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2020.07.28

Sony Alpha A7S III

When Sony introduced the original Alpha A7S, they went in a completely different direct than everyone else. While the market chased ever-increasing megapixels, Sony introduced a 12 megapixels digital camera when most new cameras offered 24 MP. Even Sony was already making the 36 MP Alpha A7R Full-Frame Mirrorless. By launching a 12 MP camera with the same Full-Frame sensor-size, Sony created the most sensitive digital camera on the market. Its 12 MP resolution also allowed it to directly capture 4K video simply by cropping vertically from the native 3:2 aspect-ratio to 16:9.

Today, the third-generation Sony Alpha A7S III was officially launched. This latest models sports a new 12 MP Full-Frame High-Speed BSI-CMOS sensor with a 759-Point Phase-Detect AF system builtin. The sensor is mounted on a revised 5-axis image-stabilization system that can compensate for 5½-stops of camera shake compared to hand-holding. A new active mode allows it dampen sudden changes between frames during video capture. Naturally the sensor can capture 4K Ultra-HD video which is now possible at up to 120 FPS with internal 10-bit recording. RAW video can be output at 16-bits over HDMI for capture using an external device.

The main benefit of having such large pixels which now collect more light due to the BSI design of the sensor, is extreme sensitivity. The native ISO of the Sony Alpha A7S III is 80 and its standard range extends to 102,400. This further extends to an incredible ISO 40-409,600! Such low minimal ISO makes it possible to capture over 15 stops of dynamic-range which is beyond what any other camera can currently do. Photography in near darkness is enabled by ultra-high sensitivities and the AF system can even focus down to -6 EV.

Sony Alpha A7S III

The new Sony Alpha A7S III features a hybrid shutter-system with standard 1/8000-30s shutter-speed range plus support for Bulb exposures of unspecified duration. The mechanical portion of the shutter can operate at 10 FPS and dual BIONZ XR processors make it possible continuously capture over 1000 RAW files or HEIF images. There is no effective limit to the number of JPEG images that can be captured in a single continuous burst, until storage is exhausted.  Regarding storage, this mirrorless offers dual SDXC UHS-II memory-card slots. Both these slots also accommodate faster CFExpress Type A cards that are being launched along with the camera and a card-reader that can handle both SDXC UHS-II and the new format.

Although this going to be an exceptionally capable camera for ultra-low-light photography, Sony is emphasizing video capabilities of the A7S III and even certain choices preferred by videographers to the detriment of photographers. The most obvious is a rotating LCD hinge that is  truly cumbersome to use for framing stills and expands the bulk of the camera when shooting from odd angles, which also puts it in a more precarious position. The display unit is a fairly standard 3″ Touchscreen LCD with 1.4 megapixels.

Video features in this camera are class-leading. The headline 4K Ultra-HD video capture can reach 120 FPS, while 1080p FullHD is available at 240 FPS. New codecs are introduced to maximize the quality of vides from the A7S III. Compressed high-quality video can be saved using XAVC HS or XAVC S-I which is an All-Intra mode that makes video editing immensely more efficient. Stereo sound can be recorded internally, while the Multi-Interface Hot-Shoe supports a 4-channel digital microphone for incredible audio depth.

Sony Alpha A7S III

With an entirely new imaging pipeline, the familiar sony A7-series design is kept mostly intact for the A7S III. Externally, it sports nearly the same controls as the flagship Sony Alpha A7R IV review here. One custom button on the top of grip got replaced by a dedicated Video Record button and the tilting LCD replaced by a rotating hinge. The eye-piece around the viewfinder was changed to accommodate the best electronic viewfinder ever produced. This 0.65″ EVF has a whopping 9.4 megapixels which is far more than the human eye can discern at that size! At 0.9X, it also has the highest magnification of any viewfinder, electronic or optical. This EVF offers a refresh rate of 120Hz, 100% coverage and a new Eye-Start Sensor.

The same professional-level of controls is offered on the A7S III than on the A7R IV. There are triple control-dials, a 8-way joytstick, a traditional mode dial, an exposure-compensation dial and plenty of customizable controls. The body of this mirrorless is fully weatherproof too. A lock on the memory card compartment door was added for extra security.

Sony expects to ship the A7S III this September for $4800 CAD or $3500 USD. A pair of CFExpress Type A cards will be available around the same date. The 80 GB version will be sold for $200 USD or $260 CAD, while the 160GB one will go for $400 USD or $520 CAD.

Photographers and videographers have waited for years for the third A7S and so this is guaranteed to be one of the most in-demand digital cameras around. To secure one, it is highly recommended to preorder from a reputable store such as our affiliates B&H Photo and Adorama. Neither will charge your credit card until the camera is shipped out to you.

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