Sony A7 III Review Part 1

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Sony A7 III Review

First off, this will not be a technical review. Hopefully, I'll be updating this site regularly. I don't claim to be an expert and I'm not overly technical nor claim to be overly artistic. I like to think I'm somewhere in between and hopefully strike a balance those two halves of my brain. 

This will be 1 of a 3 part Sony A7 III Review

Shout out to Kenmore Camera for having this camera available on launch day! I placed my order from Adorama a few days after the the pre-order launch. On the ship date I was told the camera was on backorder and I cancelled it as soon as Kenmore had it available literally an hour after release. Thanks guys! 

Backstory - For the Photographers

My first camera was a Canon Rebel almost 10 years ago and after a few jumps in-between Nikon and Canon I've been a Nikon shooter for the last 3 years. I've spent about 5 years shooting with each system and have used almost every lens available under 400mm. I love using both cameras brands and can give you a laundry list of pros and cons but I'll save that for another post. 

Fast-forward to today, I'm using the Sony A7R III with several native lenses. Despite a few hiccups and am quite enjoying it for the tool that it is. Back in the day, switching was a pain in the rear. You practically had to sell and learn everything all over again with new cameras and flashes. This isn't the case anymore. I incorporate flash in my work quite often and what makes this switch possible is the fact that I now use GodoxFlashpoint lighting. You used to have to buy specific triggers and flashes that only work for Canon OR Nikon but with Godox/Flashpoint you can use the same trigger and flashes (with the exception of Sony) as well as trigger flashes universally. 

One of the big reasons for the switch was size and weight. Carrying 2 or even 3 cameras and an arsenal of lenses while traveling domestically and internationally became problematic. Tip* If you can, when flying always bring your equipment as a carry-on or at least the essentials.   

When I first purchased the Sony, I used it as a backup camera while working in Egypt. (Read about my Egypt experience here) The advantages of weight, size and silent shooting was clear cut; especially when you consider that I was carrying the cameras for 10-14 hours a day in the hot desert. Shooting discreetly was another huge perk. For some of the work I do having a truly silent shutter is a dream and is priceless. 

Compared to the A7R III

Making a quick physical comparison. The camera bodies are practically identical, with the exception of the dial lock located on the top of the A7R III. Probably the biggest gripe I have with the A7 III is the fact that the camera does not come with a separate charger. I can understand why they did this, but still, it wouldn't have killed them to include one. Handling wise, it is the same and that is a good thing. The biggest variation I've seen is the joystick on the Sony VG-C3EM battery grip. I've handled 4 of these already and the tactical feedback varies slightly from each one. For the record, the camera bodies are made in China while the grips are made in Thailand which may explain the variation (just a thought). 

I put black gaffers tape to make it a bit more stealthy. Quick tip* I also put it on the viewfinder eyepiece to keep in from falling out. Happens all the time.

I put black gaffers tape to make it a bit more stealthy. Quick tip* I also put it on the viewfinder eyepiece to keep in from falling out. Happens all the time.

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Size comparison to the D750

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I wish the A7 series screens would flip down all the way

Testing the Sony A7 III

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When the camera arrived Friday morning, I actually missed the delivery and the mailman! I had to drive around the block to chase him down. Fortunately, I found him. Conincidently, FD Photostudio was having a open rooftop meet and shoot, I knew it would be a great opportunity to test the camera. 

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For the image above I purposely underexposed the subject dramatically to keep the highlights in the back. If you look closely you'll see red specks on her shirt and noise in the shadows around the arms. 

Immediately, I could tell that the autofocus was a bit more snappy compared to my A7R III. Is it that much faster? Just by a hair I'd say. The eye autofocus which is a killer feature had no problems tracking. Of course, the subjects are not moving much but during the whole hour shoot I had ZERO out of focus shots. More surprisingly, some of the models had sunglasses on and the eye autofocus didn't miss a beat! I'm not quite sure if it just switch to AF-face detect but even with sunglasses on the autofocus system switch and tracked seamlessly. 

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I should probably take a moment to explain the way I shoot. Coming from Nikon I am always in AF-C 3D Autofocus tracking, I never change it. Ever. Even when shooting studio I leave it in that mode. It works similar to eye autofocus in Sony but it tracks the whole subject and covers a good portion of the viewfinder. A single AF point follows the subject as it moves throughout the viewfinder and although it doesn't track an area as small as an eye it is very reliable. 

The Sony A7 III probably has the best dynamic range of any camera I've ever used. Those who shoot Nikon know how great the dynamic range is and even compared to the D750 there is definitely a bit more room to tweak in Lightroom. 

Speaking of Lightroom, those upgrading to Lightroom 7.3 be warned, your presets will get mixed around and if you have your presets arranged a certain way you'll be in for a surprise...

Initial Conclusions

Overall, I'm pleasantly surprised to see how well the camera compares to it's bigger sibling the A7R III. Skin tones are and white balance are nice and accurate. The Sony A7 III files have lots of flexibility and the dynamic range is amazing. I can't wait to put this through a few more shoots including a wedding. I'll be following up with PART II in the coming weeks so stay tuned!  

Again, shout out to Kenmore Camera for sending this camera quickly. I also want to thank FD Photostudios for their monthly meet ups and amazing studio locations. I've used their studios before and highly recommend it if you need a place to shoot.