The downside of a full frame camera is size. Not so much the size of the camera itself – the body of the Sony Alpha7R III isn’t much larger than that of my GH4 – but the lenses. Sony provided a couple: a 100mm prime and the FE 2.8/24-70 GM zoom. Because the latter has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 across the range, this is a large lens. The filter diameter is an impressive 82mm.
The length of the camera was more than 190mm with this lens attached. The weight was 1.55 kilograms. I confess: there were some photo opportunities involving travel where I left this camera behind, simply because it was too big for my carry-on and too expensive to risk in checked luggage.
Don’t equate “mirrorless” with “compact”.
That said, it was a delight to use. Again, it was similar inalmost all respects to the Sony Alpha7 III. So read about that there.What I’m going to (ahem) focus on here are the virtues of the 42-megapixel sensor.
I went wandering around the neighbourhood with the Sony Alpha7R III camera fitted with the 100mm lens. I’m used to a 600mm equivalent telephoto for taking bird photos. With the 100mm lens, my subjects were tiny. You just can’t very close. Consider for example these two shots:
But with the resolution on offer here, you can just crop them down. That I did:
Lots of megapixels effectively extend the reach of your camera. I mounted the Sony Alpha7R III on a tripod and shot the Australian War Memorial from the south side of Lake Burley Griffin. I used the zoom lens with a focal length of 50mm, and I chose a f/13 aperture to provide accurate focus at all depths. You can see the War Memorial, can’t you? It’s there, right in the middle.
I switched over to my GH4 and took the same scene with the lens set at 25mm (which is 50mm equivalent) and again with an aperture of f/13. When I got back to the office, I cropped both shots down to 600 pixels wide. Here’s what the 16 megapixels of the GH4 yielded:
And here’s what the 42 megapixels of the Sony Alpha7R III yielded:
Say no more.
So how about low light performance? I did take the camera to Taiwan a couple of months ago. Late evening there were a bunch of bronze kids “running” in front of a new apartment block. In Auto mode, the camera wound up the ISO to 4000. The result was sharp, yet smooth and minimal noise in the picture.
Same city, same evening. Here the camera chose a rather high ISO of 12,800, thereby keeping the shutter speed up at 1/160 second. That let me take a decent shot hand-held. The full frame looks nice:
It’s only when you zoom in to some of the detail that you see a light sprinkling of noise. But do remember, each of those pixels of noise is so tiny, that in most cases you’ll never see them.
Sony says that the USB Type-C port on the camera is “SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) compatible”. I briefly got excited. I plugged it into my computer and dragged a set of 405 images, amounting to 4.13GB, over to it. It took 3 minutes and 13 seconds, for a transfer speed of almost 22MB/s.
That was disappointing. The UHS-II card in the camera is rated at 300MB/s read speed. I popped the card into a Lexar UHS-II card reader. The same photos copied across in just under 20 secondsfor a transfer speed of 213MB/s.