Surprised? You should be. The Sony a7 III is THE game changer. It is the first mirrorless camera that I have tested which possesses the perfect balance of features, price and image quality. The bottomline is that if you have used any Sony mirrorless, the new Sony a7 III will feel like an old friend, for a fraction of the cost. The Sony a7 III is a 35mm full-frame 24MP camera that shoots stills at 10FPS. The body only is a meager $1999.
The Sony a7 III Camera
This is the fourth Sony camera that I have tested. The Sony a7 III is by far my favorite of them all. It beats the a7R III by having the autofocus and a smaller sensor size (better for storage space) of the a9. It crushes the a9 from a price point. And I honestly love the fact that Sony a7 III only shoots (insert wink here) 10 FPS compared to the a9’s 20 FPS.
The bottomline is that while you may believe that you need 20 FPS, you don’t unless you are trying to prove that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity does exist. 20 FPS does only one thing for the photographer – makes you sit at your computer editing longer. I am all in for half the speed and more than half the loot savings of Sony’s flagship a9.
That leads me to the kit that I ordered.
The Sony a7 III Kit
We kind of went off of the deep end with the kit we ordered for this test. Instead of ordering just a simple body/lens combo, we ordered the ultimate starter kit. This kit from B&H Photo Video has everything a photographer just starting out with Sony could possibly need. It comes with Sony’s new FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens, a VG-C3EM Vertical Grip, a NPA-MQZ1K Multi Battery Adapter Kit, and a 64GB SDXC Memory Card. Total kit cost is $4099.99. I know right now you are saying, but Jay this is more than double the body cost. Yes, yes it is, just follow me for bit here.
I have tested the included FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens in my previous Sony a7R III test so I already understood it’s capabilities. The lens included in this a7 III kit was no different than the prior test – well made, tight focus and zoom, and super sharp.
The Vertical Grip
The VG-C3EM Vertical Grip is the best solution I have found for helping my big hands find their way when using a smaller mirrorless camera. While this little gadget increases the overall footprint of the a7 III, it still doesn’t make it larger than a traditional DSLR, and my larger hands feel more at home holding the camera. The vertical grip gives you camera control functionality when shooting vertical as well. The other plus to the VG-C3EM Vertical Grip is that it allows you to add a second battery for longer shooting life.
Sony’s batteries are notorious for dying quickly, especially in cold weather. The NPA-MQZ1K Multi Battery Adapter Kit is multi-functional monster. This device comes with 2 additional batteries as well as the one included with the camera. The NPA-MQZ1K will not only allow you to charge 4 batteries at once, it will flip from a charger to a power supply. So if you were using the Sony a7 III to shoot a movie you could power the camera with this device and then charge the batteries again once they were drained.
This little add to the kit is kind of important because Sony decided that the a7 III would not come with a separate charger for the $1999 price point. What you say? That is correct no charger, but it includes a battery. I think this is kind of weird decision on Sony’s part. For an entry level camera not to come with a needed accessory is fairly presumptuous as to the market that is going to purchase it.
The Sony a7 III Kit Revisited
It is pretty amazing that B&H has put together this kit. It fills in the gaps created by Sony, in addition to creating a great starting point for any photographer wanting to shoot with Sony.
One Sony Every Sony
It would be easy to say that if you have shot with one Sony, you have shot with them all. The a7 III is a little different though. It doesn’t potentially over-shoot your scene like the a9’s 20FPS and it doesn’t create a massive file like the a7R III. Because Sony has decreased the image size to match the 24MP a9, the noise resolution on this camera is absolutely fantastic. Luminance noise isn’t noticed until ISO 12,800 and easily controllable through ISO 25,600.
I am going to go out on a limb here an say that all of the new mirrorless cameras pretty much crush luminance noise compared to my Canon cameras. The technology has evolved so fast. I am almost feel that I need to add grain back into my photos at this point with Sony, Fuji and Leica cameras. I would have never imagined being able to photograph a sunrise at f/22 handheld and that is exactly what I did with the Sony a7 III!
The Sony a7 III set to ISO 25,600 - handheld sunrise landscape.
A Word on ISO
The a7 III is no slouch in the ISO department. It can produce publishable photos at ISO 25,600! So while some companies limit the features that their end users have available dependent on price point, Sony is set to change the market here too.
Imagine handholding a sunrise landscape instead of using a tripod? I did just that. The above photo of sunrise over the Teton Range was handheld at ISO 25,600. There is some grain – but realize it is very manageable and definitely publishable in today’s marketplace. Download samples of this photo at varying ISOs below.
The Sony a7 III doesn't have any problems making the auto focus jump to action photography.
Focus Jay Focus
Auto focus on the a7 III matches the flagship a9 with only one difference sensor designation. The a9 is specified with an Exmor RS CMOS sensor and the a7 III runs with an Exmor R ® CMOS sensor. Focus points, light values, and focus type appear to be the same. While I have no idea what the difference between the “R” and “RS” are, I suspect the RS for the a9 has to do with speed.
Here is the kicker – for $2000 LESS than a Sony a9, you get essentially the same auto focus – 35 mm full frame: 693 points (phase-detection AF), APS-C mode with full frame lens: 299 points (phase-detection AF), with APS-C lens: 221 points (phase-detection AF) / 425 points (contrast-detection AF). The Sony a7 III will maintain autofocus while shooting at 10 frames per second. Did I mention this camera is $1999?
That F*$%ing Viewfinder
Every Sony camera review that I have done to date complains about the viewfinder and the Sony a7 III is no exception. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why Sony, the company responsible for my favorite TV, cannot make a viewfinder that dazzles me. Does Leica have some sort of non-compete on this camera component?
The Sony a7 III Bomb
The “Intergallactic Kegger” or epiphany or decisive moment is, for significantly less than $10,000 ($9343.99 to be exact), you could have a complete photo system that shoots 24MP at 10FPS with lens coverage from 16mm to 800mm at apertures of f/2.8 to f/11!
Sony feel free to insert mic drop here.
Do I need to go on about this camera? Download the ISO series or click the links and buy your own.
$1999 body only price?
Amazing auto focus capabilities.
Amazing frame rate for the price.
24MP file size.
Low noise at high ISOs.
No charger included with body only purchase price of $1999.
Same short battery life as all Sonys.
View finder resolution still irritates me.