A five-year cycle between Sony’s a7S II and the new a7S III seems to have been worth the wait given the impressive specs and features of the a7S series’ latest addition. In keeping with the “S” (sensitivity) designation, the a7S Mark III promises excellent low light or even no light/high ISO performance. But this camera also has some serious video chops that further strengthen its appeal to videographers.
Physically, the a7S III is only slightly larger and heavier than its A7S II predecessor, measuring 5 1/8 x 3 7/8 x 3 ¼ inches and weighing 1 lb. 8.7 ounces. A fully-articulating 3-inch touch LCD is a welcome change from the standard tilt screen and the camera features a new, larger and higher resolution viewfinder as well. Two improvements of note: the touchscreen functionality has been expanded to include menu operation and the menu system—considered by some to be the Achilles Heel of the a7-series—has been revamped. The latter allows users to see the sub-menus and the individual options within each while scrolling through the menus and like it will be a huge improvement in usability. And, settings for stills and movies are maintained separately so users can quickly switch back and forth without having to make adjustments.
Dual card slots are available and while that may not be surprising, Sony has decided to use the new CFexpress Type A format so both slots can accommodate either CFexpress Type A cards or UHS-II SD cards.
A higher capacity battery is CIPA rated at about 600 shots (using the LCD) or 510 shots (using the EVF). The camera can be charged or powered via the USB-C port.
At 12.1 megapixels, the a7S III’s resolution remains the same as its predecessors, but this model is built around an all-new BSI sensor which delivers increased light sensitivity (ISO ranges from 80-102,400 (expandable to 40-409,600), faster readout and broader dynamic range. Sony claims 15+ stops of dynamic range in S-Log3 movies. The a7S III is also powered by the new Bionz XR processor, which Sony says will deliver an 8x increase in processing power.
Autofocus has also been improved thanks to its on-sensor phase detection with 759 AF points that cover 92% of the sensor. Object recognition has been improved with enhanced Real-time Eye AF, for example.
Shooting speed with full AF/AE tracking is possible up to 10fps. Thanks to its very deep buffer, the a7S III can capture up to 1000 uncompressed RAW frames.
Sony really focused on delivering UHD 4K video with the a7S III. Full pixel readout, no binning and no line skipping is only part of the story. Users will be able to take advantage of a variety options including 4K 120p internal recording (60p and 24p are also available, S-Log2 and S-Log3 with10 bit 4:2:2 support as well as XAVC HS format recording using the MPEG-H HEVC/H 265 codec. The a7S III also supports 16-bit RAW output to an external recorder via HDMI. An internal heat synch structure is designed to allow the sensor to “dissipate heat five times more effectively than in previous models.” Of course, there are microphone and headphone jacks, 5-axis image stabilization and much more—far more specs and features than we have room for in this write-up.
The Sony a7S III is slated to ship this September for $3,500.
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