Sony A7rIII : 20 secret features that will make you upgrade from A7rII (or A9!)

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1 Introduction

The A7RIII is a significant upgrade over the A7RII, although using the same sensor as the A7RII its electronic and body is very similar to the A9 and it share a lot of functions in common with it

There are also some unique features to the A7RIII, some have been already extensively marketed like the Pixel shift multi shooting or the Hybrid log gamma for video, but they are also many features that are ergonomics/features improvement over the A9 (I hope they will also be available on the A9 via a firmware upgrade)

After a

  • quick recap of the key common features between A7RIII and A9 (Chapter 2)
  • and the key unique functions of the A7RIII (Chapter 3)

I propose you a deep dive in no more than 20 secret/less known features of the A7RIII (Chapter 4) and some conclusion (Chapter 5)

2 Features Coming from the A9

  • Much better AF:
    • A7RIII :
      • 399 points Phase detection AF +
      • 425 points contrast detection AF and covering
      • 67% coverage of the frame
    • A7RII :
      • 399 points Phase detection AF +
      • 25 points contrast detection AF and covering
      • 45% coverage of the frame
    • A9 :
      • 693 points (phase-detection AF)
      • 25 points (contrast-detection AF)
      • 93% coverage of the frame
      • computing AF 60 times /sec
  • Better eye AF than A7RII but less good than a9
  • More sensitive AF :
    • A7RII : -3EV (same as A9)
    • ARII : -2EV
  • Continuous shooting
    • A7RIII = 10 fps in both mechanical and silent
    • A7RII = 5fps in mechanical , single only in silent shooting
    • A9 : 5fps in mechanical and 20fps in silent shooting
  • Same battery as a9 : more than 3 times the one of A7RII in real life
  • Better ergonomics with
    • on the Body : Joystick, AF ON, button, Sync Terminal, Movie button moved
    • Better menu organisation with settings grouped by theme pages and a “My menu” to put together your favourite functions
    • as additional functions : Register Custom shoot set and assign to a button, AF area registration, Switch Vert Horiz AF Area, display buffer size…
  • Image loc setting gps : Ability to tag the GPS location thanks to a Bluetooth coupling with your smartphone and the playmemories camera app. See here for more info
  • Better visor : 1,5x resolution, 2 luminance = like a9
  • Touch screen like A9
  • Dual card slot (better than A9)
  • Color rendering improved and close to A9
  • In camera Image extraction of 4K movie
  • Huge buffer size for burst not as big as A9 but 3 times more than A7RII
    • A7RIII : 76 cRaw
    • A7RII : 23 cRaw
    • A9 : 241 cRAW
  • Slow & Quick movie: from 1FPS to 100 fps settings

On the minus side

  • Playmemories cameras app were removed !
    • no more timelapse
    • no more ND filters app
    • no more Manual lens correction app
    • etc…
  • no more panorama mode

3 Features Specific to A7RIII

  • Hybrid Log Gamma as new picture profile to render video directly compatible with HDR TV

Sony A7RIII menu english-25

  • Anti flickering
    • Detects flickering/blinking from artificial light sources such as fluorescent lighting and times the shooting of images to moments when flickering will have less of an impact.
    • This function reduces differences in the exposure and color tone caused by flickering between the upper area and the lower area of an image shot with fast shutter speed and during continuous shooting
  • 15 stops dynamic range (vs 14.X for A7RII) = minor improvement
  • Pixel shift multi shooting
    • producing a 42 mpix very crisp images by shifting the sensor by one pixelin 4 directions
    • You can only use it with still subject (not even landscape) and on a sturdy tripod. The camera will automatically add a delay before taking the first photo
    • 4 raw arw images make a new arq file using the new Sony Imaging Edge software : see here

 

  • Usb C for fast Tethering or fast transfer of your photos to your PC
  • Higher native iso : 32000 iso instead of 25600
  • Better sensor stabilisation : 5,5 Stops instead of 4.5 for the A7RII

4 The secret Features

  1. Star eater issue : solved or not
  2. No EVF lag in mechanical shutter
  3. Menu available even in burst mode
  4. AF working in magnification mode
  5. Group display for burst
  6. Notation
  7. Wireless Flash & Flash modes
  8. Dual card extra features
  9. Custom keys for video and display mode different than for still
  10. Bright Monitoring
  11. Toggle functionality for some function
  12. Disabling switch to EVF
  13. Display mode: monitor off option
  14. Peaking setting regrouped
  15. Gamma Display assist
  16. Zebra by 1% increment
  17. Tethering: dual recording
  18. Metering mode options: Face priority in multi metering
  19. Metering mode options: Highlight priority
  20. Raw + Jpg new combinations

1 Star eater issue solved ? or not ?

Previous Sony cameras had some issue for long exposure when taking photo of the sky , Sony was applying a treatment that erased some stars thinking it was some hot pixel, or noise see here

There is some on filed test that seems to prove the issue is no more there : see here,

and another one purely technical that says the issues is still there : see here

Let’s wait more photos to judge…

2 No EVF lag in mechanical shutter

When shooting with the mechanical shutter all previous Sony Cameras had a little lag in the EVF display, the A7RIII is the first Sony camera to offer a fully lag free shooting with the mechanical shutter

  • A9 :
    • 20 fps , blackout free with electronic shutter
    • 5fps , with little lag with mechanical shutter (with blackout)
  • A7RIII (with blackout)
    • 10 fps with little lag with mechanical/silent shutter
    • up to 8 fps without lag with mechanical/silent shutter
  • A7RII (with blackout)
    • 5 fps with little lag with mechanical shutter
    • 2.5 fps with no lag with mechanical shutter
    • no continuous drive with silent shutter

3 Menu available even in burst mode

Using the A7RIII in burst mode you will notice you can directly go in the menu , even if the camera is still emptying its buffer

Some menu options will still be greyed out, but at least you have access to it and are able to change some options, so better than A9

4 AF working in magnification mode

The magnification mode to zoom into the image for precise focusing is no more reserved for manual focusing

You can now zoom into the image and still use the AF ! Very nice for doing AF at F1.4

5 Group display for burst

When doing frequent burst e.g. when shooting sports you can quickly do a few thousands of images that are cumbersome to review. The A7RIII allow you to regroup all images of the same burst into 1 when reviewing your images for more easy navigation

This combined with the new image star notation make it easy to review and select THE image in each burst

Sony A7RIII menu english-62Sony A7RIII menu english-63

When reviewing photos, you see each burst with a pile icon

Sony A7RIII menu english-99

Press the centre button to expand the burst

Sony A7RIII menu english-100

You see on the top right the frame number of the burst : here 1 out of 6

Sony A7RIII menu english-101

6 Notation

In display mode,  you now have the possibility to give a note to your photos to ease the sorting when you need to send your photos for post processing to your office or for yourself

You need to assign the notation to a custom key, then when viewing a photo press 1, 2, .. 5 times to give a star rating from 1 to 5

 

7 Wireless flash & Flash modes

The wireless flash is now an option on its own and can be combined with the flash mode

  • So, you can have wireless Rear synch or wireless normal or wireless slow sync

 

 

8 Dual cards extra features

On A9 there was no option to switch to the 2nd card if 1st card was full, also if you had only one card inserted e.g. in slot 2 but you had selected slot 1 as primary recording, the camera will refuse to take any photos

This is solved with A7RIII, there is no a dedicated menu with all possible options we want and some intelligence to use whatever card is inserted

Sony A7RIII menu english-73Sony A7RIII menu english-74Sony A7RIII menu english-77

9 Custom keys for video mode

With the A7RIII there is a new option to have different functions applied to all your C1, C2… left, right, AEL… keys when you are in the video mode (on the dial mode)

It is like having 2 cameras: 1 focused on Still photography one on Videos

Here are my settings for video, 

note that if for a given key you want the same as in still just keep the option “follow custom (still icon)”

Sony A7RIII menu english-48Sony A7RIII menu english-49Sony A7RIII menu english-50Sony A7RIII menu english-51

my settings for still

Sony A7RIII menu english-43Sony A7RIII menu english-44Sony A7RIII menu english-45Sony A7RIII menu english-46

and my settings for display

Sony A7RIII menu english-102

10 Bright Monitoring

This is not the same at all as monitor brightness (quite confusing name!)

  • This feature need to be assigned to a custom key and only works in MF mode
  • You need to be in manual focus: when pressed the camera will extend the exposure time to lighten the scene  when shooting in dark environments
  • This function is not compatible with Zoom magnification

it works as a toggle: press one, dark scene will be brightened, press second time back to normal

Personally, I don’t see the difference between this function and using the Setting effects on/off toggle

11 Toggle functionality for some functions

For some functions like live view display setting or peaking if you assign it to a custom key it will act as a toggle: no more menu with only 2 options and you need to switch between the 2

Very handy! but why not having applied to all binary function e.g. like the silent shooting where there is still a menu with only 2 options

 

 

No toggle for silent shooting

Sony A7RIII menu english-89

12 Disabling switch to EVF

By default, the camera switch between EVF and monitor automatically, or you can disable this behaviour and assign the switch to a custom key

I am shooting quite often in narrow space where I can’t put my eyes on the visor and with the camera on my belly. With A7RII, the camera was switching automatically to the EVF you had to keep 15-20 cm distance to avoid this.

Now with A7RIII and A9 as soon as you flip the monitor a little bit from the back of the camera, it knows you are trying to compose with the monitor and it won’t switch anymore to the EVF even if you keep the camera very close to you!

Very handy in closed spaces!

13 Display mode: monitor off option

A new option has been added for the monitor to turn it completely off

This feature was highly requested by some sports photographers, that just wanted to shoot with the EVF and only having the monitor turned “on” when displaying photos

Sony A7RIII menu english-40

 14 Peaking setting regrouped

All the features related to peaking options are now grouped together and not anymore spread over 2 pages. Well done !

Sony A7RIII menu english-27Sony A7RIII menu english-28

 15 Gamma display assist

  • Movies with S-Log gamma are assumed to be processed after shooting in order to make use of the wide dynamic range.
  • Movies with the HLG gamma are assumed to be displayed on HDR-compatible monitors.

They are therefore displayed in low contrast during shooting and may be difficult to monitor, using [Gamma Disp. Assist], contrast equivalent to that of normal gamma can be reproduced. In addition, [Gamma Disp. Assist] can also be applied when playing back movies on the camera’s monitor/viewfinder.

Set it to Auto and it will pick up the right conversion according to the chosen gamma

Sony A7RIII menu english-64Sony A7RIII menu english-65

16 Zebra display by increment of 1%

You can set a custom Zebra by increment of 1% both in term of limit and of range

Sony A7RIII menu english-90Sony A7RIII menu english-95

17 Tethering : dual recording

In the past, you had only the option to save on the remote PC, nous you can choose to keep a copy on the memory card

Sony A7RIII menu english-71Sony A7RIII menu english-70

18 Metering options: Face priority in multi metering

Face priority in multi metering

  • When using the default light metering mode [Multi], when the option [Face Prty in Mlti Mtr] is set to [On], the camera measures brightness based on detected faces
  • When set to off, the camera measures brightness using the [Multi] setting, without detecting faces.

19 Metering options:  Highlight priority

Highlight priority

“Measures the brightness while emphasizing the highlighted area on the screen. This mode is suitable for shooting the subject while avoiding overexposure.”

This is hugely useful for landscape photographers who like to shoot quickly (like if hiking with non-photographers), as it makes it much less likely to blow out the highlights. Basically, it’s automatic ETTR (Exposing to the right)

20 Raw + Jpg new combinations

The A7RIII is the first one to propose some options in the Raw + jpg mode

you can choose

  • the size of the jpg: e.g. small : 11Mpix jpg instead of the Large default we have on A9 and A7RII
  • the quality of the jpg: std , fine or xtra fine

Sony A7RIII menu english-1

 

Most of the above functions could, I think , be added to the A9 via a firmware upgrade, let’s hope Sony is working on it

5 Conclusions

So, which one is better? Do I need to upgrade? To which model: A7RIII , A9?

As usual it all depends of your need and practices

  • The A7RIII is certainly the more powerful universal camera both for stills and videos that Sony has produced and can satisfy most professional shooters and advanced amateurs,
  • If you are a studio photographer or a landscape photographer and you don’t need faster AF or more than 5fps, you may stick with your A7RII as the pure image quality will not be significantly better (same sensor)
  • If you are shooting fast moving subjects whether it is sports , dance , fast moving birds, your kids… the A9 has still the edge (for 5300 Euros i.o. 3500 Euros for A7RIII)
    • Better AF
      • coverage : 93% i.o. 67%
      • more focus points
      • faster recomputing of the AF : 60 times/ sec
      • Better Eye AF
    • Blackout free electronic shutter
    • 20 fps i.o. 10fps
    • Better ergonomics with Drive/Focus mode dial
    • LAN Terminal for sports events
    • Distortion free shutter

Of course, the best is to have both a A7RIII and a A9 !

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Categories: Cameras, Sony

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23 replies

  1. This is an excellent article but I would like to add one feature you missed – highlight priority metering! This feature exists on the a6500 too but not the a7R II. This is hugely useful for landscape photographers who like to shoot quickly (like if hiking with non-photographers), as it makes it much less likely to blow out the highlights. Basically it’s automatic ETTR.

  2. Hi Mark, maybe I am mistaken but I believe a7r2 and a9 kann onyl shoot in RAW+JPEG while the a7R3 is the first one with a possibility to shoot in RAW+JPEG XtraFine?

  3. Marc.

    Nice article. But it suffers from one issue. Lack of editing. Many grammatical and punctuation errors warrant a review before posting.

  4. Mark: Can you please elaborate how to get GPS info into the a7RIII using the PlayMemories Camera Apps? I’ve read different comments on blogs about the app not working or doesn’t work with the a7RIII.

  5. Vraiment très bon ce blog et très réactif ! L’info sur le star eater est récente, je pense néanmoins me laisser tenter. Mes photos nightscape avec le a7rII n’étaient pas vilaines malgré tout…

  6. I have yet to see where the Wireless Flash setting is explained by anyone. Is it only for users of the Sony wireless system or should I turn it on even when using my Godox trigger?

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