Sony A7III: Nearly two years on still the best camera I have ever owned.

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My digital interchangeable lens journey started back in 2013 with a DC school trip and an Olympus E-PL5 and kit lens.

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MFT served me well but was mainly an entry point to the interchangeable lens system rabbit hole.

I tried many mounts in my search for the “right” camera. Have owned Olympus,

Co-Op City, The Bronx

Nikon,

Shots from the day.

Panasonic,

Panasonic G7

Samsung (Oy. Samsung.),

Brother Art Portrait by request

Canon,

Canon EOS RP

Pentax,

Bee

Leica,

Leica Q (Type 116)

Fujifilm,

Viltrox 85mm f/1.8 for FUJIFILM X

and Sony.

Kauffmann Wedding Shoot - The Wedding

Other than medium format beasts above my pay grade and needs like Hasselblad and PhaseOne I believe I have tried all digital brands currently available except Sigma. But I am not alone on that one. In no particular order and I have bounced back and forth between these brands a couple of times.

While I prefer APS-C for every day and some provide no excuses IQ it is full-frame all day when possible. My full-frame favorites:

Pentax K-1

  • Pluses:
    • Outstanding image quality.
    • Before its time in-body IS.
    • Built like a tank.
      • Once dropped a K-1 on asphalt (unexpectedly launched itself from a messenger bag), saw a tiny little barely visible hairline crack around a button a week later, confessed to Pentax, and they said I should not have been able to break it and fixed it for free.
    • Class-leading water/dust resistance.
  • Minuses:
    • Weighs like a tank.
    • While AF is effective it lacks the latest mirrorless bells and whistles.

Leica Q

  • Pluses:
    • Fantastic IQ.
    • Great flexibility.
    • The best bargain in Leica-dome.
    • What I wish the L mount would be.
  • Minuses:
    • The best bargain in Leica-dome is still quite costly.
    • You can have any focal length you want as long as it is 28mm.

Canon EOS RP

  • Pluses:
    • Best bargain in Canon-dome in my opinion.
    • Great IQ and those Canon colors.
    • Great build and handling.
  • Minuses:
    • In body IS would be nice.
    • Two card slots would be nice.
    • I really like it. Oh, how I tried but when the also one card slot, but with IBIS A7II went on sale in December for $899 the trade was on. Now that sales have ended I have to admit that I would get the A7 II if I had to do it again even though it is now currently more expensive.

The cameras above and others used were all perfectly fine devices, but the subject here matches or bests every other single-camera where it mattered to me. Found this to be true in my initial review and nearly two years later nothing has changed.

Even Sony cameras higher in the food chain have not swayed me.

Sony A7RIII

I learned during a formal shoot with the Sony A7RII

Sony A7Rii

…that 42MP was way more MP than I needed. I do not tend to crop much if at all so the extra time processing RAW files and storage required reaped few benefits. Have read that the A7III focus system bests the A7RIII. But if I ever were to get another A7 body this would likely be it. If I ever had a need for more MP this camera would be my go-to.

Sony A7RIV

Impressive. But same as above, but even more so with 61MP. I once was tempted and came close to buying a GFX50R, but stood down largely because this body was announced. If I am ever tempted to medium format MP levels of detail this is where I would land.

Sony A9 / A9II

Same MP w/ better build and much better fps I do not need at a much higher price. Nice, but I’m good with 10fps.
The Sony A7III

Long after purchase quite simply it still delivers.

AF

Shockingly fast and accurate AF. So effective it is almost boring. Once shot an event and thought I need to get a couple of crowd shots. I stood up and quickly framed some shots. Saw the face and eye boxes and based on past experience I fired off some shots and sat back down. I did not double-check the back screen. No need. I knew they would be in focus. And when I downloaded the images I was right.

Sidebar: The A7III hits all of my “when you need to get the shot” buttons. I have been writing about Fujifilm lately, but that is a different animal. It sounds counterintuitive, I know, but I like using Fujis every day because they are not as no miss. Which, along with being more portable, is more… fun? These things make little sense admittedly. But make no mistake, as much as I enjoy Fuji, when I do not know what I will face and want the best of everything I reach for the Sony A7III.

AF-S, AF-C, face detect, eye detect, tracking, remember face (or whatever it is called), etc. and so forth. All modes work as billed. Even low light conditions with moving subjects that trip up mortal cameras are not a problem.

Kauffmann Wedding - The Reception

Kauffmann Wedding - The Reception

Build and Ergonomics

While not Pentax or other robust DSLR grade in build, water, or dust resistance it is more than passable and as outlined in this comparison gallery far better built than the A7 models before it.

A7iii - A7Compare

Menus

While the main Sony menu system is still labyrinthine the A7III has a game-changing addition. Not rocket science and others have done it before I believe, but the custom menu has greatly simplified things. Now all of my most often used menu items can be found in one place. Once set up menu navigation is a breeze.

Low Light

Put together a full-frame sensor, great low light sensitivity, and a great image stabilization system and the results are better than you would expect.

Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Rokinon/Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE

Colors

No complaints at all. I could easily use the JPEGs once I set the camera up properly. I can always get the results I want in RAW later if I wish to tweak the image more.

Rokinon FE 50mm f/1.4

Kauffmann Wedding Shoot - The Wedding

RAW FIles

The most malleable RAW files I have ever encountered. Shadows are recoverable without issue and even blown out portions of an image can be recovered to a greater degree than one would expect. This is a great comfort on those occasions where you miss exposure and cannot get a do-over.

Adaptability

While it is well known that the ever-expanding number of full-frame mirrorless cameras with image peaking are great for adapting legacy glass with manual focusing the Sony has a few party tricks. Like Nikon and Panasonic Sony has in-body IS. But owing to Sony getting out ahead of the rest of the mirrorless crop it by far has the most AF adapted solutions as well.

Sony/Minolta to Sony FE (LA-EA4)

Maxxum 20mm f/2.8

Canon to Sony FE (MC11)

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

Fairly rare choices like Contax G to Sony FE (TECHART TA-GA3)

Techart Contax G to Sony A7 Adapter

And last, but not least the adapt almost any mount through native to LM adapters Leica M to Sony FE (TECHART LM-EA7)

7Artisans 50mm f/1.1

Lens Choices

How things have changed. Lack of lens choices dogged the FE mount for the longest. Now everyone seems to be climbing aboard the 3rd Party non-adapted AF FE train. Ziess from the start, Sigma, Rokinon/Samyang, Tamron, and Vi… (checks notes) Viltrox all offer well regarded AF Sony FE glass. More than any of the other mirrorless mounts currently. In fact, I currently only have one Sony AF FE mount lens. All the rest are third party lenses from Tamron or Samyang/Rokinon and they are working out just fine. The Sony mirrorless lens lineup is now mature enough that they are starting to offer their second wave value options like the FE 85mm and 35mm f/1.8 lenses. Aside from the Canon 35mm f/1.8 (Which I liked a lot admittedly. But one lens does not a system make.) most all of the new native mirrorless lenses are eye-watering-ly expensive (CanonNikonPanasonic/Leica/Sigma). Some lenses are very impressive on paper, like the drool-worthy Noct, but seem to be lens saber-rattling exercises and not of much practical use in the real world. With companies like Rokinon/Samyang starting to come to the rescue this might change, but by then today’s premium and value Sony choices will be available on the used market. And while true that Nikon and Canon can lean on their DSLR lens adapters I learned from personal experience that this is passable, but not optimal. A native mount lens is much preferred for a multitude of reasons.

Price

Nikon and Canon are offering deep discounts currently when just considering the bodies. But when you stand back and count the cost of switching systems or starting from scratch they are a hard sell right now with the current lens lineup gaps. The reported Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 focus issues may be an outlier, but most Sony lenses have been vetted by this point.

Video

I hear it does 4K video very well. It does slow-motion and time-lapse also. I tried them once. They worked very well.
The Contenders

Further other full-frame competitors that have arrived since seem to have fallen into traps that Sony has now escaped.

  • Card slots
    • With as much grief as Sony caught from the “can’t be a pro camera with only one card slot” drumbeat I was very surprised that both Canon and Nikon walked face-first into that trap out of the gate. And Nikon added to it by requiring a more expensive card. Panasonic/Leica got the memo but fell down elsewhere.
  • In body IS
    • Canon. Come on now.
  • AF Technology
    • Panasonic/Leica/Sigma. Come on now. While Canon and Nikon AF missteps can likely all be solved with firmware, as they have both already started doing, I cannot take Panasonic/Leica/Sigma seriously no matter how good the rest of their cameras may be with contrast only focusing systems. The most expensive offerings having the oldest focus tech does not make sense to me.

Sidebar: While we are at it I would find the Sigma fp a fascinating video option if I shot much video and I applaud out of the box thinking, but I cannot take a camera without a viewfinder, IBIS, or physical shutter seriously for stills at most any price point. Sitting currently at $100 more than an A7III it does not stand a chance in my universe.

New contenders have their strong points, but all have weaknesses that would prevent me from leaving the A7III.

And then there is this. I am a most disloyal brand-agnostic individual liable to jump brand ship at any moment. I have done so many times on a whim. But the Sony A7III is the only camera I have ever owned that I have never considered trading or selling. Not even for another Sony. Further, before I purchased an A7II (still very viable) when it went on sale when I was looking for a second FE body I was seriously considering a second A7III. That has never happened before.

Because of this, I am content to the point of being so out of the loop on releases that I either never knew or completely forgot that an A9II was released before writing this post.

You never know. There are new press releases every day. A new contender could rise to the top. But for now, I will tempt fate by stating that I am perfectly happy with the A7III (Ongoing gallery here.).

<Queue Earth-shattering trade frenzy inducing product press release in 3, 2, 1…>

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