Four years ago we saw the update to the original Sony a7, which brought many improvements and even a refreshed body design.
This year we’re introduced to a 3rd generation to the a7 family, with the Sony a7 III. In this model we see that familiar body design of the 2nd generation, but inside the body is where they different quite drastically from one another.
I decided to separate the a7 III review from the one that’s shared with the a7 and a7 II models, for the sake that even though this is still similar to the 2nd gen there’s far more in this camera to share on it’s own. It also would make that review too convoluted.
This review will be updated throughout this year. As you all know I love running a camera through majority of the genre’s I photograph in, to give you an in-depth review of a cameras performance in various shooting scenarios.
What I think about the a7 III
An affordable basic that’s beyond “basic”!
This camera is positioned as the basic a7 camera model and one that’s for everyone, but it’s more feature packed than you’d think for a “basic” full frame camera.
Some call this the baby version of the higher end Sony a9, which I can see from many of the features from this camera that are in this camera, like the 693 AF points, 204,800 ISO shooting and silent shooting, but the performance between them is vastly different. Up until now the silent shooting was available in all of the other full frame cameras (since the Mark 2 versions) except in the Mark 2 of the a7. Having these high end features in a $2,000 camera body makes this a highly considered choice for photographers looking to upgrade to another Sony or from other camera brands.
The sheer speed of this camera is also quite impressive. From it’s high frame rate of 10fps to it’s incredibly fast AF-system and preciseness to locking on to focus with any lens were some of the biggest highlights during my use of it.
To keep this review focused on the point at hand, which is the Sony a7 III I will not have a direct comparison of this camera to the Sony a9. If you’d like to learn more about that particular model then click here to read my full review on it.
693 Phase Detection and 425 Contrast Detection Points
10 fps burst rate
Built-In WiFI, NFC and QR code
Location data acquisition via Bluetooth
USB Type-C Port, Weather-Sealed Design
My initial use of the a7 III was in Fashion, Lifestyle, Nature and Landscapes, while on the Sony Kando 2.0 retreat from last week. I tried to do as many different genre’s as possible, to have enough content for starting this review and adding to it throughout the year.
Being that this line has always been positioned as the balance camera between the Sony a7R and a7S series of cameras they’ve offered a flexible use. With the enhancements in the a7 III it makes this camera an even more likely choice for a vast array of shooting conditions than it’s other a7 siblings and even to the higher end a9 for many.
You also have 4K video recording capability, at up to 30p, various picture profiles to suit your needs for later post production and fast data transfer with the USB 3.1 Type-C connection.
Favorite lenses for the a7 III
You can’t have a high performing camera like the a7 III and not have a selection of great lenses to use with it. Here’s some of the lenses I’ve used for the images featured here with the a7 III, that produce great image quality and takes advantage of the sensor of the a7 III:
Carl ZEISS FE 16-35mm f/4 (Amazon) - A quality wide angle lens option for the Sony E-Mount. It’s a fairly light lens as well, which makes it a great combination for the full frame cameras and long days of photographing. (Read my full review on this lens here)
Carl ZEISS FE 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon) - This was such a great fast prime to use with these cameras. For my Fashion, Street and Nature work this lens has been a great quality choice. (Read my full review on this lens here)
Carl ZEISS Batis FE 85mm f/1.8 (Amazon) - An incredible prime lens and now my most used lens of the 5 I presently own. The color reproduction, sharpness, contrast and speed of the AF really make this a stellar lens and one I certainly think is a must have for any genre of photography. (Read my full review on this lens here)
Sony FE 100mm STF G Master f/2.8 (Amazon) - This is the best Sony G Master lens, in my opinion. It’s an incredible piece of glass, that offers stunning bokeh and speed in focusing. It’s especially great for portraits and also other types of work as well. The thing I love about this lens is that it offers a lot of the qualities I love about the ZEISS lenses in this lens.
What’s new in the a7 III camera body?
It’s about the same familiar build you’ve seen in the previous Sony a7 II, but a few minor things have been updated on this model. The body is a bit wider with a bigger grip, it has a new shutter button that’s larger, a relocated movie button, the C3 button is now to the left of the menu button, there’s a name plate of the model on the rear and a new Slow & Quick option on the mode dial.
This camera features a magnesium alloy build. Unlike the higher end a7R III and a9, this only features such alloy on the top cover, front cover and internal frame only and not on the rear cover like those two models.
You also have the new Auto Focus joystick, which gives adjusting your focus point it’s own wheel on the camera vs being assigned to a button or the wheel of the camera like the a7 II. There’s now the AF-on button, that can be pressed to activate auto-focus directly when shooting images and videos.
There’s also a new door for the SD card slots (which also has a lock), as now you have two SD card slots, along with a bigger battery this camera holds now with the Z series battery.
The screen is now touch screen and it’s slightly positioned differently from the a7 II. The screen sits more to the right alignment of the screen vs the a7 II having a left alignment.
What do you like about the Sony a7 III?
Image quality - Razor sharp quality, as you’d expect from a Sony. With high quality optics paired with this camera you’re always going to come away with exceptional quality images in both sharpness and colors, even from the JPEG images of this camera.
Eye-AF - It’s impressive to how responsive and quick the AF of this camera is and the Eye-AF is very effective. While photographing at the Monterey Aquarium and the various model sets Sony had during Kando 2.0 I never had an issue with focusing, as the camera was quick to lock on to any subjects eyes.
Dynamic Range - This camera is capable of up to 15 stops of dynamic range. That’s an insane range and what’s even more insane is how true that is. You’re able to pull or push a ton of detail out of a single image from this camera. Back with the original a7 I began to stop doing HDR (High Dynamic Range) brackets and opted for single image edits on, due to the great dynamic range of the Sony’s. In the Mark 3 this just adds even more to what was already a great, solid system for DR.
Lens options - Having the flexibility to use an adapter and being able to use other brands of lenses, even the A-Mount on this tiny camera is great! I use a variety of lenses with my cameras and having features like focus peaking helps when using even full manual lenses.
Tilt LCD Touch screen - Years ago I was not one to be sold on touch screen cameras. Well, not really sold on them but said I didn’t need a camera with that to make or break a camera purchase for me. It’s a very useful feature to have, but not one I have to have 24/7. =) It’s very responsive and doesn’t take multiple taps to place focus where you’d like in your composition.
Focusing - This camera has 425 contrast detect focus points and an even more impressive 693 phase detect focus points. That’s the same as the top of the line Sony a9. That’s also a huge increase from the a7 II, which was only 117 and 25. This is also something the new Sony a7R III doesn’t have. =)
Battery - With the new Z battery, you obtain battery life that’s more than 50% of that of the previous 2 a7 models. I was able to go a full day on one battery, which could sometimes not be possible on the older models (especially in extreme temperatures where battery life drains even faster).
IBIS - The Mark 3 model now offers 5 stops of stabilization capability (which is .5 more than that of the a7 II). This will make shooting in low light situations even more possible with that half of a stop increase.
Low Light Sensitivity - You receive a massive increase in low light capability of this camera. During my usage I increased ISO to 8,000 without thinking about it. This is something I didn’t do on the previous model. With a native range of 51,200 and an expanded range of up to 204,800 ISO you have a far greater low light performing camera over the a7 II, which only was capable of 25,600 on both native and expanded range.
FPS - This isn’t to the level of the a9, but at 10 frames per second it’s a big increase and the first increase to the series, which has held at 5 fps. It now positions this camera as the full frame sibling of the a6000 series, which has boasted 10 fps since it’s inception in 2014.
What don’t you like about the Sony a7 III?
Tilt LCD Touch screen - Yes, I did mention about that this was something I liked but there’s 1 slight downfall to this. The screen on the 3 has been decreased in resolution, to that of the original a7 camera. Why was this done? I’m not sure. I requested information about this from Sony, but no one ever got back to me on this. Is this a major problem? For most people not at all. Having the better screen on the a7 II I personally notice the difference, but it’s really not a big issue in many shooting situations. I mentioned this as no other reviews I’ve ever seen online on this camera have pointed this out and I’ve seemed to be the only one discussing this.
What accessories are available for the a7 III?
VG-C3EM Vertical Grip (B&H Photo) - This gives you a better shooting experience for portrait oriented shooting, as well as the capability of using two batteries.
Sony Z Series Rechargeable Battery (Amazon) - This is a high capacity battery that’s 2.2 times the capacity of the W series batteries.
Sony Z Series Battery Charger (Amazon) - The new charger for the Z series, which is capable of charging the battery in under 3 hours.
Multi Battery Adapter (Amazon) - This is an incredible accessory for external battery supply with your camera, which would be extremely useful for timelapse. You’re able to use four Z batteries and is also useful for charging the batteries as well.
PCK-LG1 Glass Screen Protector (Amazon) - I use glass screen protectors and this is one from Sony, that’s capable of working with the touch screen of the new a7 III.
Conclusion: Who is/isn’t this for?
If you own a crop (APS-C) camera or first generation Sony a7 then you’d find great value in upgrading to this full featured packed camera. It offers you image quality, speed, latest video options and a plethora of other features. At $2,000 it's hard to believe that what you get is priced so modestly.
If you’re looking for a video rig, or a camera that’s a good stills and video camera and a cheaper alternative to that of the a7R or a7S cameras then this would be one to check out as well. If this still is out of your price range then I’d check out the a6500 or even a6300 as well.
If you’re unsure about what you’re looking for or wanting, or you just might not want to spend $2,000 then I’d highly recommend the Sony a7 II. For the price that you can find them at of only $1,100 at special times of the year and $1,298 regularly priced brand new it’s a cost efficient alternative. It may not have a lot of the features of the Mark 3, but take it from someone who’s used both and can say it’s nice having the added features but you’ll live with not having them as well. If you’re saving almost $1,000 then you can’t beat that. Click here to read my full Sony a7 II review here.
All of the images featured here have been post processed from their uncompressed RAW files, via Adobe Lightroom with my custom Lightroom Presets (Click here to visit my Presets store) and Adobe Photoshop.