- 12.1MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
- OLED EVF 9.44M dots
- 5-Axis In-Body IS
- 10fps Continuous Shooting
- 4K/60P Video
- Dual UHS-II or CFexpress A card slots
QUICKFACT SHEETWith the Sony A7S III (aka Alpha 7S III, a7S III, α7s III, ILCE-7SM3), Sony takes a page out of Apple’s design bible and makes a video-oriented mirrorless camera that… simply works. And it works fabulously well, intermingling all the proven design elements required to make one great hybrid stills/video camera targeted to pro and enthusiast videographers/photographers.
The A7S III features a new 12MP BSI (Back Side Illuminated) CMOS image sensor, purposefully keeping the resolution to a sensible 12MP to enable ultra-high sensitivity with low noise, making the A7S III one of the best — if not the best — camera to shoot in low-light situations. Using only 12MP also means that it can perform a full-pixel readout without pixel binning, which means faster processing with less heat generation. This enables videos at 4K 120p (1.1x crop) and 10-bit 4:2:2 color depth. Oh, and it can shoot 4K/60p (no crop) for more than one hour without inconveniently and frustratingly shutting down due to overheating issues.
The A7S III improves upon the A7S II with the following features:
- The hybrid autofocus system now uses on-sensor phase detect pixels, with a total of 759 phase detection AF points and 425 Contrast-Detection AF points, and covers 92% of the frame.
- Eye AF now also works for animals (stills photography, not videos)
- The AF range is EV -6 to 20, meaning the A7S III can now lock focus in near darkness.
- The 2.95-inch 1.44M-dot Touch LCD on the back of the camera is now fully articulating, flipping open to the side, tilting and down, and can be rotated to face forward.
- Whereas previous touchscreen functionalities only allowed you to tap a point on the screen to lock focus (Touch AF), and use touch gestures to zoom or swipe right and left when reviewing images, the A7S III now also allows you to touch select menu options on screen.
- The menu system has also been redesigned to make it easier and more intuitive to use, with only the relevant entries displaying in photo and video mode.
- Separate settings can now be stored for stills and movie shooting.
- Though there is no tally (‘on-air’) light on the front of the camera to indicate that you are recording, a new red frame in the LCD indicates that recording is in progress (set in the menu under the infamous “Emph[asize] disp[lay] dur[ing] REC[ording] option).
- Use of the A7R IV body, resulting in more comfortable handling and feel.
(Early reports are that the recently announced Canon EOS R5 and R6 Eye AF Tracking may well match Sony’s.)
Real-time Tracking has to be manually initiated by touching the subject on the screen. Real-time Eye AF is automatically initiated when an eye is detected.
It also breaks new grounds with features not yet available in most competitors’ models:
- It offers the world’s highest resolution 9.44M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF).
- The viewfinder also boasts the largest view with 0.9x magnification.
- Eye point of 25mm means eyeglass wearers can easily see the entire image.
- 15+ stops of dynamic range for movies (using S-Log3 gamma profile).
- Dual card slots, both accepting SD (UHS-I/II) and CFexpress A cards
- A new “Visible light + IR Sensor” helps to achieve more precise white balance under artificial lighting, including fluorescent and LED lights.
Other features include Continuous Shooting at 10fps with AF/AE of 1000 RAW images, a hot shoe to accept an external speedlite, Wireless Flash Control, Hi-speed sync, RAW, PASM Shooting Modes, ±5 stops Exposure Compensation, Shutter Speed from 1/8000 sec. to 30 sec. (flash-sync shutter speed of 1/250 sec.), Interval Recording (Time Lapse video has to be produced on the computer), and Silent Mode.
The A7S III offers in-camera 4K recording up to 120 fps, 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 color sampling. A variety of advanced movie recording modes such as All-Intra and MPEG-H HEVC/H.265 coding (XAVC HS™) allows for a more flexible and efficient post-production workflow. It is now easier to integrate video recordings with other professional camcorders: Three color gamut settings, S-Gamut, S-Gamut3, and S-Gamut3.Cine, allow footage shot on the A7S III to be easily matched with footage shot on professional camcorders, simplifying multi-camera post-production workflow. The A7S III supports S-Log3 gamma curves, as well as an HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) picture profile with minimum post-production. The A7S III also allows up to 4K 60p 16-bit RAW output to an external recorder via HDMI Type-A connector, offering additional post-production flexibility.
Unlike other models that quickly (20 – 30 min. max) overheat when shooting 4K videos, the A7S III has a new heat dissipating mechanism (passive, i.e., no internal fan, and no vent) that Sony claims will provide over one-hour long 4K/60p 10-bit 4:2:2 movie shooting, allowing for extended continuous recording sessions. If this pans out in real-life shooting conditions, this should be a real boon for video journalists who need the camera to be ready to shoot at any moment without overheating issues crippling the camera.
Unique heat dissipation, for dependable recording
A unique Sony Σ (sigma) shaped graphite heatsink is built into the image-stabilization unit. This dissipates heat 5x more effectively for extended recording time, without interfering with image stabilization.
In addition to the 5-axis IBIS (with up to 5.5 stops compensation), video can also make use of digital stabilization (Active Mode). This Active Mode uses a gyro sensor that stores appropriate information in the metadata of each video. Later, you can choose to apply this digital stabilization in post-processing, though there will then be a slight 10% crop.
An interesting movie feature is Flexible Autofocus Settings. Seven AF Transition Speed settings allow you to easily create rack-focus transitions at different speeds. Five AF Subject Shift Sensitivity settings allow you to customize how easily AF will switch or stay with the locked-on subject.
A digital audio interface has been added to the camera’s Multi Interface (MI) Shoe for clearer audio recordings from a compatible Sony external microphone (e.g., Sony’s XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit). Like other MI shoe accessories, no cables or batteries are required. There is a full-size HDMI Type-A port, as well as 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks.
The battery can be recharged in -camera using USB-C. The A7S III also supports USB PD (Power Delivery), allowing power to be supplied from an external source so that you can continue to record for extended periods with minimal internal battery usage. (Note, however, that either the battery is recharging or the camera is continuously powered, not both at the same time.)
For photo and video journalists who need to deliver stills or movies as quickly as possible back to their companies, several advanced connectivity options make that easier: 5GHz/2.4GHz wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11ac) and MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) improve communication quality by using multiple antennas, doubling in speed when compared to the Alpha7R IV. New USB tethering support allows it to use 5G network for fast and stable FTP file transfer when connected to a 5G (5th generation technology standard for cellular networks) compatible device via USB cable. USB to high-speed wired LAN connectivity also offers stable and fast FTP transfer for both movies and stills. A USB Type-C connector that supports fast SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps (USB 3.2) data transfer is provided, enabling high-speed PC Remote (tethered) data transfer available for smooth handling of large image files.
Many (especially wedding) photographers would be happy to know that there are dual card slots, both accepting SD (UHS-I/II) and CFexpress Type A cards.
Though the A7S III can be considered somewhat weather resistant, its specifications does not provide an industry rating nor does it rate as freeze-proof. It also posts a disclaimer that the A7S III is “not guaranteed to be 100% dust and moisture proof.”
The Sony A7S III is supported by a system of high quality lenses, vertical grip, external flashes, microphones, monitor hood, shooting grip with wireless remote commander, grip extension, and software that further expand the shooting system.
|LENS MOUNT:||E||ISO:||80-102400, 40, 409600|
|VIEWFINDER:||OLED EVF 9.44M DOTS 0.9X MAGNIFICATION||LCD:||2.95″ 1.44M DOTS, VARI-ANGLE TOUCH LCD|
|I.S.:||5-AXIS (5.5EV)||VIDEO:||4K/30P/60P/120P, HD/240P/120P/60P/24P|
|CONTINUOUS SHOOTING:||10 FPS||STORAGE MEDIA:||DUAL SLOTS: SD (UHS-II) OR CFEXPRESS TYPE-A|
|OTHER:||WI-FI, BLUETOOTH, WIRELESS REMOTE SHOOTING, HI-SPEED SYNC FLASH MODE, INTERVAL SHOOTING|
|DIMENSIONS:||128.9 X 96.9 X 69.7 MM (5.1 X 3.8 X 2.8 IN)||WEIGHT:||699 G (24.7 OZ) WITH BATTERY AND MEMORY CARD|
|PRICE (BODY ONLY):||US $3,499.99 / CAD $4,799.99||BUY:||SONY A7S III|
If you shoot a lot in challenging low-light conditions and also needs an excellent video camera, we highly recommend the Sony A7S III (2020, US $3,499.99), hands-down the best video-centric full-frame mirrorless camera there is currently.
If you mainly shoot landscapes and/or portraits and need very high resolution files, then check out the Sony A7R IV (2019, US $3,499.99) with 61MP resolution.
If you do not need 61MP resolution, check out the Sony A7 III (2018, US $1,999.99) with 24.2MP.
If you shoot sports events professionally, check out the Sony A9 II (2019, US $4,499.99).
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