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Sony makes vast improvements in creating the A7R III

Create: 02/18/2018 - 11:51
Sony A7R III

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Numerous changes to autofocus, image processing and battery power
  • Full-frame 42.4-MP Exmor sensor
  • Intended buyer: Advanced amateur

Rather than making huge strides in its technology, the Sony A7R III improves on what already is a very popular full-frame mirrorless digital camera.

And there is much to mention with this camera.

Like its predecessor, the A7R III uses a backside-illuminated 42.4-MP Exmor sensor with an ISO range of 100-32,000, which is expandable to 50-102,400. The sensor has no low-pass filter, which should yield sharper images out of the camera.

Sony has improved the camera’s image-processing speed, claiming that the A7R III is 1.8x faster than its predecessor. The new camera can shoot as fast as 10 frames per second with full autoexposure and autofocus with each shot. The camera can sustain this rate for 76 compressed RAW or JPG images or 28 uncompressed RAW images.

What is also notable is that while the camera writes the images to the memory card, the photographer can make adjustments to camera settings and even begin reviewing images, which hasn’t been possible with its other A7 cameras.

As well, images that are shot in a burst now are displayed in groups when reviewing your photos in-camera. The camera also allows you delete a group of images – rather than having the photographer delete them one by one.

Like its other mirrorless cameras, the Sony A7R III uses E-mount lenses, as well as those from its A-mount SLRs (with the proper adapter). The A7R III accepts both full-frame and cropped-sensor lenses. For the latter, the camera adjusts automatically so that you end up with an APS-C-sized image

DUAL MEMORY CARD SLOTS

The camera has dual memory card slots that hold either SD or Memory Stick Pro Duo/Micro with the Slot 1 supporting UHS-II media, which is becoming increasingly necessary for 4K video recording.

For video, the A7R III can record 4K video, as mentioned, as well as Full HD.

The camera uses Sony’s five-axis image stabilization, which it claims provides up to 5.5 stops of compensation.

Sony’s A7 series have earned a reputation for exhausting its batteries quicker than other digital cameras. Like its big brother, the A9, this camera can use the FW-100 rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which Sony says has more than twice the shooting capacity of the FW-50. Recognizing that some studio photographers, as well as videographers, require constant power, the A7R III allows for the connection of external power supplies through its USB Type C and Multi/Micro USB ports.

When it comes to the shutter, there are two things worth noting:

  • The camera has a new low-vibration shutter that is part of the camera’s ability to shoot up to 10 frames per second. The shutter speed range runs from 1/8,000 to 30 seconds plus B.
  • Although the A7R III doesn’t have an electronic shutter, which is an option that’s become popular in the past couple of years, it has a “silent shutter” mode. Sony hasn’t gone into detail to explain how this works.

AUTOFOCUS SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS

Sony has made significant improvements in the autofocus system, compared with the A7R II. The A7R III uses 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points that cover roughly 68% of the image area in both the horizontal and vertical directions. There also are 425 contrast AF points, an increase of 400 points compared with the A7R II. A small multi-stick joystick that is situated near the upper right corner of the LCD helps with selecting focus points.

In practice, Sony says AF acquisition now takes about half the time as the A7R II in low-light conditions, with tracking that is also two times more accurate.

Like the other A7 cameras, there is no built-in electronic flash but allows for the connection of an external unit. The synchronization shutter speed is 1/250.

One of the camera’s exposure modes compensates for fluorescent and mercury light flicker.

There is both a 3.0-inch touch-enabled tilting high-resolution LCD panel, as well as an electronic viewfinder with Zeiss anti-reflective coating to provide for a brighter, clearer image.

Connection ports include external microphone and headphone, HDMI, USB Type-C, Sony’s Multi-Interface Shoe and the flash-synchronization terminal.

PIXEL SHIFTED IMAGES

Another new feature is what Sony calls, “Pixel Shift Multi Shooting,” which it says creates “super-high resolution composite images.” This is done by shifting the camera in one-pixel increments in order to capture four separate pixel-shifted images that contain 169.6-MP of image data. The four images can then be merged with the new "Imaging Edge" software suite.

This software package can process RAW images and also supports remote shooting when the camera is tethered to a PC.

Images can be transferred to a PC or mobile device via WiFi, NFC or the USB Type-C connection.

The Sony A7R III is 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9 inches (126.9 x 95.6 x 73.7mm) and weighs 23.2 ounces (657 grams).

The body is available only in black and is now available for purchase for US$3,200.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.