* Like many reviews these days, this is a real-world / working overview on this new camera. I won't go into many tech details and tests but more an overall review on what the camera can do in actual shooting situations and conditions - and from my point of view of course ;)
I had sworn off mirrorless for 'at least' another generation or two. Not that a Fuji X-T1 and an array of lenses couldn't get the job done; I was happy with the performance and accepted what it could / couldn't do. Low-light auto-focus and battery life are things that you know going in aren't going to be up to 2K (and over) DSLR body performance. However, the lower weight, discreet nature and EVF are huge advantages for me which I immediately missed once I ultimately sold it all off.
I spent the next year or so keeping an eye on the rapidly changing landscape of mirrorless with the intent that once the features I needed became available (via Fuji), I would buy into the system again and ultimately, replace my DSLR kit with it.
Then the A9 released. Boom, everything changed. Battery life... Fixed. Auto-focus... Incredible. There's more to it than just those two features but, in large part, they are the two biggest I needed. Sony still didn't have a vast amount of lens options but there was enough to cover what I needed.
The A7 III
I had my eye on the A9 but I was waiting for a successor or iteration; something that fit a bit more into what I needed. I wasn't too keen on the sensor they decided for the A9. They took back some dynamic range and gave us crazy fast readout speed in it's place. A fine trade off for certain things but I valued pure image quality over those. Eventually the 'R' III released and while that was interesting... I didn't want a D850 equivalent. Finally, the 'III' was announced and I immediately preordered. This was the camera I have been waiting for! Sony's D750+. This is the camera seemingly made for me and the wait for shipping would be grueling! ;)
What's so great about it?
'Game changer' gets thrown around a lot with new camera releases (this one no different). However, for me, this one truly backs that up. Coming from the A9 you get 693 points which is over 90% coverage of the zone. Coming from Nikon DSLRs that is INSANE. Add to that my new favorite feature... Eye Tracking AF. This combined with truly special continuous focus performance and you have a camera that gives you the confidence to know you are nailing critical focus, even in run-and-gun situations and at shallow depth - wide open apertures, so you can focus more about composition and lighting... awesome.
I was most worried about low-light AF however. I knew going in that mirrorless DOES NOT work like a DSLR when it comes to AF assist lights (from speedlights or triggers). That reassuring 'red-light' that gave your camera's auto-focus a kick start in super low-light conditions - such as wedding receptions. I knew this camera could work 100% down to -3 EV but I also knew there was a catch... Most cameras with that spec will -3 EV at f/2.8. The A7 III (and A9 before it) need f2. That gave me pause on the 24-70MM 2.8 G lens. However, I'm more of a prime shooter anyway - but more on that in a bit.
Focus in low-light (-3 EV or better) is quick and accurate. Tracking in these conditions is also great. It's actually pretty amazing really. These conditions with fast prime lenses (such as a 35MM 1.4) on a DSLR, would often result in frustration and failures wide open. YMMV and lighting conditions play a huge factor but when I say it's good... wow. Eye tracking or face tracking AF in low-light is mind blowing.
In summary, auto-focus capabilities with this camera have changed how I shoot; and for the better. It's refreshing and confidence building in normally tough situations and in more casual shooting, and I apologize if this is corny, takes you closer to the art of shooting rather than worrying about things like focusing.
I'll keep this section short as it really is boring in the best way possible. I came from a D750 and a D810. Both have superb image quality / sensors. This is truly the D750 successor to my eyes. The megapixel size is perfect (for me) at 24. Dynamic range, high ISO and overall look is top of the line here and an easy transition from my previous gear which really was so close to this and very good in their own right. In short, if 24 megapixel is enough for you, this sensor will leave nothing to be desired.
Color & Processing
I had heard Sony's colors left a bit to be desired, especially where skin tones are concerned. I'll assume they've taken some steps to remedy this as of late as the A7 III files are very nice to work with and I've edited a few A7r III files which were very similar in this regard. Now, of course you have to take into account what processing software you are using (unless you are just sticking to JPEG's)...
I'm using, and am a big fan of, Capture One Pro. I know Sony is working fairly close with Phase One to give their professional customers a great experience for processing RAW files and honestly it shows. The A7 III files inside C1 are really very nice. I always had to battle my tones with my Nikon files inside of C1 but the Sony files just sing. I've also experimented with the files in Lightroom CC Classic and the experience was good - however, I'm not a fan of that application nor Adobe's practices as of late so I can't comment further.
Performance & Handling
The A7 III has a split personality in regards to performance. On one hand, it has 10 frames-per-second continuous shooting speed; very nice. It can also shoot silently via the electronic shutter at 10 frames-per-second but watch what your are shooting and where you are shooting it. More on that later. I spoke on AF already but obviously that is nice and speedy.
Where things falter a bit is with the off / on function and menu speed. Now, this isn't new to the Sony system but it's more complicated than that. The actual speed at which you make changes in the menu feels slow. Also, formatting a card takes longer than I'm used to. The menu system itself is, for me anyway, fine. It IS more complicated than most but I feel it's mostly logical. The addition of 'my menu' is necessary and welcome. It really makes all the difference. Can the menu system be improved? Of course, but as it stands it's more useable than you've heard.
The body is basically the same as the A7R III and very similar to the A9. Button layout is essentially the same with the exception of the top left dial found on the A9. Nice to have but non essential in my opinion; YMMV. Are these cameras comfortable to use? Depends. Compared to other mirrorless they are just fine, in my opinion. However, they ARE mirrorless so without a grip you may find it too small (my pinky has nowhere to go). With the grip it's perfect. This is very much horses for courses though; when you want to be more discreet or shed weight you have the option of going smaller. I think this is a big positive.
Buttons are laid out well. I setup the back button focus in addition to setting the AE-L button to the right of the Back Focus button to Eye-AF. This works out very well for me, however, many sony lenses have a button on the lens that will do this for you as well. Personally, I like that whatever lens I have mounted I know I can quickly engage Eye AF.
The current landscape of lenses in Sony land recently got a shot in the arm via Sigma and Tamron. Both of which are now making native E-Mount lenses. This is fantastic. I'm a big fan of some of Sigma's primes and a huge fan of Tamron's recent lenses. The recently announced Tamron 28-75MM f2.8 looks to be the zoom I eventually grab. Sony's own array of lenses are mostly quite good. The G series, while pricy, are very good performers - if a bit on the large side. The cheaper lenses are quite good as well; as an example their 24-105MM FE f4 lens looks very nice and probably the best 24-105MM currently available.
I invested in all primes to start with. I currently have the Zeiss Batis 25MM f2, Zeiss Batis 85MM f1.8, Zeiss Batis 135MM f2.8 and the Sony Zeiss 35MM 1.4. These are close to or exactly my necessary focal lengths. I'm missing a fast 50 but I've yet to decide on which to grab and it isn't a must-have initially for me. As I mentioned before, I'll likely grab the new Tamron 28-75MM for a general purpose zoom.
Sony got a ton right with this camera, but of course there are still things to improve. I have already mentioned the slightly sluggish menu performance, which btw isn't there on the A9; or as slow anyway. They took some resolution away from the EVF in comparison to the 'R' III and the A9 but... honestly you have to take some things away for this price point. However, it would be nice to have ;)
Sony's RAW file format is in need of improvement. Currently there are no small raw options like Canon nor is there a lossless compressed option like Nikon. The files are unfortunately pretty hefty.
One last thing... no battery charger included with the camera? Really Sony? This is a 2K body right? Sure, they give you the option to use a usb cable with a wall wart to charge the camera but this takes longer and the way the access door opens to plug in the cable is ... not well thought out. On top of that, they are charging $80 for the separate charger. Ouch.
The Start of Something Great
The A7r II was, in my mind, when Sony started to change things towards where we are today. The A9 proved they could take that next step, The A7r III iterated and filled in another gap and now finally, here we are with the 'III' which gets so many things right for so many types of shooting. They call this the 'basic' model but honestly I think that is just to stick it to Canon and Nikon ;)
There's always that new car smell and giddiness when you acquire a new piece of kit. Granted, we are still in the honeymoon phase here - but this isn't my first dance. I have never had this level of performance or this great of a start from a new camera. It's got much of what I loved about the Fuji system but mixed with the pro level performance of my previous Nikon system. It is, in my opinion, the most well rounded camera on the market and one that will fill many shooters needs extremely well.