10 reason why the Sony A7RIII may be my Camera of the Year for 2017

10 reason why the Sony A7RIII may be my Camera of the Year for 2017

By Steve Huff

Yes, it is the newest camera causing eyeball pops from some photo enthusiasts. The Sony train continues down the track on its way to digital imaging domination and with the latest release, the A7RIII, Sony shows no signs at all of slowing down the train. It has been 2 years and 3 months since the A7RII was released and I used that A7RII for 2 years straight, proclaiming it my most used camera of 2017. If you missed that video I made about my love for the A7RII a couple years after use, see it below:

My video on the previous gen A7RII – 10 reasons why it was my most used camera

As for the follow up, while I only had hands on for half a day, what I discovered was that this may be the best follow up camera I have ever reviewed. Just being 100% honest from the heart as I know of NO high res 35mm camera, NONE, that can do what the A7RII can do with tech and features. Eye AF works AMAZING on the A7rII just as it does on the A9. AF Tracking is “WOW” when in use for such a high res camera. We ave the 5 Axis IS which has been improved, the high res EVF of the A9 flagship and things that one can not get from a DSLR such as a Nikon D850.

Many are comparing it to the D850 and for me it is no contest because I do not shoot or buy DSLRs anymore, so for me, the 850 is out. The Nikon is probably (and according to some I truly respect) Nikons BEST digital DSLR ever. That’s saying a lot as Nikon has had some memorable camera models. The D850 seems like THE Nikon to get I you want a full frame DSLR. No question about it. It seems Canon has been lagging behind in tech as many I speak with in the camera industry today talk down Canon, yet talk up Nikon. Sony is also gaining massive respect lately as well. When I started reviewing Sony gear, most out there dismissed it. Today, Sony is taken seriously due to what they have accomplished in the digital imaging world. For me, it all started with the NEX-7 as that is when I truly saw the reality of Sony’s dedication to photography. It grew and grew and today we have some amazing options within the Sony realm and for mirrorless in general.

A7RIII and 40 f/1.2 Voigtlander E mount

The Sony A7SII, A7RII and now A7RIII and A9 are by far, for me, the best mirrorless cameras created by Sony.

To clear up some internet chatter that some trolls make, no, Sony does not release new upgrades every six months. It seems their upgrade path is around 2 – 21/2 years. It has been 2 years and 3 months since the A7RII. It seems next up should be the A7SIII. As for the A9, will it ever get an “R” model? I think yes, but I also think it could be a year off or more. I am not really sure though.

Many ask me about the RX1R series. I also feel that another one of those may not be coming. I could be wrong but I see Sony sticking with what is selling and doing well for them, and that would be the A7 and A9 series as well as lenses for the system. With the new 400 f/2.8 announced for a summer 2018 release, we can see they are pushing ahead full steam with those telephoto lenses which is the one weak spot in the current lens lines up. But look at how many lenses we now have for our Sony cameras. Amazing for such a short time.

Close to a full 100% crop here – A7RII and 24-105 G. This shot was underexposed and dark. I pulled out the shadows here just using the mid level JPEG!

Going back to the new A7RIII, it really is fantastic and yes, it has been improved in so many ways from speed to battery to usability to DR and IQ. Here are my 10 reasons why this camera is shaping up to be the best of the year for me in 2017.

My 10 Reasons why this just may be my Camera of the Year for 2017

  1. It now has the A9 AF algorithms.  – While not full on A9 speed for AF, it uses the same A9 Algorithms which boost the A7RIII AF speeds in all areas (continuous, tracking, single shot) by more than double over the A7RII. I have used it, tested it and shot with it and yes, it is FAST. Not quite as snappy as my A9 but fast. For the 42MP sensor, I can see no one complaining about AF speed. It seems faster than my EM1 MKII.
  2. The new Battery System ROCKS. Sure, there are other mirrorless cameras with good batteries. The EM1 MKII is one but Sony has always lagged in this area and they have officially caught up with the A9 and now A7RIII. The new Z batteries are astonishing and give so much more life than the old batteries. I speak with many who shoot the A9 and have shot the A7RII and some get 2k images from a single battery. I own three batteries for my A9 and never ever have I had to dip in to use the 3rd.
  3. The EVF is from the A9, which is $4500. The A7RIII is $3199 yet offers much of what I love about the A9. The EVF is one of them. Bright, crisp and while my fave EVF is still in the Leica SL, the A7RIII blows past the Leica SL for IQ and tech and the EVF here is just under that one in the SL. It’s GREAT and a welcome improvement over the previous model.
  4. The EYE AF is AMAZING! I never used it that much but with the A7RIII test I did and was wowed over and over. If you use the camera correctly and keep it on the subject/model that EYE AF will stick to the eye and this means if you shoot with say and 85 1.4 at 1.4, you will have focus on the eye. No DSLR does this that I know of and yes, it works VERY well. On the A7RIII and A9, Eye AF is remarkable.
  5. The Extended DR. Shoot at base ISO and you will enjoy 15 stops of dynamic range. I have had a taste of this with the Hasselblad X1D and became addicted to it When you have massive DR, working on your files in RAW is a treat. The A7RII now goes from 14 stops to 15. THIS is good.
  6. Dual SD Card Slots. SO many wanted this, and now it is here. While this is still the same A7RII shell for the most part it has been modified to implement the new battery and SD slots. There is not much Sony did not think of here.
  7. 5 Axis IS inside. This has now been enhanced as well to offer 5.5 stops of stabilization. No DSLR has this!
  8. SO many lenses to choose from. Sony E Mount which now offers TONS of lenses. Leica M, Nikon, Canon and third part E mount from various manufacturers. We have SO many lenses we can use now. I can see myself with my A9 for my video work and an A7RIII using a Canon 50 L, Leica M mount lenses, a couple great G masters and a Voigtlander E mount or two. The versatility is FANTASTIC.
  9. Silent shutter options, so yes, we can shoot silently.
  10. Finally add in the touch LCD, the Sensor which has proven itself over and over and now has improvements in its performance, the 14 bit color depth, and the deep custom options of the controls and the A7RIII AND the new Pixel Shifting tech that is there for when you want the ultimate in detail and performance from tripod shots…well, I can think of no camera like it besides the A9, and even the A9 can not do all the A7RIII does (High Res). The A9 is still the flagship camera in the Sony lineup but for some, this A7RIII will be the flagship.

All with the A7RIII – Exif is embedded. Third shot has filters applied, and some PP. Last shot converted to B&W

This A7RIII is incredible guys, and a huge step up from what has come before it in the Sony line up. If I had the A7R or RII I would personally not hesitate to upgrade due to the speed enhancements and what Sony has brought over from the A9. BUT, BUT!!!! If all you care about is IQ, keep the A7RII. If all of the other new enhancements do not interest you (battery, eve, card slots, touch LCD, etc) then no need to upgrade. The A7RII is still a killer camera and can be had for a deal right now. IN fact, you can now get an INSANE deal on a new a7RII package with accessories. See it here at Amazon. 

You can pre order the A7RIII now at Amazon and B&H Photo at the links below. It will ship starting November 30th, just about a month away!

Pre Order the A7RIII at B&H Photo HERE

Pre-Order the A7RIII at Amazon (Prime from Amazon) HERE

Pre Order the new 24-105 F/4 G Lens at B&H Photo HERE, Amazon HERE


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28 Comments

  1. I love my new Sony A7R II so much…this has been my best camera I´ve ever used…with best output I´ve ever had, great ergonomics, just to make me want to go out and take photos! Well done, Sony! (the hegemony of those two other players are gone…at last 🙂
    …and thanks for this web..!

  2. Thanks for this list !
    Tough decision to switch systems when my canon 35mm is f1.4 & my 50mm is f1.2.
    And I do a lot of very low light with wide open aperture.
    F2 is ok but 2.8 gets into retrogressive territory

  3. Just to second the above poster’s report about what various testers are saying. Dynamic range remains at 14 stops. Its unclear how Sony can make a claim like that while still delivering images with identical IQ (however hopefully with better capture acutance due to AF. It is unlikely the noise is improved. The pixel shift is sort of cool but opening up iso 64 would have done a lot more for landscape and maximum detail and color.

    The a9.. Its a shame they crippled the video on it. And force 12bit capture. I’d like to keep my a9 over this new camera but because of software inside the cameras I will likely switch.

    • I use my A9 for video all the time, for all kinds of projects and it records beautiful video. Not crippled at all. My A9 stays as the Af with video is much snappier than the RIII. While the RIII has improved AF, for video it is still not near the A9 when it comes to AF. Both cameras have their pros, but if someone were buying new and looking for a full frame camera for photos, I would recommend the RIII 100%.

  4. Steve, does the A7RIII still have shutter blackouts in the EVF when taking pictures? You mentioned the EVF is from A9 so I am guessing it doesn’t? Many thanks.

  5. You’ve written very enthusiastically of your new X1D. Do you now have second thoughts on the X1D?

  6. If the A7RIII also is a ‘star eating’ camera like its predecessor, would that disqualify it from being your ‘camera of the year’? I hoping some of the would-be reviewers compare the A7RIII with the D850 in the realm of astrophotography.

  7. if I had not recently acquired an A9, I would jump at the chance to upgrade from my A7r2 to the 3. It sounds terrific. However, given where I am now (A9 + A7r2), my next objective will be to go for even higher resolution in an A9r or X1D. I’m willing to wait a while for an A9r or perhaps an X1D mk2 and hope that I will be able to afford one of them in due time. As always, thanks for your timely impressions of the latest gear.

  8. If this Sony camera also ‘eats’ stars, can it still be your camera of the year nominee? I’d like to see how this camera performs vis-a-vis the D850 in the realm of astrophotography.

    • Well, I have spoken with a few other reviewers and one who shoots stars with his Sony A7RII and loves it. I am not an Astro guy and the % who would use it for Astro is very very small in the grand scheme of things. I have shot the night sky with my Olympus EM1 MKII and Sony A7RII. I never had a problem, but I am not a pixel peeper. So for me, yes, it would still be my camera of the year as it offers so so much more than other mirrorless cameras right now in a lovely full frame package.

  9. Based on real world tests by The Camera Store, Tony Northrup and others the the A7RIII has the same resolution, the same DR, the same high ISO performance, the same AF speed (except in dim lighting), the same electronic shutter distortion and the same compromises in video which still requires that you choose between the lesser evils of aliasing/moire in FF mode or rolling shutter in 4k mode. Somewhat surprising given that the A7RII is 2+ years old.

    • I’ve watched those reviews plus all others that I could find. Not one says that the autofocus speed is the same as the A7RII. They all say it is much faster.

  10. Silent vibration free imaging is an important feature for many. Silent electronic shutter imaging will be much more motion artifact prone with the A7Riii than with the fast readout A9. Since the A7Riii sensor is more than two year old technology lacking an on sensor image buffer, this amazing new camera unfortunately will likely be subject to especially rapid technological obsolescence in this regard. An A9R could appear in a year with a higher resolution fast readout new sensor. So, I’m having sticker shock because I mostly care about the cost per year from purchase to obsolescence. My still good as new 1972 film Nikon camera body was amortized over thirty+ years of use which was great; but the economics of amortizing a $3,200 Sony digital camera over a year or two is a concern. (But a very nice ‘first world problem’ to have!)

  11. Looking forward for your review, Steve. The A7RIII definitely got everything that I wish my A7RII have. But, I will most likely will not upgrade, as my work now doesn’t require long battery life, and if it does, I can afford carrying more batteries. The dual card slot is very tempting, though.
    If I can see a significant increase in image quality, then I will seriously consider it.

  12. No doubt a very accomplished camera and judging by the output very high quality imagery. However as much as I admire Sony, personally I find them lacking in soul and emotionally cold to use,. I guess it’s a personal reaction to the modern trend of gear idolatry with more emphasis on the quality of gear v the photographic endeavour.

  13. It’s like Sony took the best from the A9 and the best from the A7R II added in a few new features for good measure and voilà A7R III. Camera of the Year? It’s got my vote!

  14. Steve, you say so many lenses. But is that really so? When I asked about fast, small, AF, primes in the 35, 50, 85mm range the 55 f1.8 was all that turned up. No 35mm, no 85mm
    In this piece, you suggest maybe using a Canon 50 f1.2 – would that be with an adapter that keeps AF functions.?
    This is of particular interest to me as I’m considering switching to this camera from Canon (5d3), primarily to get a smaller kit with all those great features and great IQ, and I have a two good Canon L lenses.

    • You have many choices in 85mm. 85 f/1.8, amazing, cheap, fast and light:

      Review: http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2017/03/29/the-sony-85-f1-8-lens-review-all-the-85-you-may-ever-need/

      You also have the Zeiss Batis 85 1.8 which is lightweight and amazing in performance – AF and E mount:

      Review: http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2015/07/06/the-zeiss-batis-25-f2-and-85-f1-8-lens-review/

      In 35mm you have the original 35 f/2.8 Zeiss which is TINY! You have the 35 1.4 which is beautiful in IQ, from wide open to stopped down. You have the Zeiss Loxia 35 f/2 which is small and light and then you have others I that range from Sigma, Rokinon, Leica, Voigtlander and others.

      There are something like 26-27 E mount native lenses from Sony, with countless others you can use via adapters. Hundreds of lens options on Sony. The 50 L from canon focused faster on my A9 with adapter than it did on a 5D III.

      So yes, many lens options..countless really with many more to come from Sony and others.

    • What is this 2015 and the original launch lenses?

      Here are a few that might be of interest:

      Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
      Sony 28mm f/2
      Samyang 35mm f/2.8
      Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8
      Sony 50mm f/1.8
      Sony 50mm f/2.8 Macro
      Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8
      Sony 85mm f/1.8
      Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 OS

    • Frank, there’s the 25/2, 28/2, 55/1.8 and 85/1.8 if you want small & fast AF primes.

      Then there is the 35/2.8 which might not be fast enough for you, but I recommend having a second look because that lens is tiny and produces gorgeous images.

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