Alpha Universe Story Detail
Alpha 7S III, the Epitome of Image Quality

After waiting for five years and a lot of research, we realised that Sony chose to do well in 4K recording and improve 4K picture quality to the best it can be. The Alpha 7S III is capable of performing 4K 120P recording with 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 colour sampling when using either All Intra compression or Long GOP or S-Log3 that enables a dynamic range of up to 15 stops. Taking a closer look, we noticed that the menu has been completely changed, the operation is smoother and buttons are more user-friendly. The camera features a side-opening flip screen and a 9.44 million-dot electronic viewfinder. During testing, we found that as you spend more time using the Alpha 7S III, you will notice more unexpected details. You can tell that Sony’s engineers have worked very hard to make this epoch-making model almost perfect. I speak highly of the Alpha 7S III. If you’re interested in videography, please don't miss our review.

Appearance

We have waited for this blue S model for five years since October 2015. At that time, the Alpha 7 series was still in its second generation. After the release of the Alpha 7S II, 10 Alpha models have been launched. During this period, Sony has gained a lot of feedback from consumers. Although the shapes of these Sony cameras are similar, their operability has changed a lot.

The Alpha 7S III has dual BIONZ XR processors, with two physical chips on the board. The processor is up to 8x more powerful than the previous BIONZ X image processing engine. Thus, the camera can achieve the same level of focusing ability in any mode, even in 4K120P or All Intra 600Mpbs recording mode.


In S-Log3 mode, the Alpha 7S III has the colour science as an FX9. Thus, the Alpha 7S III, with its better mobility, can be a backup camera for your FX9. The Alpha 7S III also supports 16-bit RAW data output. Using a HDMI cable, you can export data to an Atomos Ninja V recording monitor to obtain content for post-production with an ultra-high colour depth.

The Alpha 7S III features a new full-frame 12.1-megapixel back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor to deliver high sensitivity and low noise.


The new Optical SteadyShot Active Mode provides the optical image stabilisation needed during movie shooting. Meanwhile, a filter in front of the CMOS image sensor oscillates at a frequency of 70,000 cycles per second to remove dust from the sensor surface.

There is a very obvious, separate video record button on the right side of the camera. This design is also seen on the Sony ZV-1, as well as the new Sony Alpha 7C.

The button’s depth is enough for it to be clearly seen.

When the Alpha 7S III was launched, we were relieved to see an HDMI Type-A port.

In the past, Sony cameras used Micro-HDMI ports and connectors that were easy to break. Fortunately, Sony has finally realized this issue. We have no ideas about future models, but for the Alpha 7S III, which focuses on video recording, HDMI Type-A is a necessary and correct choice.

Next, the camera’s USB Type-C port supports PD (Power Delivery) quick charging. However, when a USB charger is connected to the USB Type-C port, the internal battery is still being consumed during shooting. If power consumption during shooting is too large or the battery is too low, the recording is likely to be stopped during charging.

From the operations on the back of the camera, the depth of buttons, the shape of the mini-joystick and so on, we can easily tell that the Alpha 7S III inherits a camera back design from the Alpha 7R IV, especially the mini-joystick.

The deliberately deepened AF-ON button is also an excellent design seen since the Alpha 7R IV. On the Alpha 7S III, no button is unclear or so shallow that you have to press it with your nail. This also means that, in the dark, you can roughly judge the function of buttons by touching them.

The side-opening flip screen is another major change on the Sony Alpha 7 series. The flip-over screen design has been seen on many Sony cameras, such as the RX100 series, RX10, RX1, α models with four-digit model numbers, Alpha 7 and even as recently as the Alpha 9. Some of the screens could flip 90 degrees upward and 45 degrees down. In recent years, some flip-over screens could flip 180 degrees upward for convenience when taking selfies.

However, the side-opening flip screen is more flexible because the flip-over screen may collide with the external microphone on the top of the camera. Since the ZV-1 model, Sony has introduced the side-opening flip screen design to its cameras, which now includes the Alpha 7 series. Judging from what I know about Sony, the company must have received many suggestions from consumers and must have been willing to make adjustments. I think this screen design will continue to be used in all Sony cameras.

Since the Alpha 7S III is a new product, we may raise the standard a bit higher. Photographers often use the ports nearby. They may use the mic jack for sound recording, use the headphone jack for sound monitoring, use the USB Type-C port to connect the camera to a charger during extended recording time or use the HDMI port for data transmission. It is possible for all the ports to be used, in which case, the screen would be unable to be flipped open freely.

The headphone jack (black) on the side and the USB Type-C charging port at the bottom may be blocked by the screen when it is opened, and the cables themselves may affect the flip angle of the screen. In this case, you have to keep the screen on the back of the camera or maintain an awkward half-open position.

Next, the 9.44 million-dot LCD screen is a highlight of the Alpha 7S III. It’s the world's highest-resolution EVF, and it offers world-leading 0.9x magnification.

If the aspect ratio is 4:3, having 9.44 million-dots means that the resolution of the EVF is 2048×1536 (QXGA resolution). 3.145-million resolution × 3 (RGB) = 9.437 million dots. The EVF of the Alpha 7R IV is 5.76 million dots (=1600×1200×3). Let me give some examples for comparison:

Millions of dots

Resolution

Screen standard

Alpha 7S III

9.44

2048 × 1536

QXGA

Alpha 7R IV / Alpha 7R III / Alpha 9

3.68

1600 × 1200

UXGA

Alpha 7 III / Alpha 7C / Alpha 6600 / Alpha 6400

2.36

1024 × 768

XGA

Alpha 6100

1.44

800 × 600

SVGA

The EVF resolution of the Alpha 7S III is 2.5 times that of the Alpha 7R IV, Alpha 7R III, and Alpha 9 II, and four times that of the Alpha 7 III, Alpha 7C, Alpha 6600, and Alpha 6400.

▲ This is the Alpha 7S III’s EVF, photographed with a mobile phone. The details shown in the photo are different from what we see with the naked eye. The edges of the photo are blurry because of the mobile phone.


What is the actual viewing experience like? This EVF offers the best detail I have ever seen! The screen is just like a computer screen. On a 1.44 million-dot screen, you can clearly see the resolution lines; on a 2.36 or 3.68 million-dot screen, the performance is good; on the 5.76 million-dot screens of other cameras, the performance is very good. But on the Alpha 7S III’s 9.44 million-dot screen, the experience is perfect, and the naked eye cannot distinguish scan lines in the picture.

What impressed me most is the presentation of details. Such performance should be the future direction of EVFs.

If we have to pick out some flaws, then you can see that the letters and icons on the top and bottom of the picture are blurry (since the resolution of the mobile phone is low, the blurring is not easy to see from the picture above). I think this may be because the Alpha 7S III continues using a set of fonts and icons that have been used on 3.68-million dot or lower resolution viewfinders. Thus, if you look at the image on the viewfinder closely with the naked eye, you can't see any scan lines on the EVF, but the fonts are blurred.

The memory card slot on the side is provided with a lock, which is not available on the Alpha 7R IV.

The Alpha 7S III has dual memory card slots, which support CFexpress Type A cards and SD cards. Only two cards can be inserted at the same time, and the two cards should be inserted in opposite directions.

▲ A CFexpress Type A card is smaller than an SD card


The memory card slots of the Alpha 7S III support a CFexpress Type A card and an SD card. A CF-E Type A card is smaller than an SD card but must faster. This Sony Tough 80G card has a read speed of 800MB/s and a write speed of 700MB/s, which means the card can support a transfer rate up to 5,600 Mbps. In fact, the maximum transfer rate of the Alpha 7S III for internal access is 600 Mbps, which is far lower than the maximum transfer rate of the memory card.

The Alpha 7S III does not limit you to using a CF-E card during the highest transfer rate. Even if you use a fast SD card (such as a UHS-II SD card), you can turn on the XAVC S-I 4K format to record 60P videos at a bit rate of 600 Mbps. Only when using this setting will the camera remind you to use a card with the specified speed.

Next, please note that if you want to record 60P videos in XAVC S-I 4K format at 600Mbps, your CF-E Type A card must be VPG200 or higher, which means the write speed should reach 200MB/s. The card in the picture above is VPG400.

Next, let's talk about the camera’s heat dissipation.

For heat dissipation, manufacturers currently use two methods: active heat dissipation and passive heat dissipation. Active heat dissipation is adding a fan in the camera to actively introduce cold air and drive heat out of the camera, passive heat dissipation is using heat-conducting parts to absorb and spread heat to other heat-conducting areas, so that heat is removed from heat-generating areas as soon as possible.

Professional video recorders use active heat dissipation. The advantage of this is that the fan is usually very reliable. The higher the heat, the faster the speed of the fan. The disadvantage is that the fan will produce noise and increase the camera size and weight. Passive heat dissipation is used by most consumer digital cameras, or in some cases, heat dissipation is not necessary because past cameras seem to generate an acceptable amount of heat.

However, when it comes to video recording at 4K 60P or higher, heat dissipation becomes a problem that camera manufacturers have to solve.

The Sony Alpha 7S III uses passive heat dissipation. The silver part in the picture above can dissipate heat generated by the body to two sides.

Sony said that they use a “magic weapon” in the camera. This is a unique Sony Σ (sigma) shaped graphite heatsink for efficient heat dissipation. Sony claims that “this dissipates heat 5x more effectively for an extended recording time, without interfering with image stabilization”. However, they did not mention which other cameras this was compared with nor how the efficiency was determined.

Introduction to the functions
●New menu design

For me, this is the most important change of the entire Alpha 7 series. In the past, the lack of logic in the menu arrangement drove me crazy. Now, the entire menu has been completely rearranged. The indication directions have been changed, the display mode has been changed, the operation mode has been changed and the arrangement logic has also been changed. You may say that everything has been changed!

Six major menus are displayed with different icons and in different colours. They are arranged in three levels, and you can see the three different levels at the same time. You will be very clear about where you are during operation. There will also be no problems with the photo/video recording menu. When the dial is turned to “photo”, photo settings are displayed; when the dial is turned to “video recording”, video recording settings are displayed. It is very clear and simple! Finally, the menu supports touch and swiping control. This is what a good menu should look like.

I tested an Alpha 7R III camera in the National Concert Hall. During a rehearsal, I was asked to turn off all sounds because of a beeping noise when focusing. While I was there, I spent at least five minutes turning off all the sounds in the different sound setting menus of the Alpha 7R III, including the mechanical shutter sound, in-focus indicating sound and video sound. These three settings are distributed across different positions among more than 100 setting menus. Now, the Alpha 7S III has a Silent Mode that allows you to turn off all sounds once and for all. It can be quiet enough that even the sound of the aperture drive is reduced, and more importantly, the menu is easy to find.

● Improved image quality

The Alpha 7S III, just like other second-generation models, features 12 megapixels and supports 4K recording, but the image quality is quite different.

For 4K 60P recording, the Alpha 7S III provides three different options:

  • XAVC HS, the compression standard of H.265 HEVC
  • XAVC S, an H.264 format commonly used by Sony
  • XAVC S-I, an All Intra version of the XAVC S

Compared to H.264, H.265 offers up to twice the data compression with the same level of video quality, and file is significantly smaller. But the disadvantage is that your computer has to be fast enough. It is like packing things in a safe, small box: you have to spend a lot of effort solving the puzzle and unlocking the box. Putting the same thing in H.264 is like putting it in a cardboard box, but the box may occupy a lot of space. On my iMac purchased in 2017, when I opened an XAVC HS file, I could only see one frame, or another frame was displayed after 30 seconds. This is no exaggeration at all. Such a format may consume a lot of resources and requires a very powerful computer for post-production.

The letter “I” of XAVC S-I means “All Intra”, where “Intra” refers to intra-frame compression. It is a new feature in Sony’s consumer cameras. Usually, cameras continue “lazily” using the previous frame for subjects that don't seem to move in the picture, such as the sky and clouds. Basically, still objects are where the camera takes a break. But the All Intra reliably records every picture and is never lazy. The average data rate of 4K 60P recording in 4:2:2 format at 10bit is 600 Mbps, which is three times that of XAVC S/HS with the same specification. That’s why my computer didn’t work.

When the Alpha 7S III is used for 4K 60P recording in 16:9 format, oversampling is conducted from 10 megapixels and 90% is cropped from images captured by the image sensor. So, because the Alpha 6600 with a 24MP sensor features 6K oversampling down to 4K, I asked Sony why they say Alpha 7S III offers the best 4K image quality. Sony replied saying that image quality is not just dependent on resolution. Among consumer digital cameras, the Alpha 7S III is unbeatable in terms of dynamic range, chroma subsampling and colour depth.

Video in different formats: the two videos on the left are in H.265 format, the two videos in the middle are in XAVC S format, and two videos on the right are in XAVC S-I format.

To be honest, I could not see the difference, even if they were not posted on YouTube. I could not tell the difference when they are on my computer. In other words, if I removed all the words and rearranged the order of these videos, I would be unable to tell the difference between them. Can you?

● Focusing speed

Sony used eye/face AF for the first time on the Alpha 7R II model. Since then, Sony has been number one for face/eye recognition ability in the camera industry.

In the past, we took photos in the AF-C mode to judge the focusing ability of a camera, but Sony emphasized that the Alpha 7S III offers the same powerful focusing ability in any mode or format, whether it is used for photo or video recording.

You may wonder why the video format affects focusing ability. It’s because the resources that the camera's image processor can use are fixed. In the past, the higher the video quality and the higher frame rate selected, the greater the load on the image processor, and the processor’s ability to deal with focusing would be affected.

For example, when shooting a video at a high frame rate (such as 180 fps or 240 fps, or even 120 fps), some cameras may lose their focusing ability. For example, when a competitor model takes a Full HD video at 180p, autofocus would be changed to manual focus. In similar application scenarios, the focusing speed of some cameras may be slowed down.

This is why Sony claims that the Alpha 7S III can offer the same focusing ability in any format, which in other words means that “the capability of [their] image processor has been greatly improved”. The Alpha 7S III uses a new BIONZ XR image-processing engine that boasts a performance level of up to eight times that of the previous processor. Thus, the camera is good at taking HFR videos that require AF and face recognition.

Now, I want to talk about one more thing. Sony first used the “Real-time Eye AF System” on the Alpha 6400 which launched in 2019. In fact, the Eye/Face AF function on the Alpha 6400 model is only available for taking photos, and not supported for video recording. Eye/Face AF for video recording was not available until the RX100 Mark VII was launched in the same year and since then in later models.

The following is a comparison of two videos. The left one is a 4K 60P video shot with the Alpha 7S III in the XAVC S-I mode (4:2:2 10bit) at the highest bit rate of 600 Mbps, the right one is a 4K 120P video. If these two modes can be used with face/eye AF, then it will absolutely work well in other formats/frame rates.

4K 60P

4K 120P

These two videos were obtained by an external recording of the Alpha 7S III’s screen via HDMI, and at the same time, the Alpha 7S III itself was also recording. You can see the obvious “recording” red indicator frame around the screen.

For video focusing, I used a focus speed of 7 and sensitivity of 5, which is the fastest AF speed. As always, we asked the model to turn around to interfere with the camera's focus system, but this was a piece of cake for Alpha 7S III. There was no delay or repeated focusing. The camera worked very well and offered ideal performance. To be honest, it was really awesome.

The videos above were shot at about 4:30 pm in an environment where sunlight was blocked, and the overall brightness was not bad. The following video was shot in a dark environment at night in Treasure Hill, where a light festival was being held. The video was taken in a dark place away from the festival site in order to test whether the focusing ability of the ALPHA 7S III in the dark was the same as in daytime.

While shooting this video, the focusing speed was different from that in the daytime. We used the default focusing speed of 5 and sensitivity of 3 in order to obtain a smooth focusing speed.

The F2.8 1/50s ISO 20000 must have been too dark, right? But even in such a dark place, the focusing system could still recognize the model’s face and eyes.

Did you notice that the noise in the image seemed to vary? We will talk about this when we discuss the camera’s ISO sensitivity. But I want to tell you that the Alpha 7S III has a special feature hidden here. Let me give you a hint: the sensitivity displayed at the bottom right was changing while the noise appeared and disappeared. Please watch the video again after we discuss the camera’s ISO sensitivity.

We have just been reviewing the camera’s focusing speed for human faces and tested its ability in human face recognition while using the focusing ability of the entire screen. Theoretically, human face AF should use the most processor resources. But let’s talk about the focusing speed of the Alpha 7S III when using a single focus point:

Camera focus speed

Video focus speed

The focusing speed during photo shooting was one of the fastest, but I do not think this is a key point for the Alpha 7S III. The key point lies in the focusing speed for objects. In this video, I tried different focusing speeds and sensitivities. You can find more details in the next chapter.

● Adjustable focusing speed and sensitivity

During photo shooting, many cameras allow users to adjust the sensitivity of focusing, which is particularly important for shooting subjects in motion. By adjusting the sensitivity and the focus, you can decide whether the focus system should ignore subjects that show up suddenly or switch to unexpected subjects immediately. For photo shooting, fast focusing is usually required. Thus, the Alpha 7S III has two options in the focus settings:

  • AF Transition Speed
  • AF Subj. Shift Sensitivity

The AF transition speed is the “length of time” from the start of focusing to the picture being in focus and the AF Subject Shift Sensitivity is the “response time” it takes for the camera to switch to focusing on a new subject from a previous subject. The first parameter is about the duration of focusing, the second parameter is about the camera’s response time to start focusing.

Let’s have a look at the following settings: a focusing speed of 5 and sensitivity of 3

Focusing speed during photo shooting

The Alpha 7S III has seven levels of AF transition speed selectable for video recording and the default level is 5. The camera has five sensitivity levels and the default level is 5. This video was shot at a sensitivity level of 3.

As you can see from the above video, when I moved the centre focus point to a new position, there was a slight delay in the picture. That was the result of adjusting the sensitivity to 3 (a moderate level), and the focusing speed was also moderate.

Let's try another setting: sensitivity unchanged and the focusing speed adjusted to 1.

The focusing speed became very slow. After the focus was moved to a fixed point, it took about five to six seconds for the camera to focus completely. This is the smoothest focus setting for the Alpha 7S III. For photo shooting, this focusing speed is too slow, but for video recording, different focusing speeds are tools in telling stories.

Note that I used the Touch Focus function for shooting this video. When you use the Touch Focus function, your touch action will overwrite the sensitivity setting. This means that whether the selected sensitivity is high or low, when you touch the focus point on the screen with your finger, the sensitivity will become “immediate”. It will start focusing immediately after your finger touches the screen, but the speed is still limited to the focusing speed selected in the menu.

Let's look at the result of using an extreme setting: the fastest focusing speed but lowest sensitivity:

Focusing speed during photo shooting

I think most users would not choose this setting. After the screen was moved to a fixed point, it took some time for the camera to start focusing, but the focusing speed was very fast. The process looks like a person doing things slowly and then starting to move suddenly.

For video recording, the camera’s focus and response speeds are adjustable, which is a rare feature in consumer digital cameras. Movie creators can utilize different combinations of the two parameters in their storytelling.

● Different sensitivity levels: the Alpha 7S III offers “dual base ISO”?

When the Sony Alpha 7S was launched, the low noise at ultra-high ISO levels was a selling point, because it was one of the very few cameras that deliberately reduced image resolution in exchange for a high ISO and low noise. For the Sony Alpha 7S II, 4K video recording was a selling point. For the Alpha 7S III, it seems that ultra-high ISO is no longer a convincing selling point, right?

The following video was shot when I was staying at the U.I.J Hotel & Hostel in Tainan. After 11 PM, the lights on the terrace on the third floor were turned off creating an ultra-dark environment. It was a great opportunity to test the camera’s performance at high ISO levels. I used a 24–70mm F2.8 lens and its aperture was not very large. Thus, the picture was dark when the ISO level was low, –0.7EV brightness was not achieved until the ISO level reached 6400, and at higher ISO levels, I adjusted the aperture to maintain the same exposure.

Focusing speed during photo shooting

This video was shot without using the Picture Profile. At ISO 3200 or below, the video quality was unsatisfactory. At ISO 6400 or higher, the noise reduction was very good. At ISO 12800, the video image was very clean. When I noticed the appearance of noise, it was already at ISO 51200. The Alpha 7S III’s noise reduction at high ISO levels is very impressive. You can set the ISO level as high as you want with no problem.

● Comparison of various picture profiles and the advantages of S-Log3

Usually, ordinary users are not interested in setting the Picture Profiles in Sony’s menu. It is very powerful, but its benefits can only be seen in post-production. The feature is often used by advanced users, especially those who are obsessed with recording.

So, what is Picture Profile? It is decided before video files are generated. Different picture profiles use different recording methods to display images. By default, the camera does not use the profile. That is, images are recorded in a linear manner. With this, the bright parts in the images are easy to burst and dark parts tend to be too dark. The camera can also be used with a Log picture profile, which can effectively increase the dynamic range of brightness and darkness. When the dynamic range is increased, the colours that can be displayed must be different. The picture profile combines two things: one is called the “gamma curve”, and the other is called the “gamut”. The gamma curve is about brightness and darkness, while gamut is about the range of colours.

The Alpha 7S III does not use picture logs but offers a total of 10 different picture profiles. These picture profiles are shown as follows:

The picture profiles are about two factors: performance of brightness and darkness, i.e., dynamic range, and colour performance. So, you can compare the difference in the image colours, details of the sky and the North Gate, and the shadow inside the North Gate.

The people from Sony suggested that I use S-Log3 (PP8/PP9) for shooting because it can provide more than 15 stops of dynamic range. Please note that the 15+EV that Sony describes in its ads can only be achieved under the conditions of S-Log3. If that picture profile is turned off, it is impossible to achieve this performance.

I want to emphasize that, if you have tried the S-Log, you may feel that there is a lot of noise in the picture, and you may have noticed that the sensitivity is very high. For example, in the Alpha 7S II’s S-Log2 picture profile, the starting point of sensitivity is ISO 1600, which means that if shooting is during the day, you must add a neutral density filter. For the Alpha 7S III’s S-Log3 picture profile, the starting point of sensitivity is ISO 640 and it can extend down to ISO 160. In other words, if you go out without a neutral density filter, you can use ISO 160 as well.

Lowest sensitivity under the S-Log curve:


Camera Lowest sensitivity in S-Log mode
Alpha 7S II 1600
Alpha 7 III 800
Alpha 7R IV 500
Alpha 7S III 160 (down from ISO 640)

To be honest, most people seldom use S-Log3, because its advantages can only be seen in post-production. I want to repeat it that the more than 15 stops of dynamic range advertised by Sony are obtained through S-Log3. Let me show you the difference between S-Log3 and when the picture profile turned off (the setting most people choose).

S-Log 3

No photo profile

S-Log 3

No photo profile

Notice the difference in the details of bright and dark parts. In the video shot with the picture profile turned off, bright parts are excessively bright, and in the video shot with S-Log3, the details are faithfully presented.

S-Log 3

No photo profile

S-Log 3

No photo profile

The preservation of details in dark settings is also the strength of S-Log3.

S-Log 3

No photo profile

Now, I want to show you the advantages of S-Log3 with two edited videos: a scenery video and a portrait video, both shot using the S-Log3 gamma curve and Look Up Table (LUT). The S-Log3 gamma curve and S-Gamut3. Cine were converted into ITU.709, which can be displayed on an ordinary screen. You can find that the colours have become normal, and details of bright and dark parts could also be completely preserved.

● 4K 120P

I believe that many consumers buy the Alpha 7S III because it is capable of shooting 4K movies at 120 frames per second. At present, most cameras on the market can be used to take 4K videos, but to capture high-resolution images, users have to choose Full HD, possibly at 120, 180 or even 240 FPS, or use image calculation to simulate 4K 120P from 4K 60P. However, if you want to capture real 4K 120P videos, very few models are available in today’s camera market. Even many professional cameras cannot do it.

For the Alpha 7S III’s 4K 120P, the Codec is limited to H.264 and the XAVC S format should be selected. Yet, there are still two options: 4:2:0 8bit (200 Mbps) and 4:2:2 10bit (280 Mbps). For 4K 120P, 4:2:2 10bit is quite rare.

When shooting 4K 120P videos, the Alpha 7S III does not use the S&Q mode. Thus, the camera can record sound while shooting, and the playback speed is also 120 fps. For the following three videos, I asked the editor to reduce the playback speed to 0.2x and reduce the video speed to 24 fps. This is the normal speed if no adjustment is made in post-production.

● My feelings and suggestions about the camera

The menu! Finally, there is a normal menu!

I even challenged my friend, asking him to turn off all the sound functions on his Sony camera (Alpha 7R IV) within one minute, including shutter sound, focus sound, video volume playback, and warning tone for the countdown timer. I wanted to know how much time he wound need (in the past, these settings were distributed across different menus).

I was so dissatisfied with Sony’s old menus, that they drove me crazy every time I used a Sony camera. Those menu arrangements were seriously lacking in logic. For example, I often asked things like “where can I find the recording settings?”, “Where is the HDR setting on the first page, or on the fifth or seventh page?” or “Is the shortcut setting for picture shooting or video recording?” When I was testing the Alpha 9 II, I almost lost my temper when trying to enter an IP address because the screen did not support touch control. Sony had made small changes, but they were not enough, and I don't think they were of any help! Someone once told me that if I could not find a specific function easily, I could set a shortcut key. I wanted to say: “who would even set up shortcut keys?!” For a 61MP camera with ultra-high latitude and high ISO purity capable of continuous shooting of over 1,000 images, the camera’s menu was not user-friendly at all. Sony should have optimized its user interface first!

But finally! The Alpha 7S III has a totally new menu! Menu categories and sub-categories that were originally incomprehensible have been re-designed using different patterns and colours in conjunction with texts. The cascade arrangement makes the hundreds of menus easy to understand. In addition, touch control has been added and menus are accessible by swiping. I won't praise Sony for these changes because they should have been made a long, long time ago! But at least the Alpha 7S III finally has a menu that allows me to find function settings easily. It is not perfect, but it works. If you are a person who might go crazy when function settings are difficult to find, then you would like the menu of the Alpha 7S III. The logic of Sony’s menu is no longer a problem for me.

A super EVF just like a computer screen

For me, the second most impressive thing about this camera is its high-definition electronic viewfinder. You may believe that a 3.68 million-dot EVF is not bad and a 5.76 million-dot EVF is very good, but if you have a look at this 9.44 million-dot EVF, you’ll find a completely different world. This viewfinder with its resolution of 2048x1536 looks like a computer screen.

I don’t think the 0.9x finder magnification is obvious. You can feel that the picture seems to be a bit larger, but the fineness of the picture is very different. Every time you switch your eyes from the screen to the electronic viewfinder, you will be impressed and exclaim, “Wow, there is so much detail here!"

● Reliability is more important than high specifications

After waiting for five years, we thought Sony Alpha 7S III would go beyond 4K resolution and reach at least 5K or even 6K. Surprisingly, Sony took a steady strategy instead. Based on the feedback from a large number of users, Sony understands that the demands of “most consumers [is] still to shoot 4K videos”. Sony does not only pursue high resolution but intends to achieve the best 4K picture quality. The Alpha 7S III is capable of performing 4K/60P recording with 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 colour sampling when using either Long GOP or All Intra compression. In S-Log3 mode, the camera offers 15 stops of dynamic range. The goal is to present the best 4K quality to film creators. I think Sony’s strategy is worthy of recognition.

▲With the newly added video recording indicator, the original red dot in the lower-left corner of the screen has been changed into a red frame. Such a super-obvious recording indicator helps prevent users from forgetting to press the video recording button.

The optimization of the original functions was not enough. The Alpha 7S III has been updated to the level of the Alpha 7R IV in terms of button operability. All buttons have been deepened, a mini-joystick has been added, an ultra-obvious, separate video recording button has been added onto the top of the camera, HDMI Type A is supported, a Z series lithium battery has been provided, the logic of the menu has been greatly updated and a video recording indicator has been added to make video recording clearer. The camera also features powerful AF for picture and video shooting. The Alpha 7S III may not have been the first to provide these features, and most of them are changes made by Sony based on consumer experience of the Alpha 7/Alpha 9 series over the past five years. But the combination of these small details enables the Alpha 7 series to offer the best operability ever. It is these small details that lead to the camera’s reliability and smooth operation that cannot be seen on the specification sheet.

If you don’t pursue 5K/6K/8K shooting, if your budget is limited and not enough for a professional movie camera, or if you prefer a run and gun instead of using a big slide or crane, then the Alpha 7S III is a great choice (if your focusing skills are not good enough, the camera’s eye AF will help a lot). I think the price performance of the Alpha 7S III is excellent. If you are not sure, please rent an Alpha 7S III and try it out first! It is definitely different from the Alpha 7S II. After proper practice in using it, I think you will be stunned by its performance.

Praiseworthy features of the Sony Alpha 7S III:

  • A side-opening flip screen, more flexible than a flip-over screen
  • Market-leading 9.44 million-dot EVF
  • A newly added video recording indicator, clearly indicating when recording is in progress
  • Super smooth face/eye AF for video recording that works in all settings, even in dark environments
  • Adjustable focusing speed and sensitivity for video recording
  • Over 15 stops of dynamic range in S-Log3 mode
  • The colour performance in S-Log3 mode is exactly the same as FX9
  • Minimum sensitivity up to ISO 160 in S-Log3 mode
  • Obvious noise reduction at ISO 12800 in S-Log3 mode
  • All Intra compression technology available for the first time in the Alpha 7 series
  • H.265 codec available for the first time in the Alpha 7 series
  • 4K 120P recording of 10-bit videos with 4:2:2 colour sampling
  • RAW videos can be exported to an Atomos Ninja V recording monitor
  • Safer HDMI Type A port
  • Supports USB PD (Power Delivery) quick charging
  • Supports 5G FTP transfer

What could be improved in the Sony Alpha 7S III:

  • The side-opening screen can easily be blocked by cables
● Sample videos/pictures

The video above was shot at 4K 120P.

Alpha 7S III | 44 mm | F5.6 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F2.8 | ISO 200

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F2.8 | ISO 200

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F2.8 | ISO 160

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F2.8 | ISO 400

Alpha 7S III | 43 mm | F2.8 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 61mm | F3.5 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F6.3 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F6.3 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F2.8 | ISO 160

Alpha 7S III | 24 mm | F4.5 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 55 mm | F9 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 24 mm | F7.1 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F7.1 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F7.1 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 47 mm | F5.6 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 59 mm | F5.6 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 24 mm | F5.6 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 31 mm | F5.6 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F4 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F3.5 | ISO 12800

Alpha 7S III | 68 mm | F2.8 | ISO 800

Alpha 7S III | 37 mm | F4.5 | ISO 160

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F2.8 | ISO 8000

Alpha 7S III | 58 mm | F2.8 | ISO 800

Alpha 7S III | 36 mm | F7.1 | ISO 400

Alpha 7S III | 67 mm | F4.5 | ISO 80

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F2.8 | ISO 125

Alpha 7S III | 24 mm | F7.1 | ISO 800

Alpha 7S III | 187 mm | F2.8 | ISO 1000

Alpha 7S III | 142 mm | F2.8 | ISO 800

Alpha 7S III | 162 mm | F2.8 | ISO 320

Alpha 7S III | 20 mm | F1.8 | ISO 500

Alpha 7S III | 61 mm | F2.8 | ISO 1600

Alpha 7S III | 43 mm | F2.8 | ISO 10000

Alpha 7S III | 43 mm | F2.8 | ISO 10000

Alpha 7S III | 30 mm | F2.8 | ISO 64000

Alpha 7S III | 29 mm | F2.8 | ISO 8000

Alpha 7S III | 59 mm | F2.8 | ISO 2000

Alpha 7S III | 55 mm | F2.8 | ISO 3200

Alpha 7S III | 70 mm | F2.8 | ISO 2000

Alpha 7S III | 61 mm | F2.8 | ISO 16000

Alpha 7S III | 61 mm | F2.8 | ISO 10000

ILCE 7S III | 85 mm | F1.8 | ISO 20000

Alpha 7S III | 85 mm | F1.8 | ISO 1250

Alpha 7S III | 20 mm | F2.8 | ISO 8000

--------------------- Special thanks ---------------------

The night-time photographs of people were all taken at Treasure Hill. An exhibition is being held during the “Treasure Hill Light Festival”. Featuring the concept of “symbiosis” as a starting point, it gathers works from well-known artists. Many of the works are installations relating to light. Visitors are welcome.

This article was originally published on https://www.mobile01.com/