We don’t give five stars out very often, but the A7R III deserves them: Sony’s mirrorless monster is an absolutely superb camera and one of the very best you can buy, mirrorless or otherwise – despite being slightly long in the tooth now.
The niggles are few and far between: it takes the already excellent A7R II and makes it even better.
This may well tempt you away from Canon or Nikon.
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The A7R III is made from magnesium alloy and it’s a tweaked version of the A7R II with improved dirt and moisture seals. It gets a similar joystick to the Alpha A9, a little addition that makes a big practical difference, and the rear has a similar control layout to the A9 too.
Sony has also solved a pet hate: it no longer uses the eye sensor when the screen is flipped out, so you can shoot from the waist without losing the display. The menu system has been overhauled and colour-coded for easier navigation.
The electronic viewfinder of the Alpha A9 is here, with quad-VGA OLED delivering roughly 3,686K dots and an anti-reflextive Zeiss Tcoating alongside a customisable frame rate of either 60 or 120fps. The rear tilt-angle display is improved too, with a resolution of 1.44 million dots and touchscreen control.
Like it did with the A9, Sony has decided not to go with the XQD memory card format even though it’s the only firm that makes them. Instead there are twin SD slots, only one of which supports UHS-II cards.
Features and usability
The A7R III sticks with the same pixel count as its predecessor. The sensor is a 42.2MP back-illuminated, full frame Exmor R CMOS. This time around Sony has taken some bits from the 24.2MP Alpha A9 too.
There’s a new anti-flar coating, gapless microlenses and a new front-end LSI that delivers nearly double the readout speed of the sensor. There’s also the latest iteration of Sony’s BIONZ X image processing engine, delivering up to 1.8x faster processing over the A7R II.
The sensitivity is the same as before, ranging from ISO50 to ISO120,400, which means it’s not quite akin to Nikon’s expanded ISO32. On the upside the noise processing is much better, and there’s a 15-stop dynamic range available at low sensitivity settings.
You can shoot full HD at up to 120fps as well as 4K, and you can choose between using the full width of the sensor or Super 35mm format, which collects 5K of data and uses oversampling to deliver very crisp video.
Autofocus is seriously better, with 400 detection points compared to the previous 25. That means faster autofocus, up to two times faster in low light.
It can handle brightness levels as low as -3EV. With 10fps burst shooting, 5-axis image stabilising and a decent if unremarkable 530-shot battery (much better than before but still pretty poor compared to the Nikon D850’s 1,840-shot battery) it’s a very flexible camera, and the new low-vibration shutter mechanism minimises the risk of vibration and image blur.
Image quality is excellent with good noise control and impressive dynamic range performance.
The combination of 42.2MP, 10fps burst shooting and a very sophisticated AF system makes this a very attractive camera indeed: Sony has taken an already excellent mirrorless camera and made it even better. This is a camera that’s as happy on a mountain as at a football match, and it’s one of the very best cameras you can buy. The very many pros more than compensate for the handful of cons.
The model has now been replaced by the Sony Alpha A7R IV, and Sony faces stiff competition from the Nikon Z 6 and Z 7, as well as the Canon EOS R and RP. So it's worth checking those out as well in T3's best mirrorless camera guide.