The Sony A7S III is a high-end full-frame mirrorless digicam aimed toward professional videographers and low mild imaging. Introduced in July 2020, it comes nearly 5 years after the A7S Mark II, making it one of the long-awaited upgrades within the A7 sequence. It’ll price round $3500 when it goes on sale in September.
The A7S III sticks with the 12 Megapixel decision of its predecessors to maximise sensitivity, however employs a brand new back-illuminated sensor now with assured phase-detect autofocus and a wealth of film modes together with limitless 4k as much as 120p with 10 bit inner recording. There’s additionally 1080 as much as 240p and 16-bit RAW as much as 60p over HDMI. It additionally debuts a bunch of firsts for the A7 sequence together with a fully-articulated display, model new person interface with full contact management, twin slots that help each SD and CF-Specific playing cards, a full-size HDMI port and the best decision viewfinder I’ve ever seen.
I obtained to shoot with a closing physique operating near-final firmware for over every week and on this evaluation I’ll present you every thing I’ve discovered concerning the digicam to this point. I additionally shot with the A7S III alongside the Canon EOS R5, R6 and Lumix S1H, so look out for my upcoming comparisons for those who’d prefer to see how their photograph and video high quality measures-up. As at all times I’ve filmed an in-depth video evaluation under which reveals you every thing together with video checks and autofocus demonstrations, however for those who favor to learn a written model of the highlights, maintain scrolling!
Above: The A7S III shares a lot of the design and controls of the A7r IV and A9 II, bringing the joystick, improved dials and bigger buttons to the S-series – keep in mind the earlier A7S II was based mostly on the A7r II physique, so the A7S III’s physique has jumped-forward by two generations. You don’t should look far although to discover a bunch of recent options that make their debut on the A7S III.
Above: Behind a considerable door on the grip facet are twin reminiscence card slots, however nearer examination reveals every really helps twin codecs permitting you to insert both SD or model new CF Specific Kind A playing cards which at the moment help write speeds as much as 700Mbyte/s. In contrast to Canon’s EOS R5 although, you don’t want CF Specific for the most effective video modes on the A7S III – I used Sony TOUGH SD playing cards with 300Mbyte/s writes which supported all video modes. Additionally not like Canon’s R5 and R6, you’ll be able to document video to each playing cards concurrently for backup in an an identical format.
Above: The ports have obtained upgrades too, not least to their versatile doorways. There’s a 3.5mm microphone enter that considerately clears the display hinge mechanism, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a full-size Kind-A HDMI port incomes Sony bonus factors over Canon who’ve annoyingly down-graded to Micro-HDMI on the R5 and R6, and each Micro and Kind-C USB ports permitting simultaneous tethering and charging. The USB C port now operates at 3.2 speeds as much as 5Gbps, helps USB tethering on mobiles and even works with USB to ethernet adapters for wired community connectivity. It’s also possible to cost or function the digicam over USB with a Energy Supply supply, and it labored nice with my MacBook and iPad Professional chargers. There’s additionally 2.Four and 5GHz Wifi together with help for FTP file switch over wi-fi, USB or ethernet.
Above: I’m happy to report the A7S III hotshoe helps the digital interface launched on the A7r IV which suggests it’ll work with the ECM-B1M microphone for a pure digital connection. Higher nonetheless, it’ll additionally enable the XLR-K3M accent to help 4 channel 24 bit recording utilizing stereo for the shotgun mic and mono for 2 extra XLR sources.
Above: And thank the maker! After years of requests, Sony has lastly outfitted an A7 digicam with a fully-articulated, side-hinged display. Now I do know a few of you favor vertically-tilting screens, however it is a digicam primarily aimed toward videographers who will welcome the flexibleness of a display that may face-forward with out being blocked by the hotshoe or viewfinder. And as I discussed earlier, the mic enter clears the highest of the display mechanism.
Above: The display doesn’t simply now flip-out, it additionally debuts a brand new contact interface. As earlier than you’ll be able to reposition the AF space by contact, however in a long-overdue improve, the Perform menu lastly positive factors contact operation, permitting you to faucet and drag the total vary of settings from publicity compensation to focus and drive modes.
Above: Contact controls additionally now lengthen to the menu system, however the larger shock is discovering the model new person interface, arguably one of the overdue upgrades on all Sony cameras. The previous horizontal construction has been swapped for vertical tabs, beginning with seven primary sections operating down the left facet. Every expands into sub-headings within the center, with the precise settings for every on the proper. There’s 51 pages of settings for nonetheless modes or 49 for video modes, and all had been simpler to seek out and navigate than the earlier system. You’ll be able to function it by contact or utilizing conventional controls, and I appreciated how the three dials independently adjusted the three menu ranges. The digicam additionally remembers completely different settings for images and video, permitting you to modify between codecs with out fixed adjusting of publicity and focus. I’m delighted by the brand new UI and look ahead to seeing it on future fashions – let’s hope it additionally turns into accessible to older ones by way of a firmware replace, though there’s no information on that but.
Above: Chances are you’ll be divided over contact controls and display articulation, however I assure you’ll love the brand new viewfinder which is the primary to make use of a 9.44 million dot OLED panel that already trumps the 5.69 million dot viewfinder on the R5, Lumix S and A7r IV. In actual phrases, it offers you 2048×1536 pixels versus 1600×1200 on these different fashions, giving it a cushty step-up intimately and essentially the most life-like picture I’ve seen from an EVF. It’s larger than rivals too with 0.91x magnification, the refresh fee is switchable between 60 and 120Hz and it’s an absolute pleasure to compose and focus with. My solely concern is whether or not the excessive decision has an affect on battery life, however to this point the digicam appears to be working simply nice.
Above: Talking of energy, the A7S III employs the prevailing Z-series battery of current fashions and once more can cost it in-camera over USB. Sony’s quoting 510 images with the viewfinder or 600 with the display below CIPA situations which is rather less than the A7r IV squeezes from the identical battery, however comfortably greater than the A7S II and likewise Canon’s EOS R5.
Above: By way of video, I managed to document two hours and 40 minutes of 4k 24p on a single cost – and in a single clip with no overheating both, however extra about that in only a second.
Above: Now onto the sensor, which shares the identical 12 Megapixel decision as earlier A7S fashions, however now employs a brand new back-illuminated design with double the readout pace and phase-detect autofocus throughout 92% of the realm. The decision might sound low in comparison with rivals, however it’s nonetheless sufficient to seize 4k video and crucially by having fewer pixels in the identical space, they are often bigger and extra delicate to mild.
Above: Earlier than delving into video, let’s discuss images. The precise decision of 4240×2832 pixels received’t come close to to delivering the element of upper decision fashions, however there’s a really satisfying crispness to the photographs which once more are bereft of noise till the sensitivity turns into very excessive. Sony’s additionally outfitted the A7S III with a brand new seen mild and IR sensor to better-evaluate white steadiness. beginning with a run via the sensitivity vary, and within the absence of RAW converters on the time I made this evaluation, all my images are JPEGs out of digicam. The A7S III now has a normal sensitivity vary of 80 to 102,400 ISO which may be prolonged all the way down to 40 ISO on the low-end and 409,600 ISO on the excessive. The photographs nonetheless look excellent at 12800 ISO, though unsurprisingly deteriorate on the highest values. These good fats pixels also needs to imply a pleasant excessive dynamic vary and I’ve a lot of RAW recordsdata to do this out when software program turns into accessible. I’d hoped to additionally strive some inner RAW conversions, however Sony doesn’t help RAW processing in playback inside the digicam. In separate critiques I’ll immediately examine the photograph and video high quality in opposition to the R5, R6 and Lumix S1H.
Above: The A7S III additionally joins Canon in permitting you to modify from JPEG to HEIF, and moreover gives the selection of 4:2:Zero or 4:2:2 color sampling. In concept, HEIF ought to enable a broader dynamic vary than JPEG, however once more I’m ready for higher software program help earlier than I can absolutely consider it. RAW is in fact additionally accessible and may be set to uncompressed or compressed.
Above: You’ll additionally discover Inventive Types have been rebranded as Inventive Appears to be like, with ten accessible for stills and flicks, together with vibrant and muted choices in addition to black and white and sepia.
Above: The presence of phase-detect autofocus could also be anticipated from a contemporary Sony physique, however it transforms the usability of the digicam in comparison with its predecessors which had been contrast-only. Face and eye detection are at all times a spotlight of Sony cameras, with the A7S III inheriting the newest tech, plus sooner processing by its new BIONZ XR engine. Right here you’ll be able to see it simply following me across the body utilizing real-time monitoring; I’d say the acquisition is quicker than earlier our bodies for stills and video.
Above: The upgraded autofocus can be completely succesful for monitoring quick motion, akin to Brighton’s seagulls in flight, right here with the A7S III fitted with the FE 70-200mm f4 zoom at 200mm f4. Sony’s animal detection might not but embody eye-detection for birds – a characteristic that works a deal with on Canon’s R5 and R6 – however the A7S III nonetheless managed to ship a really excessive hit-rate with birds in flight. The viewfinder refresh was additionally quick sufficient for me to simply comply with them as they darted across the sky.
Above: Transferring on, right here’s Ben, again on his bike, captured with real-time monitoring autofocus, first at 10fps utilizing the mechanical shutter and FE 70-200mm f4 at 200mm f4, the place once more I loved an nearly 100% hit fee. The shutter is inherited from the A7r IV and A9 II, and is pretty quiet in operation, however for full silence you’ll be able to swap to the digital shutter in silent mode. Whereas the sensor readout is twice that of the A7S II, it’s nonetheless not a stacked design so falls wanting the pace of the A9. As such, there’s inevitably some danger of skewing when utilizing the digital shutter if the lens or topic are in movement, and you’ll see it as Ben approaches the sting of the body, however it’s nonetheless higher than many I’ve examined.
Above: Lastly for my photograph checks, the A7S III options built-in sensor-shift stabilisation. It’s a five-axis system which Sony claims is nice for five.5 stops of compensation. In use I managed to handhold a pointy end result at 70mm at 0.Four seconds, equivalent to about 5 stops over an unstabilised model.
Above: Okay, now for film recording which is in fact the core focus of the A7S III, and Sony’s made some massive upgrades together with 4k as much as 120p, 1080 as much as 240p, and new codecs supporting 10 bit 4:2:2 inner recording. There’s no headline-grabbing 6k, 8k or inner RAW right here, with Sony as an alternative concentrating on delivering the most effective 4k it presumably can. Within the File Format menu you’ll discover a selection of codecs, and Sony house owners will recognise the continued availability of XAVC S in 4k or 1080, each utilizing H.264, however now at body charges from 24 to 120p together with 4k, and in 10-bit 4:2:2 if desired. New to the A7S III are XAVC HS and XAVC S I. XAVC HS is 10-bit 4k solely and makes use of the extra environment friendly H.265 codec to ship higher high quality than XAVC S on the identical bit charges, though they’ll want higher processing muscle for enhancing. XAVC HS is on the market at 24 to 120p, with a most fee of 280Mbit/s for 4k 120p 10-bit 4:2:2. In the meantime the I in XAVC S I stands for All-intra, utilizing very excessive bit-rates to encode 1080 or 4k as much as 60p in H.264 10-bit 4:2:2; at 60p, you’re taking a look at 222Mbit/s for 1080 or 600Mbit/s for 4k, and these are the one modes that demand sooner SD playing cards, though keep in mind all the A7S III film modes are inside the capabilities of first rate SD playing cards, not like the Canon R5 which requires costly CF Specific for 4k 120p and 8k. And in contrast to the Canon R5 and R6, you may as well document duplicate backup video to a second card whatever the format, or a decrease res proxy if most well-liked.
1080 footage on the A7S III is uncropped in any respect body charges from 24 to 240p. 4k footage is uncropped from 24 to 60p.
Above: 4k at 120p is the one mode on the A7S III to incur a crop, which I measured at about 1.1x, indicated by the outer fringe of the pink body above. When filming 4k at 120p, the A7S III really takes a 1:1 crop from the sensor with out binning or scaling, whereas in all different modes it over-samples from barely extra information. Regardless of the very modest quantity of spare pixels to over-sample with, I’d say 4k 24 to 60p was a tiny bit crisper than 4k 120, however it entails critical pixel-peeping to see the distinction.
4k 120 on the A7S III helps autofocus and audio recording, giving them numerous flexibility, though like different Sony 120p codecs, you’ll want to use the slow-down your self within the edit. After all Canon additionally now gives 4k 120 with autofocus on the EOS R5, however there’s no audio and as I discussed a second in the past, a most clip size of seven.5 minutes and sure over-heating after about 15 minutes price of footage whether or not you’re recording massive clips or a lot of little ones. In distinction, the longer clip size and skill to movie about an hour’s price earlier than a brief cooldown is required makes the A7S III rather more sensible in demanding filming environments. I used to be very impressed with the standard of 4k 120 on the Sony which just about matches slower body charges and solely incurs a minor 1.1x crop. The autofocus was additionally sufficiently good for it to trace quick motion, and once more the inclusion of audio makes it much more helpful.
Drop the decision to 1080 and you’ll movie as much as 240p, a pace that’s past the 2 Canons, though on the A7S III you’ll have to entry it from the S&Q mode which slows the footage in-camera and doesn’t document sound. On the plus-side, 1080 240p doesn’t crop and autofocus continues to be accessible. For the utmost slow-down, you’d select a body fee of 240fps and a document fee of 24p for a ten instances slowdown which is what I used for all of the clips in my evaluation video. In my decision checks, 1080 footage on the A7S III peaked between 24 and 60p, shedding high quality at 120p and much more at 240p, though as you’ll be able to see right here the footage can nonetheless look good.
Should you’re into grading, you’ll be able to apply the same old image profiles with S-log 2 and three and Sony claiming as much as 15 stops of dynamic vary. The good factor concerning the A7S III is 10 bit 4:2:2 sampling is on the market in any profile or color mode, not like the Canons which restrict it to log and HDR modes.
You’ll additionally discover all the interior video codecs on the A7S III proceed to document within the 16:9 form, with no choice to document within the wider Cinema DCI form. Sony says it’s monitoring demand for DCI, however amongst trendy rivals it’s now develop into the exception to not provide it. Providing some comfort although is the flexibility to output 16-bit RAW video over HDMI at 4264×2408 pixels as much as 60p, from which you would scale or crop a full DCI body. Particulars had been scarce on the time I made this evaluation, however I’m guessing exterior RAW recording will work with a firmware-updated Atomos Ninja V within the ProRes RAW format. Watch this area.
By way of recording instances, Sony’s dumped the half hour restrict of some rivals and designed the internals to raised dissipate warmth with out the necessity for lively cooling. Sony claims the A7S III can document an hour of 4k uninterrupted, however I discovered it may do significantly better in most modes. In truth the one time I skilled over-heating on the A7S III was 60 minutes right into a single 4k 120p clip, when the warning popped-up and the digicam shut-down about 5 minutes later. However examine a 65 minute 4k 120p clip on the A7S III with the EOS R5 which may solely make 7.5 minute clips in 4k 120p and which below the identical situations shut down about six minutes right into a second clip. The Canon R5 took manner longer to cool-down too and after 5 minutes would solely enable a 2 minute 4k 120 clip, in comparison with the Sony which was prepared for one more full shoot.
Should you drop the body fee to 60p or decrease on the A7S III, you’ll discover the battery and reminiscence turns into the limiting issue. In 4k 60p, I managed a single 107 minute clip earlier than I crammed my 128GB card, with 25% battery remaining and the digicam completely satisfied to proceed filming. The one different digicam that may do that is Panasonic’s Lumix S1H, which below the identical situations managed 117 minutes of 4k 60p earlier than my 128GB card stuffed with 23% battery remaining – a really comparable end result to the A7S III, though the S1H applies a crop when filming 4k at 60p.
Transferring onto stabilisation, the A7S III employs Sony’s newest sensor-shift IBIS with two modes. The A7S III turns into the primary A7 mannequin to inherit Lively SteadyShot from the compacts – it applies a crop when filming 4k, however the spare pixels on the sensor means it’s nonetheless in a position to seize a full 4k picture with out scaling. You’ll see it in motion when vlogging in my evaluation video.
How about rolling shutter? In my evaluation video you’ll see the A7S III in 1080 24p and once more in one other clip behaving fairly effectively. And in addition in 4k at 24p, once more displaying minimal skewing. There’s a little, however it’s fairly well-controlled.