The A7 III is the cheapest model in Sony’s 24×36 hybrid sensor range. Launched after theA7R III and the A9, it takes over from the A7 II, which made a lasting impression thanks to its 5-axis stabilized sensor and its fluid and comfortable electronic viewfinder, which was nevertheless criticised for having too little range and the absence of a touch screen. More than just an upgrade, the A7 III marks a real renewal thanks to the integration of a backlit CMOS sensor, a 4D AF module inherited from the A9, ergonomics similar to those of the A9 and A7 R III, and a latest-generation battery with a capacity more than twice that of the A7 II, offering an autonomy of 710 shots.
At 126.9 x 95.6 x 73.7 mm and weighing around 650g, the A7 III is exactly the same size as the A7R III and features a slightly more pronounced grip than its predecessor. The grip is improved. The big hands will probably always find it a bit short and want to add an optional grip, but let’s face it, for us it’s an ideal size. Also note the impeccable workmanship of the unit, which features sealed knobs and knurls, gaskets and magnesium alloy covers.
The main settings are easily accessible via the top-mounted shooting and exposure-compensation access wheels, the front and rear wheels that easily fall under the thumb and forefinger, and the various shortcut keys located at different points on the body. As usual, Sony has placed them in numbers and, more importantly, has made them configurable so that users can customize their device.
Thus, the keys C1, C2, C3 will be able to call the most usual functions of each user but above all correspond to the habits taken on another box. So that one can switch very easily from an A7 III to an A9, an A7R III or even an A7S II, except for the C3 key placed on the right of the viewfinder on the latter. This is not a detail when we know that most photographers work with several cameras but that they do not necessarily have the finances to homogenize all their equipment or that they can choose different references according to their specificities.
In addition to this customizability, the A7 III has virtually everything you’d expect from a case in this class. The joystick on the right side of the screen provides quick adjustment of the camera’s viewfinder, while the AF-on button allows separate management of the shutter-release button and focus. The video recording is done through a button located next to the viewfinder and quickly accessible, and the connectors located on the left side of the camera do not interfere with the proper use of the camera. The memory card slot on the right side can hold two SD cards, but only one can be used to take advantage of the speed of UHS-II cards.
The tiltable screen, which unfortunately cannot be turned in all directions, is equipped with touch functionality. However, they remain inactive for navigation in the menus, which continue to be very dense. With a bit of time, however, you get used to it and you’ll have quickly adjusted the “My Menu” tab to get around the lack of user-friendliness that still exists on the brand’s cases. Using the simplified menu via the Fn button will also save you a lot of time, although a touch setting would be beneficial. Sony has been slow to make intelligent use of all the possibilities offered by touchscreens.
Finally, let us note that if the viewfinder is not the most defined of the range since it does not reach the 3.6 Mpts of the A9 and A7R III, it remains of very nice design with a 2.36 Mpts Oled slab and an optical block which ensures a 0.78x magnification. The viewfinder protrudes slightly beyond the camera, but the hinge release mechanism allows the viewfinder to be aimed at the screen without being obstructed. The camera’s start-up speed has also been improved since the A7 II, but it is still slower than with Nikon or Canon, the same goes for the processing of some shots, especially in long exposures, and the navigation in the menus which does not prove to be perfectly fluid.
Sony A7 III – FE 24-105 mm f/4G OSS – 51 mm – 5000 Iso – f/4 – 1/250s.
Inheriting the autofocus system of the A9, the A7 III is a pretty impressive camera in the field. Its 693 phase-correlation points and 425 contrast-analysis points cover 93% of the sensor’s surface area, ensuring fast and accurate focusing in all situations. The subject tracking is efficient and can be set in the camera’s menu, which would just benefit from offering a little more clarity.
As for the eye detection function, it brings real comfort as it is so precise. Its use should be even better after the product update scheduled for spring. Version 3 of the firmware will indeed bring the Real-Time Tracking and Real-Time Eye AF functions as well as an interval function. The mobile application that we have been able to take advantage of through the device’s WiFi and Bluetooth connections should also be updated soon.
Sony A7 III – FE 24-105 mm f/4G OSS – 105 mm – 250 Iso – f/4 – 1/800s.
Without reaching the 20 fps of the A9, the gust of the A7 III does not demerit either. It can shoot at up to 10 fps with subject tracking and auto exposure metering with over 170 Jpeg and up to 40 frames of uncompressed Raw. An anti-flicker shooting mode corrects the unevenness of series shot under difficult lighting conditions such as fluorescent tubes in sports halls.
Sony A7 III – FE 24-105 mm f/4G OSS – 105 mm – 800 Iso – f/4 – 1/125s.
Finally, let’s save the best for last: the totally silent mode allowed by the electronic shutter that totally changes the approach to photography. It’s a joy to be able to shoot without the subject suspecting it, both in reportage and portraits to keep the model’s full attention. It should be noted, however, that the latter does not allow speeds faster than 1/8000 s, as with the mechanical shutter, and that only the A9 can reach 1/32000 s.
Sony A7 III – FE 24-105 mm f/4G OSS – 105 mm – 800 Iso – f/4 – 1/125s.
If Sony did not make in the bidding of pixels, it is undoubtedly to leave a place of choice to the A7R III and its 42,4 Mpx. And it’s so much the better because we have to admit that our hard disks can’t take any more of his Gb of photographs! A definition of 24.2 MP is for our use largely sufficient and above all, it allows us to keep a beautiful image quality even in high sensitivity.
The Cmos BSI Exmor R sensor combined with the Bionz X processor provides a wide sensitivity range from 100 to 51,200 Iso and can be extended to 50 to 204,800. That’s 2 IL more than the 51,200 Iso in extended mode of the A7 II. The quality is excellent up to 12800 Iso where the finest details start to disappear but the noise remains contained and the saturation is very satisfactory. One can even consider photographing up to 25,600 Iso without too much worry. It’s very good, better than the competition itself (we haven’t tested the Panasonic Lumix S1 yet though).
Sony A7 III – FE 24-105 mm f/4G OSS – 24 mm – 12,800 Iso – f/4 – 1/30s.
This backlit sensor is additionally combined with a five-axis mechanical stabilization system, which Sony says is capable of compensating for up to five speed steps. Difficult to verify this value in practice, but let’s acknowledge that its effectiveness was obvious to us and that we appreciated the comfort of being able to lower the shutter speed without worry, in low light conditions or to suggest movement on fast subjects. This is a huge strength compared to, for example, a Canon EOS R which only exploits the stabilisation of the targets.
Sony A7 III – FE 24-105 mm f/4G OSS – 70 mm – 100 Iso – f/4 – 1/125s.
While the A7 II only offered Full HD video recording, the A7 III adds a 4K UHD mode at 25p without cropping. Unfortunately, the 60p speed offered by the Panasonic S1 and S1R is not reached. A Super35 mode is present as well as a 120p high-speed recording function in XAVC S HD 1920 x 1080. An HLG profile is offered as well as the S-log3. Zebra, Focus Peaking, timecode and manual focus magnifier are offered while the next update should further improve autofocus with real-time eye detection.
Headphone and microphone jacks are provided on the side along with uncompressed HDMI, USB Type-C and micro USB.
It is not the most user-friendly device available, and it will probably take a little time for users to adapt to the device and adapt it to their habits. This makes the A7 III an aircraft that you don’t lend to those around you or you’ll soon find yourself lost! But once this step is taken, he shows great abilities both in capturing fast moving subjects and in revealing beautifully detailed images even at high sensitivity. Its stabilized sensor is a notable strength, as is its versatility for both photo and video enthusiasts. Its viewfinder is not at the level of its partners of the Alpha range but it remains very comfortable. If Sony could have the good idea to exploit more the touch interface of its screen and to review the interface of its menu for more user-friendliness, the firm would then manage to erase the essential defects of the device.
Sony A7 III – FE 24-105 mm f/4G OSS – 105 mm – 1000 Iso – f/4 – 1/125s.