So, this is going to be a review of the Sony a7iii, it is Sony’s ‘entry level’ full frame camera, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a completely capable professional camera. Sony has had a long standing track record of making cameras that perform to the best that the hardware they are equipped with can perform, even if at the cost of having terribly convoluted menu systems. In this review I am going to talk about the key features first, then build quality & handling, the image quality, the auto-focusing performance, the video quality, the current lens options and lastly how it compares to the current options on the market.
Starting off with the basics though, this camera is a full-frame mirrorless camera that is rocking a sweet 24 megapixel sensor. This is the 3rd camera in the a7 series, and it pulls in a lot of important fixes that previous cameras in the series struggled with. It has all the features that one would expect in a full-frame professional camera and more. The camera has:
- Insanely good autofocus
- 693-point phase-detection
- 425-point contrast-detection
- Eye and face autofocus for humans and animals
- 10 frames per second photos
- Very good high ISO performance
- 4k video at 24fps with no crop
- Slow motion 120fps at 1080p
- Dual card slots
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization
- An electronic viewfinder
- Great battery life with the Z-batteries
- Bluetooth, wi-fi and NFC
These are just kinda the basic features I think are expected of a professional camera in this generation of cameras. It can do everything all the other cameras on the market can do and a little extra and it has addressed 95% the problems that plagued the previous sony cameras, the biggest of which was the battery and not having dual card slots. Previously the sony batteries where notoriously rubbish however the a7iii is superb. I have never had an issue with the batteries dying on me unexpectedly and overall I have been just really impressed. If it is any testament to the quality of the batteries, I only every take one spare with me for a wedding or when I’m traveling because I know one will get me though a day.
Moving on though I’ll talk about the build. The main appeal of mirrorless cameras is the size. The a7iii body is the same as the A9 in the A7R3 it has a very minimalist design with lots of hard edges the biggest issue though is it definitely focuses on being a more compact Camera rather than a more ergonomic Camera which is my biggest issue with it, however I found a simple solution for this problem, a little grip extender. You can find them super cheap on amazon now these days and I recommend picking one up because they double as some easy protection for your cam and act as a tripod mount and I made a whole separate video talking about them.
Materials & Weather sealing:
In terms of the actual materials of the Camera is made out of it’s a magnesium and a hard and plastic hybrid. most people criticize the Sony cameras for having less of a high quality weather sealing on them in that certainly a valid argument to make however I don’t think a lot of the people who say that have actually tried to use these cameras in inclement weather. I can say first hand I’ve taken this Camera out in very harsh conditions like in straight up thunderstorms or in extremely cold conditions in the Camera has never had an issue with its weather sealing so though I yeah I’m sceptical still a bit I have yet to have a reason to be so. The Camera is durable and well built though the fact that is not a solid metal body is not ideal however it’s not a Hill to die on considering the price point .
Buttons and controls:
Another huge improvement with the a7iii compared to the a7ii is the fact that the button layout has been dramatically improved and the quality of the buttons has been improved. Realistically I have modified all of the buttons to be tailored to how I want to use them and the wonderful thing about the Sony cameras is everything is re programmable to make it exactly how you want to use them. I will be making another video soon on how I like to set up my cameras as well, taling about how I have each button programed. over the last year of use my only complaint is that the custom modes only has 2 options on the turning wheel rather than 3 like the A7R3 in realistically I would love to use for custom modes or so but it is what it is it’s just a weird choice to remove one.
My biggest complaint with the a7iii comes down to the display though and this is actually the reason I’d consider selling this camera when the a7iv or a7siii comes out. The issue is it’s just too low resolution and it also has issues with clipping when the background is too bright. The display is very bright and nice itself however it doesn’t have as much of a dynamic range as the sensor on the Camera itself so say it’s a bright sunny day and your taking a pictures; on your display it will look like it’s blown out however if you take that image and you put it on the computer it’s a perfectly fine exposed image. The electric viewfinder is less of an issue and it certainly does not have the same issue as the back display with being deceptive with your exposure however it’s not as high resolution as other cameras from Sony, Panasonic, Canon or Nikon. and it suffers from really just from not keeping up with the rest of the competition. Lastly the touch screen is basically useless because all it can do is make custom focus points which is nice however the functionality is very limited and I’d love to see it improved with a software update, because it’s totally accurate to where you touch and I think it would be awesome to have that functionality in the menu system.
This leads nicely into my next point which is the software, Sony has proven over the last year they are dedicated to updating the Camera by adding new features and updates like the animal eye-AF and improved functionality of the buttons. However the same issues that you would expect from a Sony Camera still persist in the A7iii, there are just so many options that this Camera can have that the menu system is extremely bloated and it has way more pages in submenus then it is possible to memorize. A nice thing is that they added a favourites menu so that you can put your commonly used settings all on one page however this doesn’t completely fix the issue because you’re still constantly going back into the menu system to find that one option that you need in a certain situation and I just can take a little bit to find it. I think it’s often dramatized how bad the many systems are, however I definitely agree that there is room for improvement. My recommendation is just before you go out and take some photos make sure that you know what you gonna be doing because say you’re gonna be taking video you want to have your Camera set up for that just so you’re not fiddling around with that and you’re familiar with what settings you’re going to be using and where to find them.
I will discuss the video autofocus later, right now I’ll just focus on the performance in photos. There isn’t much to say though, the autofocus with this camera is near perfect, and I don’t say that lightly. I have taken it to many weddings and have taken well over 15,000 photos with this camera and I’d say at least my hit rate is upwards of 90% and I don’t mean to say that to be overly dramatic, it’s just I never have an issue with the autofocus it’s just very very accurate and as someone who came from DSLR, moving over to a mirrorless system where the autofocus is so well optimised is a huge advantage when taking photos it makes the whole job way more pleasant. I know that in the next version of this camera it is going to be improved upon with the new real time tracking that Sony introduced in the a 6400 in the a9ii however I see that as kind of a cherry on top and is not something I am worried about needing to upgrade for.
The images that you get from this Camera are very functional, with a 24 mp sensor you’re able to capture very crisp in professional photos however you don’t get a ton of room to crop. Realistically though this is only something I notice because I’m coming from also using the 42 mp a7Riii. For professional use this Camera is more than capable and the colours that come out of it are consistent inaccurate and I’ve never really had a problem with it.
ISO and lowlight functionality and dynamic range:
My favorite thing about this Camera though is it’s low light performance. this Camera never ceases to amaze me with how well it does in terrible lighting conditions, the dynamic range it has is absolutely ridiculous to the point that if you’re shooting in broad daylight your best off exposing for the Sky because you know your shadows are still gonna be exposed and if you’re shooting in the night time you can crank the ISO up as high as you’d like and realistically the noise is not going to be an issue. the images on the screen now I hope illustrate my point, if you’re someone who likes to shoot images of the stars this is a great Camera for and when paired with a nice wide angle lens you can get really clean images of the night sky.
As i said when I started this video though my primary use for this camera is actually as a video camera. however the video quality that you get from this Camera is something that I often struggle with because at the end of the day there are better options on the market if you’re going to be a dedicated videographer, cameras like the Blackmagic pocket or GH5 are going to be a better value if you’re planning to just straight up take video. Yet I still bought this camera and I love the video from it. It is designed to be a hybrid camera that is good at photos and video, and though I see room for improvement in the next iteration of the camera.
I shoot mainly in s-log 2 and I use the 100 mbps bit rate in the 1080p 60fps or the 4k 24fps, which as you can see here can produce some awesome footage. The issue is that the 8bit 4-2-0 files just have very little headroom when you are editing, and compared to the newer cameras in the same price point from Nikon and Blackmagic. All the cameras in the current Sony lineup just are lagging behind, but I have high hopes for the a7siii and a7iv to change that. I still would recommend this Camera if you’re getting into video, but if you’re already a dedicated videographer this Camera will still leave you wanting.
Lastly the video autofocus is very accurate and most importantly, very natural as well, you can easily rely on it to get focus for you in video, The real time tracking though that is going to come out in the newer versions of Sony cameras with real time face and I autofocus in video as well as while an external recorder is attached will be a very nice change. you can see in all my YouTube videos though that the autofocus is almost always on point and it’s been this Camera that have been capturing those videos so kind of case in point it’s pretty darn good as is.
Another classic complaint about Sony cameras from more seasoned photographers is that the lens lineup is terrible and thankfully this isn’t an issue anymore, in fact if you saw any other videos on my YouTube channel you would know that the selection of lenses for the Sony lineup is arguably better than any other Camera on the market right now. all the development for new lenses over the last year even is staggering, the market is currently very competitive and there are very high quality lenses coming out from Sigma and Tamron that are easily competing with the extremely high quality G master lens is that Sony puts out themselves. so if you’re looking at the a7iii and you’re wondering about what lenses to buy I recommend maybe looking at my other videos or from other lens reviewers on YouTube, but my key point here is that there are some great values lenses available for Sony.
Price, Value, and Competition:
It now comes down to the important part of the video and that is comparing this Camera to the other options on the market and how this Camera holds up over a year after it was released, and realistically how it will hold up in the years to come. My biggest issues with the a7iii is the design of the body, the low quality back display and the lacklustre video quality compared to the newer cameras on the market. The biggest issue I think with this Camera though is that I’m comparing it to cameras that came out after it was already released And I think that is a testament to how good the Camera is, other manufacturers were so far behind when the a7iii was released that realistically there is only cameras hitting the market now that are coming close to it. I’m going to narrow my scope of comparison to only cameras manufactured by Sony though because I don’t have enough experience with any Nikon, Panasonic or Canon cameras besides using friends cameras occasionally. However I will compare it to the A7Riii which is the most similar Camera to this one, because as of making this video of the A7iv is clearly gonna be released in the next few months but has not been announced yet.
a lot of my complaints about the a7iii stem from the fact that I know the sacrifices Sony made to get the price down on the Camera, like the back display and the lower mega pixel count on the sensor. The A7R3 certainly is a better Camera for photography due to the fact that it has a better EVF and has a higher mega pixel sensor on it but that doesn’t mean it’s better Camera overall, the a7iii has a better autofocus system and has the same video capability as the a7riii and it is a significantly better value coming in at routinely several hundred dollars less than the a7riii.
Overall, the a7iii is a camera that has aged very well, and I think it will hold up as the best value camera to buy in the next couple years as it’s price drops with newer cameras coming onto the market. I have enjoyed using this Camera immensely over the last year and I certainly see myself using it more until the a7siii comes to the market to replace it as my primary video Camera