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Sony A7S III - First impressions


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Hello guys !

I shot my first gig with my new A7S III. So far it's exactly what I expected : a formidable workhorse for corporate videos or digital ads and many more things. It made huge improvements in usability even though there are still some things missing (like loading custom LUTs) but not many.

Image wise, it's very much a Sony camera. Its image is in line with the other alpha cameras (which is not a bad thing), only with better codecs. The codecs are good but not groundbreaking. It allows the image to show virtually no pink macro blocking and smoother gradation in the sky for instance. Oddly enough, the image coming from the X-T3 feels thicker, less processed (but I HATE the magenta shift in f-log and the skin smoothening effect, impossible to get rid of and never discussed !). The image of the A7S III is quite clinical. I feel the same about what I've seen with the C70 so far (that being said, I've never actually had the sooc footage on my computer). We are far from what we get with blackmagic raw or red cameras. This is not the camera to get if you're after the best organic thick image quality.

I was curious to try prores raw to see if things would improve with less digital treatment. So far prores raw support in premiere is very basic but you still get an unprocessed signal. I was a bit surprised. Even though there's no noise reduction (I thought NR + H264 codec was the main factor for this clean/digital image), Prores raw image is very close to internal recording. Sure there's more noise, but the image doesn't feel "raw" at all ! Still very clinical. I'm sure you can make wonders with it, but right out of the box, it has no real "mojo" advantage over the h264 10 bit.

Anyway, there are so many things to say about the camera, it is wonderful for anything delivered on the web. The colors have improved a bit (not by much) and are totally fine. I think I might make a video review of the camera since I think there are not many real world experienced user who have done one, but many gear reviewers.

I respectfully disagree with the previous OP who shot the commercial for the massaging thing who said it's a totally different camera than the previous models. I think it's almost indistinguishable if you watch footage online with youtube compression. I watched a few old clips from ads I made with the FS7, and dare I say, I find the FS7 having something more, i'm sorry, "filmic". So does my 5d mk III ML Raw footage. I'm sure every manufacturer does something different when it comes to their cinema line. I always felt that way reviewing clips from all the different cameras.

And I had a quick question for the other A7S III owners : can you also see faint lines on the rear lcd screen when it's off ? I can't really see them when it's on, I think it's normal, but just wanted to make sure.

Thanks ! Feel free to ask anything if you have questions about the camera ! I'm surprised the camera is not much discussed at all ! With everybody waiting for it for years and buying it.

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31 minutes ago, Papiskokuji said:

Hello guys !

I shot my first gig with my new A7S III. So far it's exactly what I expected : a formidable workhorse for corporate videos or digital ads and many more things. It made huge improvements in usability even though there are still some things missing (like loading custom LUTs) but not many.

Image wise, it's very much a Sony camera. Its image is in line with the other alpha cameras (which is not a bad thing), only with better codecs. The codecs are good but not groundbreaking. It allows the image to show virtually no pink macro blocking and smoother gradation in the sky for instance. Oddly enough, the image coming from the X-T3 feels thicker, less processed (but I HATE the magenta shift in f-log and the skin smoothening effect, impossible to get rid of and never discussed !). The image of the A7S III is quite clinical. I feel the same about what I've seen with the C70 so far (that being said, I've never actually had the sooc footage on my computer). We are far from what we get with blackmagic raw or red cameras. This is not the camera to get if you're after the best organic thick image quality.

I was curious to try prores raw to see if things would improve with less digital treatment. So far prores raw support in premiere is very basic but you still get an unprocessed signal. I was a bit surprised. Even though there's no noise reduction (I thought NR + H264 codec was the main factor for this clean/digital image), Prores raw image is very close to internal recording. Sure there's more noise, but the image doesn't feel "raw" at all ! Still very clinical. I'm sure you can make wonders with it, but right out of the box, it has no real "mojo" advantage over the h264 10 bit.

Anyway, there are so many things to say about the camera, it is wonderful for anything delivered on the web. The colors have improved a bit (not by much) and are totally fine. I think I might make a video review of the camera since I think there are not many real world experienced user who have done one, but many gear reviewers.

I respectfully disagree with the previous OP who shot the commercial for the massaging thing who said it's a totally different camera than the previous models. I think it's almost indistinguishable if you watch footage online with youtube compression. I watched a few old clips from ads I made with the FS7, and dare I say, I find the FS7 having something more, i'm sorry, "filmic". So does my 5d mk III ML Raw footage. I'm sure every manufacturer does something different when it comes to their cinema line. I always felt that way reviewing clips from all the different cameras.

And I had a quick question for the other A7S III owners : can you also see faint lines on the rear lcd screen when it's off ? I can't really see them when it's on, I think it's normal, but just wanted to make sure.

Thanks ! Feel free to ask anything if you have questions about the camera ! I'm surprised the camera is not much discussed at all ! With everybody waiting for it for years and buying it.

Did you do much handheld with the standard stabilisation. Did you find it good enough?

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13 minutes ago, TheBoogieKnight said:

Did you do much handheld with the standard stabilisation. Did you find it good enough?

I shot a lot on a gimbal for this job. I tried stabilization a bit when I went handheld. Well, I haven't use the GH5 or any panasonic cameras much to have a point of comparison. It's totally fine for static shots, that I can say. It might be usable for slow mo b-roll with light lateral movement. Standard active seems good too (minding there's a slight crop). All in all it's good enough for my use (I just want to get rid of micro jitters with manual vintage lenses). I look forward trying post stab with gyro datas. And I think I'd rather have a lesser sensor stabilization but with less warping artifacts. I'll do further testings soon !

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10 hours ago, Papiskokuji said:

Oddly enough, the image coming from the X-T3 feels thicker, less processed (but I HATE the magenta shift in f-log and the skin smoothening effect, impossible to get rid of and never discussed !)

Sorry but what sort of skin smoothening effect are you talking about? I know the early x-trans sensors were prone to this, in jpeg, but I haven't seen it in my X-T3 and X-T4. Is this something that is commonly seen in f-log? At what ISO? Can you send pictures? 

The magenta shift and overly sharpened images is what I feel are worse problems when it comes to Fujifilm video.

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4 hours ago, Simon Young said:

Sorry but what sort of skin smoothening effect are you talking about? I know the early x-trans sensors were prone to this, in jpeg, but I haven't seen it in my X-T3 and X-T4. Is this something that is commonly seen in f-log? At what ISO? Can you send pictures? 

The magenta shift and overly sharpened images is what I feel are worse problems when it comes to Fujifilm video.

Well the actual skin smoothening was very well present on the X-T20, with the infamous waxy skin tones. But here, it's different. Whenever I'm filming someone with the X-T3, it's like there's make-up powder on the face, hard to describe, but something's going on. It can give some texture to the image but I feel it's just not the neutral representation I want from the camera. Also it's like the image is a bit faded with grey transitions from midtones to shadows. Sometimes I don't feel all that much, but sometimes it's not good. It's quite subtle and definitely you can get away with it for web content. It's the same with F-Log. I had wonderful results, especially at the beginning, but now, whenever I'm filming myself for testing, my skin is magenta !

But if you don't see it, don't look for it 🙂 And the X-T3 is still a wonderful camera ! You can chose everything ! Precise framerate, 4K, UHD, Data rate... It's incredible. 

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8 hours ago, Papiskokuji said:

Well the actual skin smoothening was very well present on the X-T20, with the infamous waxy skin tones. But here, it's different. Whenever I'm filming someone with the X-T3, it's like there's make-up powder on the face, hard to describe, but something's going on. It can give some texture to the image but I feel it's just not the neutral representation I want from the camera. Also it's like the image is a bit faded with grey transitions from midtones to shadows.

I know what you are talking about. I think it's Fuji's effort to make skin more flattering. Its actually one of the reasons I purchased my XT3.

I like Fuji's film emulations but I find it difficult to get Flog to look as nice. In terms of color I will once again recommend Emotive color's Alexa luts. He makes one specific for the XT3. They have been the saving grace on my Pana S1. 

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5 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

I know what you are talking about. I think it's Fuji's effort to make skin more flattering. Its actually one of the reasons I purchased my XT3.

I like Fuji's film emulations but I find it difficult to get Flog to look as nice. In terms of color I will once again recommend Emotive color's Alexa luts. He makes one specific for the XT3. They have been the saving grace on my Pana S1. 

I shoot a ton on the X-T3 and T4 in FLog. I love the images I get from it. I find that I don't have any problems with skin tones if I'm careful about my white balance and exposure. Underexpose with the white balance off and you'll run into problems. I use the Fuji FLog to 709 conversion LUT, fine tune exposure and white balance and go from there. if I want to add a style LUT I find Noam Kroll's Digital to Film is a nice place to start.

I usually stay away from Fuji's FLog to Eterna LUT. I find it too heavy handed for my style, usually.  If Fuji had an FLog to Chrome LUT, I'd probably use that. Chrome is my favorite in-camera look.

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47 minutes ago, EphraimP said:

I shoot a ton on the X-T3 and T4 in FLog. I love the images I get from it. I find that I don't have any problems with skin tones if I'm careful about my white balance and exposure. Underexpose with the white balance off and you'll run into problems. I use the Fuji FLog to 709 conversion LUT, fine tune exposure and white balance and go from there. if I want to add a style LUT I find Noam Kroll's Digital to Film is a nice place to start.

I usually stay away from Fuji's FLog to Eterna LUT. I find it too heavy handed for my style, usually.  If Fuji had an FLog to Chrome LUT, I'd probably use that. Chrome is my favorite in-camera look.

Well one forum member created LUTs to get these film emulations back from F-log. Very talented @Attila Bakos 🙂 You can purchase his LUTs.

But I can assure you, I can white balance properly, expose a bit to the right or just spot on, I always get that magenta tint in the skin tones. Same goes for the powder texture on skins. But it's all gone now since I just sold my X-T3 😢 today

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3 hours ago, Papiskokuji said:

Well one forum member created LUTs to get these film emulations back from F-log. Very talented @Attila Bakos 🙂 You can purchase his LUTs.

But I can assure you, I can white balance properly, expose a bit to the right or just spot on, I always get that magenta tint in the skin tones. Same goes for the powder texture on skins. But it's all gone now since I just sold my X-T3 😢 today

What's your replacement? 

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9 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

I like Fuji's film emulations but I find it difficult to get Flog to look as nice. In terms of color I will once again recommend Emotive color's Alexa luts. He makes one specific for the XT3. They have been the saving grace on my Pana S1. 

It would be great if you could post a frame grab or comparing his LUT on VLOG with the standard VLOG LUT.

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5 hours ago, TomTheDP said:

What's your replacement? 

Obviously I have an A7S III and a BMPCC 4K (I got rid of lots of cameras lately). I use the Blackmagic whenever I want a premium image (for digital ads mostly) and the A7S III for anything else, when I need convenience. I'm trying to sell my bmpcc (old gen) also ! 🙂

By the way, my question got lost in my first long post : can anyone confirm there are faint horizontal bars on the LCD rear screen when it's off ? Thx !

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Well I had a job today at the art gallery I regularly make videos for. First time there with the A7S III. So quick to work with. Funnily enough, the girl working there told me at the end of the session "You've never been so fast !". I guess it's just the habit of filming there, hehe, not the camera to be honest.

So the experience was great, except for one thing. I was shooting the entire video with the Tamron 17-28mm. AF tracking worked like a charm when I was alone, filming the paintings. And then I had to film a few people in the gallery (the client !) and the AF started to mess around ! Even though the tracking was enabled and locked on what I wanted, the AF followed the general setting (wide or spot for instance). I've never experienced that and it seemed to be a major bug, It was not like there was hunting or something, just a complete override of the tracking... It might be related to the fact I used a Tamron lens.

The two jobs I did before with the A7S III, I never experienced it but it was with G master zooms. That being said, for the first 90% of the shoot, the AF tracking was perfect, everything was fine. I also shot a bit with the Tamron 28-75 (not professionally tho) and never had a single problem. It's funny cause it's not the kind of bug you're used to with Sony or Canon cameras. It looked a bit like a beta issue you can experience with blackmagic cameras (not AF wise obviously).

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Finally got mine.  Did a quick comparison with my A7III. I tried a few color modes: movie, still, sgamut3.cine, forgot to do pro on the A7SIII. Just lit myself with an LED panel in my room, very low DR scene. I did use the 10bit from the A7SIII vs the 8bit A7III.

I gotta say, once graded using an x-rite passport match in resolve, and converting to arri log, I couldn't tell you which color mode or camera each clip was from. I was expecting something more but every clip looked very similar. I suppose it does mean the underlying color data is all there so that could be seen as a positive. Vectorscope definitely showed color was more precise and less splotchy on the 10bit files. Also means matching looks is trivial.

For SOOC, Gerald suggested using neutral / movie.  I think "Still" looks better than movie.  Movie really shifts reds to orange. Still has less saturation and orange shift, but it does shift the reds slightly to burgundy (better than orange IMO). I think "Still" is closer to neutral than movie mode if you want something similar using picture profiles. Just need to add some contrast to the still profile and you're almost looking like neutral. 

Using sgamut3.cine with Cine4 looked fine after converting the color space to rec709, but of course looked wack SOOC.

Without the x-rite or any CC on the skin, my skin with LED looked pretty bad. A bit too orangey with movie, luminance a bit too high. I do think with the x-rite and arri lut it looks decent though. Good thing about the x-rite is that if you forget to do it in the shoot, if you are in a similar lighting setup you can just steal the correction from another clip and it usually works fine.

I can't imagine trying to get skin to look good without resolve, x-rite, and color transform. But with those tools I'm relatively happy with the direction my color is going.

So expectations were definitely not exceeded for me. I will appreciate the 4K60p and unlimited recording times, as well as improved AF modes. Color improvements were minor but welcome. SOOC still trash to me but using the right tools, I think I can get the footage looking pretty good for what I'm doing.

If the A7IV has unlimited recording and 4K60P, and AF with HDMI out, I might swap out one of the A7SIII for that instead as the color improvements were marginal if you were already correcting anyways.

Waiting for a sunny day to test with good light...

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