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Sony A7S III - First impressions


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It's been a long wait for the Sony A7S III. Maturity takes time. 5 years for Sonys cameras to develop into tools that feel like cameras. I never had the inspired feeling picking up a clinical Sony before. However the A7S III is a huge improvement... at a price.

New blog post:

https://www.eoshd.com/news/sony-a7s-iii-first-impressions/

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I thought @Andrew Reid’s piece was excellent. Useful insights. The rest of the thread proves one thing - we are all looking for different things from our cameras/tools. “Brilliant” that we h

I'm still thinking about maybe switching to Sony or Canon for better AF in video cause I am often shooting as a one man band, and AF would be very appreciated. But I can't help thinking that my Panaso

It's been a long wait for the Sony A7S III. Maturity takes time. 5 years for Sonys cameras to develop into tools that feel like cameras. I never had the inspired feeling picking up a clinical Sony bef

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I owned the a7s and skipped the a7sii for the a7iii, which had been the best all-around hybrid camera for a good time.

The internal 10-bit codecs are a necessary upgrade, as is the improved color, but I think what's most interesting is the gyro-based catalyst browse stabilization (like the SteadyXP module). 

What's slightly disappointing? It seems that the low light isn't that much improved, with both noise visible in higher ISOs combined with noise reduction that you can't turn off, which affects resolution (no oversampling). 

It's unequivocally a more reliable camera than the R5, but if one can accept the overheating limitations, the R5 has better image quality—bleeding edge actually, in 8K raw. 

The Sony a7siii is a safe, great all-arounder, but nothing really all that exciting about it. 

 

 

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54 minutes ago, independent said:

The Sony a7siii is a safe, great all-arounder, but nothing really all that exciting about it. 

I guess I have to agree with you (and just so everyone knows, I own three WORKING Sony cameras and an a6300 that sadly died when my client knocked over my tripod, so I ain't no Sony hater).

Two years ago it would have been the must-have camera for video shooters. But now there are so many options from other camera makers that - while they don't go head to head EXACTLY against the a7S III - at least make for compelling alternatives.

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2 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

When faced with competition like this, the Sony A7S III has zero weaknesses.

Yeah I guess that sums it up. Every other camera is flawed heavy. And this one does not seem to excell in any department, but its just ok or more then ok for all departments.

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Well it does excel in quite a few departments. Full frame 4K/120p from a full pixel readout is unheard of at the moment from anything else this size or price. The autofocus is pretty much leading the way. The low light capabilities are also class leading.

The weaknesses are few and far between.

I've not been a huge fan of Sony lately, but credit where it's due.

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4 hours ago, independent said:

but if one can accept the overheating limitations, the R5 has better image quality—bleeding edge actually, in 8K raw. 

Accepting the overheating limitations means, accepting having a toy in stead of a tool. 

So we can play a little with our toy, not much, as the memory card is right full, and we can buy a new computer to be able to edit this fantastic footage. There are several "carefully planned" shortcomings in the R5, so the main function of the R5 is to get you long for the mark-II, which again will have some "carefully planned" shortcomings. 

I do not have the A7sIII yet but it seems more to be a tool, not a toy. 

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34 minutes ago, Andrew Reid said:

Well it does excel in quite a few departments. Full frame 4K/120p from a full pixel readout is unheard of at the moment from anything else this size or price. The autofocus is pretty much leading the way. The low light capabilities are also class leading.

The weaknesses are few and far between.

I've not been a huge fan of Sony lately, but credit where it's due.

Thanks for sharing Andrew. 

I just don’t agree with these people who say the A7SIII is safe, boring and not exciting. It’s baffling to be honest. 

I took it on a 6 day trip to Turkey to film a trilogy of music videos. I almost rather effortlessly acquired an immense amount of footage, beautifully exposed in the sun with crisp, detailed imagery. The experience was extremely liberating. 

Now I’ve got the 1st video in edit, the footage is such a joy to grade. It’s easy to get a great image with any look you want. The only downside being the non- All-I codecs being impossible to edit natively. So I got a Ninja V. 

Back to my point. This is not a boring or safe camera. This is a camera that’s been tuned to precision with absolutely no handicaps for 4k shooting. None whatsoever. No gimmicks. No cripple. Nothing. And no other camera on the market can claim this. To me it’s the most exciting camera I’ve used in a long time, because it sets me completely free. 

Interestingly, I did pre-order a C70 which also looks great. I’m now debating whether to get another A7SIII and be done with it. 

 

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Why I decided to pass up the A7SIII over the R5; or any forthcoming Canon mirrorless (because the R5 isn’t perfect either).

Terrible LCD
Only 12MP
Compromised S35 crop modes (because of the sensor)
Strong video, weak photos for anything but social media (is it even a hybrid, really?)
CFExpress Type A (Type B seems to be more widely accepted at the current moment)
The aforementioned shitty previews
9M dot EVF is wasted almost completely. A higher res LCD would have made infinitely more sense.
E-mount feels more locked in

Things I appreciate about the R5

3.2” 2.1M DOT LCD that is bright
5.6M Dot EVF that is more than good
Oversampled Crop mode
45MP photos
Better IBIS for photos (video IBIS debatable)
Can take RF, adapt EF, FD
EF lens performance is excellent
 

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I considered it. Seriously considered it...

It had 2 flaws for me vs 1 for the Panny S5.

Stellar AF but 12mp stills vs less able AF but 24mp stills.

I can buy 2.5 x S5 bodies for the price of 1 single A7Siii’s and I need 3 bodies for my work.

Best video-centric DSLR like mirrorless? The Sony probably is, but hybrid? Probably not.
I don’t think there is a ‘best’ hybrid right now, just some options that have less compromises or may suit you better than others.

I suspect though, that when the A7iv trots along, there will be a near-zero compromise hybrid. Unless they push the price up compared with the current model.

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Never owned anything Sony when it comes to cameras, but this could be a first. The Canon C70 looks nice, but at that small size and low weight it needs IBIS IMHO. That's my biggest concern with the C70 - handheld footage and no IBIS. The Sony A7S3 checks all the marks.

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3 hours ago, ghostwind said:

Never owned anything Sony when it comes to cameras, but this could be a first. The Canon C70 looks nice, but at that small size and low weight it needs IBIS IMHO. That's my biggest concern with the C70 - handheld footage and no IBIS. The Sony A7S3 checks all the marks.

A7s3 ibis is quite weak, c70 with digital is about the same performance as Sony IBIS while Panasonic IBIS is still better than R5/R6, R5/R6 one could be improved if they fine tune it with firmware update. 

 

Regarding resolution, it so funny to see Canon user keep saying 20mp is a bit low while Sony user say 12mp is good enough 🤣

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I'm still thinking about maybe switching to Sony or Canon for better AF in video cause I am often shooting as a one man band, and AF would be very appreciated. But I can't help thinking that my Panasonic S1H and even my newest S5 after the future firmware has still the edge in video besides AF and slow motion
- much better color science
- much better IBIS
- better video tools (waveform, vectorscope, shutter angle, etc)
- a unique LCD implementation (tilt and swivel)
- 6K (though I don't really use it that much but still)
- very useful S35 crop mode in 4k and even pixel pixel in 1080p
- no overheating whatsoever 
- better tactile implementation (Sony improved it a lot but still not the same quality as Panasonic and Canon)
- 4k DCI 
- better ergonomics (arguably Panasonic has the best ergonomics of all the hybrid full frame cameras, and I say this as a former A7III and Canon EOS R owner)
- Possibility to choose linear focusing and even the length throw with native lenses from Panasonic and Sigma recently wich is not possible on Sony lenses
- better hybrid usability if you need to shoot stills and video 
- Timecode
- Real anamorphic recording modes
- ProRes RAW up to 5.9K (up to 4k in the Sony)
- Etc.

So yeah I'd be glad to have a better AF, but truly giving up all those things I listed before, it feels like I would downgrade in some ways.
@andrewreid what do you think of the comparison. As of now, what would you choose between those two?

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19 minutes ago, Trankilstef said:

- Possibility to choose linear focusing and even the length throw with native lenses from Panasonic and Sigma recently wich is not possible on Sony lenses

Yeah, one can certainly argue that Panasonic S cameras have the best VIDEO lenses out there this side of cinema lenses due to the linear focus, adjustable focus throw, parfocal cabability and minimum focus breathing.

Looking forward to the 6K firmware for the S1. wthere was a test on youtube where they were comparing the noise profile of the S1H between the 4K downsampled from 6K in camera, to the 6,K and then dwon-rez in Resolve, and the 6K that was down-rez in Revole to 4K had less noise.  (Think it was dpjourney who did the comparison but could be wrong on that).

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I love the S-III....except for ONE thing. Sony spread the dual stage gain values WAY too far part. In SLog-2/3 have the "low" db set at 640 ISO and the "high" 0db at 12,800 ISO! This is crazy. That second stage preamp needs to be moved down to 4,000 ISO where the S1H and FX9 have it set. The S-III's ISO's on the first stage look TERRIBLE from 3200-12,800 because of this. 

I know why Sony dud this. The wanted the S-III to be the "low light king" for marketing reasons. So,...they sacrificed the lower gain amounts to collect higher performance on the extreme low light conditions. This was a $hitty trade off in my opinion. At least the FX9 and S1H have it right!

Sony A7S-III - "Low light joker but no light King"

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I think many look to mirrorless hybrids to act as hybrids as they shoot both.  So the A7sIII falls short there, if HQ photos is your thing.  However there are equally many using hybrids mainly or solely for video and value the small form factor and features unique to such cameras like IBIS.  This camera works better for those users.  

Sony still has a reputation for poor colour and I don't think the A7sIII has done enough to discourage that view.  I did like some of the promo vidoes.  In fact, I preferred them to Canons R5.  And I would normally rate Canon higher for IQ over Sony.

I still feel though that Sony lacks many of the features that Panasonic cameras have.  Plus I feel Panasonic has the superior IBIS.  Though Sony benefits from AF the Panasonic lacks.  Its a minefield trying to decide which fullframe hybrid system is right.  No one has yet managed to get it completely right.

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4 hours ago, Trankilstef said:

I'm still thinking about maybe switching to Sony or Canon for better AF in video cause I am often shooting as a one man band, and AF would be very appreciated. But I can't help thinking that my Panasonic S1H and even my newest S5 after the future firmware has still the edge in video besides AF and slow motion

So yeah I'd be glad to have a better AF, but truly giving up all those things I listed before, it feels like I would downgrade in some ways.
@andrewreid what do you think of the comparison. As of now, what would you choose between those two?

With more LIDAR AF Add option popping the AF on Pana will be non issue, especially if u use cine or anamorphic lens, the AF from camera is not going to power those manual only lens.

And most mirrorless AF lens is really bad at manual focusing, its good that Pana have the option to select focus through/non linear etc.

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2 hours ago, Cliff Totten said:

I love the S-III....except for ONE thing. Sony spread the dual stage gain values WAY too far part. In SLog-2/3 have the "low" db set at 640 ISO and the "high" 0db at 12,800 ISO! This is crazy. That second stage preamp needs to be moved down to 4,000 ISO where the S1H and FX9 have it set. The S-III's ISO's on the first stage look TERRIBLE from 3200-12,800 because of this. 

I know why Sony dud this. The wanted the S-III to be the "low light king" for marketing reasons. So,...they sacrificed the lower gain amounts to collect higher performance on the extreme low light conditions. This was a $hitty trade off in my opinion. At least the FX9 and S1H have it right!

Sony A7S-III - "Low light joker but no light King"

Is that why up to 10,000 ISO the difference is not huge between those cameras, but once past that the S3 shows quite a lot difference?

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1 hour ago, Snowfun said:

I thought @Andrew Reid’s piece was excellent. Useful insights.

The rest of the thread proves one thing - we are all looking for different things from our cameras/tools.

“Brilliant” that we have so many to choose from.

I’m enjoying my Siii.

You said it! We all have our own preferences.. no one camera to rule them all in this day and age.

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