Sony A7R III Review

Introduction

The Sony A7RIII marks yet another successful release in Sony’s Alpha 7 series of Full-Frame cameras. Originally released in fall 2017, the A7RIII was aimed to convince serious and professional photographer alike that the mirrorless Full-Frame camera could thoroughly replace their traditional Digital SLR. It was marked as a direct replacement for the Canon 5D Mark IV and Nikon D850. Did sony succeed in doing so? Today we find out. 

What kind of camera is the Sony A7RIII classified as?

The Sony A7RIII is considered a Full-Frame mirrorless camera. The camera was released as the successor to the A7RII and the continuation of high-resolution variants available in the Alpha 7 lineup. While the A7RIII carries over similar features from the A7RII (sensor, AF, and shutter), the features inherited have been improved considerably. The most notable improvements are a wider native ISO range, more contrast-detection AF points, a touch LCD, an updated EVF, plus better customization and ergonomics. 

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What mount does the Sony A7RIII use? What other lenses are available? 

As with previous A7R releases, this camera also uses the E mount lenses adapter. The E mount platform is infamous for its versatility because it allows users to install non-native lenses via adapters, significantly increasing the overall breadth of lenses available for use. Below are the most popular lens adapters available:
Sony A Mount: A Mount to E Mount Adapter
Sony-A-Mount-to-E-Mount-Lens-Adapter
Canon/Sigma: MC-11 Adapter 
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Nikon: Vello Adapter 
Vello-Select-Nikon-F-Lens-to-Sony-E-Mount
Pros and cons do exist, however, with using lens adapters. The pro is that you get to use non-native lenses. The con is that non-native lenses often have limited autofocusing and auto-exposure capabilities. Meaning that once adapted, they become completely manual focusing or manual exposure only, depending on the adapter. And unfortunately, the only way to confirm whether or not a lens will function fully is through use. So mentally prepare yourself to spend some dough from trial and error if you’re planning on jumping into the non-native realm.

What are the goods, bads, and the uglies of the Sony A7RIII?

Pros:

Offers superior autofocusing performance and subject tracking ability due to 425 AF points, which cover 68% of the entire frame. Also offers Eye AF, a feature that automatically tracks the eyes of a subject moving across the frame. 

Has an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) that allows users to see changes to exposure and white balance directly in the viewfinder prior to taking a photo. This removes the need to chimp (immediately reviewing a photo in playback after shooting) since you will literally see the final result beforehand. 

Has a 42-megapixel sensor that allows users to forgivingly crop with ample detail, a possibility not available with lower resolution cameras.

Has dual SD cards, preventing professional and serious photographers from losing critical work. Though this will require newer SD cards to be used to prevent the camera from buffer unnecessarily when shooting in continuous mode.

Has superb Dynamic Range and industry-leading shadow recovery in post-processing. ISO performance provides usable images throughout the entirety of the range from ISO 100 to 32,000. 

Fantastic ergonomics and customization. Every single button is customizable, providing users with complete freedom in tailoring the camera to their specific shooting needs. The back scroll wheel and the joystick are now redesigned providing more feedback and responsiveness. And, thankfully, the menu page is now also customizable as well. We are pleased to report that after the initial headache caused by setup, navigating the menu becomes a breeze. 

Has in-camera stabilization, which provides 5 and 1/2 stops of stabilization. This stabilization is also transferred to adapted lenses that don’t include lens stabilization themselves.

Shoots 4K video at 30 FPS. Or 1080p at 60 and 120 FPS, allowing for slow-motion capturing. Also includes a Super 35 mode as well.

It’s dust and moisture resistant. Thank goodness.

The LCD display is a touchscreen, allowing users to simply touch the LCD to focus when using autofocus.

Has a USB C port for both faster charging and file transfer. 

Offers 10 FPS burst fire shooting. 

Has a completely silent shutter, which also maintains the 10 FPS burst rate.

Now has improved battery life over the A7RII and has the ability to shoot 1,500 frames on a single battery.

Has an APS-C crop mode, allowing users to shoot specifically Full-Frame or APS-C Sony lenses on a single body. This eliminates the need for cropping in post-processing to remove the natural vignette caused by using crop sensor lenses. 

Cons:

Only has a tilting screen and not a swivel. This is a problem because not being able to swivel the LCD towards you will make video composition difficult when shooting alone. This can be fixed, however, by connecting the camera to an external monitor via HDMI. Even so, it’s still a tedious way to circumvent this design flaw. 

Since the A7RIII is a relatively small Full-Frame camera, a battery grip will be a needed accessory to comfortably shoot larger lenses. You will definitely find yourself struggling in these situations with awkwardly holding the camera without one.  

The menu is still overly complicated and complex. Thankfully, this is only a problem during your initial familiarization with the camera. Once familiarized, you can fully customize the menu and layouts to your specific needs. Praise the camera gods for that. 

The A7RIII suffers from “Rolling shutter,” which is visible motion blur when shooting fast objects even at fast shutter speeds (ie., 1/4000 second). Even at 1/8000 seconds, images are found to be distracting and slightly disorienting due to the amount of rolling shutter experienced.

While it does have dual SD card slots, one card slot is actually UHS 1. USH 1 is the format for the older generation SD cards. This becomes problematic if, or when, both slots are written simultaneously since USH 1 has slower writing speeds.  We encourage that you shoot to Card Slot 1, as this is the UHS 2 slot, and use Card Slot 2 to shoot to JPEG as backups. Alternatively, you can switch cards as each card gets full and shoot solely to Card Slot 1.  

When the silent shutter is enabled, it has been found to increase the amount of rolling shutter experienced. And when enabled, subjects must remain still to avoid distortion. Even slight movement will cause distortion, turning what would normally be a circle into more of an oval shape. This distortion is not only incredibly noticeable but also distracting. 

Only has 8-bit colors for video as opposed to 10-bit, thus doesn’t provide the most accurate color as a result.  

File sizes for RAW files with this camera are simply ridiculous, uncompressed RAW images are 80 MBs while compressed images are 40 MBs. Definitely grab some extra memory cards and an extra external Hard Drive while you’re at it if you’re wanting to shoot uncompressed raw. We highly recommend shooting compressed RAW to reduce workflow time and storage space. 

Is the Sony A7RIII a good starting camera?

Yes. This a fantastic starting camera for those already familiar with the workings of Full-Frame cameras, be they mirrorless or Digital SLR. For those of you that are absolute beginners, this camera is extreme overkill for your specific needs. It is best avoided until you’ve mastered the fundamentals of exposure, at the bare minimum. Why? Well, 42-megapixels is totally unnecessary for every photographer that doesn’t shoot: billboards, large commercial/advertising work or specifically shoots for printing. If you’re not in that category, this camera is overkill for the results you are ultimately aiming for. 

But what if I can actually afford this camera and have the budget for it? Well, if you’re lucky enough to have that large of a budget as a beginning photographer, then yes the A7RIII would be a phenomenal camera to initially start with from the very beginning. It’s an excellent choice to grow and develop into a professional with. Though we still believe it’s still overkilling for your needs.

What are the best lenses for the Sony A7R III? 

Well, the A7RIII uses Sony “FE” lenses, which is how Sony notates Full-Frame lenses in their available lineup. However, both “FE” or “E” specific lenses can be used on this camera. Know that “E” specific lenses have no drawbacks when used, especially in performance, and they function exactly the same as “FE” specific lenses. However, to use these lenses properly, the camera will have to be set to APS-C mode. Setting the camera to APS-C crop mode automatically crops in the sensor, it does so by increasing the built-in magnification function thus removing the outer edges of the frame. When this occurs, the output of the file in megapixels (and therefore overall resolution/detail) drops from 42-megapixels down to 18-megapixels. This is a necessity to avoid the natural vignette that occurs when APS-C sized lenses are used on a Full-Frame camera, however. Alternatively, if you want to maintain the 42-megapixel resolution and avoid that loss in detail, you can turn on the in-camera magnification (found in settings). Once enabled, set the magnification to 1.2x to avoid this downscaling of the image quality while still removing the vignette. Either of these options works great, just depends on what’s easiest for you.

With that knowledge in mind, below are the best-recommended lenses. Note several are “E” specific lenses, but they’re phenomenal buys that work flawlessly when paired with the A7RIII. 

General Photography: 

E 18–200 mm F3.5-6.3 OSS
E 18–55 mm F3.5–5.6 OSS
E 55–210 mm F4.5-6.3 OSS
E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

Specifically for Macro Photography:

Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS 

Specifically for Landscape Photography:

E 20 mm F2.8

Specifically for Portrait Photography:

FE 28-70 mm F3.5-5.6 OSS
FE 50mm F1.8
FE 85mm F1.8

Best bundles for the Sony A7R III

sony a7r iii camera bundle
a7r iii camera bundle

Is the Sony A7RIII a good camera for you?

Yes, but that does depend on your specific needs. Do you really need a Full-Frame camera with 42-megapixels? Really…. No. Seriously? Do you? 

Well, if you do, then yes my friend. This is still one of the top three performing Full-Frame cameras in the market to date. The A7RIII is a flexible camera that provides industry-leading performance and capabilities for those wanting to shoot both photo and video. Granted, this camera is definitely best suited for those of you who are serious about your development as photographers and are aiming to publish your work to a larger audience. While it does suffer from rolling shutter, and a few other minor gripes as described above. It’s still hard to compete with what’s available in this camera. The quality, features, and performance offered leaves the A7RIII competitive even in 2019, and because of these facts, we absolutely recommend it as one of our top three Full-Frame cameras. 

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Overview
  • Price
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Summary

The Sony A7RIII is definitely a niche Full-Frame camera best suited for those serious about their development as photographers or desiring to publish their work. The camera offers industry-leading performance in both photo and video realms. And consequently, still remains one of the top-performing Full-Frame cameras in the market to date. While it predominantly suffers from rolling shutter, the overall quality, features, and performance offered leaves the A7RIII competitive even in 2019. These facts make the A7RIII one of our top three recommended Full-Frame cameras and one we believe thoroughly replaces a traditional Digital SLR.