Sony Alpha A7R III Review

When the Sony A7R II was manufactured, it was a huge hit, branded as one of the best cameras, that was until the coming of the Nikon D850. The Sony Alpha A7R III is a Sony mirrorless camera excellent for its massive megapixel and extra performance. In this Sony Alpha A7R III review, you will be exposed to the impressive features, limitations and key areas of this camera.

It is a generally upgraded camera of the Sony A7R II. Also it is one of the most versatile mirrorless cameras out there today. It’s designed and technology seems to be drawn from the sports-model Sony A9 in order to further boost the performance, speed and resolution, as the A7R II was no more the go-to camera it initially was.

Pros:

• High resolution of 42.2MP and shooting at 10fps
• Compact and lightweight camera
• EVF is very large and bright
• Autofocus system and is very quick and responsive
• IS system is very enhanced, giving out a very clear image.

Cons:

• SD card slot support is limited to UHS-II
• Battery lifespan is not bad, but there is room for performance
• The screen only moves up and down.

The Sony A7R III is a full-frame mirrorless camera and an upgraded version of the A7R II. Sony has been successful at drawing the attention of many photographers away from the usual DSLRs over the years, exposing photographers to the beauty of mirrorless cameras. In order to make this long-effective, they have always produced mirrorless cameras with excellent resolution and performance.

See also our Nikon D3400 Review

Thanks to the appealing specification, mainly its high resolution of 42.4MP, 10fps, a very fast AF system and performance and some changes to the handling, the Sony A7R III is branded as one of most versatile and utility cameras.

Key Features and Specification Include:

• 42.4MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor
• 10fps continuous shooting
• 4K video capture
• Hybrid autofocus system with 399 phase-detection points
• 3.69M dot OLED viewfinder
• 5-axis IS rated 5.5 stops
• SD card slots (UHS-I and UHS-II)
• ISO I00-32,000 expanded to ISO 50-102,400
• 3.0-inch tilt-angle screen with 1,440,000 dots

A first look at the A7R III, you would find the A7R III is a compact and lightweight SLR-style camera and comes with a 42.4MP back side illuminated CMOS sensor much like the A7R II in design and resolution. This is unlike the A9 which has a stacked CMOS sensor with higher speed in the burst speed and autofocus performance. Nevertheless, there are similarities and features sourced from the A9 in order to make this camera what it is.

The A7R III comes with a new front-end LSI that increases the readout speed of the camera sensor and BIONZ X image processor. These two have helped to boost up the processing speed of this mirrorless camera, making it shoot faster and handle much data.

The ISO sensitivity is extended to ISO 50-102,400 from the base ISO 100-32,000. It has a better image quality and noise performance than the A7R II thanks to its excellent and fast processing engine (supported with LSI and BIONZ X image processor). This camera also offers a 15-stop dynamic range at low sensitivity settings of ISO 100.

See also our Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Review

EVF, AF, LCD Screen and Connectivity:

Other notable features of the A7R III is the shooting speed. It is capable of shooting at 10fps and 8fps with live updates. The EVF is similar to that of A9. The Quad-VGA OLED EVF has 3.69M dot resolution. While the EVF uses Zeiss T* Coating to minimize obtrusive reflections, it shoots at 60fps or 120fps. It is capable of shooting 28 uncompressed RAW files for single burst and 76 compressed RAW or JPEG files.

The shutter unit is rated at 500,000 cycles with low vibration. There is the electronic shutter suitable when you want to shoot silently. The 3.0-inch tilt-angle screen has a resolution of 1,440,000 dots.

There is the 399 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection points while the AF system covers most part of the frame. This is better than the 25 CDAF points of A7R II but is similar to the A9 in that they both have similar autofocus logarithms for better AF performance, AF tracking, and Eye-AF performance.

The A7R III has a dual SD card slot (UHS-I and UHS-II), but as we noted above, the SD card slot support is limited to the faster UHS-II. Connectivity options are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Wi-Fi connectivity is built-in and is connected to smartphones with the help of free PlayMemories Mobile app for Android and iOS. You can now easily transfer images using the Fn butt0n on the back of the camera.

The 5-axis in-body IS is possibly the most effective as you are sure to shoot with no blurs and is known to be compatible with any lens.

4K Video Capture:

In terms of video quality, the A7R III shoots 4K video capture with either 35mm format or full width of the sensor. The 35mm format mode uses a full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect about 5K of information. It is further oversampled to produce a much clearer footage. The A7R III records 4K video capture. The HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) profile in the camera supports an Instant HDR workflow. The 4K HDR footage can be played back using the HDR (HLG)-compatible TV’s. There are the S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma modes that are for increased color grading (it retains much dynamic range for easier color grading). You can also shoot Full HD footage at a max. of 120fps.

The battery life of this camera is rated at 650 shots for LCD or 530 for EVF. The A7R III uses NP-FZ100 battery just like the A9. Other additional features new in this mirrorless camera include the Micro-USB port. There are two USB ports, with one, you could charge your camera. There is also the USB-C connected to Sony software; the free Imaging Edge software.

Body and Handling:

A7R II and A7R III share a similar design. The size of the A7R III is 126.9 x 95.7 x 73.7mm and weighs 657g. The hand grip is deeper to allow a larger battery, it is safer and better to hold while there is no dedicated drive mode dial known to be at the left of the EVF on A9.

The ports and doors are sealed from dust and moisture, the only problem being if the plastic covers used for protecting them are good enough seeing that other cameras use a thick rubber coating like the Nikon D850. All major buttons and dials are well sealed and protected from dust and moisture. The A7R III has a much thicker body than the A7R II. It is made of a magnesium alloy construction at the top, the front, and the rear.

See also our Nikon D850 Review

Handling and Controls:

In terms of handling, at the back, there is the multi-selector joystick that improves handling. It helps for faster AF point selection. There is also the dedicated AF-ON button for back focusing.

At the rear is the ‘C3’ custom button as is seen on the A9 and there is the rear scrollwheel easily seen. The rear touch display has been added to eliminate some frustrations that come with the  Alpha A7R II. Thanks to it, it disables the eye sensor especially when the screen is flipped out. You can now shoot at waist level without having your feed cut on the screen unlike in the  Alpha A7R II.

Most of these little tweaks have made the A7R III user-friendly and easy to use. The menu system is now color-coded and so easy to understand. You can easily find out whatever you seem to be looking for and once the custom buttons are set together with the body controls, you don’t need to regularly visit the main menu.

One little problem though is that the handgrip is in very close proximity to the lens mount. Hence there is no much space and when you shoot with gloves, it is difficult to fix in your fingers. Also, the AF-ON button is also very close to the viewfinder which is a slight problem when you are using the back-button focusing.

Another problem that Sony has not fixed though is the connection ports layout. For instance, the headphone and microphone sockets, micro-USB remote release port. The headphone and microphone sockets are not placed behind the same cover, you have no choice but to expose the PC sync and HDMI ports when you are trying to record videos.

Viewfinder and Screen:

The EVF of the Alpha A7R III is similar to that of A9. The Quad-VGA OLED EVF has 3.69M dot resolution. This gives a well-detailed view as large as any full-frame DSLR. While the EVF uses Zeiss T* Coating to minimize obtrusive reflections, it shoots at 60fps or 120fps. At 120fps, it guarantees more fluid motion, though there would be moiré and jaggies.

The LCD 3.0-inch tilt-angle screen has a resolution of 1,440,000 dots. Added to this is the Whitemagic technology for more brightness. The LCD is touch sensitive which is a welcome advantage and the 3.0-inch tilt-angle screen is ok as it does not affect the connection ports.

AF System:

There is the 399 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection points while the AF system covers about 68% most part of the frame. This is better than the 25 CDAF points of A7R II. Due to this, there is much improvement in the AF speed, while it performs much better in low-light situations more than was even expected. There is also better AF performance, AF tracking, and Eye-AF performance. It also focuses impressively as low as -3EV which is equivalent to complete darkness.

There are many autofocus settings ranging from the Center mode which uses central AF point to the Wide or Zone mode for general photography (in the Wide mode, the camera tracks the subject wherever and anywhere in the frame). The Flexible Spot mode allows you to use the joystick and place your focus area anywhere around the frame, usually, the camera highlights the AF area in orange when setting focus point with the touchscreen. When set with the joystick, the AF area is highlighted in dull mid-grey, making it invisible. The Expanded Flexible Spot works with the additional AF points to assist in focusing.

The Eye AF now employs the same autofocus algorithms of the A9. When set in the AF-C mode and the Eye AF activated, it performs better and continuously track and focuses on the subject’s eyes. Even in bad situations, it is able to keep track of your subject even when they are moving around. The Eye AF mode is suitable for shooting portraits.

Video Capture:

In terms of video quality, the A7R III shoots 4K video capture with either 35mm format or full width of the sensor. The 35mm format mode uses a full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect about 5K of information. It is further oversampled to produce a much clearer footage. The Alpha A7R III records 4K video capture. The recording is activated using the red button close to the viewfinder.

See also our Sony Alpha A7 III Review

The HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) profile in the camera supports an Instant HDR workflow. The 4K HDR footage can be played back using the HDR (HLG)-compatible TV’s. There are the S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma modes that are for increased color grading (it retains much dynamic range for easier color grading).

You can also shoot Full HD footage at a max. of 120fps. There is the inbuilt microphone and headphone sockets essential for quality sound recording. Other video features are the zebra pattern overexposure pattern, a customizable peaking display for manual focus.

The Slow and Quick mode allows for Full HD recording at 1fps to 100fps that is from one-quarter-speed slow motion, up to 8x speed quick motion. The A7R III guarantees quality video footage with a lot of detail, while the in-body IS helps to eliminate possible shakes resultant from hand-held shooting.

Performance and Image Quality:

A quick look at the A7R III shows that has been an improvement in the shooting speed. It shoots at double of 5fps seen in the A7R II. At 10fps, it does that with continuous AF/AE tracking. At the same time, it is capable of shooting 28 uncompressed RAW files for single burst and 76 compressed RAW or JPEG files.

This can be done with the mechanical shutter or the electronic shutter. The electronic shutter is suitable when you want to shoot silently.

The 5-axis optical IS is rated 5.5 stops shutter speed advantage. This is an improvement on the 4.5-stops of A7R II. There is also a new low-vibration shutter mechanism to reduce vibration and image blur when shooting at 10fps.
The EVF is similar to the A9, giving out a very clear and large view thanks to the 3.69M dot resolution. it shoots for 530 shots when using the viewfinder and 650 shots on rear display thanks to its improved battery NP-FZ100 life.

Image Quality:

Thanks to its 42.4MP and low-pass filter the A7R III guarantees excellent image quality even close to some of the best DSLRs, Nikon D850 and 50MP Canon EOS 5DS. It resolves 4800 l/ph. There is a blend of high resolution at low sensitivities, releasing images with a huge amount of detail. Even when the ISO is raised gradually (from 1600 up to ISO 32,000) there is a reduced effect of noise. Speaking of noise levels, it is well controlled, giving out excellent results in granular noise and chroma noise.

Thanks to the stunning 15-stop dynamic range at low sensitivity settings of ISO 100, it is able to deliver an excellent amount of detail even in deep shadows and at the same time eliminating noise.

The metering mode is so dependable in its multi-pattern mode. You can visualize in the viewfinder when the camera overexposes and dial in the requisite corrections.

Verdict and Comparison:

Thanks to this excellent and brilliant camera, photographers in all aspects and fields do not need to be entirely dependent on other DSLRs.  This camera is one of the best versatile and well-rounded mirrorless cameras out there in the market today. Thanks to the mix perfection of performance and high resolution, this camera is able to stand tall to the challenges of the Nikon D850 and similar high-end DSLRs. Like earlier stated, its high 45MP resolution and 10fps continuous shooting are excellent.

Sony has successfully upgraded the A7R II with the A7R III when it mattered most. Even though it retains some similarities especially in the image quality, there’s been some notable improvement in the AF performance and burst speed. Also, there is a better battery life and control layout.

Comparison:

As impressive as the A7R III is, it certainly not the best mirrorless camera, though it is one of the best and well-rounded mirrorless cameras. The sports Sony A9 seems to perform better in terms of speed and processing. The Nikon D850 has a higher resolution and has a better edge, possibly a close rival.

See also our Nikon D850 Review

Overall, the A7R III is a very impressive camera, one of the best cameras in the market.

Price and Value:

The Sony Alpha A7R III is valued at $2999.95 in Amazon.

Here is a video review:

Author: Arinze

A Photography enthusiastic. I work with a group of other professional photographers to provide you tips on photography

About Arinze

A Photography enthusiastic. I work with a group of other professional photographers to provide you tips on photography

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