My husband, Justin, and I have used the Sony Alpha 7 III- commonly referred to as the A7iii- since it came out in early 2018. So after many years of being on the market and even a new entry from Sony in this mirrorless camera line- the much anticipated Sony Alpha 7 IV- you may be wondering whether the A7III still stacks up.
After five plus years of using, loving, and sometimes getting annoyed at it as we capture our travels around the world, here’s our Sony A7III review, from everything we love to a few things we don’t.
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Verdict of the Sony A7III
While the Sony A7III certainly has its faults, especially, with respect to its video capabilities, it’s still an all around awesome camera for a wide range of photographers.
The mirrorless body allows the camera to be compact and quite lightweight (weighing in at just 1.43 pounds), making this an ideal camera for travelers, in addition to other capabilities, like an electronic viewfinder that provides an excellent preview of your shot (a super helpful tool for photographers still mastering manual shooting).
Plus the 24MP full-frame sensor allows for beautifully detailed images in a variety of settings, including low light, while not having overly massive file sizes (another bonus for travelers and those who don’t want to mortgage their home to pay for media storage).
All in all, the Sony A7III, especially at its price point, still packs a serious punch.
- Incredible autofocus capabilities
- Impressive low-light performance
- Lightweight and compact
- Dual memory-card slots (only one supports UHS-II cards) for professionals
- Affordable for a mirrorless camera (less than half that of A9ii, Sony’s all-around camera marketed to professional photographers)
- The screen only tilts in one direction, as opposed to articulating in multiple directions.
- Inability to shoot 4K video in a higher frame-rate than 30 FPS
- Limited touch screen capabilities
Sony A7III Review
Let’s look at the camera in a bit more detail, starting with the camera’s strengths.
Focus and Image Stabilization:
One of the Sony A7III’s key-selling points is its amazing focus and autofocus system, offering 693 phase detection points and 425 contrast autofocus points that covers over 90% of the imaging area.
This basically means that there are over four times as many detection points as a comparable full-frame mirrorless Nikon camera, and, so long as you’re pointing your camera at a moving subject, there’s a good chance that the camera will successfully detect and focus on it, even in relatively low light settings.
When your subject is a moving person or even animal, the camera also has an Eye Autofocus mode, to focus in on the most important part of your subject (although, at least in my experience, this setting is a bit more hit or miss with moving subjects than the general autofocus).
Along the same vein, the A7III has in-body 5-axis sensor-based image stabilization system, as opposed to you having to ensure you’re using a lens with this feature. This is super helpful when doing handheld photography in lower light settings or if you simply don’t have a stabilized lens.
Between the excellent focus and image stabilization, the Sony A7III allows you to take a variety of photos, from street photography to capturing wildlife, in imperfect conditions and still lets you walk away with some great shots.
The Sony A7III has a small body for a full-frame camera, allowing the camera to be quite light. Given Justin and I use ours for travel photography, it makes it so much easier to travel with a sleek and lightweight camera. If you care a lot about cutting down on weight, the A7III has other features that help with this, like the ability to charge with a USB-C cable, as opposed to lugging around a heavy battery charger.
Despite its lightweight body, there’s still a hefty grip on the front and a thumb ridge on the back, covered in a textured coating. We couple ours with a Peak Design Handstrap and it’s such a comfortable and natural feel to hold the camera. Additionally, the physical control arrangements are almost all within reach of your right thumb, making it fairly easy to operate once you figure out the extensive options and menus.
Of course, if you want extra battery capacity, more custom functions buttons, and a larger grip- you can pick up a vertical battery grip for the Sony a7III that offers all of the above.
The body is dust and moisture resistant, but it’s not weather-sealed and I’ve heard reviews of water getting into the camera’s base in extremely wet conditions. So I’d err on the side of being conservative and only (and very cautiously) using the A7III in light rain or other moisture. For what it’s worth, we’ve used our camera regularly in misty Pacific Northwest conditions and haven’t had a problem, although we’re diligent about putting the camera away in any kind of more serious rain.
- Battery life: Older models of Sony cameras have received negative reviews of their battery life, which Sony remedied starting with the A7III. This camera uses NP-FZ100 lithium batteries, which has allowed us to walk around and take hundreds of shots all day on a single battery.
In case we forget to charge the camera before a heavy day of use, we simply bring along our battery pack and charge up the a7III between stops. It’s just a super convenient camera for a photographer on the go.
- Electronic viewfinder: As mentioned above, the A7III is coupled with a 0.5-inch OLED electronic viewfinder, which is about as big as you can possibly get without having to shift your eye around to see the whole screen.
The viewfinder (or screen, if you’re using that while shooting) provides a preview of the shot before you press the shutter. As someone who still gets a bit nervous, from time to time, about more complicated manual photography, I absolutely love this aspect- it makes it a breeze to make sure you get the right exposure.
- Silent shooting: One of the benefits of having a mirrorless camera is that you can bypass the physical shutter and instead, use the electronic front curtain shutter-i.e., an “E-shutter” which effectively turns the camera’s sensor on and off at the selected shutter speed to achieve the same effect, but doing so silently).
Have you ever been in a nice restaurant and wanted to take a photo, but didn’t want to be the annoying dude clicking away? Or what about a wildlife safari, when you’re worried about scaring your subject away with the sound of your camera? Now you can take alllll the photos you want- but silently!
This feature won’t work for certain types of photography (e.g., sports or street photography) where you or your subject is moving, due to distortion effects called banding or rolling shutter, and isn’t available in every mode- only in Manual, Auto, Shutter Priority, and Program Shift mode.
Drawbacks of the Sony A7III
Let’s move on to some of the stuff that it’s not so good at.
The A7III’s screen only tilts up and down on one axis, which is obviously better than a fixed screen, but is challenging to use for certain shots, like in portrait orientation (which is ever more important with social media) or when shooting subjects from below. Another very common complaint amongst users is that, while you can use its touch screen to select focus points, you can’t select menu options using the touch screen.
Both of these issues have been addressed in the Sony A7iv, which offers a screen that articulates in various directions and allows you to make menu selections using the touchscreen. If either of these are huge issues for you, you may want to consider making the jump to the A7iv instead.
Don’t get me wrong- the video quality of the A7III is quite high, with similar white balance, color, and exposure as you’ll get with still photography. It has a 6k sensor readout for full frame pixel 4K/24p video without cropping, meaning that the sensor collects 6k pixel information and then samples it down to 4k, leaving beautifully detailed and sharp 4k videos.
That being said, the 4k frame rate options are quite limited- you can’t do anything higher than 30FPS while shooting in 4k. For folks who rely on quality slow motion videos, whether you’re a wedding videographer or a YouTuber, this may be a dealbreaker. Again, this issue has been resolved in the newer A7iv, which allows shooting in 4k 60FPS.
Who is the Sony A7III a good camera for?
The A7III is a great all-around camera for almost any kind of photographer, especially given the reasonable price point (at least, in terms of mirrorless cameras).
Speaking from experience, if you’re looking for the best camera for travel bloggers or really any travel enthusiast for under $2,000, this is it- lightweight, compact, and very versatile for a variety of environments, from street to portrait and wildlife.
Lenses we use with the A7III
We all know that a camera is only as good as the lens attached to it, right? So it bears mentioning here that, much like almost all camera manufacturers, when you buy a Sony, you’re also signing up to purchase within an ecosystem of compatible lenses for as long as you have the camera.
So what lenses are best paired with the a7III? We’ve perfected our lens arsenal for our needs, so here’s what we shoot with.
Wide angle: The Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar T FE F4 ZA OSS is a seriously versatile and awesome wide-angle lens. It’s really the perfect travel lens- it’s amazing at taking both sweeping landscape shots as well as detailed portraits, takes sharp and colorful photos, and is reasonably lightweight (at 1.1 pounds). If you’re only thinking about purchasing one lens for your a7III for travel photography, have it be this one.
Macro: For food photography or really anything you want to get up close and personal with, you’ll want a macro lens, like the Sony SEL50M28 FE 50mm F2.8. This prime lens is a workhorse, capable of handling portrait, landscape, and of course, macro shots. I love that, with its wide aperture capabilities, you can snag shots with plenty of dreamy background blur. Plus, in terms of quality lenses, it’s pretty affordable, ringing in at under $550.
Telephoto lens: For wildlife shots or if you want some rad lens compression, consider the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 Contemporary DG DN OS.
It’s a lot more affordable than comparable lenses (almost 40% cheaper than the SONY 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM) and almost one pound lighter, which makes a HUGE difference when you’re shooting handheld to eliminate camera shake and provide you a better chance of actually getting the shot. It’s also relatively slim and packable for a zoom lens, again making this an ideal choice for travelers.
We’ve used these lenses for years and they’ve worked perfectly for our needs, but obviously, be sure to do your research to buy lenses that suit your style of photography.
I hope you found my Sony A7III review helpful in deciding whether you should make the leap or not- four-plus years after making the jump, we’re still happy with our decision! Do you have any questions about the a7III? Let me know in the comments below!