8 Reasons Why α7R III Exceeded My Expectations

by by Darren Soh

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α7R III, 30s, f/8.0, ISO200, 16mm
α7R III, 30s, f/8.0, ISO200, 16mm

I have used every Sony α7 'R' model since 2013 as they are renowned for astounding image quality. At the end of 2017, Sony announced and launched the α7R III and it incorporated many of the features that professional photographers yearned for. You would have probably guessed by now that the new α7R III is my new camera of choice. Here’s why.

Double the battery life

The trusty NP-FW50 1100mAh battery has been powering each iteration of the α7 series since 2013. It was a reliable battery but I wanted an even longer battery life. Sony listened and with the Sony α9, Sony introduced the NP-FZ100 2280mAh battery with double the battery life. The good news is that α7R III uses the same battery – so photographers like myself can stay in the field longer and be even more productive.

A joystick for autofocus (AF) point control

I absolutely welcome the addition of a joystick for AF point selection in the new camera. No more digging into the menus to make the changes I want. The α7R III offers one-touch access to autofocus (AF) point selection, just like the Sony α9. It makes the new camera that much more user-friendly when recomposing a shot and picking an off-centre focus area. Brilliant.

It’s fast! Up to 4x faster write-to-card speed 

While the α7R II was a responsive camera to work with, the α7R III rewrites the benchmark on write-to-card performance. The α7R III supports UHS-II SD cards so you can enjoy over 120MB/s write speeds! That is nearly 4x faster than its predecessor. And I love the dual SD card slot design as it lets me save JPEG images on one card and RAW files to the other. That means I can hand the JPEG images over to a colleague for editorial layout, while I work on the RAW files at my leisure.

Improved EVF and rear LCD quality

The viewpoints on the new camera are all brighter and clearer. The big upgrade in resolution on the Electronic Viewfinder (3686k-dot EVF on the α7R III vs 2359k-dot EVF on the α7R II) makes it so easy to manual focus. As for the rear LCD panel, (1440k-dot on the α7R III vs 1229k-dot on the α7R II) the improvement is not as dramatic but it does make reviewing images and shooting live-view with the LCD even friendlier.

α7R III, 1/200s, f/11.0, ISO100, 13mm

Buttons with more tactile feedback

The buttons and dials on the α7R III have more travel and offer more tactile feedback than any other α7 camera. This is especially evident when using the shutter release button. It might seem like a small thing, but it makes a camera feel more responsive and improves the overall user experience.

Shooting in bursts while in electronic shutter mode

The α7R III now allows silent, vibration-free shooting in burst-mode at up to 10fps with the electronic shutter and files are saved in 14-bit format for greater latitude during post processing. This is a huge improvement over the α7R II’s single-frame silent shooting mode with files saved in 12-bit format.

α7R III, 1/400s, f/1.4, ISO3200, 35mm
α7R III, 1/30s, f/4.0, ISO640, 24mm

Improved AF speed and burst rate

The AF speed on the α7R III is a huge improvement over the α7R II, so you can now track moving subjects in low light with much more confidence. The result? More tack sharp images with the improved AF.

α7R III, 20s, f/11.0, ISO100, 12mm
α7R III, 1/800s, f/8.0, ISO200, 35mm
α7R III, 1/800s, f/8.0, ISO200, 35mm

Pixel Shift Mode

When used appropriately (with no moving elements in a scene), Pixel Shift mode yields amazing image quality. By amalgamating the data of four RAW images1, each created by precisely shifting the sensor in 1-pixel increments, the software produces a composite 42.4 megapixel file that is superior in both detail and colour reproduction. The files can also be stretched in post-editing to simulate the image file created by a 90MP camera. Apart from increased detail, photographers also enjoy a one-stop improvement in dynamic range and moiré-free rendition of complex patterns.   

(Left) Regular image | (Right) Enhanced image created with Pixel Shift Mode
(Left) Regular image | (Right) Enhanced image created with Pixel Shift Mode

Bottom line – It’s my new camera of choice!

For someone like me who manual focuses a lot, the increased resolution of the EVF and LCD are much appreciated. I like the new Pixel Shift mode as it gives me incredibly detailed files that can be post-edited to 90MP resolution, making it perfect for interior and still life photography. Other significant refinements such as improved battery life (more than 2x), more tactile feedback and burst-mode silent shooting, makes the α7R III even more desirable to working professionals. It shows that Sony listens to photographers’ feedback and continues to refine the operational capabilities of each successive model. In my opinion, if you are currently using an α7R or even an α7R II, the new camera has all the ‘bells-and-whistle’ to make you very happy indeed.

α7R III, 30s, f/8.0, ISO100, 35mm
α7R III, 30s, f/8.0, ISO100, 35mm (100% crop of the image above)
α7R III, 25s, f/11.0, ISO100, 253mm
α7R III, 25s, f/11.0, ISO100, 253mm (100% crop of the image above)
α7R III, 2.5s, f/4.0, ISO100, 83mm
α7R III, 2.5s, f/4.0, ISO100, 83mm (100% crop of the image above)
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