Digital SLR Photography

Sony Alpha 7R III

By James Abbott. Posted

The Sony Alpha 7-series of cameras is the most popular in the full-frame mirrorless sector, thanks in part to Sony taking an extremely early lead. The first generation A7 and A7R were announced in 2013 and 2014, respectively, which gave Sony a substantial head start. Several generations on and they remain extremely popular, but with full-frame mirrorless releases from Canon, Nikon and Panasonic, competition in this market is really heating up. But not content with sticking to the A7R III, which was only released in November 2017, less than two years later Sony launched the 61-megapixel A7R IV.

This, of course, makes the A7R III a previous-generation model, but at less than two years old it’s arguably still current technology, and those who don’t want or need the high resolution of its successor can enjoy considerable cost savings. However, from the point of view of an A7R III user, there was a great deal more potential for improving this model with firmware updates before a new model was released. This, of course, could still happen, so the A7R III is far from being considered obsolete.

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Value for money

The Sony A7R III costs £2,199 compared to the A7R IV at £3,499, so the £1,300 saving for such a high-spec camera is certainly something worth considering. Not least that amount is a sizeable chunk of the cost for a (£1,800) 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens to get you started, and who wouldn’t want a lens of this calibre as their workhorse?! Delve into the secondhand marketplace, however, and even more substantial savings can be found if you don’t mind purchasing a pre-owned camera. If this idea makes you think of achieving further discounts by looking into the older A7R II instead, it’s worth mentioning that the advances of the A7R III over its predecessor are considerable.

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Handling & performance

When Sony released the A7R III it truly felt like the system had come of age. The camera feels better in the hand than previous models, the battery lasted longer and the overall functionality improvements made it an attractive upgrade. The sensor remained the same 42.4-megapixel backlit Exmor R CMOS, but with claims of improved noise handling, this was generally not seen as a negative.

For those who have never used a Sony mirrorless camera, the A7R III combines a balance of direct access buttons and dials such as the mode dial, exposure compensation dial and commonly used settings on the rear dial, alongside menu-based controls that are quick and easy to access when required. One of the great things about the controls is that you can customise most of the buttons and dials, including the Fn and C buttons, to activate a wide range of settings and features, making it incredibly easy to make the camera work for you and your way of shooting.

Features & layout

The A7R III is a pleasure to shoot with and you can easily access most settings and controls without the need to enter Sony’s infamously cavernous and not particularly well laid-out menu system. On the plus side, however, the camera is absolutely loaded with advanced features that you may or may not ever use, but the fact that they’re there is never a bad thing. Features such as touch AF, live histogram, dual card slots, Eye AF (to track the subject’s eyes), high-resolution EVF and LCD, five-axis image stabilisation (with 5.5-stops of benefit) and an AF system inherited from the high-performance Sony A9, make this camera suitable for shooting practically all subjects. Although it’s portrait, landscape, travel and studio photographers who have really taken to the camera.

There’s no such thing as a perfect camera; what’s perfect for one photographer may not be perfect for another, and the A7R III is no exception but I cannot rate it highly enough.

Verdict

Having owned the A7R III for more than 18 months, I can safely say it’s the best camera I’ve ever owned and I have no desire to upgrade, despite the few negative points mentioned. Image quality, noise response, handling, features and functionality make the Sony A7R III an excellent choice for all types of photographers. And let’s not forget the fact it costs £1,000 less than its successor.

Specifications

Price: £2,199 (body only)
Image sensor: Full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor (35.9×24.0mm)
Lens mount: Sony E-mount
Resolution: 42.4-megapixels
Maximum image resolution: 7952x5304 pixels AF system: Fast Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF/contrast-detection AF). 399 points (phase-detection AF), 425 points(contrast-detection AF)
Metering: 1200-zone, spot (standard/large), spot,
multi-segment, entire screen average & centre-weighted
ISO range: ISO 100-32000 + Auto; (expands to 50-102400)
Shutter speeds: 1/8000sec-30 seconds + Bulb
Continuous frame rate: Ten frames-per-second
LCD: 3in 1,440,000-dot touchscreen vari-angle monitor
Finder: 0.5in 3.686,400-dot Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder
Storage: Dual-slot SD (SDHC/SDXC)
Size: 126.9x95.6x73.7mm
Weight: 657g (including battery and card)
Website: www.sony.co.uk


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