The Alpha A7 III sits on the bottom rung of Sony’s full-frame mirrorless camera range and is designed to appeal to both keen enthusiast photographers and professionals.
Previously the A7 series of cameras have always experienced poor relations to the A7R and A7S series. While the latter two ranges have tended to capture the limelight with their high pixel counts and advanced video capabilities, the A7 cameras have always been regarded as the basic models, sporting a solid but unremarkable set of features.
Sony Alpha A7 III: Price
That looks like it could all change with this third-generation A7 camera. Borrowing many features from the top-of-the-range Alpha A9, along with the Alpha A7R III, the Alpha A7 III appears anything but basic.
Check Out: Best Lenses for Sony A7 III
Sony Alpha A7 III: Features
Sony hasn’t been tempted to boost the resolution of the Alpha A7 III, so it stays at 24.2MP, like the Alpha A7 II. However, the sensor is completely new and features a back-illuminated design which, combined with the latest BIONZ X image processor, sees the sensitivity range greatly improved over the older model – with an extended ISO ceiling of 204,800 (the same as the Alpha A9), it’s three stops better than the A7 II’s 25,600 limit. Sony also reckons it’s managed to achieve a dynamic range of 15 stops with 14-bit raw files.
As the electronic viewfinder (EVF) doesn’t get a bump in quality to match the A7R III’s 3.8 million dots, the 2.3 million-dot EVF on the Alpha A7 III gets a slightly higher magnification element than the older model, up from 0.71x to 0.78x.
As we’ve seen with other recently announced Sony cameras, the rear 3.0-inch tilt-angle display is now touch-sensitive, enabling you to arrange the focus point and browse through images quickly, although it doesn’t allow for quick navigation of the camera’s menu.
It’s no surprise to see 4K video capture on the Alpha A7 III. Recording in 24p, the full width of the sensor is used, with complete pixel readout and without pixel binning. This views around 6K of data collected (2.4x the amount of data required), before the footage is then oversampled to produce what Sony says will be 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth. If you want to shoot at 30p, there’s a 1.2x crop option that uses roughly 5K of the sensor.
As we’ve seen with the Alpha A7R III, the Alpha A7 III gives a new HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) profile that helps an Instant HDR workflow, allowing HDR (HLG)-compatible TVs to playback 4K HDR footage.
As well as this, both S-Log2 and S-Log3 are available for increased color grading, while if you want to shoot Full HD footage that you can do so at up to 120fps.
Sony Alpha A7 III: Build and handling
The Alpha A7 III has the same body as the Alpha A7R III, which means the new camera gains the same refinements to the control layout as its higher-resolution stablemate.
So while there’s no dedicated travel mode dial or concentrate mode selector, mainly because we’ve seen about the Alpha A9, the Alpha A7 III does benefit from the addition of a multi-selector joystick.
As we found with the A7R III, the joystick greatly improves the handling of the camera, with AF point selection that much quicker out in the field. Another bit of good news is the arrival of a dedicated AF-On key on the trunk of the Alpha A7 III, making back-button focusing much easier. The button is positioned perfectly, although we wouldn’t mind it being a little more pronounced so it’s easier to press.
The rear scroll wheel is raised away from the body a bit more than on the Alpha A7 II, and it’s less likely that you’ll inadvertently change a setting thanks to there being slightly more resistance in its movement.
The body is a touch thicker compared to the A7 II as well, but it feels more satisfying to hold because of a refined grip, and the overall feel of the camera is very good thanks to a predominantly magnesium construction that virtually mirrors that of the Alpha A7R III. It’s not quite the same though, as while the back again panel of the A7R III is certainly forged from magnesium, the A7 III instead uses plastic.
As you’d expect for a camera at this price, all the major buttons and dials are sealed against the elements to protect from dust and dampness. That said, as we found with the Alpha A9, the three doors on the side of the Alpha A7 III that offers access to the camera’s numerous terminals don’t appear to have quite the level of sealing we’d hope to see; they feel a little flimsy, while there don’t look like rubber seals. You’ll definitely want to double-check that these are securely shut when shooting in less-than-perfect conditions.
Sony Alpha A7 III: Performance
While the Alpha A7 II could shoot at a modest 5fps, the Sony Alpha A7 III doubles this rate to a very brisk 10fps. This is thanks in part to the addition of the Front End LSI pre-processor, which has enabled Sony to boost the performance of the Alpha A7 III in a number of areas.
The camera boasts a pretty impressive buffer capacity of 89 compressed raw files (or 40 uncompressed), as the Alpha A7 III will happily shoot at 10fps for 177 JPEGs, a huge boost over the A7 II’s 52 JPEG file buffer. Suffice to say the burst shooting overall performance shouldn’t leave a lot of photographers wanting as of this price point.
Should you need to shoot discreetly or in quiet environments, you have the option to switch to the Alpha A7 III’s electronic shutter and take advantage of its silent shooting mode – and efficiency isn’t compromised, with the burst shooting speed staying at 10fps.
The viewfinder is large and bright, and its sharpness is also very good. If we do possess one complaint, it’s that you can notice a little bit of ‘tearing’ should you move the camera from side to side too quickly.
The rear display is great, but as we’ve found with additional Sony Alpha-series cameras there’s still quite a little room for further touchscreen integration, especially when it comes to menu navigation and on-screen settings adjustment.
The Alpha A7 III’s 5-axis, 5-stop image stabilization system works a treat – you’ll certainly be able to shoot with confidence at slower shutter speeds than would otherwise be possible and still come away with sharp shots.
Sony Alpha A7 III: Key Features
- 24MP full frame BSI CMOS sensor
- 93% autofocus coverage (693 phase detection points, 425 for contrast detection)
- Oversampled 4K/24p video taken from full width 6K (cropped-in 5K for 30p)
- In-body image stabilization
- 10 fps continuous shooting
- 2.36M-dot OLED viewfinder, 0.78x magnification
- AF joystick
- Larger, ‘Z-type’ battery (CIPA rated to 710 shots)
- Dual SD memory card slots
- USB 3.1 Type C
Sony Alpha A7 III: Conclusion
The A7 III places a foot barely wrong. Its specs make it a perfect all-rounder, one that’s so good that its price is a bit of a surprise indeed. Its handling and control configuration is not ideal (fans may disagree!), but in the face of its autofocus and continuous shooting results, that is soon forgotten, not to mention its 4K video capability. A few people could be put off by the 24MP resolution. A lot of higher-resolution full-frame cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS, Nikon D850, and Sony’s own A7R III have recently spoiled us. Even the Pentax K-1 Mark II beats the A7 III, with its 36.4MP sensor.
But pixels aren’t everything, and 24MP is still adequate to generate top-quality upgrades and satisfy most daily business briefs, and it’s what makes the A7 III’s incredible combination of pace, efficiency, and money value possible. In one region or another, other cameras can catch the headlines, but few are so reliably competent across such a wide variety of disciplines.