Sony’s Alpha 7S III is a logical successor to the Alpha 7S II. After more than five years of marketing, it has retired. It has to be said that the Alpha 7S family is not really like the others. Instead of opting for an increasingly important definition, the Japanese used a full-frame sensor with 12 Mpxl. According to Sony, this limitation – which is actually not one – makes it possible to maintain unparalleled image quality in photos as in videos. Really ? Nothing beats a few weeks’ test to check all of this!
Prices and availability
The Alpha 7S III is available at a price of 4200 euros (body only). We used two lenses for this test: the Sony FE 35 mm 1: 1.8 (reference SEL35F18F, 699 euros) and the Sony Vario-Tessar T * FE 24-70 mm 1: 4 from Zeiss. Both are great for use with photos and videos, the second is more versatile for capturing animated sequences.
Sony A7S III at the best price Base price: € 4,199
Successful design and ergonomics
To say the A7S III is original in terms of design would be very exaggerated … even wrong! The frame made of perfectly machined metal also consists of some elements made of black polycarbonate of very good quality. We appreciate the sufficiently distinctive handle to ensure a good grip. It is rounded off by an effective thumb rest covered in gray with a non-slip material of good quality. Equipped in this way, the 7 S III is perfectly manoeuvrable with one hand despite its considerable weight and optics.
The 7 S III is aimed at advanced photographers and has a large number of mechanical controls. In addition to the traditional buttons, there are loose buttons, clickable wheels and push buttons. The whole thing is very clearly labeled to make it easier to use as soon as the case has been mastered.
Instead of being open in the upper left corner, the electronic viewfinder is largely offset to the right. This forces both left-handed and right-handed people to pinch their noses on the back. However, it would be a shame to go without it on such a pointless pretext as flattening your nose. Because Sony puts the small dishes into the big ones here by equipping it with an OLED micro-screen that displays 9.4 million dots (or 3.13 million pixels). Enough to ensure as precise a view as with a conventional optical viewfinder. It is of course accompanied by the essential diopter adjustment and the very handy proximity sensor that deactivates it when not in use.
People who are allergic to eyesight (there are some) use the 3-inch LCD screen on the back. Sony came up with the great idea of mounting it on a ball head. This comes in handy when you want to frame the picture near the ground or with your arms in the air without necessarily breaking the vortices. Selfie enthusiasts can even rotate it 180 degrees so that it faces forward. Even better: the screen is not only touch-sensitive, but the new version of the user interface makes full use of finger manipulation!
This completely redesigned user interface is not a luxury as the one used so far was messy, illogical and not very intuitive. From now on, the menus in the box benefit from a much more logical structure. Finally, you can quickly find the parameters you want to act on. Navigation can be done using the mechanical buttons or the touchscreen.
Do we have a chance to see this new UI in the newest fields? Do we dream of the Alpha 7C, a compact device with less professional positioning, whose confusing configuration menus had disappointed us? Unfortunately, no. Sony attributes this lack of updates to the lack of performance of the previous generation processors that would prevent them from being supported. By the way, the development costs are far too high, and the manufacturer prefers to focus on developing new models. Act about it.
© Presse-Citron © Presse-Citron
There is a full set of connectors on the sides. On the right side, two memory card slots offer efficient storage. They accept conventional SD XC cards, but also high-performance CF Express. In theory, these should replace the existing formats and, in particular, the anti-Diluvian Compact Flash. That promise is hard to deliver: SD doesn’t look like it’s retiring, and CF Express cards are rare and expensive.
On the left is a full-size HDMI port, microphone input, and headphone output. A USB-C connector with a “multi” micro USB connector that allows Sony cables and accessories to be used.
Excellent picture quality
The Alpha 7S III is based on a 35 mm, 12 megapixel full-frame sensor. What? Only 12 Mpxl, while a smartphone for 200 euros offers 50 Mpxl? Yes, and that’s a good thing. By choosing a very large sensor (35.6 x 23.8 mm) with “only” 12 Mpxl, Sony prefers the size of the photo pages. They are fewer in number and therefore larger and can more accurately receive the photons transmitted by the lens.
SPOILER ALERT: If you’re allergic to the tech, be sure to skip the next three paragraphs. But if you are curious, do not hesitate! We promise: we will not drown you in jargon and remain understandable for an amateur!
This imager, specially developed for the Alpha 7S III, benefits from a number of promising new technologies. Without going into too many technical details, it should be noted that the reading speed of the captured image is twice as fast as the Alpha 7S II. Thanks to more efficient filters, advances in capturing images with large dynamic range (a scene in which dark and very light areas are present) and achieved in color rendering. The autofocus it is equipped with has also been redesigned to allow for more precise and faster focusing.
© Presse-Citron © Presse-Citron
In addition, this sensor is of the “backlit” type. It is therefore much more comfortable than a conventional sensor in dark scenes. Result: The photo taken in low light has less digital noise. This prevents the image processor from applying a number of algorithms to make it disappear, which always adversely affects the final dive. All without loss of detail compared to a sensor that overflows the megapixels. In conclusion, we would like to add that it benefits from mechanical stabilization, which is supplemented by activating electronic stabilization if necessary.
Of course, the digital image processor plays an important role in the creation of a photo. That’s a good thing: The Sony Alpha 7S III offers up to eight times higher signal processing speed than the already very powerful predecessor model.
© Presse-Citron © Presse-Citron
Very good, but what is there in real use? In three words: that’s good! The autofocus, the basic element of a camera, is so precise here it’s almost scary (OK, we’re exaggerating a bit).
The sensor + image processor pair does a job of incredible precision. The built-in AI can automatically focus and track the subject’s face or eyes (both still and video). Better still, it is possible to prefer one eye to the other, which portrait painters appreciate. Photo mode also lets you focus on an animal’s eyes.
As mentioned above, the BIONZ XR processor has a processing speed up to eight times faster than the previous model. This enables the 7 S III to record videos in 4K with a maximum of 120 fps or 240 fps in Full HD. Which among other things to create slow motion of excellent quality or to guarantee the production of fluid sequences. The linear digital rate can be up to 600 Mbit / s in 60 fps. It is thus possible to record both smooth and detailed video sequences without the pixel effect due to excessive compression.
Sony Alpha 7S III: our opinion
Whether it’s still images or moving images, the Alpha 7S III does an excellent job. It is suitable for wealthy experts (at least 4200 euros) and for photo or video professionals. We appreciate the very successful ergonomics, the viewfinder of excellent quality, the razor-sharp autofocus and the very extensive connection. The Alpha 7S III is the icing on the cake and has a completely redesigned user interface that can be controlled with the finger. Enough to make the manufacturer’s previous boxes green with envy that do not benefit from it …
Sony Alpha 7S III
9.5 / 10
Handling & ergonomics
9.5 / 10
Photo and video quality
9.5 / 10
Quality / price ratio
9.0 / 10
Photo / video quality Auto focus responsiveness Electronic viewfinder quality Articulated screen Menu system finally dusted off!
We like less
Unusual CF Express card