Announcing the new Sony A7RIII (A7RM3)

Sony Alpha A7RM3

A7RIII

The wait is finally over – Satoshi Hatano (General Manager of Digital Imaging Japan) announced the Sony A7RIII (A7RM3) in Sydney at 5.30 pm local time. The announcement ends speculation as to the precise model Sony had under wraps. The A7RIII appears, on first glance, to be a hybrid between the A7RII and A9 cameras. It features the larger battery, improved EVF and dual card slot of the A9. But for the lovers of high IQ it retains the high-resolution sensor of the A7RII but with improved dynamic range. This promises a noise floor lower than anything we have seen before. This will offer huge benefits for those photographers who often find themselves shooting in high or extreme-contrast situations.

A7RIII + FE 4.5-5.6/100-400 GM OSS: 1/4000 Second at f/5.6, ISO 500: Click on the image to enlarge © Mark Galer
A7RIII + FE 4.5-5.6/100-400 GM OSS: 1/4000 Second at f/5.6, ISO 640: Click on the image to enlarge © Mark Galer

This camera is probably suited to those photographers who admired the specifications of the A9 but would miss the nearly 8K resolution of the A7RII. At 10 frames per second it is no slouch for such an ultra high-resolution camera and acquires most of the AF speed of the A9. The A7RIII has the added benefit that it can do this using either the electronic shutter (with or without the silent option) or a newly improved mechanical shutter. The A7RIII has the Continuous Shooting Lo, Mid, Hi and Hi+ options that we have seen previously on the A6300 and A6500 cameras. The Hi option at 8 frames per second in live view mode offers real-time subject tracking with minimal viewfinder/monitor display lag but with black-out between the frames. This would be the choice for panning quickly moving subjects even though the Hi+ offers zero blackout as this Hi+ option will incur display lag. The A9 with zero blackout and live view tracking is still unique in their regard.

 

Specifications

The new A7RIII features dozens of improvements over the incredibly successful A7RII but the most important differences are as follows:

  • Larger Z-Series battery, dual memory card slot (with a fast UHS-II slot) + improved EVF (Quad VGA OLED) with a 2X brighter view
  • 42.4 megapixels (same as A7RII) with 15-stop dynamic range at low-sensitivity settings
  • Improved 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization (IBIS or ‘Steadyshot Inside’) with a 5.5 step shutter speed advantage (up one stop from the A7RII)
  • Option for Pixel-Shift Multi Shooting (watch the second movie below to learn about this new feature).
  • USB-C Port (USB 3.1)
  • 10 fps Continuous Shooting (using either the mechanical or electronic shutter)
  • 14 bit RAW format in Continuous Shooting
  • 76 Compressed Raw Buffer
  • EV –3 (can find focus in half the ambient light needed by the A7RII)
  • Tenacious AF performance inherited from α9 (including Eye-AF performance)
  • 4K Movies with S-Log2, S-Log3 plus a new HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) picture profile with Touch Screen control over AF.
  • Improved menu design including the new ‘My Menu’ area where the user can store their most used memory items for fast access.

Sony released a movie explaining the principle of Pixel Shift Multi Shooting for those who are not familiar with the principle. It is suitable only for static subjects such as would be produced by Studio Still Life photographers + architecture and maybe Landscape so long as nothing movies between the four frames needed to collect all the information required to post-produce the information rich images.

In a “normal” digital capture each pixel represents just one color: red, green, or blue. The surrounding pixels are used to supply the necessary extra information required to interpolate and reproduce the remaining two primary colors. Pixel Shift Multi Shooting, however, composites four pixel-shifted images so that each of the sensor’s 42.4 million effective pixels can represent red, green, and blue values simultaneously. Extra interpolation becomes unnecessary so the data from the sensor can be directly synthesized to recreate the final colors. The result is unprecedented reproduction accuracy and detail for true-to-life textures.

Sony FE 24-105 F4 G OSS
Sony FE 24-105 F4 G OSS

FE 24-105 F4 G OSS

The camera was launched with the announcement of a new FE 24-120mm F/4 G OSS lens with some impressive specifications (low weight and exceptional sharpness).

A7RIII + FE 4/24-105 G OSS: 1/8 Second (hand-held) at f/5.6, ISO 320: : Click on the image to enlarge © Mark Galer

Gallery of Images: Link to Ultra HD Images captured with the A7RIII

Link to Sony A7RIII Webpage

Here is the blurb directly from Sony:

  • 35mm full-frame 42.4 MP back-illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor with evolved image processing
  • Continuous shooting at up to 10 fps with either silent shooting or mechanical shutter and full auto focus/auto exposure tracking
  • 399 phase-detection AF points covering 68% of image area, 425 contrast AF points and approximately 2 times more effective Eye AF 4
  • 5-axis optical in-body image stabilisation with a 5.5 step shutter speed advantage
  • High resolution 4K movie shooting with full pixel readout and no pixel binning
  • Completely redesigned for professionals, including upgraded auto focus, dual SD card slots, extended battery life, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) USB Type-C™ terminal and more
  • Compact, lightweight body at only 23 oz

Sony Press Release

SYDNEY, 25 October 2017 – Sony, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced an impressive addition to their full-frame mirrorless camera lineup, the α7R III (model ILCE-7RM3).

Thanks to an evolutionary leap in image processing power and efficiency, the new α7R III combines a high-resolution 42.4 MP back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor with impressive shooting speeds at up to 10 fps with full AF/AE tracking, as well as beautiful image and 4K 6 video quality, wide 15-stop 9 dynamic range, high sensitivity with noise reduction of almost a full stop 4 and more. With these immense capabilities and a compact, lightweight body, it’s an extremely versatile tool for photographers, videographers, multi-media creators and all other types of professionals that demand reliability, flexibility and versatility.

“Sony is rapidly growing in the digital imaging marketplace by continually innovating its camera technology, particularly our full-frame mirrorless lineup,” said Vivek Handoo, Head of Digital Imaging, Sony Australia and New Zealand. “On an industry level, we are now entering the true digital age of imaging. The α7R III camera offers extraordinary capabilities including silent shooting at 10 fps at full 42.4 MP resolution and extreme AF coverage, and speed for both video and stills, exceeding anything that is physically possible with a DSLR, and making it an outstanding example of this paradigm shift”. He added, “Ideal for the most demanding professional, the camera delivers a level of customisation, speed and stamina, ensuring they can take full advantage of this impressive tool to capture and create like they have never seen before.”

A new level of image quality

The 42.4MP high-resolution, back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor utilises a gapless on- chip lens design and AR (anti-reflective) coating on the surface of the sensor’s seal glass to dramatically improve light collection efficiency, resulting in high sensitivity with low-noise performance and wide dynamic range.

Sony’s new α7R III also features a new front-end LSI that effectively doubles* the readout speed of the image sensor, as well as an updated BIONZ X™ processing-engine that boosts processing speed by approximately 1.8 times compared to the α7R II. These powerful components work together to allow the camera to shoot at faster speeds while also enabling its impressive ISO range of 100 – 32000 (expandable to ISO 50 – 102400 for still images) and massive 15-stop 9 dynamic range at low sensitivity settings. This ensures outstanding overall performance at all settings and in all shooting conditions.

This new full-frame model was built without an optical low pass filter to maximise resolution, while also having the ability to output 14 bit RAW format even when shooting in silent or continuous mode. The

camera is equipped with an innovative 5-axis optical image stabilisation system that has been fine- tuned to support its high-resolution shooting capacity, resulting in a 5.5 step 5 shutter speed advantage, the world’s highest 10 compensation performance for an image stabilisation system. There is also a new low-vibration shutter that reduces vibration and image blur in all modes, including the high speed 10 fps shooting, as well as several advancements in accurate colour reproductions of skin tones.

High performance AF and AF/AE tracking at up to 10 fps

The innovative new α7R III full-frame mirrorless camera is equipped with a refined image processing system that allows it to shoot full 42.4MP images at up to 10 fps with continuous, accurate AF/AE tracking for up to 76 JPEG / RAW images or 28 uncompressed RAW images 11 . This high speed 10 fps mode is available with either a mechanical shutter or an option for completely silent shooting, adding to the immense flexibility of the camera. The camera can also shoot continuously at up to 8 fps 13 in live view mode with minimal lag in the viewfinder or LCD screen. These high speed options ensure that fast moving subjects can be captured with extreme accuracy and incredible image detail.For added convenience, while large groups of burst images are being written to the memory card, many of the cameras key functions are operable, including access to the ‘Fn’ (Function) and ‘Menu’ buttons, image playback and several other menus and parameters* including image rating and other functions that facilitate on-location image sorting.

Additionally, if there is fluorescent or artificial lighting present in a shooting environment, users can activate the Anti-flicker 14 function to allow the α7R III to automatically detect frequency of the lighting and time the shutter to minimise its effect on images being captured. This minimises any exposure or colour anomalies that can sometimes occur at the top and bottom of images shot at high shutter speeds.

The upgraded focusing system of the α7R III is comprised of 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points that cover approximately 68% of the image area in both the horizontal and vertical directions. There is also 425 contrast AF points, an increase of 400 points compared to the α7R II. This advanced system delivers AF acquisition in about half the time as the α7R II in low-light conditions, with tracking that is approximately 2times more accurate as well. The acclaimed Eye AF feature is also approximately 2 times more effective, and is available when utilising Sony’s A-mount lenses with an adapter 15 .

Additional improvements in focusing flexibility include AF availability in Focus Magnifier mode, focal- plane phase-detection AF support when using A-mount lenses 16 , an ‘AF On’ button, a multi-selector or ‘joystick’ for moving focusing points quickly, flexible touch focus functionality and much more.

High quality 4K for the video professionals

The new α7R III is exceptionally capable as a video camera, offering 4K (3840×2160 pixels) video recording across the full width of the full-frame image sensor. When shooting in Super 35mm format, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 5K 17 of information, oversampling it to produce high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth.

A new HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) 18 is available on the α7R III that supports an instant HDR workflow, allowing HDR (HLG) compatible TV’s to playback beautiful, true-to- life 4K HDR imagery. Further, both S-Log2 and S-Log3 are available for increased colour grading flexibility. The camera can also record full HD at 120 fps at up to 100 Mbps 6 , allowing footage to be reviewed and eventually edited into 4x or 5x slow motion 19 video files in full HD resolution with AF tracking.

Build, design and customisation for professionals

Sony’s newest full-frame camera is equipped with a variety of enhanced capabilities that give it a true professional operational style. These include dual media slots, with support in one slot for UHS-II type SD memory cards. Users have a variety of options for storing their content, including separate  JPEG / RAW recording, separate still image / movie recording, relay recording and more. Battery life has been greatly extended as well, as the new camera utilises Sony’s Z series battery that have approximately 2.2 times the capacity of the W series battery utilised in the α7R II.

The α7R III features an upgraded high-resolution, high-luminance Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder™ with approximately 3,686k dots for extremely accurate, true-to- life detail reproduction. The Tru-Finder, also found in the acclaimed Sony α9 camera, utilises a ZEISS® T* coating to greatly reduce reflections, and has a fluorine coating on the outer lens that repels dirt. It also has a customisable frame rate, with options of either 60 fps or 120 fps 20 to best match the action. The LCD screen has been upgraded as well, with a resolution of 1.44M dots and WhiteMagic™ technology that improves viewing in bright, outdoor conditions. “Standard” or “High” display quality settings are also available for both the viewfinder and monitor as well. “High” takes advantage of the large amount of data read from the 42.4MP sensor to provide extra fine viewfinder and monitor displays for a more natural view. The new camera also offers a multi-selector joystick that provides a fast, efficient way to shift focus points, as well as an ‘AF ON’ button to activate autofocus when shooting stills or movies.

The new α7R III allows for convenient transfer of files to a smartphone, tablet, computer or FTP server via Wi-Fi®, while also including a sync terminal, enabling external flash units and cables to be connected directly for convenient flash sync. A SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) USB Type-C™ terminal is also available for increased flexibility in power supply or connected accessories, as well as a faster image transfer speed when connected to a PC.

New “Imaging Edge” software suite and pixel shift multi shooting mode

New with the α7R III is a software suite called “Imaging Edge” that extends the creative capabilities of the entire shooting process – from pre-processing to post-processing. “Imaging Edge” provides three PC applications called ‘Remote’, ‘Viewer’ and ‘Edit’, available for free download, which support live- view PC remote shooting and RAW development.

Also making its debut on the versatile α7R III is a new Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode, which takes full advantage of the advanced 5-axis optical in-body stabilisation to create beautiful true-to- life, super-high resolution composite images. In this mode, the camera precisely shifts the sensor in 1- pixel increments to capture four separate pixel-shifted images containing a total of approximately 169.6 MP* of image data. These four images can be composited together and processed utilising the new “Imaging Edge” software suite. This ultimately results in a still image with overwhelming resolution and an unprecedented level of colour accuracy, and is ideal for photographing architecture, art or any other still life photography subjects with intricate detail and colour.

Pricing and availability

The Sony α7R III full-frame interchangeable lens camera will be available in Australia for SRP$4999 in mid-November.

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