The full-frame A7R models are Sony’s image-quality flagship cameras; themay be the speed demon, but the high resolution, antialiasing-filter-free A7R series rules Sony’s roost when it comes to tonal range, sharpness, color fidelity and other important characteristics that frequently get sacrificed when you’re shooting action.
The A7R III sounds like it goes pretty far to narrow the performance gap, offering a much faster and more accurate autofocus system, improved processing and a new shutter mechanism to offer a sufficient-for-most people 10fps burst rate, at the same time as it ekes out a little more tonal range from the same 42.4-megapixel sensor as the.
All this can be yours for $3,200 when it ships at the end of November. I don’t yet have UK or Australian pricing and availability, but the US price directly converts to about £2,440 and AU$4,140.
The A7R III inherits much of its new technology from the A9, but given the different sensors in the two cameras, the same technology translates into different specs. To me, the most important update is the autofocus system, which keeps the same phase-detection AF points but ditches Sony’s slow and annoying old 25-area contrast AF for a smarter 295-area system similar to that of the.
While phase-detection AF gets all the warm fuzzies, contrast AF is a workhorse that enables object tracking — including the improvements to Sony’s Eye AF eye-tracking — which boosts the accuracy of the phase-detection AF, among other things.
A first for Sony, the A7R III’s Pixel-shift mode takes four sequential shots in intervals of no less than half a second, each offset by a single pixel (about 1 micron) using the sensor-shifting image stabilizer; this allows the camera to capture a full pixel of each primary rather than reconstructing the colors from the checkerboard-like color filter array, a process known as demosaicking which introduces a lot of artifacts. You then use Sony’s software to combine the shots with a more accurate range of colors.
As you might guess, this isn’t for moving subjects; it’s primarily for studio photography where the A7R III competes with slowish, tethered medium-format cameras so the PC-based processing isn’t a big deal.
If you’re not familiar with, it’s a curve that maps your video to the broadest tonal range possible as a prelude to encoding HDR video; it’s also the HDR playback format of choice for Sony TVs. While Sony’s pro camcorders began introducing it recently, this is the first of the company’s still cameras to implement it.
Other highlights include:
- Dual SD card slots, one UHS-II
- Support for the higher-capacity Z series battery
- The same 3.7-million dot OLED electronic viewfinder as the A9
- Dual USB connectors, one USB-C — the first in any camera, I believe — and one micro USB
- All Sony’s current video capabilities, including 2160/30p, 24/25p (using the full width of the sensor or cropped to Super35 with oversampling) and 1080/120p; S-Log3 gamma; and high frame-rate modes for slow motion
Sony also announced an FE 24-105mm f4 G OSS lens, also slated to ship at the end of November for $1,300 (directly converted, roughly £990 and AU$1,680), as well as the intent to produce a full-frame 400 millimeter f2.8 G Master lens for summer 2018, allowing time for professionals to get comfortable with it by the time the IOC’s cold-weather festivities begin.
Check back on Thursday — I’ll have photo samples, product photos and hands-on impressions for you.