In use

Cameras can serve different purposes for different photographers; the right tool for one person's job might be the wrong tool for someone else's hobby. With that in mind, we'll be taking a look at how the a7 III stacks up for a variety of common uses, based on its specifications, our lab testing, and the time we've spent with it in the real world.

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Candid and street photography

Sony FE 35mm F1.4 ZA | 1/80 sec | ISO 125 | F11

Whether you're pounding the pavement of your favorite neighborhood or exploring a city that's entirely new for you, there are certain aspects of the a7 III that might help - and some that may hinder - your shooting experience.

What we like

  • Tilting display is good for shooting from the hip
  • Touchscreen and joystick for easy AF placement
  • Fast and accurate face-and-eye detection
  • Compact with the right prime lenses
  • Built-in wireless for easy sharing with subjects
  • Silent shutter

What we don't

  • Slight 'lag' in manipulating controls
  • Silent shutter could have rolling shutter artifacts
  • Sleep / wake lag lacks DSLR immediacy

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Family and lifestyle

Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA | ISO 100 | 1/200 sec | F1.8
Out-of-camera JPEG

With family and lifestyle photography, your photos are a visual diary. Going out to dinner with friends? Photographing your kids or your pets running around? Is it mom's birthday? Here's what we think of the a7 III for this style of photography.

What we like

  • Eye AF makes focusing incredibly easy for portraits
  • Excellent battery life means it's less likely the camera will be dead when you pick it up after a while
  • With a compact lens, the a7 III can fit in a small bag, and it's unobtrusive on the shoulder
  • Excellent low light performance for restaurants, etc
  • 10 frames per second with autofocus is great for erratic kids and pets
  • Good full auto mode for easy hand-off to friends and family members

What we don't

  • Tilting screen doesn't tilt all the way around for selfies
  • Zoom lenses for FE are almost universally large and / or expensive

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Landscapes

Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA | ISO 100 | 1/640 | F6.3
Processed and cropped in Adobe Camera Raw

Whether you're backpacking through nature or just photographing the sunset at a beach resort, here's how we think the a7 III stacks up for landscape photography.

What we like

  • Great dynamic range for high-contrast scenes
  • JPEG files show excellent balance of detail and noise reduction
  • Raw files show very low noise
  • Reasonably compact, metal build, some weather sealing
  • Good battery life for long exposures
  • Good selection of wide-angle lenses

What we don't

  • Lack of robust weather sealing along bottom of camera (use with care)
  • 24MP may not be enough for users making very large prints
  • Buttons can be difficult to feel and operate while wearing gloves
  • No built-in intervalometer, no option to add one via PlayMemories apps
  • Out-of-camera JPEGs show blueish green tones, which may not be to your taste

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Portraits

Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA | ISO 100 | 1/250 sec | F1.8
Cropped out-of-camera JPEG

For strobists and available light shooters alike, we're defining 'portrait' as a photography with a degree of intentionality that elevates it above a simple snapshot. Here's how the a7 III performs.

What we like

  • Eye AF makes it incredibly easy to get accurate focus, even at wider apertures with blurrier backgrounds
  • Skin tones continue to improve
  • With a suitable portrait prime, the whole setup is fairly compact and unintimidating
  • Good selection of portrait prime lenses available
  • 1/250 second flash sync
  • Expansive dynamic range makes it easier to shoot (Raw) under harsher lighting conditions without areas being blown out or lost in shadow
  • Tilting screen allows for eye contact and interaction with subject while shooting

What we don't

  • Moiré (color aliasing) can become a problem in clothing patterns and hair
  • With a sharp lens, the results can be so sharp as to be unflattering
  • Non-standard hotshoe can impede the use of inexpensive third-party flash triggers

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Sports and wildlife

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM | ISO 1600 | F2.8 | 1/1250 sec
Processed and cropped in Adobe Camera Raw

Sports and wildlife photography places significant demands on both the photographer and the camera he or she is using. Responsiveness, autofocus performance, burst shooting, and viewfinder quality are all vitally important when shooting peak action. Here's what we found while using the a7 III for this type of photography.

What we like

  • Incredible autofocus coverage (93% of the frame)
  • Very good autofocus tracking in Lock On AF
  • AF joystick makes it easier than ever to move your AF point around
  • 10fps burst shooting (8fps with live view)
  • Good buffer depth, 140 uncompressed Raw + JPEGs at 10fps
  • Excellent noise reduction and sharpening in JPEG engine, so files are ready to use right-out-of-camera, even in low light
  • Ability to rate / protect images with a button press
  • Ability to group burst images together in playback

What we don't

  • Limited fast telephoto options at this time
  • In continuous autofocus, lenses focus at shooting aperture - so shooting moving objects while stopped down robs the AF system of light - could result in missed shots
  • Only one SD card slot is UHS-II for use with faster cards
  • Small grip can be uncomfortable with larger lenses
  • Viewfinder resolution on the low side
  • Perceptible lag when manipulating settings or using the Fn menu
  • Perceptible lag when raising the camera to your eye, as it switches from the screen to the electronic viewfinder

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Travel

Sony FE 12-24mm F4 G | ISO 200 | 1/20 sec | F14

Travel photography encompasses a little bit of everything, from capturing beautiful sunsets to old-world architecture, from a quick photo of your lunch to a candid photograph on the street. Here's what we think matters if you're considering a trip with the a7 III by your side.

What we like

  • Great battery life, USB charging option is very useful
  • The a7 III is somewhat weather sealed (with caveats)
  • Good connectivity
  • Compact and unobtrusive with the right lenses
  • Good balance of resolution and file sizes
  • Great JPEG engine, less of a need to process out Raw files

What we don't

  • Zoom lenses generally large and / or expensive
  • No in-camera Raw processing
  • No external battery charger included, hard to keep a second battery topped up

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Weddings and events

Sony FE 50mm F1.4 ZA | ISO 100 | 1/200 sec | F2

Along with sports and wildlife, weddings and events can be some of the most difficult subjects to shoot for both photographer and camera. The sheer variety of shooting situations, the responsiveness and reliability required and the ability for the camera to just get out of your way are crucial considerations when photographing a couple's most special day. Here's how the a7 III stacks up.

What we like

  • AF joystick makes this a much more responsive camera for changing situations
  • 'Recall custom hold' options that let you change AF mode, PASM mode, ISO parameters and burst options with a single button press let you adapt to changing scenarios quickly
  • Dual card slots allow instant backup
  • New radio control flashes work reliably well
  • Great dynamic range for daylight scenes, great high ISO performance at the reception
  • Enough resolution for detail, but not so much as to eat up all your drive space
  • Great battery life
  • Silent shutter option
  • Good selection of reasonably sized prime lenses

What we don't

  • Flashes still don't have red AF assist grid
  • Sony F2.8 zooms are very big and very heavy, negating compact size of camera
  • Moiré can be an issue on fine patterns
  • Some lenses will focus while stopped-down, so shooting at F4 on a dim dance floor can result in slow or missed focus
  • Perceptible lag when manipulating settings or Fn menu items

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Video

We live in a world where photographers are increasingly experimenting with (or being hired to produce) motion pictures as well as still images. There will, of course, be those who argue that a dedicated video camera can never be replaced by a stills camera that also shoots video. But there's also no denying the convenience of having a single solution. Let's see how Sony's a7 III compares.

What we like

  • Oversampled 4K footage is very detailed
  • Built-in sensor-shift stabilization helps to smooth footage out, even with unstabilized lenses
  • Included Log profiles and corrected previews for those that want to color grade their footage in post-production
  • Continuous autofocus works well in 'Wide' and flexible spot modes
  • Zebra warnings and focus peaking help judge exposure and manual focus
  • Buttons can be customized to have different functions for video and stills modes
  • Can adapt just about any lens
  • Impressive array of high frame rate modes with good quality
  • Rolling shutter is well controlled

What we don't

  • Limited to 8-bit capture, whether recording internally or externally (limits amount of grading that can be done in post production)
  • Video autofocus implementations can still be cumbersome and / or unreliable
  • In-body stabilization not class leading
  • Sheer volume of features and options can be overwhelming or overkill for some users

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