Sony A7III Hands-On Review & Tests

March 4, 2018

Last week Sony called me if I wanted to test the new A7III for a few days. Of course I would! Having been very busy with travelling and not spending too much time at home I wasn’t too ‘up-to-date’ on the announcement of the camera and what to expect. I am currently using the A7RIII and thought the A7III would just be an upgraded A7II. I got a bit more than expected. The A7III turned out to be an amazing all round camera that even beat my A7RIII on some levels. I was impressed. Here’s a review with some tests I did over the last few days. 

 

I did a post on Reddit and asked if people were interested in me doing a bunch of tests and answering some questions. The response I got was overwhelming! There is so much interest in this new camera and it proves that Sony is really the one to watch right now. I’d like to thank Reddit for coming up with ideas. I’m sorry I couldn’t answer all of your questions but I tried to get to most. I have a very busy schedule currently and I just can’t afford to help everyone but I am sure all the other reviewers will do a fine job later on :) 

 

DISCLAIMER: I received this camera early because I am a Sony Ambassador of Imaging. I am however always very honest in my recommendations and reviews.

 

NOTE: All of the images in this article are single exposures. Processing was involved in some of them. If not, it’s mentioned in the caption

 

The Sony A7III in action during a very cold morning in the Netherlands.

 

 

The Last Few Days

 

So what exactly did I do the last few days? I was basically using the camera non stop from the moment I picked it up at the Sony office. I’m a landscape photographer so I went to shoot some landscapes in my comfort zone first. The feeling was very similar to my A7RIII as the body is almost exactly the same. I was lucky that the Netherlands had very beautiful weather and conditions over these days. We had cold temperatures that caused a lot of frozen scenery that we don’t get a lot normally. On top of that some of the canals in Amsterdam froze. It was quite magical as this did not happen for 6 years. After just having some fun with the camera I started to do did a bunch of tests that were mainly requested by lots of people online (with the help of Reddit and SonyAlphaRumours). As I had access to the camera I felt like this was a nice thing to do :)

 

First impression

 

When I first got my hands on this camera the first thing I noticed was that it looks just like my A7RIII. Not only does it look like it, it also feels like it. That’s nice, because I really liked the step up from the older generation of the A7 range mainly because of speed and the nice extra functions like touch screen and the menu system. I quickly set up the camera similar to my A7RII and went out shooting the next morning for sunrise. 

 

 

Sony A7III, Sony Zeiss 16-35 @ 16mm, f/9, ISO 200, 0.4s. A beautiful sunrise at Marken, the Netherlands.

Sony A7III, Sony Zeiss 16-35 @ 16mm, f/22, 1/80s, ISO 100. Amazing ice formations that we rarely see in our country made for a beautiful scenery to test the camera on. As a landscape photographer, I was satisfied.  

Sony A7III, Sony Zeiss 16-35 @ 16mm, f/10, 1/10s, ISO 200

 

Dynamic Range

 

As can be seen in the shots above, that are all single exposures the dynamic range is impressive. Sony says it’s about 15 stops. What I noticed compared to my A7RIII it is better in some conditions, but not in all. Sometimes boosting the shadows can generate more noise on the A7III than on my A7RIII, but I noticed that the A7III is better in recovering highlights. I’m not sure what’s going on here but all I can say for now is that the dynamic range is simply great.

 

Here’s a RAW file for you guys to fiddle around with yourself.  

 

Unprocessed raw file

 

A little note about the raw files:

 

Opening RAW files

 

There are currently no RAW conversation tools available to open the A7III Raw files besides Sony’s Imaging Edge software that unfortunately doesn’t let me export to DNG. I used a ‘trick’ similar to a trick I used when the A7RIII just came out by renaming the exif data in the files to that of the Sony A7II so that Lightroom ‘thinks’ I am working with the Sony A7II Raw files. This actually works and Lightroom now recognises the RAW files.

 

Use the following command line (in command prompt or terminal) if you want to rename all RAW files in 1 directory:

 

exiftool -sonymodelid="ILCE-7M2" -ext ARW -r DIRECTORY

 

I already applied this ‘trick’ to the RAW files you can download in this article, so you can just open them in Lightroom.

 

 

Battery Life

 

So let’s jump into this ‘thing’ that was always bothering people with the Sony cameras. Sure, they were great but the battery life was ‘shit’. That’s what people were saying. I didn’t make that much of a deal out of it as the batteries were always small and I could easily bring 6 with me. But they had a point. Ever since releasing the Sony A9 Sony put a new battery in their bodies. The following release of the A7RIII had the new battery, and now the new A7III has it as well. In short: Sony went from one of the worst battery  life, to one of the best. I have done lots of travelling with my A7RIII. I have used it in Norway and Iceland in cold temperatures shooting for full days and not needing more than 1 battery per day. The A7III is rated even better. In the short amount of time I used the A7III the battery always lasted for way more than a day. I was shooting in -5 to -10c in mornings and used it almost an entire day. The battery life is simply fantastic. Glad to have that out of the way. 

 

 

In the field

 

I’m a landscape photographer and I use this camera the same way as I use my A7RIII meaning I make use of the ‘new’ functions. Like I mentioned in my ‘first day with the A7RIII’ article, the new functions make me work faster. The camera is much faster than the old A7 models (A7RII, A7II etc). It boots faster, it processed the pictures faster to the card, it uses a buffer and you can still access certain functions etc. It just works faster. I use the touch AF all the time when I check sharpness in pictures. You can easily move the focus point with your finger which is very useful in general, but also for things like focus stacking. I use the autofocus during focus magnify to make sure my focus is always on point. This camera is a joy to use in the field. 

 

After photographing a sunrise, I did some photography in our capital Amsterdam where the canals were frozen and people were ice skating. This hasn’t happened for over 6 years which was quite unique. Here are some shots: 

 

Sony A7III, Sony 24-105 G at 69mm, f/11, 1/200s, ISO 100

Sony A7III, Sony Zeiss 16-35 f/4, 19mm, f/9, 1/160s, ISO 100 

 

Sony A7III, Sony Zeiss 16-35 f/4, 16mm, f/9, 1/160s, ISO 100. Notice the nicely caught bird in the frame.

 

Here’s a crop of it:  

 

Sony A7III, Sony 70-300 G at 300mm, f/6.3, 1/250s.

 

This was taken at the end of the afternoon. It was a bit hazy and this couple skated very far upon the Markermeer. They were the only ones on the ice. It was quite dangerous to see as the temperatures were already above zero and the ice was melting. I personally really love this shot as they’re far out there, together. It gives me a sense of freedom. 

 

 

Sony A7III, Samyang 12mm f/2.8 fisheye. f/5.6, 1/5s (hand held), ISO 1250.

 

I went to some canals in the evening as some were still nicely frozen. 

 

 

Sony A7III, Sony Zeiss 16-35 f4 at 18mm, f/8, 30s, ISO 100.

 

Not all of them were frozen as the river cruise boats still have their routes. They’re just cruising through the ice. Here you see a path of a boat in the ice.

 

ISO performance

 

Going later into the evening I tried a bunch of higher ISO stills and video. The Sony A7III’s native ISO is 100. It can be lowered to 50 and maxed out to 200k. 

 

 

Sony A7III, Sony Zeiss 16-35 f4 at 16mm, f/10, 1.6s, ISO 2000.

 

Ramping up the ISO shows the moving peaces of ice being sharp. This was a scene were boats kept coming every once in a while, leaving all the ice shards in the canals. The shot is a single exposure, processed in Photoshop. At ISO 2000 the Dynamic range is still impressive. 

 

 

Sony A7III, Sony 90mm Macro, f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO 2500.

 

The A7III has absolutely no issues shooting at  ISOs around 1600-3200. There’s hardly any noise. This shot was almost unprocessed. Download the full resolution file HERE

 

 

Sony A7III, Sony Zeiss 16-35 at 16mm, f/11, 1/8s, ISO 3200. This is an ungraded RAW file. 

 

 

And here’s the processed version of this RAW file. At ISO 3200, the dynamic range still allows me to do a lot without getting too much noise.

 

I Included a bunch of RAW files from this scene, from ISO 1600 to 12800 so you can play with it yourself. Get them HERE.

 

Now let's ramp up the ISO a bit more. Here’s a portrait at ISO 16.000. Not 1600, but 16k! 

 

Sony A7III, Sony 90mm macro, f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO 16.000 

 

Sony A7III, Sony 24-105 at 57mm, f4, 1/60s, ISO 20.000 Shot hand held.

 

The quality is getting worse now. 

 

 

Sony A7III, Sony 90mm macro, f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO 16.000.

 

The moon peaking through an old tree with a church in the background. I’d consider these shots usable for social media, but not for print. 

 

 

Sony A7III, Sony 90mm macro, f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO  12.800.

 

ISO 12.800 has some grain but this can easily be fixed with noise reduction. The picture is still very sharp and not muddy. I consider ISO 12.800 very usable.

 

Video

 

I didn’t shoot that much video but did a bunch of quick tests like shooting some video on high ISO. High ISO video looks very well and on par or close to that of the A7SII. Here is a test from ISO 3200 to 102400:

 

 

Here’s some short 1080p 100 fps footage:

 

 

 

Here’s a rolling shutter test on 4k and 1080p with both full frame and super 35:

 

 

 

Autofocus

 

As a landscape photographer I have to be honest: AF is not my specialty. However, I can say a couple of things about after having played with it:

 

The autofocus of this camera is fast and snappy. It also works quite good in low light situations. This is no wonder as they basically integrated the A9 autofocus in this camera (which is quite insane considering the price difference). With that, the autofocus of this camera is better than my A7RIII. It also has more points across the screen. I’d say that this camera is perfectly fine for sports. Shooting at 10 fps burst it does have blackouts. 

 

Allround

 

As you can see with the tests above, this camera is a great all rounder. It has functions for everyone out there and does everything very well. With the new body making it’s way into the ‘entry A7’ line up having a dual SD-Card slot, insane battery life and all the new things the top of the line bodies have, it’s hard to say that this is an entry-level camera. It’s nice to see Sony has their top of the line models (that you pay the highest price for) like the A9 and A7RIII (and probably the A7SIII in the future) that are the absolute best in what they can do. But then you have this camera, the A7III that just does everything so extremely well. 

 

  • Sports: 10 fps burst with similar autofocus of the Sony A9. They basically put the autofocus system of the A9 into the A7III.