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Sony Full-frame α7R III Mirrorless Camera Review: Phenomenal image and video quality
Sony α7R III is a compact mirrorless camera with a massive 42.4MP Exmor R CMOS sensor. The successor to α7R II brings some noticeable improvements in the form of improved autofocus speed, new image processor, longer battery life, larger viewfinder and more. It is priced at Rs. 2,59,990 in the Indian market for body only and can be purchased from Amazon.in or Sony's official stores across the country.
- Effective 5-axis image stabilization makes things easy
- Excellent video and image output in variable lighting
- Compact and lightweight body
- Ergonomically placed controls
- Good electronic viewfinder
- Screen only tilts up or down
- Limited touch-screen controls
- Handgrip feels too close to the lens for long fingers
- No built-in flash
- Only one slot is UHS-II compliant
Price: Rs. 2,59,990 (Body)
With new mirrorless cameras from Canon and Nikon now available in India, it makes all the more sense to talk about Sony's high-resolution camera in today's time. We tested the α7R III as our primary camera with FE 4/24-105 lens for product shoots in office and at events and here's what we have to say about its performance. Before that, let's take a closer look at the important specifications of the Sony α7R III mirrorless camera.
Sony A7 R III Camera Specifications
- 42.4 MP 35 mm full-frame Exmor R CMOS
- Fast Hybrid AF with 399-point focal-plane phase-detection AF
- 5-axis image stabilization with 5.5-stop exposure advantage
- Standard ISO 100-32000 range (upper limit expandable to 102400
- Dual-slot cards (one supports UHS-II cards)
- High-speed continuous shooting of up to 10fps with AF/AE tracking
- 7.5 cm (3.0-type) type TFT
- 1.3 cm (0.5-type) electronic viewfinder (colour), Quad-VGA OLED
- Approx. 530 shots with one-charge on view-finder
- Lens compatibility- Sony E-mount lenses
- Built-in stereo microphone and a speaker
- 657 g, Approx. 126.9 mm x 95.6 mm x 73.7 mm
Compact and Lightweight
After three generations of mirrorless designs, Sony's α7R III feels mature and polished. The camera weighs 657 g and has controls placed right where you need them. The grip has slightly improved when compared to its predecessors but it is still not the best in the segment. I have tested the Nikon Z7 and the mirrorless offers slightly better overall grip in hands. The problem with A7 R III's grip is its height. It works well for smaller hands but people with long fingers will find it difficult to use the camera for an extended period. The α7R III has a weather-sealed design means it can withstand dust and splashes.
Bigger LCD, new joystick and two SD card slots
The EVF is now bigger and the LCD supports touch controls; however, you cannot use the touch screen to change settings, pinch-to-zoom and to access menus. You can only assign the focus point with touch but the sensor won't focus until you press the shutter or AF button. This is quite a letdown for this wonderful camera. The camera has twin card slots and both supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards. However, only one card slot is UHS-II compatible which is a bit letdown. The α7R III is backed by a higher capacity battery unit and gets a joystick to navigate throughout the UI and to shift the focus points in the frame and to activate autofocus while shooting stills or videos. For connectivity, the camera supports Bluetooth, NFC, and Wi-Fi.
Superb Electronic Viewfinder
If you prefer EVFs over OVFs, you will simply love the EVF on the α7R III. Sony calls it a Tru-Finder and it is basically a big and bright 3.69 million dot high-luminance quad-VGA OLED EVF. It is also very responsive. Usually, EVFs take a moment to start if the camera is off or in sleep mode but it works instantly on Sony's mirrorless camera. The viewfinder offers a high 0.78x magnification while maintaining natural image brightness. The camera lets you choose 120/100 fps from the available frame rates for the EVF for smooth motion rate.
Software and Usability
The UI can come quite heavy at first as it is loaded with pages of various camera settings. Spend some time to understand and get things workable according to your liking. Sony has added ‘My Menu' to make things easy for you to a good extent. The section allows you to register and arrange up to 30 menu items as per your liking and frequency of use. You can access camera setups via mode dial for quick access. Besides, the 11 custom keys are provided that can be assigned for up to 83 different functions.
Excellent on-sensor autofocus system
The 42.4MP full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor captures at an impressive burst shooting speed of up to 10 fps with full AF/AE tracking, making it the first-of-its-kind mirrorless shooter. Moreover, you can also capture at 8 fps with 'live' updates between shots. That said, the camera allows you to capture fast-moving subjects with ease making it perfect for indoor studio and outdoor landscape and street photography. The new mechanical shutter is designed to reduce the vibrations which give you more confidence to frame a fast-moving subject even in unfavorable light conditions.
Fast and responsive
With 399-point focal-plane PDAF and 425 contrast points, Sony α7R III comes out as a very responsive mirrorless shooter. Once you get a hang of the basic controls and settings, the camera's instant autofocus capabilities make the user-experience really fast and responsive. The entire process of switching on the camera, framing the shot and capturing it takes less than 2 seconds. Combined with the improved image processing and faster AF speeds; the camera made it really easy to capture fast-moving subjects. It was a delight to use the α7R III on streets as I never missed the desired shot. The EyeAF mode comes really handy in capturing human subjects on busy streets in India. Besides, if you are taking the camera in woods for some wildlife photography, enable the electronic shutter for silent operation.
Phenomenal Image quality
Sony α7R III with its high-resolution 42.4 MP back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor delivers phenomenal image quality. The high-resolution sensor is very sensitive to light and also delivers an impressive dynamic range. If you prefer shooting in RAW, you will simply love this mirror-less shooter. The RAW images show very less noise even after post-processing the shots to derive more details in the darker areas. Check out the above sample image to have a better understanding. The detailing is very well preserved even after pulling out a lot of information from the shadow areas in the RAW image. The camera supports 14-bit RAW output during silent shooting and continues shooting.
Brilliant Area-specific Noise-reduction algorithms
Shooting in JPEG will also give you no major complaints. The company's ISO noise reduction is very effective and allows you to shoot brilliant JEPGs with no or very little loss in details even at high ISO levels. I simply loved the dynamic range on Sony α7R III. The camera makes for a brilliant device to capture the wonders of nature. The pictures look really really sharp, thanks to the high-res pixel shift mode that takes four images and combines them into one final image. With 42.4 MP sensor and pixel-shift, landscape photographers will find it really tough to go back to any other camera. The camera also has an insane ISO range of 50-102,400 that lets you experiment more in low-light.
It was also a delight to use the Sony α7R III as a daily driver for video shoots. The camera worked just brilliantly in variable lighting conditions. The video quality at 4K and 1080p is super crisp. You also get entire 35mm width in 4K with no pixel binning. It is worth mentioning that the camera only gets 4K at 30fps but the output is just amazing. You can also pull-out 8MP still shots at 30 FPS with videos shot at 4K. With adaptive prime lenses, this lightweight mirrorless makes up for a serious video camera that can be used for professional shoots.
You can check out some videos shot with this camera by clicking on the following links.
Sony α7R III works on a newer Z series battery that lasts approximately 2.2 times longer than the W series battery on α7R II. The battery gave us more than the stated 650 shots with a mix of LCD and EVF usage. We also conducted a series of shoots, both in 4K and 1080p- 60fps and recorded a very good battery life out of the mirrorless camera.
Sony Full-frame α7R III Mirrorless Camera is an excellent product, probably the best overall shooter in the market for street, wildlife, and sports photographers. In case you are wondering what makes it so good, it is the super fast Autofocus capabilities. It is really tough to get a shot that's out-of-focus if you have this camera in your hand. The camera delivers brilliant image quality in almost any situation. You get an effective in-body image stabilization which gives sharper images with any lens. Moreover, Sony's noise reduction helps a lot and gives a good control in your hands to process images in JPEG and RAW format. In the end, it's a close fight between Sony α7R III and the Nikon D850. If you have always preferred Nikon's color reproductions, go with the D850 but if you are in the market for something equally powerful and slightly better at shooting videos, Sony α7R III is the answer.
Camera Samples: Abhishek Joshi