Last week, Hawaii Camera received their shipment of the brand new Sony a7R III camera body. Josh unboxed two of those 42MP beasts and promptly offered me one to go play with. As one of their Community Creatives, I can’t say no, right? So out the door I went with the a7R III and the very popular Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens.
Let me clear the air and set the record straight: This blog post is not a review nor do I claim to have in-depth knowledge on any body or lens from any manufacturer. In fact, I am probably deficient in this area. I don’t know specs very well but I do know how to make a Canon body/ lens do what I need it to do to create a photograph that is consistent with my vision. This knowledge has allowed me to move into the educational arena where I now offer private lessons for the beginner photographer.
As such, I need to learn about all the different manufacturers. Why not start with Sony and their cutting-edge technology housed in a mirrorless body? What I’m presenting to you here is a Canon shooter’s opinion of the new Sony a7R III.
Handling and body design:
- The area where you grip the body is not very deep so it doesn’t feel like you have a secure hold. Sony shooters have told me that all I have to do is add the battery grip and that will solve my problem. But I don’t feel like I should have to spend extra money just to make that camera fit well in my hand.
- When you use a G Master lens, which is just as heavy as any Canon L glass, the a7R III feels a little lopsided or front heavy.
- The build construction seems inferior to my Canon bodies. I’ve shot in the rain and sea spray with my gear and I know they will hold up. I don’t know if I would feel comfortable doing that with the Sony.
- The on/off switch is very close to the front dial so, on occasion and totally by accident, I’ve turned off the camera as I’m trying to change one of my settings. When this happens during the few minutes of good light you have, it can be very frustrating.
- The four Custom buttons are scattered all over the It’s as if Sony haphazardly stuck them wherever there was room. Granted, over time you will get used to their placement but right off the bat, it’s quite unusual and not visually pleasing.
- There is a large exposure compensation dial on the top of the This is one setting that I don’t mind if it’s buried in a menu because 1) I rarely use it and 2) if I do use it, once I set it, I don’t change it often. I don’t feel like it needs a large dial on the outside of the camera body. I would rather have used this spot to place all four Custom buttons neatly grouped together.
- The Sony has a screen that folds out and I believe that is a nice I shoot at some really unusual angles so having a screen that can unfold would allow for easier and faster focusing and setting up my composition. None of my Canon bodies have an articulated screen so I would appreciate a feature like this. That being said, Canon does have a few models that have an articulated screen which not only pulls out but rotates as well. It would be nice if a7R III had the same rotating ability.
- The a7R III is considered to be a touch screen even though the only thing it does it assist in focusing. The Canon 5d Mark IV has a touch screen that allows you to focus as well as access the menu.
- The a7R III has an electronic viewfinder which I had a little bit of trouble getting used to. What you see in the viewfinder is really just an image of what you are focusing on. One good thing here is that, if you’re like me who shoots towards the sun a lot, you can look through the viewfinder and stare at the sun all you want and never have to worry about damaging your eye. But the drawback is I had one heck of a time fine tuning the focus once I’ve zoomed all the way in, the image looked very grainy and pixelated.
- This Sony has a feature known as Focus Peaking. With this feature, you can see exactly what part of your image is in focus before taking the shot. At least theoretically that’s how it’s supposed to work. But it’s been my experience with the a7R III that focus peaking is not as precise as one would hope. In some test shots, areas that were highlighted, which indicated a focused area, clearly were not sharp when reviewed in post. I’ve heard from a few Sony shooters who have used focus peaking that you still need to zoom in and fine tune focus.
- The a7R III has another feature called the Zebra Pattern Function. This feature shows you exactly where your highlights are before pressing the It’s a handy little option to have if your eye is not keen enough to discern areas of blown highlights. I ended up turning this feature off because between this and the Focus Peaking, that was a whole lot of stuff going on in my shot that I had a difficult time just seeing my image.
- Another a7R III feature that is nice to have is the ability to see how your image is exposed when looking through the I can do that on the back screen on my Canon bodies but not when I look through the eye piece. If you know your gear well enough and know how to use the exposure bar that you see in the viewfinder, this isn’t a feature that will greatly impress you.
- Battery life is good on the a7R III. I tried out the a7R II for a couple days and those batteries were smaller and didn’t last very long.
- The dynamic range of the a7R III is its greatest selling point. The highly sought-after15 stops of dynamic range, which is crucial to landscape shooters, is only rivaled by Nikon’s newest body, the D850. Suddenly, I was shooting to the left, or underexposed, and properly exposing for the the sky or any bright areas. In post, I was able to push out any shadows quite easily and nicely.
- Another area that Sony really excels is its high ISO performance. I was very impressed to see that there was even an improvement between the a7R II and a7R III.
- Once I was able to fine tune the focusing process, the resulting images were sharp and the colors were nicely saturated.
So, the bottom line? If you told me that I could only shoot with the Sony a7R III and no other body, I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed. But if you told me I have the choice of keeping my Canon gear or switching to Sony then no way. I’m just not ready to give up what I’m currently shooting. The durability of my Canon lineup, its feel in my hand, and AF speed/sharpness is what I truly love. I’m three bodies invested into Canon, not to mention my entire quiver of lenses. The Metabones adapter is an option but it’s been my experience that any time you use an adapter, there will be a negative consequence somewhere along the line. And right now, at this point in my life, taking into consideration what I shoot and how I shoot, I’m not willing give up my Canon gear.
I hope this has given you some insight into the new Sony a7R III. I am by no means an expert. I’m just a Canon shooter who was curious to see what this mirrorless body was capable of. If you’re a Sony shooter and thinking of upgrading to the a7R III, go on in to Hawaii Camera and rent one to see for yourself. Or, if you’re a Canon/Nikon shooter and you’re looking at lightening your load, a Sony mirrorless is a great option.
Splitting her time between the Hawaiian Islands of Oahu and Hawaii, Darcy Fiero can usually be found at sunset where the Pacific Ocean meets the reef or in the rolling hills of the Big Island where the pueo gather and soar. When asked what she enjoys shooting the most, she quickly answers with an all-encompassing, “Mother Nature.” Everything from the awe-inspiring heavens to the many splendors of the land to the wondrous cerulean blue of the sea, nothing is off limits to her. With her unique vision, Darcy constantly strives to create a work that invites the viewer in and compels them to linger, study, and truly feel that one captured moment.
Facebook (Darcy Fiero): https://www.facebook.com/darcy.fiero
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