2018-03-26

First impressions of the Sony a7R III by Tobi "Tobishinobi" Shonibare

This week, we’ve been talking to professional photographer Tobi "Tobishinobi" Shonibare about the Sony a7R III, and what his first impressions are of this addition to Sony’s Full-Frame mirrorless range of cameras. 

Tobi was fortunate to be able to take the camera out with him to an architecture shoot in the warm climate of Dubai. Read on to find out his thoughts on the a7R III.



Let me preface this by saying that this is by no means an in-depth review because that’s not what I do.  I take pictures, I make videos and I know what I like and what I need in order to get that.  My style when on the road is very run and gun, but I like precision and high quality when I do so.  As such this will focus on how easy or difficult the A7R III makes it to do my job.  If you’re looking for charts and in-depth comparisons, then there are many other places you can look and I must also mention that this is a pre-production model.

So here are my thoughts;


Introduction:

I’ve been waiting for this camera for a long time. I remember hearing about the earthquake that affected Sony’s sensor making factory and thinking ‘damn, I hope everyone is ok’ and then, ‘damn that’s going to push the release dates back for sure’ and it did, significantly. Fortunately, the A7R II is a work horse and it kept working without issue for the two years I’ve had it and like any good relationship, I’ve learnt more and more about the old lady as I’ve gone along. Having said that there’s been a few things about the mark 2 that I’d like to change.

Features:

You will have seen numerous lists highlighting the features, so I’ll mention the ones that I was most keen on.

  • Faster, lower-noise image processing
  • 10 fps shooting with full AF, 8 fps with 'live' updates between shots
  • 3.69M dot (1280 x 960 pixel) OLED viewfinder
  • Improved autofocus, including more tenacious Eye AF mode
  • 5-axis image stabilization, rated at 5.5 stops (CIPA) with 50mm lens
  • 4K footage from 'Super 35' crop region oversampled from 5K capture
  • Video AF less inclined to refocus to background
  • Twin SD Card slots (one UHS-I and one UHS-II compatible)
  • True 14 bit uncompressed Raw, even in continuous drive mode
  • Use of phase detection (including Eye AF) at 3 fps with adapted lenses



I must admit, upon hearing the announcement, I was initially a little underwhelmed by the idea of the same 42-megapixel sensor, but after some thought, it makes sense. 10 fps at 42-megapixels is much more than I’ve ever had and likely more than I’ll need given my current and foreseeable workflow. It’s also a lot to sift through once you need to make selects. My laptop slows down with the file sizes anyway so I’m quite content with this balance for now…


Improved Autofocus:

With regard to the improved autofocus, this is something that I’ve been needing for a while. The ability to shoot fast action, in low light conditions or continuous tracking while shooting video is massively important to my photography and cinematography goals going forward and I will address each of these in turn.

In short, Autofocus was spot on. Like any camera a mispressed button can result in the odd one or two out of focus shots but definitely not enough to be of note. When shooting a moving subject on 10fps it nailed it 95% of the time.


Low Light capability:

I unfortunately did not get chance to really test out the low light capability as much as I would have liked. I used the mark 3 with a third-party lens with an adaptor in some situations and was able to shoot at a very low ISO to get great results during sunrise and sunset. I found that the adaptor worked very well with the A7R III, nailing focus very quickly and accurately, despite the fact this was not a native lens.

Continuous tracking:

This was pretty damn good though not always as good as I would have liked. Having said that some consideration should be given to the fact that it was a pre-production model. When moving back and forth between two subjects, the camera picked this up and smoothly transitioned between them both. Panning left to right from subjects in the foreground to those in the distant background was handle with ease.


Image quality:

I can say that the pictures that I was able to edit were excellent as expected. Sharp detail and great dynamic range but again this is what one comes to expect from the 42 MP sensor if you have come from the A7R II.

Experience:

I will say that I think that the main improvement for me is the overall experience of shooting which leads me to my favourite things about the camera.

Ergonomics:

It feels better; the texture of the cameras surface is different, and the camera feels well balanced in the hand. The battery life is significantly better making the need to carry 9 batteries no more. The viewfinder is crisp and there doesn’t seem to be a large discrepancy between the VF and the screen. I’d often have to tell people to look at the VF because the screen would blow out the highlights. Both seem to be improved.

The button layout has improved. Moving the movie record button was necessary and welcome. My only slight issue is that you need to give it a good solid push to make sure that you start and end recording at the right time. But you can also customize your camera to use the shutter button to start recording in movie mode.

Customization:

Speaking of customization, the A7R III takes it to another level. This is a large part of what makes the camera experience such a joy for run and gun shooting. I have set my custom C2 button to switch between full frame and super 35 mode. So convenient when shooting video, rather than having to search through the menu’s. The function menu offers more customizable features which I am sure you will have your own configuration for but just know that you have options upon options here.


Final thoughts:

The dual card slots and high-speed shooting ensure that you really never need to miss a shot and you can charge using either Micro USB or USB 3. For me personally this was a very necessary upgrade. It’s also at a great price. The inclusion of 60fps at 4k would have been nice but that might be a little greedy given all the other features that this holds.

Thanks Sony!



About Tobi

Tobi tends to focus on geometry, symmetry and perspectives. He looks for beauty in urban areas and has an appreciation for stunning architecture. Through this he has developed a unique style of street photography. His desire to push creative boundaries and an appreciation for fashion has led to recent collaborations with brands such as Adidas, Audi, Coach, Microsoft and of course Sony.


 Sony A7R III


6 comments:

Bazz Freeman said...

damn.. I'm going to have to trade my A7R2 aren't I? Maybe later this year.

Ashley Luke Laurence said...

Bazz - you are welcome to pop in to either our Burgess Hill or London store to test drive... it may just help you make up your mind! :)

Amorosa said...

mmmmm. Price?

Ashley Luke Laurence said...

Hi Amorosa. It's currently £3,199.00, but best to just check on our site for the latest price: https://www.parkcameras.com/p/7014841P/mirrorless-cameras/sony/a7r-iii-full-frame-mirrorless-digital-camera

vlogging camers said...

Although I have a nice big fancy camera with a lot more zoom, I really like something that I can carry around easily and this fits the bill

Ashley Luke Laurence said...

@vlogging cameras - it is rather lovely all round!

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