The Sony A7S III has been with us for some months, and we are very impressed with its performance. It’s the best hybrid video camera you can buy, with major improvements in handling and connectivity, a pin-sharp viewfinder, and, of course, incredibly remarkable low-light performance across both video and stills.
The Sony A7S III camera features a 12.1MP back-illuminated full-frame sensor and a new Bionz XR processor that delivers 8x faster performance and an ISO range of 40–409,600. Key features include animal and human eye-tracking as well as in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and active stabilization. Sony also chose a full-touch UI, which makes working with the camera much easier.
Sony claims that the new Z battery outperforms the old NP-FW50 battery by 60%, allowing for up to 95 minutes of video capture. Stills captured indoors appear gorgeous, with basic incidental pictures demonstrating an ambiance and clarity rarely seen in out-of-camera photos. However, it does not come cheap. Is the Sony A7S III a good investment? Is the price tag justified? We’ll find out in this comprehensive review.
The Sony A7S III body only costs $3,499.99 and can be purchased directly from Sony or through major stores. If you’re in the US, you can get one from B&H Photo, while in Australia, the A7S III can be purchased via CameraPro.
That’s a lot more than the Sony A7S II originally cost, and also more than the Canon EOS R6, which costs $2,499. However, video-focused cameras are frequently more expensive than equivalent stills cameras, and the A7S III competes well with the $6,999 Panasonic S1H at this price.
The A7S III was also announced alongside Sony’s new CFexpress cards, which offer read and write speeds of 800 and 700 MB/s, respectively. The 80 GB card is $199.99, the 160 GB card is $399.99, and the card reader is $119.99. If those costs are even more shocking than the price of the camera, don’t fret: the A7S III’s additional card slot can be used to shoot on high-speed SD cards.
Sony’s hybrid focusing system effectively tracks human faces and eyes, making it much easier to capture films with people, including oneself. As the camera monitors your face and maintains perfect focus, you can move about in the frame.
Stability is something that videographers will enjoy. The camera not only has 5-axis in-body image stabilization to help make up for the various types of movement that come with handheld shooting, but it also has an internal gyro sensor that collects data that can be used to quickly correct camera shake in post-production (via Sony’s Catalyst Browse desktop software).
This is fantastic and almost exactly matches the effect of using a gimbal. However, it does necessitate cropping and is limited to specific video formats and resolutions.
Build quality and AF-ON Function
One thing we like about Sony is that they don’t tend to go backwards in design, so you’re getting everything here that was better about the a7r iv: bigger buttons, a deeper grip, and port doors that don’t dangle easily like the a7 iii. But instead, open on hinges and stay out of your way. But they also gave the mic jack its separate door, which is small and doesn’t interfere with the fully articulating screen they’ve added.
So if you’re vlogging with a shotgun mic on top, nothing is blocking your view and nothing is obstructing the movement of the screen. The biggest body improvement, though, is the full-size HDMI port on the forward door. which has been requested for years, and so we give them huge credit for including it. They’ve also included a screw-on protective cable cage with the camera. Now it’s got three control dials, so you can manage all aspects of exposure easily. The shutter button is raised on one side for a more comfortable finger position, and the command dial has been improved.
Rather than putting photo and video modes on opposite sides separated by the custom memory option, they’ve now moved them together for quicker switching, and they’ve added a third custom memory slot if you like to save an additional mode preset. The AF-on button also has a huge improvement that’s a bit of a sleeper. On previous Sony cameras, the AF-on button didn’t work in manual focus for video. On the GF5, for example, you can be in manual focus and then press AF-ON and it gives you a nice one-shot focus with confirmation before switching back to manual.
Sony has listened and this AF-ON button works in manual focus mode, and even better, it doesn’t just throw the focus like a typical photo. Instead of racking focus in one shot, it racks focus smoothly based on the autofocus speed settings you’ve set in the menu. And after it’s done, it’ll give you a green focus confirmation box. This is the perfect implementation of this feature. Back to the body: it’s weather-sealed, has a solid construction, and uses the same fz100 battery as the other recent Sony cameras.
Lastly, let’s talk about the storage compartment because this part is genius. So, first off, you’ve got two uhs-I card slots and they put them in the correct order this time, with slot one on top.
I was always annoyed at how on the a7iii, slot one was on the bottom, and you can use the SD for the majority of the codecs in this camera, provided you have a fast enough SD card, but if you combine san q, which is in-camera slow motion with the all-intra recording option, you’ll need a CF Express card, so Sony made each card slot except the SD card and the CE Express Type A card, which are the newer, smaller ch express cards.
The reason why this is so great is that not only does it allow the customer to decide how much they want to spend on storage based on the codecs they need, but it also allows for redundant backup recording in every mode.
And just like the GH5, you can do continuous relay recording. So you can open the card door and swap out the full card while it keeps writing, so you can effectively write on this camera infinitely because this camera has no record and it doesn’t overheat in the testing.
The Sony A7S III’s low-light performance is one of the first things you’ll notice about it. Increasing the ISO isn’t a difficult experience; in fact, it’s really rewarding, as the camera handles high sensitivity astonishingly well.
The low-light capabilities of the A7S III make sense. Sony has developed a new 12.1MP sensor with large pixels dispersed across a 35mm full-frame surface area. These specifications aren’t surprising on paper, but with double the readout rates of the A7S II’s sensor, a back-illuminated structure that can consume more light, and a new Bionz XR processor powering things along, the low-light boost isn’t surprising.
Because of the sensor resolution, the A7S III can’t capture even 6K videos, let alone 8K, immediately putting it behind the Canon EOS R5. It can, however, record for an extremely long time. There were no problems recording for longer than 30 minutes, with the main limiting variables being card capacity and battery life, and the fact that the pre-production A7S III had no overheating indications or concerns bodes well for the final retail item.
There are 759 phase-detection focus points for images and videos, as well as advanced eye-tracking that is 30% faster than on previous Sony cameras.
Is the Sony A7s III on par with Canon’s Dual Pixel AF? It’s a little different. Sony provides you with beautifully granular control over your focus speeds when shooting video. When you slow down the focus speed on autofocus, you can obtain the pan-focus effect by touching the display, and it works extremely well, whether you’re concentrating on an object.
Sony attributes some of the A7S III’s enhanced focusing to the sensor’s sensitivity, which allows it to identify targets in lower light than cameras with lower sensitivity.
According to Sony, the new Z battery outperforms the NP-FW50 battery in the A7S II by 60%, allowing for up to 95 minutes of video shooting on paper.
While the battery life in our testing varied significantly, it consistently captured 4K video for more than an hour in all of our tests, which is good when compared to others.
Furthermore, the A7S III benefits from rapid charging technology because of the presence of a USB-C port, which enables charging four times faster than a micro USB connector. What’s even better is that Sony doesn’t force you to use its flashy new, ultra-fast, ultra-expensive memory card format, but it does support it.
These CFexpress cards (which give 800 MB/s read and 700 MB/s write speeds) are comparable to CFast cards in price. However, SDXC V60 cards can be used with the A7S III’s dual-format card slots. That means the camera can hold two memory cards at once, and you can mix and match based on what you have. Only the ultra-fast CFExpress cards are required for Sony’s S&Q recording format at 4K resolution.
Other Sony hangovers, such as buffer issues, clumsy menus, and the lack of an articulating screen, are absent from the A7S III, making us, as photographers, feel appreciated. Sony has finally noticed and has taken action.
New features and refinements make day-to-day photography and video capture a genuinely future-proofed treat, such as support for the new HEIF photo format, H.265 video capture, and clear 16-bit raw output at 4K 60fps.
While the price is always going to be a sticking point with the A7S III, it’s unquestionably a large expenditure before you even start shooting if you want to match it with excellent glass and quick storage.
Screen and Viewfinder
Earlier A7S cameras had a tilting screen that couldn’t fully face forward, but Sony intelligently opted for a side-flipping LCD that could swivel nearly 180 degrees this time. That means vloggers and other self-shooters will be able to better frame themselves in images, which is a particularly useful feature for them — but no one will be dissatisfied by the added flexibility.
The screen is crisp and bright (you can change the brightness manually or switch to a super-bright default on brighter days), and the touch controls are pleasant to use. These let you modify settings and, depending on the autofocus mode you’re using, establish a focus point by tapping your preferred location on the display’s preview.
When taking photographs, you can use the electronic viewfinder, which is excellent: bright, large, and filled with detail. When using it, there’s no apparent lag, and on brighter days, it’s the ideal solution to avoid glare and reflections that sometimes impair screen visibility.
Sony has improved how drastically you can over and underexpose while keeping AF. One of the biggest complaints about the fx9 and somewhat about the AF III is how quickly the tracking stops working when you overexpose. I often overexpose log footage on those cameras for a cleaner image, but if you overexpose by two stops, your AF performance worsens and sometimes completely stops, while on the A7S III, at f/2.8, I managed to keep tracking up to five stops overexposed and six stops underexposed with focus confirmation and face detection.
This is the best I have seen. On the Canon r5, for example, I could only get three stops over and five stops under at f/2.8, which is good enough and still a great result, but if you want the most flexibility possible, it’s the Sony A7S III. So we combine the organic racks seen on Canon with the excellent video eye AF seen in the last couple of Sony cameras but a faster, better version with incredible over and underexposure range and touch tracking using Sony’s incredible sticky algorithm, and you have the best autofocus system currently available on any camera. and not just for video, but for stills too.
This camera has a bit of low resolution for shooting birds or something similar, but when it comes to actual autofocus and drive performance, this is probably Sony’s best camera. So if you don’t need the megapixels, this is not just a video camera but an outstanding photo camera as well.
Photo and Video Quality
The Sony A7S III has a 12.1-megapixel back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS picture sensor and the latest Bionz XR image processor. The ISO range has been improved from 50 to 409,600 on the A7S II to 40 to 409,600 on the A7S III. The camera can shoot 4K videos at 120 frames per second with a 10-bit 4:2:2 color depth. Sony has also added 4K 60p 16-bit RAW video HDMI output capability to an Alpha series camera for the first time. It can shoot still photographs at up to 10 frames per second and more than 1,000 RAW images in a row.
Sony claims that its Fast Hybrid auto-focus (AF) technology combines phase-detection and contrast-detection to allow the camera to track subjects faster. An Active Mode is also available for more advanced handheld movie shooting.
Professional photographers may be disappointed by the 12.1 megapixels, but the camera makes up for it with its lightning-fast autofocus, wide dynamic range, and fast shutter speed. The Sony A7S III’s constancy in different lighting circumstances was one of the things that pleased us the most.
The camera takes excellent pictures in bright light and adjusts to low-light circumstances by increasing the ISO. The photographs have low noise even when the ISO is set to a high value.
The Sony A7S III’s most notable feature is video recording. The camera captures 4K films at 120 frames per second, which is among the finest in the field. However, the sensor resolution prevents it from shooting in either 6K or 8K. Even 4K videos can be quite large, so you can minimize the size by switching to 1080p. The A7S III’s high-definition videos were just as good as any other camera system.
The video’s dynamic range is excellent. When it comes to recording videos in low light, the camera shines, delivering better-than-expected results. In addition, in-body stabilization is effective.
Should I buy the Sony A7S III?
If you currently own a Sony E-mount lens system and shoot videos for work or pleasure, this is a no-brainer (as long as you have $3,498 to invest). The A7S III is a more capable camera for video, making it easier than ever to capture stunning videos.
The SonyA7S III seems less vital to videographers who have already invested thousands in Canon, Nikon, or other brands’ lenses, or who value stills as much as video. It’s not a horrible stills camera, but for the money, you could get something with more clarity and punch than the 12.1MP sensor can provide.
There are a variety of mirrorless cameras on the market; each has something unique to offer. The Sony A7S III is a unique camera. There aren’t many flaws in this one. Its flip-out screen, picture stabilization, high-quality videos, and low-light capabilities make it one of the best mirrorless cameras available. It delivers high-quality photographs by combining the new sensor with excellent image processing. Because of its compactness, the A7S II makes it easier for vlogging.
That doesn’t make it an obvious purchase. It still costs a lot of money and isn’t for everyone. It’s great for long-form video shooters who want to construct long-term equipment. If photography is merely a passion for you, there are plenty of budget-friendly options out there.