Sony A7R III Mirrorless Camera Review

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Sony A7R III Review

The Sony A7R III is the latest full frame mirrorless camera in high resolution for the company. Like the recent D850 from Nikon, it is one that combines this resolution with high speed and fast autofocus capabilities to a degree that we haven’t seen before.

Sony A7R III is built around a 42MP BSI CMOS sensor like its predecessor, but it can shoot at ten frames per second, unlike the Sony A7R II.



Essentially, it can be seen as a Sony A7R III inheriting many of the lessons learned from the pro-sport model of the company, the a9. This means faster processing, improved autofocus, improved handling and ergonomics, and a much larger battery being adopted. While some of the individual changes are subtle, they combine very quickly to produce a camera that is highly capable and useful.

Sony says the A7R III is based on the same 42MP backside illuminated CMOS sensor as its immediate predecessor, so it does not gain the full speed advantages of the Stacked CMOS chip from the A9 (in terms of AF performance, continuous shooting rate or reduced video and electronic shutter rolling shutter mode). However, all have their advantages in adopting the processing systems, algorithms, and refinements introduced on the A9.

READ: Sony A7 III Review

This involves an AF point positioning camera with a touchscreen and a specific joystick with a deeper grip and improved customization, with better layoff menus and much better battery life.

The Sony A7R III can be seen at its core as a mashup of its predecessor’s best parts, the A7R II, and the sports-shooting flagship A9 from Sony. As with Nikon’s D850 for DSLR users, for those looking for mirrorless solutions, the Sony a7R III can be a good choice.  You get tons of resolution, high burst speeds, autofocus capable, and impressive video.

There’s a lot to like about the A7R III, in other words. Sony’s clearly listened to his users also reviewers and heartfelt feedback. But we still have the occasional quibble for all the ways we are impressed by the A7R III no camera is perfect. Let’s find out exactly how stacks up to the Sony A7R III.

Body

The Sony A7R III looks pretty familiar at first glance. But when you spend time with it, and you will quickly find that all the ergonomic refinements given to the a7R III make it much more enjoyable and useful than its predecessor.

You will receive a joystick AF, a dedicated AF-ON button, a chunkier rear dial, and a deeper grip. Menus have received some refreshment and while still complex, navigation is much easier than before. Whether you’re looking for button assignments or memory banks with almost all camera options, the a7R III is virtually infinitely customizable. It takes a long time to get the camera configured, but it’s worth everything and allows the Sony A7R III to respond more quickly than many mirrorless rivals to changing situations.

The bigger grip is a double blessing since it hides a 2.2 times as powerful battery as its predecessor. The effect of this is incredible in the real world: say goodbye to the fear of the battery. Even if one battery is always recommended in difficult situations, we do not feel that you need to fill your pockets in the Sony A7R III with it.



Touch Screen

We have historically been disappointed by Sony’s touch screen implementations, but the A7R III is taking a step in the correct direction. The customisation of touchscreen options is much more responsive than previous cameras. It is not so fluid as any of Panasonic’s Lumix cameras, but it feels much less ‘tacked up’ than it used to.

Double Card Slots

For professionals, double card slots are great, but they have to be slightly refined. For example, you have to manually pick which card you want to play with and only one slot is rated to use the UHS-II cards: that means that your write speed may slow significantly if you are using the second slot to back up your card. The main exception is, that you can not switch to video mode a possible hurdle for wedding and event shooters to capture video and silences of a single moment. Whenever the buffer is removed, the camera can mainly be operated.

Pixel Shift Multi Shooting

The Sony A7R III is equipped with a pixel shift mode in which the camera takes four pictures and shifts the sensor to a pixel per fraction; the resulting files must then be combined with PC. Hybrid Log Gamma is an easier way to shoot video on HDR screens, and the strength of wireless connectivity is that the a7R III has still not been converted into a Raw camera. In addition to the features that you can add via the Sony PlayMemories applications, including the Time-Lapse app, you will be able to purchase an external accessory if that’s a feature that you need, given that there’s no built-in intervalometer on the Sony A7R III.

Autofocus

The Sony a7R III has the same 399-point autofocus phase detection system as the Sony A7R II, although thanks to new algorithms and better processing, Sony claims increased speed and tracking performance. This is a good thing because the A7R III can shoot images twice as quickly as its predecessor, and the AF system has to keep up.

If you use the touchscreen AF joystick or Touchpad AF to manually place your AF area, you will be rewarded with an incredibly high hit rate and incredible booting accuracy. Unlike DSLR rivals, you won’t have to calibrate your lenses to realize the full 42.4MP resolution potential of the a7R III. This is an absolute relief, and when you take pictures, it’s just one less thing to worry about.



Eye AutoFocus

Unfortunately, there is still a problem with Lock-On AF. With it, we have experienced many successes, but also many failures. The bottom line is that for casual shooting it can be a great option, but steer clear for critical moments. Sony’s Eye AF, on the other hand, is just magical. Mash the Eye AF button, motor away at 10 fps, and bask in the glory of perfectly focused shots of whatever subject you’re photographing-a formal portrait, an erratic kid, or even a furry friend (yes, we’ve seen it work on some dog breeds at least). Also, Eye AF works very well with adapted lenses, although at a maximum 3fps burst speed.

You can easily map a variety of different autofocus modes-plus autofocus activation-to different buttons thanks to the customization possibilities on the Sony A7R III. This means that you can access Lock-On for casual shooting, a flexible spot for critical moments, wide area for when you just want the camera to do the job for you, and Eye AF for your family and friends. The autofocus system on the a7R III can be overwhelming at first, like the rest of the camera, and it takes some time to set it up to your liking, but it’s supremely capable overall.

Image Quality

As the Sony a7R III uses the same 42.4MP sensor as the previous model, RAW performance can be expected to be very good. Due to some refined processing, there is a slight improvement in noise at the highest ISO values, and in general, the level of detail is very good. Impressively, at its base ISO of 64, the dynamic range is measurably improved, almost matching even the D850.

JPEG Engine

However, the JPEG engine is where most of their efforts were concentrated by Sony. Color is significantly improved, especially with skin tones, and most of the time we found the auto white balance to do a good job-though you still want to dial it manually in abundantly warm scenes, such as sunset portraits. Indeed, sharpening is very good, pulling out an impressive amount of detail, at the risk that some textures may look too sharp. We have seen this can be problematic in the real world in slightly out of focus areas of our images. High reduction of ISO noise is generally great.



Added to the a7R III, Sony’s Pixel Shift feature can add impressive sharpness to a camera that is already capable of very detailed output. Everything is gaining a little ‘crispness’, and a reasonable improvement in noise and dynamic range should also occur. Unfortunately, the current software from Sony does not provide any movement correction whatsoever so you will need to manually ‘paint in’ information from one of the RAW single shots for movement of any kind. It’s irksome enough that even slight cloud movements can cause crooked-looking cross-hatching. So here’s a promise, but it needs to be improved.

Sony A7R III Sample Images

Sony A7R III Video Features 

The A7R III, as well as stills, is an extremely capable video camera. It provides capture of 4K and 1080p from both the sensor’s full width and a Super 35 (basically APS-C) crop. The 4K footage uses that crop slightly better, as it is over-sampling using a sensor region of 5K, but both modes look good to our eyes. The camera can play back at either 24p or 30p for recording 1080/120p footage, resulting in nice slow motion footage right out of the camera.

Stabilization

The stabilization of the image in the body does a reasonable job smoothing out some camera shake, but it is not as smooth as some competitors, who now use a combination of digital stabilization in addition to physical. However, there is a full suite of capture aids including Log Profiles, Hybrid Log Gamma (which makes HDR displays easy to log), gamma display assist, Zebra warnings, and focus peaking.

We found that programming your shooting settings to one of the custom memory banks on the mode dial is best for switching between stills and video shooting, as simply switching between the PASM mode and the Movie mode on the dial will carry settings between them – not so handy when you’re freezing with 1/500 sec shutter speed for stills, but need 1/50 sec for shooting video.

Autofocus In Video

Lastly, autofocus in video is pretty good-there is no subject tracking when shooting 4K, but using the ‘Wide’ AF area and allowing the camera to decide what to focus on works really well for run-and-gun shooting, and in this mode, you can tap ‘Spot Focus’ to initiate that allows smooth focus racks. You can tap the screen in ‘Flexible Spot’ mode to move anywhere you choose a specified focus area.



Conclusion

The Sony a7R III’s sheer ability is hard to overestimate. Sony was aiming for outright speed with the sports-oriented a9; the a7R III has inherited a lot of that, but offers much more resolution and dynamic range. Like the Nikon D850, the a7R III is a camera from landscapes to fast action that you can shoot with just about anything.

The a7R III contains a large number of small improvements and refinements. This is the most usable and engaging camera from the ergonomics to the better organized menus. In terms of subject tracking, the on-sensor autofocus system needs some work, but in other autofocus modes, the a7R III makes it very easy to get the most out of the 42.4MP resolution it provides. Never before has it been so fun or so painless to shoot such high-resolution files.

The a7R III still can’t match the immediacy feeling that comes with using a high-end DSLR; card write speeds can get in your way, and new users’ learning curve can be steep. But the fact remains that the Sony a7R III is capable of beautiful still images and video, and has the impression of being an impressively polished product.

You can reach the Sony A7R III manual and Sony A7R III Specs from the official Sony website.

Do you have any other information about Sony A7R III? Left your ideas and questions in the comments section below! and please don’t forget to follow kuulphoto.com on Twitter @kuulphoto

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