Type: Digital SLR
Max Resolution: 4240 x 2832
Pixels: 12.1 megapixels
Sensor: 35mm full frame, Exmor R CMOS sensor
ISO: Auto, 80-102400
Focus type: Fast hybrid autofocus
AF Illuminator: Yes (with Built-in LED type)
Viewfinder: Yes, electronic
Monitor: 3” LCD touch panel
Face detection: Face Priority in autofocus
Storage: Dual UHS-II SD/CFexpress Type A slots
Format: JPEG, HEIF, RAW
Battery: Rechargeable battery with USB-C charging
Size: 5.08 x 3.82 x 3.19”
The Sony A7S III is the Swiss army knife of cameras. It is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to be able to create professional-looking videos whilst also being able to take outstanding stills. This camera is the latest in the A7 range. It has made many improvements to the previous model, including better handling, exceptional low-light performance, and enhanced autofocus for video and still photography.
The Sony A7S III has a 12.1-megapixel image sensor, 4K 120p, 10 bit-4:2:2 recording capability, and a 10fps continuous shooting speed which delivers high-quality photo and video performance every time. The 35mm full-frame sensor, 759 phase-detection AF points, and accurate eye-tracking for humans and animals make this camera a dream for anyone who wants to create video content. But photographers will love its capability to capture both RAW and JPG or RAW and HEIF simultaneously, giving much more room for editing and higher quality images to work with.
The Sony A7S III isn’t the cheapest camera on the market, with prices starting from £3,799 for just the body, so this is an investment camera. When it comes to lenses, it uses an E-mount system, so if you’re already using a Sony mirrorless DSLR, then you won’t have to invest in new glass. If you’re on the fence about what camera would suit your needs, check out our best camera guide, which covers a range of cameras that will suit everyone, from beginners to professionals.
I tested the Sony A7S III with a Sony FE 14mm f1.8 GM Lens, so there were a few limitations on what I could do with it. However, I tested it vigorously in different light settings and used it for both video and stills. As well as testing its performance, I also tried how well it handled, how easy it was to use and read the display, and how well the battery performed.
Sony A7S III review: Build and handling
The Sony A7S III is a really nice bit of kit to handle. It has a very solid grip and is surprisingly lightweight and compact, even with the lens attached. And it looks good, with the chassis enjoying a magnesium alloy construction and the standard black finish. Like most Sony cameras, the buttons and dials are all where you’d expect them to be, such as the control wheel at the top of the grip, a C2 button, an on/off switch, and dials for exposure and mode. Although, the larger record button on this model is a welcome improvement and proves that video is the heart of the design.
Two things are a shame with this model, though. First of all, the wheel to adjust the viewfinder feels as though it’s in the wrong place. It’s on the same side as the grip, so you can’t grip the camera and adjust the viewfinder at the same time, at least my hands didn’t stretch to it. And although that’s something you’ll only, in theory, need to do a handful of times, it’s still inconvenient.
The second issue is that this camera isn’t officially weatherproof. Although Sony says it’ll handle light drizzle, given the cost of this camera, would you really want to risk damaging the camera by using it in less-than-ideal situations? Given the wet weather we have in this country, not having a waterproof rating is a big mistake. If you want to get out and take photos or video content in the rain, then you’ll need to think twice.
Getting back to the positives, it has a good selection of ports with a full-sized HDMI port, a USB-C and a micro-USB port. The USB-C port also doubles up as a charging point, so you won’t need to lug around cumbersome chargers, especially when you’re travelling. There’s also a 3.5mm microphone jack making it perfect for vloggers, and a headphone jack.
The fully articulating screen makes using this camera even better. Despite only having a 1.44-million-dot resolution, it is still sharp and easy to view, even in bright light. The screen also has touch capabilities making it very easy to operate, and you can also work your way through the menus with the four-way dial, so there’s plenty of choice regarding navigation.
Sony A7S III review: Features
The Sony A7S III enjoys an overhauled design from its predecessor, but one of the most prominent new features is the arrival of the fully articulated screen. The variable-angle screen also enjoys full-touch UI, which makes using this camera better than ever. This LCD screen has a 1440k-dot panel with adjustable brightness, which meant that even when used in bright light, it was easy to see and navigate around the menus.
The Autofocus has also had a refresh and now includes a customisable autofocus system with 759 phase-detection AF points with eye tracking for animals and humans. It also claims to be around 30% faster than its predecessor. The Autofocus is so sensitive that it makes using this camera in low light a dream.
The Sony A7S III also has a dedicated external white balance sensor, allowing you to see how quickly the white balance reacts to change, saving a great deal of time.
This camera also benefits from a hybrid memory-card system with twin slots supporting standard SD cards. But the great thing is it can also accommodate the new ultra-fast CFexpress Type A cards.
Sony has decided to stick with the 12.1MP resolution for this camera despite adding a back-illuminated sensor. Although upping the resolution would’ve meant it could handle 8K video capture like other brands in the same price bracket, Sony is excelling at being the best 4K camera in the market. This model is exceptional in low-light and high-ISO photo and video production.
You also don’t need to worry too much about this camera overheating thanks to the Sony Σ (sigma) shaped graphite heatsink being built into the image stabilisation unit.
It is Wi-Fi compatible, so you can operate the camera remotely and preview and transfer your images and video to your computer for editing. However, this is done via the Sony app, which is clunky and not the easiest to use. But it is an excellent feature, especially if you’re on the road.
The electronic viewfinder is another seriously slick feature; it is super sharp and offers superb contrast and colour. It also benefits from 0.9x finder magnification, 41° diagonal field of view, and a 25mm high eye-point. The only thing I found a bit off-putting was the occasional moire effect when pointing at mono colours.
Sony A7S III review: Photo performance
This camera appeals to everyone, from professionals to enthusiasts, it’s easy to use and produces great results. One of the first things you’ll notice when using the Sony A7S III is just how well it performs in low light. I first used it in a poorly lit room and was blown away by the results, not to mention by how easy it was to adjust the ISO.
Of course, the 12.1MP backlit sensor, which spreads high pixels over a full-frame surface, will always perform well regardless of the lighting situation. Because it has a wide ISO 80-409600 sensitivity range and can control noise better, you get sharper images without losing out on the colour or contrast.
This camera is also the first to use the new Bionz XR processor, which offers increased processing power and allows for more complex image processing, so you’ll see details that you didn’t even know were there.
The Sony A7S III allows you to capture 10-bit compressed images using the HEIF format. This improves the colour (particularly skin tones and textures), vibrancy, and depth of the images compared to JPEG.
Sony A7S III review: Video performance
Make no mistake about it, the Sony A7S III is made for video. Although the 12.1MP sensor means it can’t record anything higher than 4K, it really doesn’t matter because the video output quality is fantastic.
The autofocus performance is superb thanks to the hybrid autofocus system, minimal rolling shutter, and efficient image stabilisation. This model has Active Mode for handheld shooting so the BIONZ XR processor measures the camera shake and automatically corrects it, so even in the shakiest situations, your video footage will be on point. Just like its performance when taking photographs, this camera records video in low light exceptionally well.
It supports both XAVC HS 4K, XAVC S 4K, and XAVC S-I 4K recording formats with XAVC HS 4K being your best option if you want exceptional quality without taking up too much space.
You’ll be blown away by how well this camera performs when it comes to recording time. It offers 10-bit 4:2:2 recording to capture unlimited 4K footage up to 120p. The camera has a full-sized HDMI so that you can shoot 16-bit RAW output on an external monitor.
Sony A7S III review: Battery
The Sony A7S III uses the new Z-series batteries, and the performance is impressive. Sony claims it will take around 510 shots when using the viewfinder or 600 with an LCD monitor, which is pretty accurate. During testing, the camera was left on a couple of times while using it, and I was shocked to see it still had power a couple of days later. When it comes to recording video, it lasted around 80 minutes before needing a recharge. This camera benefits from fast charging via the USB-C port and charges up to four times faster than the micro-USB, so you won’t have to wait long to get your camera back to full power.
Sony A7S III review: Price
The Sony A7S III isn’t the cheapest camera on the market. Prices start at £3,799 for just the body, so unless you’re already using a Sony camera with an e-mount system, you’ll need to factor in the cost of new lenses.
We tested this camera with a Sony FE 14mm f1.8 GM Lens, which is ideal for landscapes, starscapes, portraits, and video content and is priced at £1,349. But it is worth shopping around to see if you can find a body and lens bundle.
Sony A7S III review: Should you buy it?
Should you buy the Sony A7S III
If you're primarily looking for a video camera that can take still photos, then you should consider the Sony A7S III. It offers exceptional low-light performance, thanks to the combined efforts of the back-illuminated Exmor RTM CMOS sensor and powerful processor. When you're using this camera, you will enjoy images and video footage that is vibrant, sharp and full of depth.
This really is a great camera for content creators who do a lot of to-camera videos. You may feel limited by the 12.1MP resolution if you're a professional photographer, although it's perfectly adequate if you're taking photos for online or small prints.
This isn't a budget-friendly option, so you may want to consider whether you're already in the Sony ecosystem before you purchase, as buying those extra lenses will add a lot of money to your purchase. The Fujifilm X-H2 is an excellent alternative that can shoot 40MP still images and record up to 8K video resolution. Priced at £2,999 with a 16-80mm Lens included, this is an outstanding camera at a lower price point.