Wednesday, 13 January 2021

SONY ALPHA A7III (Not Radio)

SONY ALPHA A7III & FE 90mm 2.8 MACRO G OSS


SONY ALPHA A7III


I have a Sony DCS RX10 Mk4 bridge camera and I think it's probably the best bridge cameras on the market. In fact, I don't think it is - I know it is!! There's simply nothing out there that will give you a better all-round collection of tools and capabilities. Experts like to call it the best 'travel camera' but that's because they wouldn't be caught dead with a lowly bridge camera and yet they cannot deny the astounding flexibility of the RX10 Mk4.

I've taken it to destinations all across Europe and with its single, built-in zoom lens it's managed to capture some fabulous shots! If I'd had to carry a DSLR with a bunch of lenses to match the range of the RX10, I'd have had to pay for extra luggage at the airports, lol.

The amazing all-round RX10 iv

Anyway, it does have limitations - mainly the CMOS sensor size at 1" and the inherent limitations of a 25X zoom - even one as good as the RX10's. It feels wrong to raise any criticisms against such a capable camera, but if you wish to focus on a particular area of photography such as sport or macro, etc, then you might want to wrestle the RX10 out of your hands and pick up a full-frame camera and a dedicated lens.

My own particular area of "special interest" (or at least one which I hope to develop) is macro and bird photography. The RX10 is really quite good at macro work, but it can never match a full-frame, high-resolution camera with a pin-sharp dedicated macro lens. It just can't.

So looking on the market for a macro solution, it didn't take long to find the highly rated Sony A7III and the astonishingly good Sony FE 90mm 2.8 G MACRO OSS.



 The A7III has been leading the way for the last three years and the other manufacturers are only just finding their way to its shoulders. It's not so much the performance and features of the A7III as much as "How the hell can they do it for that money"???

And it's the same with the FE 90mm 2.8 lens which is listed on the much revered DXOMARK lens listing as the best macro lens available!!! It is the highest scoring macro lens there is, with a 47 out of 50!

They also awarded the A7III with one of their all time top scores at 96 out of 100!



The A7III is (in its class) like the RX10, in that it hasn't got the most megapixels and hasn't got the fastest motor-drive or the fastest autofocus, but what it does have, is a superb blend of everything that your typical buyer (at this price) wants. You can't have everything for £2000, but with the A7III you can have most of it - including in-body image stabilisation!

The thing which people seem to obsess over is megapixels and the A7III has 24. Although that's half as many as the A7R, it makes the camera far more usable when it comes to handling files and avoiding buffer face. The truth is, a full-frame camera with a superb sensor such as Sony's BSI (backside illuminated) CMOS and a pin-sharp lens will produce images which most photographers would be extremely proud of - it's not always about pixel count.

As for cosmetics, the Mirrorless A7III just couldn't be any better looking to me. It has a very simple, compact, blocky look to it which really appeals. And it feels as good in your hand as it looks on the shelf. I can imagine though, some people with very large hands might find it a tad small.

All the buttons, switches and dials are rock solid and feel like they'll last forever. There's nothing plasticky about this thing - it's tough and mean - full metal jacket!  It reminds me of the cameras I had in years gone by like my Nikon FA and F4 - simple and to the point on the outside, yet sophisticated on the inside.
 
 


The doors which cover the SDCARDS and battery are really nicely designed and operate superbly without any hint of flimsiness. The articulated LCD screen also moves smoothly and with little lateral movement in the joints. The screen does not open out to the sides by the way, but it is a Touch Screen (which needs enabling in the menus). At 640x480, it's good enough, but not class-leading. Personally, I almost exclusively use the EVF.

All the important settings are adjustable on the camera's body and there's a couple of Custom buttons which you can alter to suit your way of working. I will probably set them up to mirror the settings on my RX10. The menu settings are incredibly comprehensive - that's gonna take some learning, but the format is pretty intuitive, so it shouldn't be too bad.


That amazing new sensor has 693 phase-detection points (over 93% of the viewfinder) just like the flagship A9  so the autofocusing is pretty much top of the line - especially if you use Sony lenses with the camera (it makes sense to). The face/eye detection is just staggering!!! It's eery how it tracks moving subjects by their eyes - even cats and dogs! It is also fantastic when shooting sports and other high shutter speed activities such as bird photography. 

The sensor also gives the A7III some of the best low-light capability on the market. That's perfect for taking moody indoor portraits in natural light - and the camera also has a fabulous dynamic range.

The 10 FPS continuous drive mode also helps you to capture that WOW shot when dealing with fast moving subjects. But it can very quickly fill your SDCARD - best to invest in a 300Mb/sec card.



The class-leading Sony 24-105mm

If you spend some time looking through internet images shot on a Sony A7III, you soon gain the ability to spot the photographers who used a Sony G lens and those who maybe opted for a third party lens. The difference can sometimes just scream out!  
The FE 90mm 2.8 is "OMG SHARP". No wonder DXOMARK score it so highly. I used to have a pretty top of the line Sigma macro lens but this thing puts it to shame! Hopefully I'll be able to add the 24-105mm too for general photography.  That will make a very special outfit.

The A7III also includes some stunning video capabilities and many professionals choose this camera just because of that, offering a wide range of settings at UHD 4K/30p including some creamy SlowMo settings.


Interesting view of the A7III
as a film-maker's camera

Battery-Life has been much improved in the III and 700 shots per charge can be relied upon, but if you work outdoors a lot and have the screen at high brightness for much of the time, then you may want to consider a second battery.

Another great feature of the A7III is the built-in wi-fi which makes transferring jpegs from camera to computer/tablet an absolute breeze. Something that is not so great is the lack of a battery charger. You have to charge the battery while it's inside the camera using a supplied USB lead. That's not too good and meant that I had to buy a mains charger separately.
METZ 64 AF-1

Other than that, I've no complaints. This camera is a stunning bit of kit and offers so very much for so little (relatively speaking of course). It's like having a super high-end camera at mid-end prices. Being an existing Sony user, I'm pleased that I can use my Metz AF-64 with the A7III.

Now here's the disclosure which may devalue my opinion - I paid peanuts for my new A7III body! That obviously makes me super happy and I'm very fortunate to have come across the deal, but most others would have to fork out much more and you could say that their opinion of the camera would be more balanced. Well I think they'd sing the camera's praises every bit as much as me - but they'd just have a bigger hole in their bank account.

Looking forward to the Pandemic being over so I can enjoy it more.


















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