By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Sony announced their next generation α7RIII, which isn’t so much “new” as it contains the same 42MP image sensor as its predecessor. Sony has managed to squeeze out some serious new performance features that could make you consider getting a new one. But is it really worth it? Maybe, however, it still seems like your basic dot upgrade.
“We’re continuing to raise the bar for innovation in the imaging marketplace, in particular with our full-frame camera lineup. As an industry, we are now entering the true digital age of imaging. The capabilities of the α7R III camera – silent shooting at 10 fps at full 42.4 MP resolution, extreme AF coverage and speed for both video and stills – exceed anything that is physically possible with a DSLR, making it an excellent symbol for this paradigm shift, it offers a level of customization, speed and stamina that will satisfy even the most demanding professionals, and ensures that they can take full advantage of this impressive tool to capture and create in ways they never could before.” – Neal Manowitz, Vice President of Digital Imaging for Sony Electronics.
Yes, the α7RIII has the same 42 MP back illuminated Exmor CMOS image sensor as the α7RII, but after two additional years of continuous development, Sony has managed to boost burst mode so that it screams at 10 frames per second in either mechanical shutter or silent shooting digital shutter mode. There’s also five axis optical image stabilization which, coupled with a new low vibration shutter reduces image blur. If you’re a sports photographer, that’s damned impressive.
Video wise, that also translates to shooting 14 bit RAW 4K at up to 60 frames per second, and 1080p at up to 120 frames per second. The α7RIII also manages 15 stops of dynamic range with up to a stop of noise reduction. Video formats include full frame and Super35 mm along with Hybrid Log Gamma HDR, as well as S-Log 2 and S-Log 3 imaging modes.
Other features include:
- 35mm Full-Frame 42.4 MP1 Back-Illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS Image Sensor with Evolved Image Processing
- Continuous Shooting at up to 10 fps2 with either Silent Shooting or Mechanical Shutter and full Auto Focus/Auto Exposure tracking
- 399 phase-detection AF points covering 68% of image area, 425 contrast AF points and approximately 2 times more effective Eye AF
- 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization with a 5.5 step shutter speed advantage
- High Resolution 4K Movie Shooting with full pixel readout and no pixel binning
- Completely redesigned for professionals, including upgraded Auto Focus, Dual SD Card Slots, Extended Battery Life, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) USB Type-C™ Terminal and more
- Pixel Shift Multi Shooting Mode, which looks to be Sony’s own version of HDR, imaging 4 stills, shifting pixels slightly and then merging these stills together for a total of 170MP of image data.
How Sony accomplished this is interesting. Adding a new front end large scale integrated processor which effectively doubles the readout speed that manages digital information into an updated BIONZ X image processor. Working in concert, these two processors can shoot at faster hutter speeds and image at an ISO range of between 100-3200, expandable to 50-102400.
So there’s a lot to be impressed with here. Sure, the Exmor CMOS sensor is mature, but Sony is boosting its effectiveness with newer technologies that make the camera faster and better performing. From my perspective, under certain scene situations, those new technologies could be quite beneficial. But I’m not sure it can deliver as much bang for the buck as to make investing another $3,200 necessary. At the end of the day, most of the shooting that your average video shooter will do, is managed quite well with the previous model. If I was a wedding videographer, I don’t know if I would be in a hurry to upgrade. But a sports photographer looking to gain an edge, then the new α7RIII could be worth the investment.
The Sony α7RIII will ship in November for $3,200 US and $4,000 CA.