Sony Electronics today introduced a new full-frame mirrorless digital camera, the a7 III (model ILCE-7M3). The $2000 camera features a brand new 24.2-megapixel back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor with increased sensitivity, outstanding resolution and an impressive 15 stops of dynamic range at low sensitivities. In addition, there’s extreme AF coverage of 93%, fast shooting at up to 10 fps with either mechanical shutter or silent shooting, diverse 4K video capabilities and more.
Full-frame Image Quality
The newly developed 24.2MP back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor is paired with a front-end LSI that effectively doubles the readout speed of the image sensor, as well as an updated BIONZ X processing-engine that boosts processing speed by approximately 1.8 times compared to the α7 II. These powerful components work together to allow the camera to shoot at faster speeds while also enabling its impressive ISO range of 100 – 51200 (expandable to ISO 50 – 204800 for still images) and an overall 1.5 stop improvement in image quality. The camera also features a massive 15-stop dynamic range at low sensitivity settings, ensuring outstanding overall performance at all settings and in all shooting conditions, with significant advancements in accurate color reproductions of skin tones and the vibrant colors of nature.
This new full-frame model can also output 14 bit RAW format even in silent and continuous shooting modes, and is equipped with a 5-axis optical image stabilization system that results in a 5.0 stepv shutter speed advantage.
Significant Advances in AF Speed and Performance
The innovative new α7 III full-frame mirrorless camera features a level of AF performance that has been largely improved over the α7 II, including the addition of 4D FOCUS capabilities. The new camera has 425 contrast AF points that work with a 693-point focal-plane phase-detection AF system inherited from the acclaimed α9 model. This innovative AF system covers approximately 93% of the frame, ensuring reliable focusing and tracking for even the most difficult to capture subjects.
AF response and tracking has also been greatly improved in the new camera, with almost 2x the focusing speed in low-light condition and 2x the tracking speed compared to the previous model as a result of the faster image sensor readout. This allows complex and unpredictable motion to be captured with far greater precision and accuracy.
The acclaimed Eye AF feature is also available in the new camera, even in AF-C mode, which is extremely useful for situations where the subject is turning around, looking down or otherwise obstructed. It also works when the α7 III is being used with Sony’s A-mount lenses with an optional LA-EA3 adaptorx. Additional improvements in focusing flexibility include the addition of a multi-selector or ‘joystick’ for moving focusing points quickly, the addition of touch focusing capability, AF availability in Focus Magnifier mode, an ‘AF On’ button and much more.
The new α7 III is equipped with an updated image processing system that allows it to shoot full resolution images at up to 10 fps with continuous, accurate AF/AE tracking for up to 177 Standard JPEG images, 89 compressed RAW images or 40 uncompressed RAW images. This high speed mode is available with either a mechanical shutter or a completely silent shootingiv, adding to the immense flexibility of the camera. The camera can also shoot continuously at up to 8 fps in live view mode with minimal lag in the viewfinder or LCD screen.
For added convenience, while large groups of burst images are being written to the memory card, many of the cameras key functions are operable, including access to the ‘Fn’ (Function) and ‘Menu’ buttons, image playback and several other menus and parameters including image rating and other functions that facilitate on-location image sorting.
Additionally, if there is fluorescent or artificial lighting present in a shooting environment, users can activate the Anti-flicker function to allow the α7 III to automatically detect frequency of the lighting and time the shutter to minimize its effect on images being captured. This minimizes any exposure or color anomalies that can sometimes occur at the top and bottom of images shot at high shutter speeds.
High Quality 4K Video
The new α7 III is an outstanding video camera as well, offering 4K (3840×2160 pixels) video recording across the full width of the full-frame image sensor. In video mode, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect about 2.4x the amount of data required for 4K movies, and then oversamples it to produce high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth.
An HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) picture profile is available on the α7 III as well, which supports an Instant HDR workflow, allowing HDR (HLG) compatible TV’s to playback beautiful, true-to-life 4K HDR imagery. Further, both S-Log2 and S-Log3 are available for increased color grading flexibility, as well as Zebra functionality, Gamma Display assist and proxy recording. The camera can also record Full HD at 120 fps at up to 100 Mbps, allowing footage to be reviewed and eventually edited into 4x or 5x slow motion video files in Full HD resolution with AF tracking.
Upgraded Build, Design and Customization
Sony’s newest full-frame camera is equipped with a variety of enhanced capabilities that were first implemented in the α9 and then again in the α7R III. These include dual media slots, with support in one slot for UHS-II type SD memory cards. Users have a variety of options for storing their content in each of the cards, including separate JPEG / RAW recording, separate still image / movie recording, relay recording and more. Battery life has been greatly extended as well – with a CIPA measurement of up to 710 shots per charge, it offers the world’s longest battery life of any Mirrorless camera, as the new camera utilizes Sony’s Z series battery NP-FZ100 that have approximately 2.2 times the capacity of the W series battery NP-FW50 utilized in the α7 II.
The new camera features “My Menu” functionality which allows up to 30 menu items to be registered for instant recall when needed. Users can also apply star ratings to their still images through the camera controls for easier image playback and review, and edit the first three characters of all still image files. Additionally, there is a total of 81 functions that are assignable to 11 custom buttons, and the camera is both dust and moisture resistant.xv
The α7 III features high-resolution, high-contrast, fast-start XGA OLED Tru-Finder with approximately 2.3 million dots for extremely accurate, true-to-life detail reproduction. “Standard” or “High” display quality settings are also available for both the viewfinder and monitor as well. It also is capable of seamlessly transferring files to a smartphone, tablet, computer or FTP server via Wi-Fi, while also offering a SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) USB Type-C Terminal for increased flexibility in power supply and faster image transfer speed during tethered shooting.
The α7 III model also comes with Sony’s new software suite “Imaging Edge“, which extends the creative capabilities of the entire shooting process – from pre-processing to post-processing. “Imaging Edge” provides three PC applications called ‘Remote’, ‘Viewer’ and ‘Edit’, available for free download, which support live-view PC remote shooting and RAW development. In the latest Version 1.1, several improvements have been implemented including about 10%xvi faster data transfer speed for remote shooting from PC (PC tether shooting) and about 65% improvement in the response speed for RAW image editing.
The camera is also compatible with a wide variety of Sony E-mount accessories including the BC-QZ1 Battery Charger, VG-C3EM Vertical Grip.
“We are continually pushing to deliver more for our customers – more versatility, more functionality and most importantly, more innovation,” said Neal Manowitz, Vice President of Digital Imaging for Sony Electronics. “With the new α7 III, we’ve taken many of our newest and most advanced imaging technologies from the acclaimed α9 and α7R III models and paired them with an all-new 24.2 MP back-illuminated sensor to deliver the ultimate full-frame camera for enthusiasts, hobbyists and professionals alike. It’s a camera that punches far above its weight class in every capacity. Combined with our impressive selection of 26 native full-frame E-mount lenses, it provides a level of performance that is simply unmatched in the industry.”
Pricing and Availability
The Sony α7 III Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Camera will ship April 2018.
- Body only – $2000 (US) / $2600 (CA)
- Body with the FE 28‑70 mm F3.5‑5.6 kit lens – $2200 (US) / $2800 (CA)
- Newly Developed Full-frame 24.2MP Back-Illuminated Exmor R CMOS Image Sensor with Evolved Image Processing
- Wide ISO range of 100 – 51200 (expandable to ISO 50 – 204800 for still images) and 15-Stop Dynamic Range at low sensitivities
- World Class AF system featuring 693 phase-detection AF points covering 93% of image area, 425 contrast AF points and fast and reliable Eye AF
- Continuous Shooting at up to 10 fps with either Mechanical Shutter or Silent Shooting and full Auto Focus/Auto Exposure tracking
- 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization with a 5.0 step shutter speed advantage
- High Resolution 4K Movie Shooting with full pixel readout and no pixel binning across full-width of full-frame sensor
- The longest rated battery life of any Mirrorless camera at 710 shots per charge
- Upgraded operability and functionality including addition of joystick for adjusting focus points, Dual SD Card Slots, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) USB Type-C Terminal and more