Sony unveils its latest interchangeable lens camera, the Alpha 7R III
Sony’s winning run looks set to continue with news of its latest full-frame mirrorless camera, the Alpha 7R III. This innovative CSC features a massive 42.4MP resolution as well as speedy 10 frames-per-second burst mode and improved AF performance. The 7R III’s spec sheet also includes 5-axis optical in-body image stabilisation with a 5.5-step shutter speed advantage, 4K movie shooting with full pixel readout, and lightweight 23oz body. It’s not cheap, however, with a body-only price tag of £3200/€3500, which puts it in the same bracket at the Nikon D850 and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. Better start saving!
Thanks to an evolutionary leap in image processing power and efficiency, the new Alpha 7R III combines a high-resolution 42.4MP back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor with impressive shooting speeds at up to 10fps with full AF/AE tracking, as well as beautiful image and 4K video quality, wide 15-stop dynamic range, high sensitivity with noise reduction of almost a full stop and more. With these immense capabilities and a compact, lightweight body, it’s an extremely versatile tool for photographers, videographers, multi-media creators and all other types of professionals that demand reliability, flexibility and versatility.
A new level of image quality
The 42.4MP high-resolution, back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor utilises a gapless on-chip lens design and AR (anti-reflective) coating on the surface of the sensor’s seal glass to dramatically improve light collection efficiency, resulting in high sensitivity with low-noise performance and wide dynamic range.
Sony’s new Alpha 7R III also features a new 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 Alpha 7R II. These powerful components work together to allow the camera to shoot at faster speeds while also enabling its impressive ISO range of 100-32000 (expandable to ISO 50–102,400 for still images) and massive 15-stop dynamic range at low sensitivity settings. This ensures outstanding overall performance at all settings and in all shooting conditions.
This new full-frame model was built without an optical low pass filter to maximise resolution, while also having the ability to output 14-bit RAW format even when shooting in silent or continuous mode. The camera is equipped with an innovative 5-axis optical image stabilisation system that has been fine-tuned to support its high-resolution shooting capacity, resulting in a 5.5-step shutter speed advantage, the world’s highest compensation performance for an image stabilisation system. There is also a new low-vibration shutter that reduces vibration and image blur in all modes, including the high-speed 10fps shooting, as well as several advancements in accurate colour reproductions of skin tones.
High-performance AF and AF/AE tracking at up to 10fps
The innovative new Alpha 7R III full-frame mirrorless camera is equipped with a refined image processing system that allows it to shoot full 42.4MP images at up to 10fps with continuous, accurate AF/AE tracking for up to 76 JPEG/RAW images or 28 uncompressed RAW images. This high-speed 10fps mode is available with either a mechanical shutter or a completely silent shooting, 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. These high-speed options ensure that fast moving subjects can be captured with extreme accuracy and incredible image detail.
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 Alpha 7R III to automatically detect frequency of the lighting and time the shutter to minimise its effect on images being captured. This minimises any exposure or colour anomalies that can sometimes occur at the top and bottom of images shot at high shutter speeds.
The upgraded focusing system of the Alpha 7R III is comprised of 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points that cover approximately 68% of the image area in both the horizontal and vertical directions. There is also 425 contrast AF points, an increase of 400 points compared to the Alpha 7R II. This advanced system delivers AF acquisition in about half the time as the Alpha 7R II in low-light conditions, with tracking that is approximately 2 times more accurate as well. The acclaimed Eye AF feature is also approximately 2 times more effective, and is available when utilising Sony’s A-mount lenses with an adapter.
Additional improvements in focusing flexibility include AF availability in Focus Magnifier mode, focal-plane phase-detection AF support when using A-mount lenses, an ‘AF On’ button, a multi-selector or ‘joystick’ for moving focusing points quickly, flexible touch focus functionality and much more.
High quality 4K for the video professionals
The new Alpha 7R III is exceptionally capable as a video camera, offering 4K (3840x2160 pixels) video recording across the full width of the full-frame image sensor. When shooting in Super 35mm format, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 5K of information, oversampling it to produce high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth.
A new HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) is available on the Alpha 7R III that 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 colour grading flexibility. The camera can also record Full HD at 120fps 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.
Build, design and customisation for professionals
Sony’s newest full-frame camera is equipped with a variety of enhanced capabilities that give it a true professional operational style. 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, including separate JPEG/RAW recording, separate still image/movie recording, relay recording and more. Battery life has been greatly extended as well, as the new camera utilises Sony’s Z series battery that have approximately 2.2 times the capacity of the W series battery utilised in the Alpha 7R II.
The Alpha 7R III features an upgraded high-resolution, high-luminance Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder with approximately 3,686k dots for extremely accurate, true-to-life detail reproduction. The Tru-Finder, also found in the acclaimed Sony Alpha 9 camera, utilises a ZEISS T* coating to greatly reduce reflections, and has a fluorine coating on the outer lens that repels dirt. It also has a customisable frame rate, with options of either 50 fps or 100 fps to best match the action. The LCD screen has been upgraded as well, with a resolution of 1.44M dots and WhiteMagic technology that improves viewing in bright, outdoor conditions. “Standard” or “High” display quality settings are also available for both the viewfinder and monitor as well. “High” takes advantage of the large amount of data read from the 42.4MP sensor to provide extra fine viewfinder and monitor displays for a more natural view.
The new camera also offers a multi-selector joystick that provides a fast, efficient way to shift focus points, as well as an AF ON button to activate autofocus when shooting stills or movies.
The new Alpha 7R III allows for convenient transfer of files to a smartphone, tablet, computer or FTP server via Wi-Fi, while also including a sync terminal, enabling external flash units and cables to be connected directly for convenient flash sync. A SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) USB Type-C Terminal is also available for increased flexibility in power supply or connected accessories, as well as a faster image transfer speed when connected to a PC.
New Imaging Edge software suite and pixel shift multi shooting mode
New with the Alpha 7R III is a software suite called Imaging Edge that 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.
Also making its debut on the versatile Alpha 7R III is a new Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode, which takes full advantage of the advanced 5-axis optical in-body stabilisation to create beautiful true-to-life, super-high resolution composite images. In this mode, the camera precisely shifts the sensor in 1-pixel increments to capture four separate pixel-shifted images containing a total of approximately 169.6MP of image data. These four images can be composited together and processed utilising the new Imaging Edge software suite. This ultimately results in a still image with overwhelming resolution and an unprecedented level of colour accuracy, and is ideal for photographing architecture, art or any other still life photography subject with many intricate details and colours.
Pricing and availability
The Sony Alpha 7R III full-frame interchangeable lens camera will ship in Europe in November 2017, priced at approximately £3,200/€3,500.