Get 5% off Loupedeck Live with code: Ephotozine5

Sony Alpha A7S III Review

Find out how the Sony Alpha A7S III performs in our in-depth review. With a full-frame 12mp sensor, the A7S III offers exceptional low-light performance, but is it enough for photographers? Or is it best suited to video use?


|  Sony Alpha A7S III in Mirrorless Cameras
 Add Comment

Sony A7S III (4)


The Sony Alpha A7S Mark III is Sony's new "low-light" full-frame mirrorless camera, with a 12mp sensor, it should offer impressive noise performance for both stills photography, and 4K video recording. Videographers are going to be particularly interested in this camera as it features 4K video at 120fps, FullHD at 240fps, as well as in-body image stabilisation.


Sony Alpha A7S III Features

Sony A7S III (17)

The Sony Alpha A7S III is designed to be the "ultimate" low-light camera from Sony. At the core of the Sony Alpha A7S III lies a full-frame 12mp BSI CMOS sensor, so not only does the camera benefit from larger pixels (with 8.4micron pixels, making it more sensitive to light), but it also benefits from a Back Side Illuminated sensor, further improving sensitivity to light. The sensor also benefits from faster (doubled) readout speeds, to reduce rolling shutter. To process the data from the sensor, there is a new BIONZ XR image processor which has been developed to give up to 8x more processing power (compared to the BIONZ X).

You've also got 5-axis in-body image stabilisation, that moves the sensor to help with slower shutter speeds as well as helping you get more stable video footage. Dynamic range is said to be an impressive 15-stops. There's also Active Mode for hand-held shooting to give improved stabilisation. ISO40 to ISO409600 is available giving a wide ISO range, and allowing for faster shutter speeds when needed.

You can record 4K UHD video at 120/100fps as 4:2:2 10bit ALL-I. You can use bitrates up to 600Mbps, and the camera uses HEVC/H.265 or AVC/H.264 encoding. There's S-Log3 gamma, S-Gamut3.Cine gamut available to give a wider dynamic range, as well as HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma), to simplify HDR video creation. 16-bit RAW HDMI output is available to connect the camera to an external recorder, using the full-size HDMI port. There's also support for HD proxies for quicker workflow.

A graphite heatsink is built into the image stabilisation unit, which moves heat 5x more effectively allowed extended recording times, without worry about the camera overheating.

Focus is built-in to the sensor, with focal-plane phase-detection AF, with 759 focus points available, which of course, work both in stills and video recording. Focus also includes face and eye detection focus with tracking, which works for both humans, as well as animals, with the option to switch between the two in the menus. Eye AF is said to be improved, and you can use touch tracking to select the subject you want to track on the screen.

AF can be adjusted in a number of ways, letting you adjust the transition speed (7 levels), there's also AF Subject Shift Sensitivity (5 levels), and there's touch AF which can be used during manual focus operation. AF is sensitive down to -6 EV.

The camera will shoot at 10fps with AF/AE and will allow over 1000 shots as uncompressed RAW. There's also support for HEIF format images and HLG image capture modes. HEIF gives 10-bit colour, with better image quality and improved compression compared to JPEG.

Sony A7S III (1)

Updates to the A7S III over the A7S II:

  • New menu system!
  • In-Body Image Stabilisation, up to 5.5 stops (vs 4.5)
  • 9.4million dot electronic viewfinder, 0.90x magnification
  • 3.0inch vari-angle touchscreen, with 1,440K dots
  • New, FF 12mp BSI CMOS sensor
  • 4K 120fps video recording (up to 30min)
  • 4K 60fps (up to 60min)
  • FullHD video at 240fps
  • 10fps continuous shooting (vs 5fps)
  • New, lower ISO speeds available (down to ISO40, vs ISO50)
  • CFexpress Type-A support (dual slots)
  • USB Type-C with PD support
  • New Z battery support, up to 600 shots
  • Bluetooth added

The camera has P, A, S, M shooting modes, giving you manual controls, plus 3 custom modes, Auto, and two different video modes on the mode dial. The two video modes are standard and S&Q (Slow and Quick).

There's also a 9.44 million dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) the highest resolution we've seen on any camera!

On the back, there's a 3.0inch vari-angle touch-screen, with 1.44m dots, and this can be tilted around to face forwards, which will be of particular interest for vloggers and other videographers. There's also a 9.44 million dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) the highest resolution we've seen on any camera, with 0.90x magnification, and dioptre adjustment. You'll find an Eye-detection sensor so the camera will automatically switch between the rear screen and EVF.

Connections and slots on the camera include dual side memory card slots, letting you use 2x CFexpress Type A or you can use SDXC UHS-II cards. The camera also has Wi-Fi 2.4GHz / 5GHz built-in, which is selectable depending on what you want to use. You'll also find NFC for quicker connections to compatible smartphones, and built-in low-power Bluetooth lets you transfer images using less battery than Wi-Fi, albeit with a slower transfer rate.

Sony A7S III (12)

Key Features

  • 12.1mp full-frame BSI CMOS sensor
  • In-Body Image Stabilisation
  • Up to 15+ stop dynamic range
  • 9.44m dot QXGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF, 0.90x magnification (size can be reduced if too large)
  • ISO40 to ISO409600
  • 4K 120p recording, 10-bit, 4:2:2
  • All intra up to 600Mbps
  • FullHD 240p
  • New S-Gamut3.Cine
  • Fast hybrid AF in all recording situations
  • Real-time eye AF (in video as well), Touch-tracking
  • 759 phase-detection AF points 92% coverage
  • 425 CDAF points
  • 10fps continuous shooting with AF/AE
  • Articulated vari-angle touch-screen
  • Dual slots: SD UHS-II / CFexpress Type A card support
  • Z battery

 

Sony Alpha A7S III Handling

Sony A7S III (11)

Handling - As new versions of the Sony Alpha series have been introduced, they've grown in size, however, they still remain relatively compact, and if you have large hands, you may find that your little finger can slip off the bottom of the camera. If this affects you, you might want to look at an optional battery grip. The larger size has enabled a larger grip, as well as Sony's larger battery, for improved battery life. The grip is of a good size (other than somewhere to support your little finger), and there is ample rubber coating.

The movie button has been moved following feedback from users, to make it easier to use.

The camera has a solid build quality and has weather-sealing to make it suitable for use in inclement weather. The edges on the camera are mostly hard-edged, without the smoothing you find on Canon cameras. The camera feels good in the hand, once you get used to some of the harder edges, and thankfully the bottom of the camera and the areas in contact with your right hand are more rounded.

The layout of buttons and controls are quite neatly laid out, and won't take too long to get used to. The mode dial has a locking button on top, which you need to press in so that you can turn the mode dial. This can be a little "fiddly" at times, as it doesn't let you leave it unlocked. There are 3 user modes on the mode dial. The exposure compensation dial can be locked and unlocked, by simply pressing the button in the middle of the EV compensation dial. There are four Custom buttons, labelled as C1, C2, C3, and C4.

On the back, there's the usual joystick control making it easy to adjust settings, and this has a grippy texture making it easy to use. It's also a good size compared to some other cameras. The touch-screen interface is greatly improved and can be used to select and set menu options.

Sony A7S III (9)
Auto-focus - There are 759 AF points covering a wide area of the frame. AF is sensitive down to -6EV, and up to 20EV, which gives a great range and can help in very dark situations. Focus options include face and eye detection, and you can choose between humans and animals. Auto-focus is quick and rapid and works well in both stills and video.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has an ultra-high-resolution of 9.44million dots. This makes the view extremely clear, extremely crisp, and detailed. For photography, this is great, with a 0.90x magnification the view is large and easy to see. The EVF has a refresh rate of 50/60fps (Standard PAL/NTSC), or 100/120fps (High PAL/NTSC). For video users, I'm not convinced they will see the benefits of the EVF, and perhaps they would prefer a larger screen with a higher resolution.

Sony A7S III (8)

The 3.0inch vari-angle screen is the first one to be found in a Sony Alpha camera, with only one other Sony camera (currently) featuring a vari-angle screen, the Sony Z-V1. The screen has a resolution of 1.44m dots, which doesn't match other high-end mirrorless cameras. However, the screen still looks good, with good colour reproduction, and as you can adjust the angle of the screen it's possible to position it for the best view. It's also suitable for videographers, and vloggers, being possible to turn the screen to face forwards.

The Sony Alpha A7S III introduced a new menu system, with a new layout, that is designed to make it easier to find options and settings. Each section is colour coded, and you can also use the touch-screen to scroll through, select and change options and settings. When you switch between photo and video modes, the menus options are updated to give you the right set of options, so in video mode, you get video menus. At the top of the menu system is the "MyMenu" section where you can add your favourite (or most accessed) settings. You can see the different options in the video below.
 


The side memory card ports support either SD cards, or CFexpress Type A card. If you do want to use CFexpress Type A cards, it's worth being aware of the price of the cards, £210 for 80GB, £400 for 160GB, and the reader itself is priced at £140.

Tough G CFexpress Type A
Tough G CFexpress Type A Card and Reader

Battery life - Battery life is rated for up to 600 shots using the LCD screen and 510 using the EVF (according to Sony / CIPA test results). This gives great performance for stills photographers, and for videographers, you can record 80 minutes (EVF), or 95 minutes (LCD). Continuous recording is 130m (EVF), 135m (LCD). You can also power the camera with an external power bank compatible with USB PD.

Sony A7S III (10)

 


Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, ebay UK

It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

Other articles you might find interesting...

Nikon Z6 II Review
Panasonic Lumix S5 Review
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV Review
Canon EOS R6 Review
Fujifilm GFX100 Firmware Update Adds 400mp Multi-Shot Mode
Top 20 Best Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras 2020
Low-light Canon ML-105 EF Announced With ISO 4million
Panasonic Lumix S Series Firmware Updates

There are no comments here! Be the first!


Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.