Conclusion

What we like What we don't
  • New 24 megapixel BSI sensor
  • Great low ISO dynamic range, and high ISO noise performance
  • Very reliable autofocus system closely related to Sony's a9 sports camera
  • Updated ergonomics including an autofocus joystick
  • 10 frames-per-second burst shooting, dropping to 8 with 'live view'
  • Very high-quality 4K and HD video, including Log capture and slow-motion
  • Perfectly expose Raw with HLG / zebras
  • Updated menu system
  • Good battery life
  • Market-leading noise reduction and detail in out-of-camera JPEGs
  • Expansive customization options for both stills and video capture
  • Good wireless connectivity
  • USB charging, USB C / 3.1 connection
  • Headphone / mic jack included
  • Viewfinder resolution on the low side
  • Lacks DSLR feeling of 'immediacy' for controls and menus
  • Continuous AF at smaller apertures can result in hunting or focus failure
  • Only one card slot supports the faster UHS-II format
  • Some lenses may result in 'striping' in images containing flare
  • Lackluster touchscreen experience
  • AF point can be difficult to discern
  • Moiré artifacts may be a problem
  • Weather-sealing doesn't appear to be as robust as competitors
  • Unintuitive video autofocus
  • System lacks proper flash AF assist
  • Some buttons are too small and could use more tactile feedback
  • No in-camera Raw processing
  • No external battery charger (USB internal charging only)
  • 8-bit internal and external video capture limits Log footage flexibility

Overall conclusion

Put simply, the Sony a7 III is a new benchmark for full frame cameras due to its compelling combination of value and capability – and the fact that this series of cameras has come so far in less than five years is impressive in its own right. For around the same price as an 'entry-level' full-frame camera in 2012 and 2013, the a7 III offers speed for the sports shooter, autofocus accuracy for the portraitist, dynamic range for the landscape photographer and low light image quality for the couple at a candlelit dinner. And don't forget about the best video quality and feature set this side of a dedicated cinema rig.

ISO 6400 | 1/1000 sec | F5.6. Edited to taste in Capture One 11.
Photo by Rishi Sanyal

That's not to say that in hours of testing and scrutiny, we didn't find some things we would like to change. Hardcore DSLR users will grumble about lagginess in the user interface. Stopped-down focusing continues to frustrate. The a7 III's chart-topping video quality is let down by disappointing video autofocus tracking. We know the weather sealing isn't top of class, and yes, we know there are occasional artifacts caused by the phase detection pixels that feed the on-sensor autofocus system (but please, we implore you, read the image quality section on this matter before commenting).

But in almost every situation we put the camera through, whether shooting soccer, engagement portrait sessions, birthdays or friends' headshots, we couldn't help but be impressed with how easy it was to get great images with the a7 III. And while the asking price won't be attainable for everyone, the Sony stands above many peers that sell for the same or similar prices. For that, it earns our highest award.


Video review

We've teamed up with Chris and Jordan, formerly of The Camera Store TV, to produce video reviews for select products on DPReview. Take a look at what they think in this, their first video for us.


What we think

We make sure that cameras change hands many times over the course of a review because, as a staff, we all have different photographic backgrounds and approach photography in different ways. Here's what some other members of the staff thought about the Sony a7 III.


Barney Britton
Senior Editor
The Sony a7 III is one of those products that comes along every now and then which appears to be able to do everything. The a7 III has enough resolution for landscapes, class-leading autofocus for action, and an attractive 4K video feature set. While $2000 US isn’t exactly small change, the a7 III is also priced competitively against its nearest rivals. I’m impressed by the a7 III and assuming the hardware stands up to extended use, it has the potential to be one of those cameras - like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and the Nikon D750 - which will earn our recommendation for a long time to come.

Rishi Sanyal
Science Editor
The a7 III is arguably the sweet spot for image and video quality: spend much more on full-frame or medium format rivals and you gain very little; spend similar or less on APS-C or micro 4/3 cameras and you take a noticeable hit in image quality. Today 'real cameras' need to meet raised expectations at an affordable price point, and the fact that you could literally swap a Canon 1DX II for an a7 III and still get a similar or better hit-rate at an action event is unprecedented.

Dan Bracaglia
Photo Editor
The a7 III raises my expectation for what a base model full-frame camera should offer. I still have some hesitations about its build quality, especially when compared to similar-priced DSLRs. But for the money the combo of fantastic image/video quality and reliable AF (with 93% point coverage) makes this camera impossible to ignore. Simply put, if you’re in the market for full-frame, the a7 III needs to be on your shortlist.

Compared to other full-frame cameras

Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA | ISO 320 | 1/125 sec | F8
Photo by Carey Rose

Earlier in the review, we took a high-level look at how the specifications of the a7 III compared to some similarly priced options in the marketplace. Let's dig a little deeper and find out, after extensive testing, just how they compare in the real world.

Canon's EOS 6D Mark II: The obvious competitor from Canon is the EOS 6D Mark II. Though the Canon retails for a similar price, the Sony will get you better video, far better dynamic range, faster burst shooting, far wider AF coverage and better AF performance in nearly all respects. Even when you switch the Canon into Live View to use the usually excellent Dual Pixel autofocus, the 6D II looks underpowered, and its autofocus tracking is really lackluster.

Nikon's D750: Nikon's aging D750 is still one of our benchmarks for full-frame image quality and autofocus performance, both of which Sony was unable to match at a similar price point - until now. The a7 III fires faster bursts than the D750 while still offering impressive autofocus tracking and much wider AF coverage. It's also caught up (and surpassed in some cases) the Nikon in terms of dynamic range and high ISO image quality. Plus, of course, the Sony comes with advanced video features and 4K while the Nikon only manages with 1080/60p with a dearth of capture aids and unusable video AF. But the D750 (and Canon DSLRs) both respond more rapidly to your inputs.

Sony's a7R III: When casually compared against its more expensive sibling, the a7 III's most obvious differentiator is that it offers 24MP of resolution instead of 42MP. Whether you need the higher resolution or 'Pixel Shift' capability of the a7R III is something only you can answer, but 24MP remains a 'sweet spot' for many shooters. Beyond that, we have to admit we're more impressed with the autofocus system on the a7 III than the a7R III, and though the pendulum swings the other way with the a7 III's noticeably lower resolution viewfinder, we find the a7 III to be a better buy in most other respects.

Sony a9: That we're even comparing a camera to one over twice its cost is telling: while the a7 III doesn't quite have the a9's 20 fps burst capability, its AF can hold its own at even its 'lower' 10 fps burst rate. That makes it a formidable action camera. Throw in 10 fps mechanical shutter shooting (with flash) and video tools like Log gamma that surpass the a9's capability, and you have a real bargain. Just don't expect its silent (electronic) shutter mode to be as free of artifacts as with the a9.


Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Sony Alpha a7 III
Category: Mid Range Full Frame Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Sony a7 III is a well-priced, well-rounded camera suitable for all kinds of photography. Twenty-four megapixels of resolution is more than sufficient for most tasks, and the 693-point autofocus system and 10 frames-per-second burst speed help the a7 III keep up with fast action. Video quality and feature set is another strong point, though some operational lag, a slightly low-resolution viewfinder and unintuitive video autofocus may turn off some users.
Good for
Generalist photographers, wedding, event and action shooters and those that need high quality video.
Not so good for
Those that need more resolution for detailed scenes or large prints, those that need ultimate build quality for harsh shooting conditions.
89%
Overall score