Studio Stills

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.

The color mode option on the a7S III have been re-named 'Creative Look' but the default 'Standard' mode still looks pretty similar to the color response in previous Sony cameras. The change has been subtle with less magenta blues and both greens and yellows that look more like the Nikon response than that of the a7R IV. The addition of more magenta to the central pink target is the most significant difference and the biggest deviation from what otherwise appears to be a slight shift closer to the well-liked color responses Canon and Nikon have settled on.

Sony's processing tends to be very good at sharpening subtle detail without overwhelming it, which allows the a7S III's JPEGs to look similar to the downsized versions of its rivals' output. But even at this ~10MP view, the a7R IV image retains more fine detail. As ISO values climb, the a7S III's slightly lower noise levels combined with its effective, context-sensitive noise reduction arguably yield the most pleasing results, though some color blotches are apparent in portions of the image.

Viewing the Raw output at native size and it's obvious how far behind 12MP lags, even when compared with 20 and 24MP cameras, in terms of detail capture. As theory would lead us to expect, the slight noise benefit to the a7S III's larger pixels exists in the very deep shadows, so only have any impact at very high ISOs. You need to be working at extremes for the slight shadow noise benefit over the Z6 II's 24MP sensor to appear, and even then the lower resolution of the a7S III is still visible.

Video stills

Our video stills grabs make it possible to assess the resolution and sampling method used to capture it.

It's as a video camera the a7S III's low pixel count offers a major benefit: few full-frame stills/video cameras this side of the Sony a1 can shoot 4K/60p from the full width of its sensor, and only the Sony pair currently capture 4K/120p from such a large sensor area. The lower pixel count means it's capturing a touch less detail than the 24MP rivals, which oversample their 4K footage, but the a7S's processing means there's not much to call between the two. Of course it's much less detailed than the 2X oversampled footage from the Canon EOS R5 (4K from 8K capture), but that's famously difficult to deliver for extended periods of time.

The 120p footage isn't quite as detailed as the full-frame capture, but it's close enough to allow them to be intercut and still competitive against the output of similarly video-focused cameras.