First Day With The New Sony A7RIII
Yesterday on the 15th of November 2017 I received the new Sony A7RIII. Today was the first day I tried the camera with some autumn landscapes in my own neighbourhood. The reason I want to crank out an article so fast is because people already asked me lots of questions especially on my Instagram stories. Autumn is exceptionally beautiful in the Netherlands this year because we didn’t get strong winds for a long time. This means all the colourful leaves are still on the trees. In the past years we had some storms during autumn that immediately took all the leaves from the trees. This year is great. This article is to quickly show my findings after a day of using the new camera. A longer Hands-On review and a full review will come at a later date. As most of you know, I am a Sony Imaging Ambassador and I have been using the Sony A7RII before this camera. Therefore I will mainly discuss the upgrades and compare the A7RIII to its predecessor.
First of all, the camera body is different. It looks a lot like the body of the recently released Sony A9. Now I have had people asking if they should get the A9 or this new A7RIII. The answer is simple: the A9 is a sports camera. If you shoot a lot of sports, get the A9. The A7RIII is an allrounder, but it’s fast as well. I imagine it would be good for weddings too. Back on topic and continuing what is first to notice when holding the A7RIII: the body, it now has 2 SD card slots, a new (larger capacity) battery, a more ‘professional’ lay out as in it has some more buttons and a joystick. On the top image you see I am using an L-bracket. This is actually the same L-bracket as I used on the A7RII. It fits, but it blocks ports on the left. So to the people asking: No I don’t have an L-bracket for the A7RIII yet. I am mainly using Sunwayfoto for L-brackets and I am sure they will come up with one very soon. I’ll update this article when they do. The Sony A7RIII box comes with just 1 battery (the A7RII box has 2). However, the new battery has twice the capacity of the old one. It is also bigger and heavier. When you start the camera you will notice it has a completely new menu structure. Other recent Sony cameras already had this new menu structure (Sony A6500 and the Sony A9).
Before I took the camera out to play I first set up a bunch of stuff and made myself familiar with the new menu. First thing I noticed when playing around was that the camera was a lot faster than the A7RII. This is already noticeable when turning on the camera. It boots a lot faster than the A7RII. The handling of everything feels smoother and faster as well. About the new menu structure, what’s nice is that you can create your own custom menu page in which you can put certain functions that you would use a lot for quick access. For example, I have Bracket Settings, Silent Shooting, Steadyshot Settings, Monitor Brightness, Smartphone control and a bunch of other things set up in the custom menu. This is incredibly handy and makes sure that I don’t have to scroll to dozens of menu pages to find the stuff I need. When I set up the camera and charged the battery I took the camera out for a spin.
The Sony A7RIII in action.
When looking at and through the camera I immediately noticed the increased resolution of the screen and the viewfinder. These are noticeably better than the one of the A7RII with better colour accuracy and higher resolution. If you look through the viewfinder the screen will automatically turn off. This was the same case with the A7RII (you can also set this up through the menu), however the sensor of the eyepiece of the A7RIII is much better which doesn’t turn off the screen if you’re standing close to the camera. Another thing that is good to know is that if you slightly flip the screen, the camera will know that you’re using the screen and turn off the sensor of the viewfinder so that the screen doesn’t turn off. The screen now has a touch-focus function. Touch is mainly used to pick a focus point. You can’t use touch to control the menus unfortunately. I immediately integrated the touch focus into my workflow. After only 1 day of use with the new camera I already developed a new quick workflow of focusing for landscapes that works way faster than before. Especially for the use of the focus-stacking technique I can very quickly select different focus points via touch.
Another handy function is focus-magnify. This is a known function on cameras and I used this one a lot on the A7RII. However, the A7RIII lets you autofocus during focus magnifying. On the A7RII this was only possible during manual focus. So I integrated this to my workflow which is now as follows: I use touch-focus to quickly pick my focus point, then I use the focus-magnify button (which I now programmed on the AF-ON button), then I focus (automatically) when I am in the magnify view so I can really see if my focus is spot on. Then I can use AF/MF toggle (which I now programmed onto the AEL button) to switch between autofocus or manual focus. With this setup I can focus where I want extremely quickly.
As I mentioned before, the camera is a lot faster. It boots faster, it shoots faster (10 fps continuous, that I never use as a landscape photographer) and what is important for me: it writes everything faster to the memory card and I can access the menus while the camera is doing it. I use a lot of bracketing and with the A7RII I always have to wait because the camera is ‘processing’. With the A7RIII this problem is gone.
After shooting for a few hours it becomes noticeable that the battery lasts a lot longer. When I came home around dinner and checked the camera the percentage of the battery was still at 71%. I can’t say for sure how long the new battery lasts (Sony says 2 times more than the old one) but it looks like the battery lasts 2 or maybe even 3 times more than the old battery.
A small disappointment is that the new A7RIII does not support Play Memory apps anymore. The A9 also doesn’t support apps. I’m not sure if the apps will return via firmware updates. If not, that’s too bad. I always used the Timelapse and Smooth Reflection apps a lot. Unfortunately I will have to find other ways now. Sony doesn’t comment on it for now.
Regarding image quality it looks very similar to the A7RII. As I only tried the camera for one day I didn’t really do extensive comparisons yet but I will do these in the future. According to Sony, the imaging processing is better and the Dynamic Range is increased a little bit. The image quality of the A7RII was already nothing to complain about, so I really care more about the other improved functions of this camera.
Short summary after using the camera for a day:
The camera feels good, lot of faster than its predecessor.
Sound of the shutter is different. Sounds a bit ‘smoother’, like there is less vibration going on.
The resolution of the viewfinder and the screen are better. This is really noticeable if you’re used to the A7RII.
Touch-focus is great
Focus-magnify during AF is great, works well together with the Touch-focus.
Custom menu makes me work faster not having to go through dozens of menu pages.
The eye-piece sensor is better.
No Play Memory apps anymore.
I didn’t test the Pixel Shift function yet because I only photographed trees today. They move too much. UPDATE: First pixel shift article is now online as a separate blog post, check it HERE.
The RAW files are not compatible with Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW yet. We have to wait for an update that will come shorty. However there is a ‘hack’ in which you rename the camera model in the EXIF info to the A7RII. The files are very similar so you basically make the software think they are A7RII raw files. This works (I have used it). You have to download the exiftool app for this. Instructions can be found HERE.
Any Questions? Feel free to ask in the comment section below.
Gear used in this article
Sony A7RIII, buy on Amazon | B&H
Sony 70-300 G, buy on Amazon | B&H
Sunwayfoto T1C40T Tripod with Sunwayfoto DDH-06 head, buy on Amazon | B&H
(These links are affiliate links. By using them I receive a small commission that helps support these articles).