Sony A7S III: At a look
- $3498 / £3,800 (RRP) body-only
- 12.1MP full-frame BSI-CMOS sensor
- ISO 80-102,400 (ISO 40-409,600 prolonged)
- 10 frames per second capturing
- 759-point section detection AF
- 9.44m-dot EVF, 0.9x magnification
- 3in totally articulated touchscreen
- 5-axis in-body stabilisation
- 4K video as much as 120fps, Full HD as much as 240fps
Sony’s Alpha 7S line has all the time occupied a distinct segment place inside its full-frame mirrorless vary. With a 12MP sensor able to capturing at a staggering ISO 409,600, it was initially conceived as a high-sensitivity choice for low-light images. However the line actually discovered its toes with the A7S II in 2015, which was able to recording 4K video internally, and so earned a loyal following amongst filmmakers for its compact measurement, glorious footage and memorable low-light functionality. Now, higher late than by no means, the subsequent technology is right here, and Sony’s tag line is ‘every thing is new’.
Certainly the A7S III doesn’t simply signify a substantial replace for the ‘S’ line. I’ve been utilizing a pattern earlier than its launch, and it’s packed full of serious developments that make it by far the perfect Alpha 7 so far, by way of consumer interface and dealing with. So whereas it will not be of direct curiosity to many photographers, it gave us some attention-grabbing tips to what we might count on subsequent from the mainstream A7 III’s successor, the Sony Alpha A7 IV.
Sony Alpha 7S III – Key factors
- A surprising new 9.44m-dot digital viewfinder affords QXGA (2048 x 1536) decision and an enormous 0.9x magnification
- That is the primary Alpha 7 to make use of a side-hinged totally articulated LCD, which is a really welcome advance for each stills and video work
- Sony has designed a totally new touch-sensitive interface, which is a large enchancment over its earlier cameras
- The digital camera’s twin card slots will each settle for both UHS-II SD playing cards, or the brand new CFexpress Sort A playing cards
Sony A7S III Firmware Updates
Sony are actually on firmware model 2.11, which improves stability of the digital camera, but additionally consists of all earlier firmware updates. These included quite a lot of updates which are of explicit curiosity to videographers, together with proxy recording, improved Eye AF, improved customized white steadiness, in addition to different fixes.
You will get the newest firmware updates from Sony’s web site.
Sony A7S III – Options
Like its predecessors, the Alpha 7S III is predicated round a 12MP full-frame sensor. Nevertheless this can be a utterly new Exmor-R design with a back-illuminated construction that gives double the readout velocity, and consists of section detection pixels for autofocus. In live performance with the brand-new Bionz XR processor that’s thrice sooner than earlier than, this supplies a radical enchancment over its predecessor by way of capturing velocity and autofocus.
The on-chip section detection supplies 759 focus factors throughout nearly the complete picture space. All the agency’s newest AF applied sciences are on board, together with real-time Eye AF and real-time monitoring, and so they now all work throughout video recording, too. With so many focus factors to select from, a brand new ‘AF body transfer quantity’ menu setting trades off the velocity with which you’ll be able to transfer the main focus level to the sides of the body in opposition to positioning finesse.
A sensitivity vary of ISO 80-102,400 is on the market as customary, extendable to ISO 40-409,600, and whereas the highest ISO hasn’t been elevated, Sony says it ought to look a lot cleaner than earlier than. The digital camera is able to capturing at 10 frames per second – double the speed of the mark II – and might supposedly preserve going for 1000 uncooked frames earlier than slowing down, when utilizing a suitably quick reminiscence card.
On this notice, the Alpha 7S III turns into the primary digital camera to just accept the brand new CFexpress Sort A reminiscence playing cards. Measuring 20 x 28 x 2.8mm, they’re smaller than both SD playing cards or the CFexpress Sort B playing cards utilized in different mirrorless fashions, which undertake the XQD type issue (38.5 x 29.8 x 3.8mm). Technically, for knowledge switch they use a single PCIe lane that gives a most velocity of 1000Mpbs, half that of the Sort B format (because it employs a dual-lane structure). So in precept, they will comfortably deal with the A7S III’s 600Mbps most bit-rate, however wouldn’t be able to coping with 8K video, as output by the Canon EOS R5.
Nevertheless, the A7S III demonstrates one key benefit of the smaller format. It allows twin card slots to be fitted into the digital camera with out taking on an excessive amount of house, whereas additionally permitting them to just accept the massively standard SD format too, which merely slot in dealing with the opposite manner round.
Naturally, Sony is releasing CFexpress Sort A playing cards alongside the digital camera: with a specified learn velocity of 800Mbps, and 700Mbps for writing, they’re obtainable in 80GB and 160GB sizes for £210 and £400 respectively. A twin SD / CFexpress Sort A card reader, the MRW-G2, prices £130. This makes the playing cards dearer than CFexpress Sort-B, and provides appreciable additional value for many who wish to get probably the most out of the digital camera when recording video internally.
Instead of the Inventive Types discovered on earlier cameras, Sony has launched a subtly totally different method to color modes, known as Inventive Seems.
As a substitute of the descriptive names beforehand given to Types, every is referred to by a two-letter abbreviation. Most are pretty straightforward to guess; ST is customary, PT is portrait and VV is Vivid. Sadly others are fairly impenetrable, akin to FL, IN, and SH.
Urgent the Delete key provides a proof of which every is doing, nevertheless it’s not all the time useful: for instance FL “Creates a picture with moody end by making use of sharp distinction to the calm coloring in addition to the spectacular sky and colours of the greens.” Me neither.
Every Look now has a a lot wider array of parameters that may be adjusted, specifically distinction, highlights, shadows, fade (which raises the black level), saturation, sharpness, sharpness vary, and readability. So there’s loads of scope for constructing your personal preferences in-camera.
In what appears positive to develop into an more and more frequent characteristic, you possibly can select to file nonetheless pictures within the excessive effectivity picture file (HEIF) format quite than JPEG, with a alternative of 4:2:0 or 4:2:2 compression. Nevertheless, you possibly can’t file each HEIF and JPEG on the identical time.
Disappointingly, although, there’s nonetheless no in-camera uncooked conversion. Perhaps Sony will lastly get round to including this to one among it’s cameras, however we gained’t maintain our breath.
Sony Alpha 7S III – Construct and Dealing with
By way of bodily design the A7S III is much like the current A7R IV, which signifies that it’s bulked up significantly in comparison with its predecessor. Certainly at 130 x 98 x 82mm and a shade over 700g, it’s the most important Alpha 7 but. It sports activities a giant, chunky grip that’s each taller and deeper than these on earlier generations, lastly offering an area in your little finger to nestle, which in flip brings a way more safe maintain. Nevertheless the grip’s considerably slab-sided profile means it’s much less snug in your hand in comparison with the extremely sculpted grips discovered on most different high-end mirrorless fashions, together with the Canon EOS R5.
The A7S III’s physique is roofed with massive, chunky buttons that present a protracted, optimistic journey. Just about each management has been refined and improved over third-generation A7 fashions; for instance the joystick is bigger and has a textured floor, the AF-ON button is far simpler to find and press with the digital camera as much as your eye, and the publicity compensation dial has a toggle lock to stop unintentional motion. In comparison with the now quite historic A7S II, the distinction in management format and value is as night time and day.
You additionally get few additional refinements over the A7R IV and A9 II. Most clearly, the video button has moved to a extra handy location on the top-plate, swapping locations with the C1 button that’s now situated beside the viewfinder.
The cardboard compartment door now requires a sliding latch to be launched earlier than it may be slid backwards and opened. All the connector ports have thick, hinged, rubberised covers, and the microphone socket is positioned up on the shoulder of the digital camera the place it gained’t intrude with the rotation of the display screen. Sadly the headphone socket’s door is far bigger than it must be, which suggests it obstructs the display screen greater than it ought to.
One big operational enchancment lies with Sony’s consumer interface. We’ve been complaining for years in regards to the agency’s obtuse menus and lack of any contact interface, and at a stroke it’s mounted each.
The A7S III has a model new menu design that teams associated features collectively way more logically into nested sub-menus, and is totally operable by contact. The brand new format employs seven colour-coded menus, with My Menu on the high, and Capturing, Publicity/Coloration, Focus, Playback, Community and Setup under. Nevertheless, the entire many settings and choices have been utterly re-arranged throughout the 51 tabs, so present Sony customers should rediscover the place all of them are.
The onscreen Fn menu can be now lastly touch-sensitive. This transforms the convenience and velocity with which yow will discover and alter settings, making the A7S III the best-handling Sony digital camera so far by far. Nevertheless it’s value noting that by default, the C4 button toggles the touchscreen on and off, and I discovered it straightforward to hit by chance, leaving me jabbing fruitlessly on the display screen. I’d reallocate this button to one thing extra helpful as an alternative.
Sony A7S III – Viewfinder and display screen
In presumably the A7S III’s single most spectacular characteristic, it boasts the world’s highest decision digital viewfinder, which supplies a breathtakingly giant and detailed view. Certainly at roughly 0.9x magnification, it’s to all intents and functions as giant, vibrant and sharp because the optical viewfinder of my Olympus OM-1 compared side-by-side – which in context is arguably the perfect viewfinder ever used on a 35mm SLR. It’s an actual assertion of functionality and intent from Sony, and admittedly leaves any DSLR within the shade.
In one other extraordinarily welcome replace, and for the primary time on a Sony interchangeable-lens digital camera, the A7S III sports activities a side-hinged vari-angle display screen. Whereas some see this as primarily a video characteristic, it’s additionally nice for capturing portrait-format nonetheless pictures at excessive or low angles. When recording video with the display screen dealing with forwards, a brand new ‘Emphasise show throughout recording’ outlines the LCD display screen with a thick purple field, which supplies a much better visible cue than a small purple dot on the display screen.
Sony Alpha 7S III – Video options
Finally, it’s the video capabilities that Sony has actually targeting. The A7S III might not match the eye-catching 8K decision of the Canon EOS R5, or Sony Alpha A1, nevertheless it appears prefer it’ll be the extra sensible digital camera in real-world use. It’s able to recording in 4K at as much as 120fps, with 10-bit 4:2:2 color and All-I compression at 600Mbps for optimum high quality, and with a claimed 15-stop dynamic vary. In Full HD it’ll shoot at 240fps.
Whereas the digital camera can’t file uncooked video internally, it may to an exterior recorder over HDMI. Lastly, it’s now attainable to view what you’re capturing on the digital camera’s monitor when recording externally. Sony provides a cable guard that ought to forestall the HDMI or USB-C energy cables from coming unfastened by accident throughout recording, nevertheless it does forestall the display screen from tilting, and can block virtually the complete view when the display screen is about to face forwards.
Sony says that the digital camera’s inside construction is 5 occasions simpler at dissipating warmth than earlier than, which suggests it may shoot 4K 60p video for a minimum of an hour, in distinction to the EOS R5’s most of 35 minutes earlier than overheating. Its 5-axis in-body stabilisation now claims 5.5 stops profit, and will be boosted by extra digital stabilisation for super-steady hand-held video footage, at the price of a 1.1x crop. In the meantime rolling-shutter distortion has been lowered by an element of three.
Different superior video options embrace four-channel, 24-bit inside audio recording; 10-bit S-log2 and S-log3 profiles; 10-bit hybrid log gamma for fast HDR; and 16-bit uncooked output over HDMI to an exterior recorder. It’s attainable to make use of utterly impartial settings for stills and video, though I’m unsure how usually the A7S III will ever get used for the previous. The Z-type battery affords a 60% enhance in capability in comparison with the A7S III’s NP-FW50, whereas USB-C can be utilized each for quick charging, and to energy the digital camera throughout lengthy recordings.
I examined the A7S III’s steady recording capability with the digital camera set on a tripod, with its display screen folded out, at an ambient temperature of twenty-two°C. I discovered it was completely completely satisfied capturing at 4K and 60fps repeatedly for 86 minutes, and finally was restricted by the twin 140GB CFexpress Sort A playing cards working out of house (the battery was additionally nearly exhausted).
The digital camera physique did get noticeably heat, however not uncomfortably so. Given the Canon EOS R5 and R6’s much-discussed issues with overheating, the A7S III appears prone to be a significantly better alternative for critical filmmakers. Sony’s class-leading autofocus additionally does an outstanding job of preserving the topic’s face in focus, irrespective of how they transfer across the body.
Efficiency and Picture High quality
Sony Alpha 7S III – Verdict
It doesn’t take lengthy with the A7S III to be significantly impressed. Its 9.44m-dot viewfinder is unimaginable, and Sony’s new contact interface addressed one among our longest-running gripes. The autofocus is gentle years past its predecessor’s CDAF; it’s super-fast, correct, and continues to work in vanishingly low gentle.
There’s little question that the Alpha 7S III is a significantly spectacular piece of equipment. Sony has lengthy been adept at producing superior sensors and picture processors, however beneath growing stress from Canon and Nikon, it’s now constructing our bodies round this expertise that may meet the expectations of demanding customers. With its gorgeous viewfinder, totally articulated display screen and new contact interface, the A7S III is definitely its best-handling digital camera but.
Total although, that is clearly a digital camera that’s aimed primarily at videographers. Regardless of the assertions of a vocal minority, few photographers will probably be ready to just accept its comparatively low 12MP decision in alternate for the flexibility to shoot at super-high ISO settings. Nevertheless with its 10fps burst velocity and glorious AF, it might develop into an attention-grabbing choice for capturing sports activities or wildlife in extraordinarily low gentle.
Sadly the astonishing viewfinder is unlikely to search out its manner onto a less expensive mannequin, however I actually hope Sony isn’t misled by the concept totally articulated screens are for video quite than stills. Total that is the perfect digital camera physique that Sony has made by far, which augurs effectively for the way forward for the A7 line. The principle query for Sony videographers now will probably be whether or not they go for this or the Sony Alpha A1.