Sony A7iii - Canon Doesn't Stand A Chance
Hands down, the best camera for under $2,000
For those of you who might have been living under a rock for the past few months (or may not be all that into photography), Sony just recently released its latest camera in the Alpha series, the Sony A7iii.
Although described by Sony as its “basic model”, for many (including a lot of us here at The Sitch), this camera is the holy grail of full-frame mirrorless cameras. Not only does it come with some amazing updates, many of which can be found on their other flagship models, the A7Riii and A79 but it all comes at a staggering price of under $2,000 ($1,999 to be exact). This camera is so hot right now that it’s been backordered on B&H and Adorama since it was released into market and if you order one now, you might be lucky enough to get your hands on it within the next month or two.
Extremely great value for the money
693-point AF system that captures 93% of the frame
Uncropped 4K video at 24fps
5-axis image stabilization
15-stops of dynamic range
10fps burst shooting
Very compact and durable body
Only one SD slot supports UHS-II cards
Limited touchscreen control compared to other cameras
Poor weather-sealing around accessory ports
Other camera and tech pubs have already dubbed it quite the phenomenon. DPReview gave it a 89/100, Trusted Reviews gave it a 9/10 and TechRadar gave it 5/5. All three reviews nearly flawless. So what are the specs that make this camera stand out from the rest?
Body & Ergonomics
The body has gotten a little bigger since the A7ii (50 grams to be exact) but it’s still small for a full-frame camera. Because of its size, it will fit comfortable on most gimbals and is easy to carry around. The ergonomics of the grip have also been improved, which now feels really good in your hand. The older models had a much smaller group that felt like you could only partially hold the camera, unless of course you had smaller, baby-sized hands.
The new body also comes with a larger battery (2,280mAh), which was a major complaint of the older models. As a result you get 700 shots per charge, which is more than any other mirrorless camera currently available. You can also shoot 4K video for an hour and a half on a single battery, which is quite impressive.
In this model, Sony moved the video record button, which was in an awkward spot in previous models. They also added a joystick that allows you to change focus while looking through the electronic viewfinder. The viewfinder itself isn’t quite as bright and lacks the resolution the sister and brother models have (it only has 2.36 million dots compared to the 3.69-million on the A7Riii and competitors like Fujifilm and Panasonic). Most of the other buttons are more or less the same, although they did take out the center lock button on the dial.
The menu systems have been greatly improved, matching what is on the A9. There’e also a feature that lets you build out a custom menu that will help save loads of time buy placing the features most important to you all in one place.
The rear display also has touch capabilities but it can only be used to change focus – unfortunately we’re currently unable to easily scroll through the menu with our fingers at this time. As with all other Sony Alpha cameras, the screen still doesn’t flip out but will only tilt at certain angles, which is a total pain for all the vloggers out there.
While the A7iii has a great sot of ports (Type C USB, PC interface, HDMI micro, a 3.5mm headphone jack and microphone jack), they are all housed behind 3 separate doors that are awkward to have open at once. They kind of just fling around and it would have made much more sense to either put everything behind one door or at least separate them into two doors, similar to the older models.
Similar to the A7Riii, the A7iii now has two SD card slots, which was another downfall of the older models. Unfortunately, only one of them supports UHS-II. The camera also comes with NFC, WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 so you can easily transfer your files in a variety of ways. One big update that has been making quite the stir in the Alpha community is that Sony removed the PlayMemories app, so apps like time-lapse are no longer available. There is a way to develop a similar video through a lower FPS option found on the S&Q mode but you’ll now need to use an intervalometer in order to shoot true time-lapses.
Although some of the changes are more dramatic than others, we feel that the ergonomics of the A7iii are the best of any mirrorless camera we’ve ever used.
How Does It Shoot?
Well on paper, this thing looks like it can’t possibly be real. In the field, it does a better job than you would have ever imagined.
The camera can shoot both JPG and RAW, all in 24.2 megapixels (unless shooting in APS-C crop mode). While not quite as fast as the A9, the A7iii can burst 10 fps for up to 9 seconds in compressed RAW mode. It has 693 phase-detection points and 425 for contrast detection, and covers 93% of the sensor. This is a huge increase over the 117/25-point phase-detect/contrast-detect AF system on the previous model. The eye-tracking autofocusing on this model is unreal and can still pull focus when the eye is only partially visible or is obtruded.
For video, the A7iii is probably Sony's best full-frame camera to date, at least until the A7Siii is revealed. The camera shoots 4K video at 24fps from the entire 24.2-megapixel (6K) sensor, oversampling to 3,840 x 2,160. At 30fps, it does crop in slightly at a 1.2x crop factor. You also have the ability to punch into the APS-C mode, which gives you a 1.5x crop but is slightly less sharp when shooting video.
The camera also shoots S-Log 2&3, with a built in gamma assist feature that allows you to ensure that you’re getting correct exposure. It also now has a HDR (HLG) mode for video as well. The A7iii has 15 stops of dynamic range, which surpasses just about every DSLR or mirrorless camera on the market. Sony has also updated their color science, so skin tones are starting to look a bit more natural. Unfortunately we’re still stuck with 4:2:0 8-bit color output internally, and a bit better 4:2:2 8-bit gamut via HDMI. With that being said, the video quality overall is still excellent.
Autofocus works extremely well in video, much better than the A7Sii and similar to the A7Riii. The camera now shoots up to 120fps in 1080p without any additional crop. While not as good as the A7Sii, the low light on this camera is extremely impressive, all thanks to Sony's new back-side-illuminated (BSI) sensor, which has a dual-gain design. Video footage is usable up to 25,600 ISO, although we would suggest sticking around 12,800 if you need to go that high as the overall image will start to lose sharpness at higher ISOs. The 5 axis stabilization has also been slightly improved and rolling shutter is well-controlled for all but the fastest pans and moving subjects.
So now that it’s been established that this is quite the impressive camera, what does this mean for the competition? Simply that they need to up their game and catch up fast. The A7iii not only crushes Canon’s 5D Mark IV, which costs over a thousand dollars more but many are starting to say that it’s even worth switching from the Canon EOS-1D Mark II, which not only costs nearly three times as much but is literally twice its size. If you’re skeptical of the size difference, then you can check out this side-by-side comparison between the two.
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