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Sony A7RIII first quick look

I love new gear….
I’m always looking forward to testing new hard and software, but I also always have high expectations. And let’s be honest nobody wants to wait 4 years for just a small bump in specs and speed right?

 

I have to add to this review that I only got the camera for 2 days to test. My own version will follow as soon as possible I hope but this review is based on those two days. I try to be as detailed as possible but more will follow.

 

One of the main complaints about Sony is always that they upgrade their cameras so incredibly fast… well I agree to disagree. Sony is indeed upgrading their line up almost constantly but I don’t see this as a bad thing. They have a lot of cameras and often even keep the older models available, so people can actually choose. The cool thing about this is that whenever you need or want a new camera there always is something new for you, instead of having to wait at least another year for the refresh cycle (which than can dissapoint). And that’s the other thing…

Sony NEVER dissapointed me with upgrades.
When I switched from the A7RI to the A7RII I was blown away by the sheer amount of extra features, improvements etc. Now I some time ago claimed that the A7RII is actually almost the perfect studio camera and in all honesty I wouldn’t see any reason to get a new one, ever…. do I still stand behind that….. Well Yes and no. There was one thing that annoyed the HECK out of me with the A7RII, to I point I really thought that Sony wasn’t thinking straight.

 

Wireless tethering is AWESOME
I love shooting tethered and do it as soon as I have the option. When I shoot in the studio I’m always connected with a Tethertools cable, RAW files are transported very fast and it’s a great tool for both me as the client or group of students. I love tethering.

But sometimes on location it’s very tedious to always beware of cables, cables get dirty or damaged and …. well it can be really limiting when you move around a lot. There are of course many solutions for shooting wirelessly but most of these don’t work on Sony, and the ones I did try all failed in one or more departments making them unreliable in the field or even unusable.

For good wireless tethering you need a HUGE bandwith to transport RAW files, and because we don’t have that a perfect wireless solution should be able to keep the RAWs on the card and shoot the smallest possible JPGs to the display, and preferable that should be a tablet or smartphone. As it happens to be Sony has that perfect solution already inside, it’s called “smart remote” and it rocks…… but on the A7RII it didn’t….. well ok it worked, but as soon as it was active the EVF didn’t work anymore, you could only shoot via the LCD, not a real deal breaker but not my cup of tea if I’m forced, I just love shooting through the viewfinder.

This was actually the first thing I tested on the new A7RIII and I can say….. ladies and gentlemen it works and it works like a charm, just like the A9 it’s now not a seperate app but it’s intergrated into the menu and you can even shoot with FTP access….. now we are talking Sony this is awesome.  The app that makes it all work on you smartdevice is called “Playmemories home” and is a very handy app that will actually let you control the camera also from a distance, so it doubles as a shoot and show tethering solution plus an external monitor and remote….. it’s actually incredibly cool.

 

The megapixels
The new A7RIII didn’t get a big bump in megapixels that some actually thought, and in all honesty I’m not dissapointed with that. I much rather have Sony invest in more dynamic range and less noise than in bumping up the megapixels because it looks cool. But they did add something else, that might tickle your “I love MP” bones….

 

Pixelshift
A new option in the A7RIII is shooting not 1 but 4 42MP images. You need Sony software to “stack” these and the result is more detail, less moire etc. One could say it’s still a 42MP image but with way more detail…. I still have to dive into this feature in all honesty, but I’ll do that as soon as I have my own camera. It does promise to be an amazing tool for still live and reproduction work.

 

Autofocus
The A9 was a beast compared to the A7RII, but in all honesty I never really had complaints about the AF on the A7RII, but I’m more a studio shooter than anything else, in fact the A7RII focussed in the dark studio with backlighting MUCH better than most Canon and Nikons. So it wasn’t one of the first things I tested with the new camera, but I immediately noticed a huge difference. The A7RIII is lighting fast. I took the camera with me during yesterdays Phottix Pro tour and focussed WITHOUT ANY Problem in a pretty dark studio with small flash, in all honestly I didn’t even notice it was dark in that area untill the students started shooting and asked me to get some light in because the camera couldn’t focus, that was pretty impressive because the A7RIII focussed noticably faster in the dark than the A7RII in the light…. pretty impressive stuff again.

Shooting in burst
Now this got me all excited.
Besides shooting models I LOVE shooting sports, birds and street stuff. Auto focus helps but most of all I love a good big buffer and loads of frames per second. I don’t need it in most cases, but it can come in pretty handy. Shooting high resolution always meant that you would handicap your frames per second and buffer, but somehow Sony broke that barrier… are you sitting down…..???

10 Frames a second….. Yep 10 FRAMES a second
With intelligent continues AF (most other cameras don’t have continues AF during bursts)
And a HUGE buffer, in fact the first time I tested it I just stopped and saw my buffer clearing very fast with 50-60 frames, I was flabbergasted… I saw this on the A9 but now even on the A7RIII WOW WOW WOW, sports guys will LOVE this. And for the very simple reason not only that it’s fast with a huge buffer but most of all because there is no mirror black out, in other words it looks like you’re filming, you can frame your subject and keep it where you want it.

 

Image stabilization
The IS in Sony already was pretty impressive but the new A7RIII claims to go from 4.5 to 5.5 stops…. in all honesty it looks pretty darn impressive but I couldn’t say if it was a full stop, I did film some vlog style video and it was rock solid, where the A7RII would just show a little but of movement.

 

Dynamic range
Same thing here, Sony claims another stop of dynamic range, and I believe them.
We shot some images during the workshop yesterday with available light and indeed the high-iso images (64000) looked a bit cleaner than on the A7RII but I didn’t shoot them next to other, but I know the quality by heart. I couldn’t say if it was 1 or 2 stops cleaner but it DEFINETLY was sharper and a bit cleaner.

 

Video
I love to also do video and the A7RIII is a big step up again from the A7RII
Of course you have audio in and out (for headphones).
And FINALLY the record button is now placed a bit more handy, not the small button burried in the side, but it’s now nicely located close to the viewfinder.
The video is now supposed to be a 5K video that is down converted to 4K (just like the A9) which gives you much better performance and less rolling shutter, again… in the short amount of time that I tested the camera with some video this seems to be 100% true, video is very solid and has DEFINTELY less rolling shutter than the A7RII or D6500 (which is pretty bad in this department).

Autofocus and face tracking always was good with the Sony and the A7RIII didn’t miss a beat.

You now also have S-Log3 included for 14 steps of dynamic range for better color grading and pushing and pulling the pixels in post, plus a HLG for “instant” HDR workflow. Still have to test all of this when I get my own A7RIII, 2 days is just WAY too short, but I did want to mention it.

Battery
Sony has bad batteries…..
It eats batteries….
Yeah we all heard it.
In all honesty it never really bothered me, I always use a grip and have 2 batteries in there and 2 extra in my bag, it actually happened maybe once or twice that I emptied all four, most of the time I come home with one empty battery and one half empty.

But don’t worry, the new A7RIII has new batteries and these babies go on for a LONG time.
I charged them when the camera arrived and did 2 workshops with them (where they did charge a little bit over USB) and did a whole vlog video with it and the batteries are still at 70%, this would have emptied my A7RII battery without a doubt, so this is very impressive and good.

USB-C
Oh my, USB.
Don’t even start me with this.
I HATE those little USB connectors and never understood why there was no locking mechanisme, so that’s why we use the Tetherblock (www.frankdoorhof.com/store) or jerkstoppers on most cameras. Luckily Sony understands this and with the A7RII and now also the A7RIII it delivers a ROCK SOLID Tethering solution, which in my opinion is more than suitable for tethering but less for use with HDMI or monitors. I do have to add that on the A7RII I loved the connection but on the A7RIII it seems like the designers added it later on and were puzzled on how the heck make it work, they did find a solution but it’s not as elegant as on the A7RII, but hey it works and it works great.

Ok anyway.
You now have the old small fragile USB connector, but Sony also added USB-C, very smart because for tethering Tethertools only starts delivering USB-c cables start of 2018, so for now we can still use the old cables and than switch to USB-C.

Two cards
Loads of people wanted it, and now it’s here.
The A7RIII now has 2 card slots, you can use SD or Memorycards from Sony which are now all capable of VERY fast data transports.
In the menu you can set both cards up to store RAWs or JPEGs or combine it and much more, it’s pretty impressive what kind of options you get.

 

Displays
Both the EVF and LCD have been upgraded, the LCD now also touch options for for example focus, which is pretty handy of course. In comparision to the A7RII you can see the upgrades, especially the EVF seems more responsive and smoother.

 

Conclusion for now
The list of improvements is HUGE and I only touched the tip of the iceberg, but as mentioned at the start I only got the camera for two days.

The A7RII is a studio photographers dream, it does everything very well and is an incredible machine.
The A7RIII is a studio photographers wetdream, it excells over the A7RII and is a beast outside with incredible speed on AF a HUGE buffer and a fricking 10 fps RAW burst (it’s insane)

Should you buy one?
If you already own an A7RII it’s a huge step up for auto focus and framerate.
If you also do video I would say, RUN TO THE STORE AND GET ONE.
If you shoot still lives…. same thing

If you just shoot for a hobby and love your A7RII keep it for now and testdrive an A7RIII.
It REALLY is a HUGE improvement, but the A7RII is already a dreammachine, in essence it’s all about YOU the photographer and not the gear, but that said…. man this is a beast of a camera and I loved every second I had my hands on it, and I will definitely upgrade, but I will add the grip because for my hands…. the A series is just a tad too small.

HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this camera. And I’m not saying this because I shoot Sony. It really is a marvel of modern technology.

 

 

Some images I shot with the A7RIII
Again more will follow as soon as I have the camera a bit longer.

 


 

 

 

 

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