Sony Al­pha 7 Mk III

This full-frame mir­ror­less model of­fers con­tin­u­ous high-res shoot­ing at an im­pres­sive 10 frames per sec­ond

Digital Camera World - - CONTENTS -

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.

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