Sony has unveiled the highly anticipated a7 III, a full-frame mirrorless camera for the pros. We will tell you what are the main differences from the second generation, and why advanced photographers and videographers should pay special attention to it.
Sony’s journey to technological leadership in the world of photography has been long, arduous and challenging. But it seems to have been passed. Sony’s first two full-frame mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras – the a7 and a7R – showed direction back in 2013, and it looked like it could take at least a decade to move. But already the second generation, with the addition of the a7S model (with a low-resolution sensor designed primarily for video shooting), made a sharp leap and showed – yes, now the mirror monsters in the face of Canon and Nikon have full-fledged competitors ahead of them in technological terms.
The third generation, launched late last year with the a7R III (with high-resolution sensor – heavy emphasis on studio and landscape photography), solidifies the success. To continue it, the Sony a7 III has been created, which is characterized primarily by the perfect balance of its components and a slightly more moderate price.
This is where mirrorless cameras started their journey – with the promise of being more compact. Sony a7 III, if you push it head-on with some ordinary representative of the Micro Four Thirds system (Panasonic, Olympus), in this respect it may seem like a real giant. But it’s worth putting it next to any of its direct competitors – the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or Nikon D750 – to see how much more compact it is. And lighter – together with the battery, it weighs 650 grams. Yes, there is no question of putting the Sony a7 III in a handbag – this is a serious tool, for which you need to use at least a regular backpack, and preferably a specialized case.
However, the build quality does not suffer. The chassis is made of magnesium alloy, lining with rubberized and plastic elements. There is no declared moisture protection, but the camera will withstand work in a light rain without serious consequences. The body is equipped with a rather large protrusion for gripping with the right hand – it is very convenient to shoot offhand.
The old scourge of Sony mirrorless cameras from the NEX family is the original, but requiring unnecessary manipulation of the control system. That reputation fades with every new model in the full-frame family. The Sony a7 III has plenty of analogue controls, and most of them can be reassigned. The camera also has a 3-inch touch screen cover – primarily used to select parameters in the quick menu and control the focus point with one touch.
A key innovation in the Sony a7 III’s control system is the joystick, which is also used to select the focus point. He came here straight from the older models: the a9 and a7R III.
The interface is simple and utilitarian – when you have more than a hundred adjustable parameters, there is no point in coming up with a beautiful shell. Used horizontal navigation with vertical lists, there is a subsection “my menu”, which can be filled with settings at your discretion – for quick access.
Both minus and plus of mirrorless cameras is the impossibility of using a classic optical viewfinder based on a pentaprism. Minus – because any electronic viewfinder does not display information in real time, it is necessarily processed. Plus – because in the viewfinder you see the picture exactly as it will appear in the final picture; this is very convenient. The 2.36 million-dot OLED viewfinder installed in the Sony a7 III works great – flickering in artificial light is almost negligible, lagging is minimal. If you wish, you can build a frame using a regular screen, especially since it is oblique here – in search of an ideal angle, there is no need to take unnatural poses.
Upgraded sensor, nimble shutter and cool stabilization
The Sony a7 III has a full-frame (35.8 x 23.8 mm) 24-megapixel sensor (maximum image resolution is 6000 x 4000 pixels). Physically, it is identical to what we saw in the a7 II, but there is one important detail – the backlighting of the matrix, which can significantly improve its performance in low light conditions. The range of sensitivity has not been changed and is ISO 100-25600, but the camera’s capabilities within this framework have increased.
Due to the relatively low resolution by today’s standards, the camera maintains a balance between the detail of images and the ability to work at high ISO – it has a very good reporting potential. It is emphasized by its high rate of fire – when using a mechanical shutter, the Sony a7 III can shoot up to 10 frames per second. The range of shutter speeds is classic for a serious camera: from 1/8000 s to 30 s with the ability to set longer shutter speeds in Bulb mode.
Helps you get great results when shooting handheld at night and the built-in 5-axis stabilizer that compensates for up to five stops. At the same time, he knows how to work in tandem with an optical stabilizer built into many Sony lenses.
For recording pictures, two slots for memory stick or SD memory cards are provided at once. Only one of them, however, works with a UHS-II class card. You can write JPEG on one card, and RAW on the other. Or one photo and another video.
Another element that the a7 III has inherited from its older models without any changes is the impressive autofocus module. It is a hybrid, combining phase sensors located on a sensor with a contrast method for determining focus. A total of 693 points are used, which cover 93% of the frame. This makes it possible to hold the tracking object at any point in the frame, as well as to automatically determine not only the model’s face, but also her eyes. Errors in portrait photography are minimized.
Focusing works effectively with lighting up to EV-4, and not only at the center point, as in some competitors, but over the entire surface.
4K video recording
Even smartphones are able to record video in Ultra HD (3840 × 2160) resolution, some with HDR support. But the Sony a7 III is more serious: in addition to the microphone and headphone jacks and flexible shooting control using a customizable interface, there are a number of functions that allow you to consider the camera as a tool for professional video shooting.
First, it supports XAVC 4K, XAVC HD and AVCHD formats, as well as S-Log2, S-Log3 and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) profiles. This means a very wide range of editing and post-processing options.
Second, the full sensor surface is used when shooting 4K video at 24 frames per second and 1.2-crop when shooting in 4K at 30 frames per second. Due to this, the loss of parts during compression is minimized.
Thirdly, high-quality control over the rolling shutter effect (progressive transfer of the captured image) – there will be no problems with it either.
And as a bonus – the ability to shoot in Full HD at up to 120 frames per second, you can make slow motion video.
It should be said that the sensor lacks a low-pass filter, which allows you to increase detail, but can lead to problems with moiré – for the most part, completely unimportant when taking photos (everything is corrected in the editor), but they can be critical when shooting video.
And on the wires, and without them
The Sony a7 III has all the interfaces you need. We have already mentioned the mini-jacks for headphones and a microphone above, the camera also has connectors for direct video transmission via HDMI, USB 3.1 (Type-C) for communication with a computer and microUSB for charging.
There is also a set of wireless modules: Wi-Fi is used to transfer files to a mobile device, and Bluetooth and NFC are used for quick communication with this very device without entering unnecessary passwords and reading QR codes.
Sony a7 III comes with a more serious battery than before – NP-FZ100 with a capacity of 16.4 Wh (2280 mAh, 7.2 V). It is enough for 610-710 shots according to the CIPA standard, depending on the use of the viewfinder or LCD monitor to frame the frame. Or 200-210 minutes of continuous video recording. This is roughly double that of the Sony a7 II and is at least slightly comparable to DSLRs.
If you wish, you can purchase a battery grip that will significantly increase these numbers. And you can recharge the camera using an external battery – and without stopping the photo session. Shooting and charging are available at the same time.
The Sony a7 III is the sweet spot of the Japanese company’s full-frame mirrorless camera family. It combines a relatively reasonable price and features that came directly from the a7R III and a9: an autofocus system, a joystick to control this very focus, and a high shooting speed, and professional video settings in 4K resolution, and a radically increased battery life. … A sensor of relatively low resolution opens up additional possibilities when shooting at high ISO. This is a mirrorless camera that will perform well in any situation.
really addicted to cameras and old school stuff