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Sony a7 III Hands On With “The Basic Model”

Sony's a7 III, the "plain model" is loaded with features from their more expensive models and priced for those upgraders

In took three years of a relentless release schedule, bringing unprecedented features to market (like silent shooting), and two flagships—a7R III and the a9—for Sony to refocus on making the “basic model.” And, what they mean by that is the entry-level Alpha Series has been upgraded with specs from more expensive models and priced at $2000.00 for the body. $1200 less than the do-it-all a7R III.

A7 III Back
A7 III Back

The step-up camera market is how the camera industry butters its bun and the demographic that’s upgrading from an older DSLR or wanting better photos than a smartphone takes. The specs, as you’d expect, are impressive

  • Newly Developed Full-frame 24.2MP Back-Illuminated Exmor R CMOS Image Sensor with Evolved Image Processing
  • Wide ISO range of 100 – 51200 (expandable to ISO 50 – 204800 for still images) and 15-Stop Dynamic Range at low sensitivities
  • World Class AF system featuring 693 phase-detection AF points covering 93% of image area, 425 contrast AF points and fast and reliable Eye AF
  • Continuous Shooting at up to 10 fps with either Mechanical Shutter or Silent Shooting and full Auto Focus/Auto Exposure tracking
  • 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization with a 5.0 step shutter speed advantage
  • High-Resolution 4K Movie Shooting with full pixel readout and no pixel binning across full-width of full-frame sensor
  • The longest rated battery life of any Mirrorless camera at 710 shots per charge
  • Upgraded operability and functionality including addition of joystick for adjusting focus points, Dual SD Card Slots, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) USB Type-C™ Terminal and more

Upgrading or switching to Sony now costs about $3K with a kit or nice lens and Sony expects that’s the sweet spot of a price point. After the launch last night in Vegas, a few miles from the Strip on a chilly evening, I’m shooting all week with the a7 III, an FE 1.8/85 and the FE4 25-105.

Hands-On Reaction

Sony staffers taking a break while a model poses.
Sony staffers taking a break while a model poses.

It takes a fast-focusing camera that can lock onto faces in low light to get a candid shot like this of Sony staffers taking a break after the launch and a model posing. I was off the set by a few feet practically in the dark, and with the silent shutter on. I’d expect photographers will use the a7 III as a daily workhorse, which is what it was designed to do.

The press trying out the A7 III
The press trying out the A7 III

What you need to know is Sony has taken their newest and most advanced imaging technologies from the acclaimed α9 and α7R III models and paired them with an all-new 24.2 MP back-illuminated sensor to deliver a full-frame camera for enthusiasts, hobbyists and professionals.  As Neal Manowitz, Vice President of Digital Imaging for Sony Electronics explained on stage

“It’s a camera that punches far above its weight class in every capacity.  Combined with our impressive selection of 26 native full-frame E-mount lenses, it provides a level of performance that is simply unmatched in the industry.”

I’m sure Sony competitors will disagree with the unmatched part of that statement, but the assembled press was sured wowed last might. I’ll post more from Vegas as the shoots continue.

The Sony α7 III will ship this April for about $2000 US for the body and $2200 in a kit with the FE 28‑70 mm F3.5‑5.6 kit lens. For reference, when it launched 4 years ago, the a7 I cost $1699.00. Two revs later, it’s considerably more camera.

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