A user review of the Sony A7R III in 2019 – is it still relevant?

First off, I wish to express my deep appreciation to Sony Singapore and its agency for the invitation to test drive the Sony A7R III together with the SEL2470 GM, FE55mm f1.8ZA and FE35 f1.4ZA for a period of 2 weeks. 


FE35 f1.4ZA at f1.4, ISO100

FE35 f1.4ZA at f1.4, ISO100

Kudos to Sony’s agency, the kit arrived extremely well packed and secured in a pelican case AND delivered to my doorstep. If there’s anything I can say, it is that Sony has definitely partnered with the right group of people who clearly knows how to impress in the right way, at the right time. 

Being a very much reviewed and popular model, I will not proceed to re-write the A7R III specifications. If curious, the full official specs are here.


Our first shoot was actually in the rain. 

Me being me, I will simply proceed to share a visual review and my experience of the imaging output of this excellent camera, where I will also share how this camera is still relevant in 2019 coming to 2020, an almost 3 years after its release. 


My kit: The Sony A7R III, SEL2470GM, FE35 f1.4 Zeiss, FE55 f1.8 Zeiss

The A7R III uses a 42.4-megapixel sensor which packs a lot of data to manage and work with, and that is a great thing to have. Sensor performance-wise, I will simply say that if it is camera sensor technology, Sony is the undisputed king.


SEL2470GM at f3.2, ISO100

In good light, the 42.4-megapixel sensor really performs, with lots of details and excellent dynamic range for one to work with.


FE55 f1.8ZA, f1.8, ISO100

DSC05015 Screenshot 2019-12-12 at 6.18.37 PM
yes, you noticed that he needs to clean his chin. 

I understand why landscape photographers love to work with the A7R III, with some persisting to work with the A7R III even after the A7 III and A7R IV’s release. (hint: it is not always the more megapixels the better)


SEL2470GM at f4.5, ISO100

In terms of light sensitivity, the A7R III goes up to 32,000 (native) and 102,400 (extended). While it is not a match for the current newest A7III and A7R IV models in noise control, the updates in firmware (version 3.01 currently) have ensured the AF reliability in low light is still excellent.


FE35 f1.4ZA at f1.4, ISO320, 1/40s handheld


FE35 f1.4ZA at f1.4, ISO100

The 5 axis stabilization helps significantly for longer shutter speeds handheld, and this really completes the competence of the A7R III as an overall all-rounder camera. 

The updated NP-FZ100 battery coupled with the dust/moisture resistance thanks to a magnesium alloy frame is excellent, allowing me to shoot in rain easily and with no worries.


FE35 f1.4ZA at f1.4, ISO160

The weather-resistant and build to me here is pretty robust for a mirrorless camera. I love that the NP-FZ100 battery can easily give me at least 5-600 shots per charge. As a mostly Fujifilm user, I hate to say this but this is one area that Fujifilm really needs to wake up from and start delivering a new battery. 


FE35 f1.4ZA at f2.8, ISO100

FE35 f1.4ZA at f2.8, ISO100

It is a good strategy to equip the A7R III with dual UHS SD card slots however there was one time during the two weeks where I had a write error and the camera hung with both cards’ data totally wiped out.

Managing the menu system was a painful process and personally, I feel Sony can really do much better in simplifying the menu setup process. 

However, for any camera, at the end of the day it is simply the output that matters most.

And hence why we will discuss a bit about post-processing.

Coming from me who photographs using Fujifilm most of the time, there was a need for me to delve into adjusting the skin tones for quite a few of the images to reach an output I felt comfortable with. One thing told to me by a Sony fanboy was that the most current models have much more improved JPEGs over the A7R III era. For portraits, in comparison with the A7R III, I prefer the JPEGs from Fujifilm, Leica, Nikon over Sony’s output and this is a very personal take. 

A personal take is the Sony A7R III has immense power and potential to deliver in its output, but the user will need to be able to work with the RAW files to really deliver.


FE55 f1.8ZA, f1.8, ISO800, manually adjusted Warmth and Tint under WB in LR CC Classic

The A7R III’s full plethora of functions includes the Wi-Fi / NFC / Bluetooth radios, USB-C port, and tethering, 1 / 8000s max. shutter speed (1 / 250s flash sync), max 10fps with AF / AE tracking (8fps with live view/blackouts), 14-bit RAW (compressed or uncompressed) amongst others and all these are really fully great to have, down to the USB Type C port that supports in-camera charging.

In fact, I am very amazed at how much tech Sony managed to pack into this camera body and in more ways than one, even with a close to SGD4699 price tag at its release years ago, I really feel that the price tag was easily justified with what one could get.


FE35 f1.4ZA

With all these said, my take of the Sony A7R III is still that it is with no doubt that how relevant that this coming to 3 years old camera still is. The immense capability of the sensor and processor in this camera alone is a marvel if we take into comparison what the other brands were still working with back in 2017.


FE35 f1.4ZA at f1.4, ISO100

Another surprise was how well the Zeiss FE35F14ZA lens performed, few lenses really take my breath away with its sheer performance and this piece of optics is so well made with a short MFD of 30cm that I can even say that I might even consider buying into the Sony ecosystem just for this lens alone. 

I have to admit this, in these two weeks even with my frustration working with the skin tones and the menu system – the Sony A7R III and accompanying lenses really impressed with their prowess and capabilities and these alone easily helped me to overcome the issues I faced.

And the fact is that Sony will only plow ahead and get better in its photography capabilities, and I am sure that I will be interested to see how it pans out. 


FE55 f1.8ZA at f1.8, ISO100

Thank you for reading.

 

*Disclaimer. 

  1. The full kit of equipment was returned to Sony Singapore at the end of the loan period. 
  2. I was not paid in any form for this writeup. Sony and its agency actually just wanted me to test the system and did not request for any writeup other than to share my usage experience with them and this really earned my respect. 
  3. All images shared other than otherwise stated was shot with the Sony A7R III and was edited to my preferences in LR CC Classic. I worked with the RAW files 100% of the time. 
keithwee

Keith Father, Teacher and Life Photographer. Lives a life of positivism & seeks to photograph Life & his 2 toddlers Kei & Lynn.

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