sony a7 iii

The Fi­nal­ists: Le­ica CL, Pana­sonic Lu­mix DC-GX9, Sony A7 III


While Sony Is fac­ing stiffer com­pe­ti­tion in a mar­ket seg­ment it has had largely all to it­self for quite a while, the A7 III shows why it’s the new­com­ers who will need to be on their game.

For starters, Sony is still pack­ag­ing the full-35mm for­mat sen­sor in the small­est and light­est body, which ob­vi­ously still has ben­e­fits even when us­ing the big­ger FE mount lenses. And let’s talk lenses for a minute be­cause Sony has done a her­culean job build­ing up its FE mount line-up in a com­par­a­tively short time, plus there’s now a grow­ing num­ber of mod­els from many of the in­de­pen­dents, in­clud­ing Sigma’s ex­cep­tional Art mod­els. Ad­di­tion­ally, Sony’s own ‘G Mas­ter’ lenses of­fer su­perla­tive op­ti­cal per­for­mance, match­ing the best from either Canon or Nikon… so this is now very much a com­plete sys­tem.

The third-gen­er­a­tion evo­lu­tion of the orig­i­nal A7 model de­liv­ers 24.2 MP ef­fec­tive res­o­lu­tion at 10 fps with full AF ad­just­ment (and in 14-bit RAW, if so de­sired). The ‘Ex­mor R’ BSI CMOS sen­sor has a sen­si­tiv­ity range equiv­a­lent to ISO 100-51,200 which is ex­pand­able to either ISO 50 or 204,800. While a num­ber of other cam­eras claim such strato­spher­i­cally high ISO set­tings, the A7 III is the first we’ve seen where the image isn’t a join-the-dots propo­si­tion. While there are plenty of im­pres­sive specs – such as the hy­brid AF sys­tem with its 693 phase-dif­fer­ence de­tec­tion point and 425 con­trast-de­tec­tion points – it’s the ‘be­hind-the-scenes’ tech­nolo­gies that give the A7 III a per­for­mance edge. Among them is the sen­sor’s ‘Dual Gain’ de­sign which gives two base ISO val­ues – one at ISO 100 to op­ti­mise the dy­namic range when shoot­ing in brighter con­di­tions and the other at ISO 640 to re­duce noise when shoot­ing in low-light sit­u­a­tions. Con­se­quently, at ISO 640 or higher, am­pli­fi­ca­tion of each pixel’s out­put (which is how the high ISO set­tings work) is per­formed on the sen­sor, en­sur­ing a very low level of noise at the read-out stage. This not only gives the ex­cep­tional high ISO per­for­mance, but also a very wide dy­namic range. The AF per­for­mance is an­other win­ner, es­pe­cially the ‘Eye AF’ track­ing which works bril­liantly. And, not sur­pris­ingly, the A7 III is as ca­pa­ble as a video cam­era as it at tak­ing stills. As a com­pe­tent all-rounder then, it’s cur­rently un­beat­able.

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