Sony Alpha7R III digital camera (review)
4.4Overall Score
Name: Sony Alpha7R III Price (RRP): $4,599 Manufacturer: Sony

Forty megapixels. Or, more precisely, 42,177,408 pixels. That’s the resolution of the Sony Alpha7RIII camera. Let’s see if that makes a real difference.

My first real digital camera was an Olympus C-3030 Zoom. It cost something like $2,000 when I bought it some eighteen years ago. It offered 3.2 megapixels of resolution. It was so cool at the time. So sharp. Forty megapixels? Unthinkable.

Six years later I upgraded to a real DSLR, a 6-megapixel Pentax K100D. I have a general rule of trying to avoid upgrading technology until something has doubled: speed, resolution, whatever. Then I waited another eight years for my current camera, a 16-megapixel Panasonic DMC-GH4.

It has only been four years but were I able to afford it, I’d love to upgrade to the Sony Alpha7R III. As we will see, that 2.6x increase in resolution really does make a real difference.

Features

But first, let’s check out some details on the Sony Alpha7R III. As the name suggests, this is the third version of the Sony Alpha7R. Like the last version, it features a full frame Exmor R CMOS sensor.  “Full frame” means similar in size to a 35mm film frame. In this case, it’s 35.9mm by 24.0mm.

Now, 42 megapixels is a lot of pixels, but since the sensor is fairly large, each pixel is relatively big. Compared to the GH4, for example, each pixel on this camera is more than fifty per cent bigger. And since it is back-illuminated, that allows each pixel to capture more light.

Sony Alpha7R III

(Back-illuminated means that electronics and whatnot are on the back of the sensor, rather than the front. That way they don’t impede the passage of the light.)

In most ways, the camera is identical to the Sony Alpha7 IIIwhich we reviewed a few months ago. See here.We were rather impressed. But this camera is even more impressive, but in mostways similar. For usability, check out that review. Both cameras are pretty muchthe same size and weight. The differences are:

  • 42 megapixels versus 24.2 megapixels
  • A quad-VGA (1280 by 960 pixel) viewfinder versus an XGA (1024×768) viewfinder
  • Reduced battery life of 530 images versus 610 images when using the viewfinder
  • This one comes with a separate battery charger.

If you’re a serious photographer, having a separate battery charger is important. You will want to have a couple of battery packs available at all times. And having to charge within the camera makes that very difficult.

But charging within the camera is possible, via both the USB Type-C and Micro-B USB sockets. Also on the side are sockets for HDMI, headphones, microphone and remote flash.

Sony Alpha7R III storage

With 42 megapixels and the ability to shoot RAW – each ofthose consumes 110 megabytes of storage! – youneed plenty of storage. There are two card slots, both compatible with SDXCmemory cards. One also supports various Sony Memory Sticks. The other supportsthe higherspeed UHS-II bus, so with the right card,there’ll never be a storage speed bottleneck.

Video? Of course, up to UltraHD (3,840 by 2,160 pixels) at 30p. Also, 24p and 25p. And FullHD at up to 120p for some cool slow motion. There are a near unlimited number of picture functions. Anything you’ll want to do in-camera you can do.

All that said, this camera really is aimed at still photographers rather than videographers. As far as I could work out, it doesn’t support stop motion or time-lapse video creation.

Taking photos

With this camera, judging things like depth of field are very natural to experienced 35mm photographers. The internal geometry of this camera is kind of similar. But not exactly, since this is a mirrorless camera. That means the rear end of the lens can sit closer to the sensor, there being no hinged mirror in the way. With the supplied f/2.8 lens, shooting with a shallow depth of field is very easy.

Sony Alpha7R III

But shooting with a tight aperture and relatively deep in-focus field is also straightforward since very high ISO ratings are available.