body design, more efficient components and utilising the same battery as the Sony A9, the battery life is now much better than it was, claiming up to 710 shots (610 with the EVF). A massive increase over the 350 shots of the A7II.

The Sony A7III is available to buy now for $1,998, and is shipping.

If you want to see more of what we found at The Photography Show, check these out…

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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