The A7R III is a mirrorless for professionals with high-end features and price, aimed at an audience of demanding photographers, to create high quality photographs and videos.
Announced by Sony in October 2017, the A7R III arrives on the market two years after the previous version, the Sony A7R II, and brings numerous innovations that justify the purchase for those planning to upgrade.
With this camera, the Japanese house in fact raises the quality level of the A7 series and introduces some features already present in the A9.
The full frame sensor is a 42.4 MP effective Exmor BSI CMOS , coupled to a very fast 399 point detection system with phase detection and 425 contrasting contrast.
The strong point of Sony’s A7R series is the large amount of pixels on the sensor, a feature that makes them particularly ideal for large-format professional photographs, even for giant prints.
Among the main features we have a body sealed and resistant to moisture and dust, and an E-mount bayonet mount, already present in other Sony mirrorless and with many compatible lens options.
In the burst shooting reaches up to 10 fps , and is also equipped with a touch screen and a 3.6 million points EVF .
The AF points cover 68% of the viewfinder and are all positioned in the center of the frame. This is one of the features that differ from the Sony A9, which has an AF system that covers 93% of the frame.
The Sony A7R III, such as the A7R II, is equipped with a stabilization system IBIS 5-axis to stabilize both photo and video internally to the machine body.
Where instead the A7R III detaches the A7R II, is in the AF system, in the quality of the viewfinder and the display, in processing speed and in image quality, as well as on many other aspects that we will discover in this detailed review on the Sony A7R III .
Design and features
The shape of the lightweight magnesium alloy body is the same as the previous version, the differences are in the back of the camera in the composition of the buttons, which in the new mirrorless recall the composition of the Sony A9.
The front and top design does not change, with the viewfinder positioned in the middle of the sensor, handle with a ring for the right index finger, shutter button and on / off switch on the handle, and two rings (exposure compensation and mode) positioned to the right of the viewfinder, plus two C1 and C2 buttons. No buttons to the left of the viewfinder.
As expected from a camera aimed at a pro audience, there is no built-in flash. The hot shoe is positioned above the viewfinder to connect flash or other compatible devices.
On the shooting mode dial, there are 3 custom options, customizable according to your preferences, and in addition there are 4 other modes (M1 M2 M3 M4) of internal memory, easy to reach through the menu for further customization options.
The back is where Sony has dedicated itself to introducing most of the changes from the previous version: the REC button for video is moved from the grip to a position more comfortable for the thumb, just below the right of the viewfinder, and is larger dimensions for greater convenience of use.
A joystick is introduced where a switch was previously positioned – AF / MF and AEL button, the AF ON and AEL buttons remain present but moved to the top of the back, the C3 button remains and also the Fn button along with the usual combination of keys and wheel to navigate the menu.
The constructive quality of the buttons is excellent, pleasant to use, with perfect balance in resistance to touch, to avoid accidental pressures while taking pictures.
In general, the design of the controls is greatly improved and easier to use, the distribution of the buttons is more compliant with a video use and, as usual, allows custom customizations through the use of the internal menu.
Thanks to the watertightness of the camera body, the Sony A7R III can also be used in the rain or in damp environments, or in situations that are not ideal in general. This makes it a great purchase for the professional who needs to go to photograph in adverse scenarios and have the camera for a whole day without worries.
Compared to DSLR cameras competing full frame with multi-million pixel sensor and with similar characteristics, always aimed at the high end, the A7R III is also a great camera in terms of portability.
The weight is only 657 grams (including battery), compared to for example the Nikon D850 weighing more than a pound. One of the advantages of mirrorless compared to traditional SLRs is the portability combined with high performance.
Display and viewfinder
The electronic viewfinder of the Sony A7R III is a 0.5-inch oled, 23 mm eye point and 3686k points in resolution, against the 2359k of the A7R II, a 35% increase compared to the previous room.
With increased resolution and excellent clarity and 100% frame coverage, photo operations with a viewfinder are very precise in both composition and focus.
The LCD screen is 3 inches and with a resolution of 1440k points, against the 1229k of the previous room. In addition, the display of the A7R III is now touch , allowing focusing operations.
The screen can be swiveled up and down to take pictures from different angles, but it is not possible to extract it for self-portraits or vlogs .
Sony’s A7R series was created specifically for professional photographers with high expectations in the image quality industry, to compete with high-end DSLRs produced by rival companies like Nikon and Canon.
In this sector the mirrorless Sony has nothing to envy to SLR, boasts a 42 million pixel sensor to produce large format photographs, with a 1.8x BIONZ X processor faster than the previous version, and can record images up to 7952 x 4472 pixels.
There is no anti aliasing filter on the sensor, the image is therefore very clear and with clarity of details, maintaining the risk of moiré effect to the minimum terms.
Compared to the Sony A7R II, the A7R III has an increase in the ISO sensitivity range from 25600 to 32000. Not that the professional photographer is interested in using high ISO, but this also indicates an increase in the dynamic range for use in situations of little lighting. The camera offers 15 stops of dynamic range , making post-production operations much easier when photographing subjects that are not perfectly illuminated.
For night photography in fact, the Sony A7R III amazes by definition and ability to maintain detail and information of brightness, with the possibility of recovering the shadows in post and excellent response to noise.
In short, even if you take a picture with little light or at night, in most cases you can then manage the photo in post and raise the brightness levels without having much noise.
There is also a new mode called Pixel Shift Multi Shot Mode, which allows you to take 4 photos in one (to be combined later in post) with more color and detail information thanks to the fact that the camera automatically moves the sensor one pixel in all directions, this also eliminates any moiré effects in case you photograph a texture .
To use this function, you need to have the camera installed on a tripod otherwise you will get unwanted overlapping effects. To combine the 4 photographs and get the final image, Sony provides a dedicated software to be installed on a computer (not inside the camera).
In this field the Sony A7R III stands at the competition and crushes the previous version, with features that are worth its price for professional photographers and video makers.
The camera shoots at up to 1/8000 second for up to 30 seconds, or in BULB mode , same features of the A7R II in this case, but with a better shutter mechanism that in the A7R III reduces vibration when you press the shutter button, thus reducing the risk of getting blurred photos when the shutter speed is above 1/25 of a second.
If you use the electronic shutter you can also shoot in silent mode, great for situations where you do not want to disturb while photographing ceremonies or special events.
The Bionz X image processor is almost twice as fast as the previous version. Even the continuous shooting doubles in speed, from 5 fps of the A7R II to 10 fps of the A7R III, and also the AF system receives a significant increase in AF points, with an increase from 25 to 425 points in contrast detection, while the phase detection points remain 399.
The speed of recognition of the scene and the precision of focusing is as always the strong point of Sony, even in the A7R III does not disappoint and shows off a hallucinating power thanks to the many points available and a mirrorless system now tested.
With face recognition technology, the Sony A7R III is able to focus on the subject and track its movement instantly, with speed and accuracy. Moreover, thanks to the recognition and tracking of the eye, getting correctly focused portraits of people in motion is very simple.
The Sony A7R III is great for sports photography, action, portraits with fast moving subjects, weddings, children playing and nature photography with telephoto lenses. The only camera that beats in this department is the A9, which costs a lot more and offers a burst shooting up to 20 fps , but if for you 10 fps is enough, the A7R III is more than excellent for this type of application.
In continuous shooting mode, the speed is 10 fps , with which you can get up to 10 RAW photos per second 12-bit tablets. If you want to get 14-bit uncompressed RAW photos , you will have to settle for 8 fps , which is still faster than rival SLRs.
To focus on the subject and to quickly manage this function, the Sony A7R III provides both the right-hand joystick, located just right of the display, or the touch screen , which can be configured in different ways to use customize the experience to the fullest.
For example, you can choose the part of the screen that you want to use for focusing, useful for those who shoot a lot using the EVF and want to avoid using the touch accidentally with the nose.
There are all the features and innovations that make this the perfect camera for the professional who wants to switch from the SLR system to the mirrorless competition system, with the advantage of greater portability and burst speed shooting (take for example the Nikon D850 that in continuous shooting mode reaches a maximum of 7 fps ).
The ISO range in the new mirrorless is 100-32000, extending up to 50-102400. The dynamic range of the A7R III is better and adapts to situations of all types, even when the light is not optimal.
Another improvement in the design, which really matters to those who make photography their profession, is the addition of a double SD card slot memory, with a slot that supports UHS -II and the other that supports UHS -I. A pity that both slots do not support high-speed cards, but at least now there is a second backup slot available.
One of the most important features in a modern camera is the ability to record high definition video and image quality that comes close to professional cameras, and from this point of view this mirrorless does not disappoint.
The Sony A7R III, like the other Sony mirrorless , puts the video at the top of the list of features and offers the highest quality and performance.
The machine records 4K movies up to 30 fps and full hd up to 120 fps . Significant improvement over the A7R II which recorded at 120 fps only at 720p resolution.
4K movies are recorded on the surface of the sensor in 5K and then processed in 4K, for a very high definition of detail.
Thanks to the advanced 425-dot contrast-detection hybrid AF system, the A7R III offers high reliability when recording a moving subject in video in AF-C (auto focus continuous ) mode. Obviously, when there are multiple faces on the scene, the camera will struggle to establish the focus priority, so it is in the photographer’s ability to use the AF system appropriately to the scene.
The IBIS 5-axis stabilization technology (in body image stabilization ) is available to obtain movies without micro-vibration even when recording with a free hand without a stabilized OSS lens .
With the S-LOG and HLG ( hybrid log gamma) modes, you can record movies with increased dynamic range, and then go for a professional color grading in post, for more cinematic results.
To record quality audio, there is an external microphone input and a headphone output to monitor the audio while filming, great for interviews like movies or videographers from live events and weddings.
For videographers who want to record time- lapse videos , there is also a Sony application that allows you to use the camera for this purpose, for example to get footage of a rising or setting sun.
The camera has all the latest wireless connectivity: WiFi , Bluetooth and NFC , and all the most common hardware connections like USB, USB type C and HDMI to connect the camera body to external devices.
Strange that it is not possible, as for other Sony cameras, to connect the machine wirelessly to the smartphone via the Play Memories application .
The application itself is not one of the best on the market, but it would still be good if the A7R III could connect to download photos and manage certain parameters directly from mobile phones.
As mentioned above, the camera has two SD memory card slots, but unfortunately only one of these is for high-speed cards.
Also, if you set the photo recording on both cards (for backup), when you remove one of the two cards the camera stops taking pictures until you re-insert the second card.
Another deficiency, for those who like to geo- tag their shots is the lack of GPS, this will not make it possible to keep information about where the photo was taken.
Excellent presence, unlike the A7R II and A7 III of a flash sync port, qualities that studio photographers will find very useful and appreciable.
With the new Sony camera adds a dramatic increase in volume and battery life, great for a professional camera. This was one of the weakest points of the Sony A7R II and we are pleased to note that the A7R III has solved the problem.
The new mirrorless introduces the same Z series batteries also found in the Sony A9. With a charge, you can shoot up to 530 photos using the electronic viewfinder, and up to 650 shots using the display. The Sony A7R II arrived at 340 shots.
The Sony A7R III allows you to safely shoot for a whole day before finishing the charge, or for intensive and professional use will offer better reliability even for live events and photo shooting in different locations, with less need to change the battery, especially important for who uses the camera installed on rig or gimbal .