Studio Scene

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.

In terms of detail capture, the a7R III looks exactly the same as its predecessor. In real-world usage this makes it nearly indistinguishable from the performance of its peers with higher pixel counts. This means that only the very finest detail is likely to prompt moiré to appear.

Noise performance appears very slightly improved over the Mark II, which puts it ahead of the Nikon D850 and some distance beyond the Canon EOS 5DS R. Like the Pentax K-1, there look to be signs of noise reduction creeping in, with a degree of smoothing between pixels.

In JPEG mode there are hints of the improvements in color rendering that Sony promised. The yellows, in particular, are more saturated and less green-tinged than before, with what looks like a hint more saturation to the reds, too. This increase in saturation is visible in the central pink square, where there appears to be a slight magenta hint, relative to the Canon and Nikon color response. We've been pretty impressed by the results in our real-world shooting.

JPEG sharpening is pretty well judged; pulling out fine detail without adding excessive emphasis to edges. This enables it to show very fine detail more clearly than its immediate rivals, despite the Raw files suggesting it wasn't initially capturing more. The downside is a risk of occasional over-sharpening of texture.

At higher ISOs, the noise reduction is pretty sophisticated, striking a good balance between detail retention and noise suppression (though the sharpening does appear a little exaggerated in places). Even in very low light and very high ISOs, the JPEGs retain an impressively high level of detail. We'd be inclined to turn the sharpening down a little whenever we were expecting to shoot at high ISO.

Dynamic Range

The camera's new readout circuitry appears to improve its dynamic range by slightly lowering the noise floor, meaning that you can use darker tones from the image before they become swamped by noise.

Click here to read more about the camera's Dynamic Range performance

You need to push the camera's files pretty hard to get down to the level where electronic noise starts to visibly impact the images, putting the a7R III on a par with the Nikon D850.

As has become standard for Sony sensors, there are two read-out modes, a low noise one that maximises dynamic range and an even lower noise one (with slightly lower dynamic range) at higher ISOs: above ISO 640 in this case. As such, there's little to no difference between the result of shooting at ISO 800 and ISO 6400, but you can't quite match this performance by shooting at the camera's widest DR setting (ISO 100) then brightening the file.

This performance is borne out by our experiences of shooting high dynamic range scenes.

The D850 was able to tolerate an additional 1/3EV of light (not the 2/3 that its ISO 64 rating would imply), but the difference is essentially invisible, even after fairly extreme processing. This puts the a7R III's performance up with the very best cameras on the market at present, including the likes of the Fujifilm GFX 50S or Pentax 645Z.