2020 has introduced us to several new mirrorless cameras. On the Sony side, there were tons of rumors over a successor to the popular a7 III camera. With the camera now over two years old, is it still a good buy?
In a short word, yes. The a7 III is still a magnificent camera for pros and enthusiasts alike. Even with newer cameras on the market, the a7 III holds its own in a lot of different ways. Sony adopted mirrorless before the big guys (Canon and Nikon) really put effort into it, and it certainly shows.
So what puts the a7 III over the top?
This goes without saying. If you think your camera has great autofocus, you simply haven’t experienced Sony’s Eye AF system, which now works on animals as well as humans. It’s great when you’re trying to track a fast-moving subject, or one that’s unpredictable.
Simply put, it’s allowed me to get photos I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to get before.
Not only that — it ensures my portrait subjects are tack sharp, meaning that I don’t accidentally focus on their nose or forehead.
Fast continuous shooting speeds
One of the biggest things I look for in a camera is its shooting rate. As someone who shoots a plethora of genres, I often find myself needing to photograph in high bursts, with everything from theatre to bike races.
The a7 III’s 10fps shooting rate is more than enough for what I need no matter the situation.
Impressive low-light performance
Hands down, the biggest reason why I purchased the a7 III was I wanted the ability to crank up my ISO in certain situations.
When COVID-19 started impacting events, I knew a lot of the events I’d cover would need to be held outside. At night. Which meant I needed a solution to photographing in pitch-black conditions.
With the larger full-frame sensor I can safely crank up my ISO to 10,000 or even greater, and feel comfortable with it. Sure, there’s noise in my image, but it means that I don’t have to blast away a performer with a flash. The image quality is still pretty good, and I feel more than comfortable handing these into my clients (after a little noise reduction, of course).
A plethora of lenses
One thing that put me over the top in choosing Sony was its plethora of lenses. Not only does Sony have a great range of native lenses, but it has support from third-party manufacturers, too.
Sigma, and more recently Tamron, have invested heavily into lenses for the Sony system. They’ve advanced their technology so much that they often match (and sometimes even exceed) what Sony lenses can offer in terms of performance.
Plus, it means you can get great lenses at a significantly reduced cost. Mirrorless systems from Canon and Nikon don’t have this advantage (yet), and so you’re stuck either buying native lenses or using adapters for your old glass — something I didn’t want to deal with.
What can be improved?
What I talked about above is great, sure, but that doesn’t mean the a7 III is perfect. There are four main things I’m looking for when the a7 IV comes out.
Better dust reduction
I find myself having to clean my camera’s sensor on a weekly basis. That’s anything but impressive. With my Olympus cameras, I’ve literally never had to clean them. And my oldest Olympus is over two years old.
Improved weather and moisture resistance
While I haven’t been out in the snow or in a downpour with the a7 III yet, I’ve read the reviews. The weather sealing isn’t exactly something to write home about. And again, with my Olympus, I felt comfortable being out in any conditions with it (and it’s why I’m keeping some of my Olympus gear).
Better image stabilization
I can comfortably shoot at 1/60s with my a7 III, but with my Olympus OM-D E-M1X, I can handhold for a few seconds (and then some). While I’m not asking to handhold for 15 seconds like I can do with the E-M1X, getting 1-2 seconds is something that should really be expected of cameras these days.
A flippy screen
I sometimes find myself having to put my camera at weird angles, and having a flippy screen for the past few years with Olympus has been a blessing.
But if you can get beyond those points, the a7 III is a remarkable camera to use. It feels great in the hands, and the quality I’ve experienced is absolutely stunning. Plus … it’s at its lowest price ever right now!