Sony a7III – Initial Thoughts & Impressions

Key Specs:

  • Full Frame
  • 24.2mp Sensor
  • 10 fps
  • 693 Phase Detection AF Points
  • 425 Contract Detection AF Points
  • 4K HDR Video

Likes:

  • Size, Weight, and Portability
  • Frame rate
  • Full Frame
  • Image Quality

Dislikes:

  • Initial AF acquisition
  • AF point size
  • EVF (takes getting used to)

I have owned my camera for just a couple of weeks now, and have had the opportunity to take it to some local parks to test it out in nature.  This is no where near enough time to give a full opinion on the camera, however it is enough time to get some initial thoughts and impressions that I wanted to share (I’m not promising that these will not change as I use the camera more, for better or worse).

 

AF Points
The camera has 693 phase-decection, of which 425 of them are also contrast-detecting, AF points, and covers 93% of the viewfinder, that is absolutely incredible, especially in comparison to some of the DSLR cameras out there.

 

When I first started shooting with the camera on “single point”, I was like this AF point is HUGE, especially shooting chickadees at any distance.  What I didn’t realize, and actually didn’t see anywhere in the manual is that the single point has three sizes, small, medium, and large, and I think I was on large.  So that solved, the single AF point is actually a reasonable size.

 

I still haven’t found much use for the other AF points, other than the single point spot assist.

 

I do enjoy, especially being a frustrated Canon shooter, how much of the frame (like all of it) you can cover with the AF point.  This makes it really handy when trying to setup an animalscape type shot, and could see how landscape shooters would find this useful.

 

Autofocus
As for the autofocus itself (once I found the right-size points), was a little on the slow side, especially on the initial acquisition of focusing on something.  This can be a bit frustrating when shooting the popular “little chirpy birds” (as defined in all bird books – haha), because by the time you get the focus they are flying off to another branch, and you have to start the process all over again. I also think that this would make shooting small birds in flight, like Tree Swallows, very frustrating, but when you nail it, you will nail it.

 

I do find however that the camera is actually pretty good at keeping the focus locked on as the subject moves around, and I am not finding a bunch of blurry shots when shooting a burst.

 

Frame-rate / buffering
The camera boasts 10 frames per second, and it was one of the key advertised features is the frame rate of the camera.  While the frames per second is important, to me the more important question is how many shots can I take until the camera slows down and begins buffering.  In my normal shooting, using RAW images, SD card, and 1/1000 shutter speed I was able to get just over 25 shots before the camera started slowing down, which I think is pretty good.

 

Along the same lines as this is the blackout, you know the momentary (can be nanoseconds) where you cannot actually see anything through the viewfinder.  I do find the blackout to be a bit longer on this camera than I am used to when looking through the viewfinder.

 

Something I am finding particularly annoying is if I shoot a burst, and then want to recompose, I need to wait for images to clear the buffer (or at least some of the images) before I can get my AF point back and refocus to take another shot.  I have also noticed that while copying images to the card, you cannot access the menu, or switch from still to video shooting until all the images are cleared.  This could really be the difference between getting and missing the shot.

 

Electronic Viewfinder
I think the biggest noticeable difference for anyone that is switching from a DSLR to a Mirrorless is the electronic viewfinder. While I think they have come a long way from some that I have looked at in the past, it’s still not crisp and sharp, and the colors even seem a little distorted compared to what I am used to with the DSLR.

 

Meanwhile, the rear LCD shows a very nice view of the image, but I just can’t stand to hold the camera out in front of me while taking pictures…I feel like a tourist holding out my iPhone.

 

Image Quality
Outside some of the limitations that I noted above (assuming you aren’t waiting for your buffer to clear and miss the shot), the image quality of this camera is really quite nice.  You get a lot of fine detail, and it certainly is steps above point-and-shoot cameras, and I am very interested to see how it compares to the Canon full frame 5D Mark IV.

 

There are still many things left to test, the one thing I haven’t really tested yet but am super curious about is the ISO performance.  I have several shots at ISO 3200 that seem pretty clean.  I am hoping on the upcoming Great Bear Rainforest trip I will get some opportunities to try it out,

 

I’m excited to take this camera out on it’s first test – the Spring Great Bear Rainforest trip, and see how it holds up under real conditions.  I also still have a lot more testing to do including how it works with the metabones adapter, as well as how it compares to other full-frame cameras.  So stay tuned.

 

Feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca if you are planning to pick one up and have any questions, or to share some of your own personal feedback.