Sony Alpha 7 Mk III
This full-frame mirrorless model offers continuous high-res shooting at an impressive 10 frames per second
OF course, it was bound to happen. We knew Sony had the technology to combine high resolution with high-frame rates from the moment it launched the Alpha 99 II, and then Nikon announced the D850, which pulled the same trick.
Some might be disappointed that the sensor resolution is unchanged from the A7R II’s at 42.4 million pixels, but this sensor is capable of outstanding quality and the improvements to the continuous shooting speeds are much more important – because the new model can top out at an amazing 10 frames per second at full resolution. Not only that, it can sustain this for up to 76 compressed raw files.
Frame rates grab the headlines, but they mean very little without the buffer capacity to go with them. If the A7R III had the buffer capacity of a typical non-professional camera, it would grind to a halt after a burst of just a couple of seconds. Instead, it can keep going for more than seven seconds, and that makes a big difference for a professional sports photographer. This camera has another trick – a completely silent mode that will allow you to shoot in situations where the machine-gun clatter of a regular DSLR would be banned.
The A7R III has dual memory card slots too, though despite the emphasis on speed, only one of these is UHS-II compatible – a bit of a surprise given this camera’s performance potential and, let’s face it, its price.
The autofocus system has been designed to match this camera’s continuous shooting performance, with a 399-point phase-detection array already seen in the A7R II combined with a 425-point contrast AF array inherited from the Sony A9. Sony says this system is up to twice as fast in low light, twice as precise for continuous focus tracking and reliable down to -3EV.
Sony says its in-camera fiveaxis SteadyShot system has been enhanced to offer 5.5 stops of effective compensation, and a new NP-FZ100 battery offers 2.2x the life of the NP-FW50 battery used in the
A7R II. That will be music to the ears of any long-time Alpha 7 users, who by now will be accustomed to carrying around a set of spares for longer shoots.
The video capabilities get a boost too, with a new HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) picture profile for an instant wide dynamic range movie effect without the need for grading on a computer, in addition to S-Log2 and S-Log3 modes.
Last but not least, the A7R III has a new Pixel Shift Multi-Shooting mode, which takes a series of shots in quick succession with a one-pixel shift between each to capture a special higher-resolution image file (as if this camera needs one), with full colour information for each pixel and reduced moiré in fine patterns and textures. This requires a longer overall exposure, though, and hence a relatively static subject and external processing on a computer. Similar technology has been used already on certain Olympus, Pentax and Hasselblad cameras.
In short, the A7R III is a substantial upgrade of the ‘old’ A7R II. The resolution is the same, but the continuous shooting speed has been doubled, with a buffer capacity and upgraded autofocus to match, and a series of other enhancements make the new camera an altogether more powerful and versatile proposition for professional photographers, videographers and well-off enthusiasts.
Build and handling
There’s something different about the way the A7R III feels in your hand compared to the A7R II, and on closer inspection it turns out the new camera is 73.7mm thick, compared to the 60.3mm of the old model. Part of that is due to a slightly larger grip, and part from a slightly thicker back section. It’s an observation rather than a criticism. Otherwise, the A7R III shares the same remarkably small frontal area as previous models.
That’s a good thing if you want the most compact camera possible, but there is a caveat. Sony’s camera bodies might be small, but its lenses – especially its good ones – certainly aren’t. These are just as big as comparable full-frame DSLR
2 The touchscreen display tilts up and down, but it doesn’t fold out to offer full articulation, so it’s not so good with the camera held vertically.
3 You can move the focus point/zone around with this new multi-selector, and there’s now an AF-On button too.
The Alpha 7R III’s sensor is very close to the front of the camera – easy for cleaning, but a bit of a dust magnet.
4 The body is very slightly thicker than the A7R II’s and the grip is deeper, but otherwise the handling feels much the same.