Featuring a world-class set of specs, the third Sony a7S will change the way you film and shoot. For a vast majority, it will be a welcome upgrade thanks to the complete redesign of ergonomics and video capabilities. Some of the class-leading specifications include:
- Redesigned 12MP back exposure (BSI) full-frame image sensor with faster readout performance
- Industry-leading 10-bit 4:2:2 4K, 120p video, and 4K, 120p RAW video over HDMI
- 16bit RAW output
- Base ISO of 160 for S-LOG3
- ISO 409600 for amazing low light performance
- 15 stops of play to cover a dynamic range of exposure
- Full HD at 240p for super slow motion video
- 600Mpbs bitrate for super-smooth video transfer times
- Continuous video recording making it a leader in this space.
- Fully-articulating screen making it perfect for viewing at any angle
- Combined UHS-II SDXC and CFexpress Type A card slots for maximum file storage
Sony a7S Outstanding Heritage and Competition
The first entry in the Sony a7S line was released back in 2014 with a surprising 12-megapixel image sensor that produced stunning 4K video. Initially, the relatively low megapixel sensor was considered sub-par. But the performance, especially in video output, more than proved its critics wrong. Its compact design also managed to pack in incredible dynamic range, low noise and staggering sensitivity to ISO 409600. It only took Sony a year to release the natural successor in the a7S II with the same sensor and low light performance. It was the expanded video capabilities that made this a stand out release.
Now, five years later, we have the highly anticipated Sony a7S III. This new camera steals all the best looks, features and functions from Sony’s heritage of mirrorless cameras. In appearance, the a7S III looks more like the a7R IV than the a7S II. Plus, Sony has listened to the needs of videographers by introducing a fully articulating touch screen interface allowing interaction with the newly formatted menu structure.
This launch comes at a time of high demand from professional videographers. In recent weeks we have seen the announcement and launch of the Canon EOS R5 – an industry-leading product capable of 8K video resolution, 8 stops of stabilisation and a whopping 45-megapixel sensor. The caveat is that the recording time on the R5 is limited to 30 minutes. In comparison, the Sony a7S III features 4K of video resolution at 120p, 5.5 stops of image stabilisation and a 12-megapixel full-frame image sensor. It is that unique combination delivering a world-class videography camera. Plus, the a7S III recording limit is unlimited whereas Canon’s reduces resolution automatically before overheating kicks in.
Video Excellence With Impressive Sensor Technology
The original Sony a7S shocked the industry with its unique 12-megapixel full-frame sensor. This came at a time when brands were striving for sensors packed with megapixels. Sony is sticking with its winning formula as the a7S III also features a 12-megapixel full-frame sensor. With a larger pixel size to draw in as much light as possible, the format is ideal for video performance.
The new full-frame sensor utilises back exposure (BSI) that pulls in even more light to maximise low light output. When combined with the expanded ISO range of 409600, you can shoot in any condition. What’s more, it ensures faster readouts, especially when shooting continuous or at higher video resolutions.
Sony’s Just Unleashed a Video Beast: a7s III.
For many filmmakers, the a7s series of cameras has been a game-changer for both portability, compatibility and quality. Instead of having to rely on heavy rigs, the accessibility of the a7s II was well adopted by the industry. Remember back in 2018 when the Sony a7s II reached new heights as the device which shot the feature film “The Possession of Hannah Grace”? Well, those days have paved the way for the new Sony a7s III, which will no doubt find itself in more DOP hands than ever before.
The new Sony will be a delight to use handheld when filming. Featuring an OLED viewfinder with the world’s highest-resolution EVF (9.44-million dot) and a 0.78x increase in magnification, filmmakers will be spoiled with realistic vision at the press of a button.
Video Resolution and Bit Rate Expectations for Sony’s a7s III
Sony has pulled out all the stops with the new a7S III. Sporting S-Cinetone colour science, the new flagship camera is capable of recording in various file formats; including XAVC HS 4K (reduces the amount of data in image group compression to 200 Mbit/s thanks to H.265 compression), XAVC S 4K, XAVC S HD, XAVC S-I 4K (records single images (All-I) with a data rate of up to 500 Mbits/s) and XAVC S-I HD.
Stabilisation is also present as Sony’s badged ‘Steady Shot’ INSIDE. This desirable feature ensures you don’t have to waste precious hours of rendering time running Warp Stabilizer in post-production.
Turning your attention to frame rate, if super slow motion is your jam, then consider 240p at Full HD. Or if the quality is a concern you can adjust the recording to 4K at an impressive 120p (or 60p as 16-bit raw files) at 4:2:2 10 bit to an Atomos recorder. This is not something we have seen on previous models or competitors models (mainly the Panasonic S1H and Fujifilm X-T4). At 4K resolution you can record 10 bit at 4:2:2, ensuring there is no loss of quality, line skipping or pixel binning. This unique feature will truly be a game-changer.
Video Recording and Storage Capabilities – Will The Camera Keep Up?
Dumping your 4K footage to memory is also going to be extremely easy thanks to a new codec called XEVC. All you will require is a compatible external recorder, and the process will care for itself when recording 500 MBPS bitrate Base ISO 160 for S-Log 2/3. This is something many cinematographers and filmmakers have been requesting for some time. Previously, with the a7s II users could only select from 4:2:0 8-bit recording at 100Mbps internally. While this was amazing at the time of release, it was the 4:2:2 which was an industry standard for cine at the higher end of the market.
For many a7S owners, the CF-Express will be the common option as users will require these to keep up with the impressive 4K recording. As this is the case until now, there hasn’t been anything available that can handle the speed. Fortunately, Sony has come to the rescue with two new CF-Express Type A, which will be available in 80GB and 120GB. Plus Sony will have a CF-Express MRW-G2 Card Reader available for purchase which can handle the new cards.
Turning our attention to the actual design of the Sony a7S III, you may notice the video record button has moved to the top of the camera. With this new format, it’s certainly going to be beneficial when switching between photography and video modes – ensuring you get the shot you need. Filmmakers also won’t have to dive into the menu to find important settings when filming. That’s because touch functionality on the impressive screen is easy to access (which is also available when navigating the menus as well).
Recording Times That Blow the Competition Away
Recording times have also been looked at for the new revamped a7s III model. When compared to others in the marketplace, Sony now leads the way with unlimited video recording.
Ergonomics That Feel Right
What use is a camera if it doesn’t have great ergonomics. Putting aside the history of Sony’s menu system, the handling of this camera will be familiar to Sony users. When first picking up the camera, you will notice it’s distributed weight of 614 grams. The deep grip caters for large hands when hand-holding. While the rotating flip screen makes it vision accessible when mounting the camera in a custom film rig. Taking a look around the sides of the camera, many of the buttons have been enlarged to accommodate colder conditions where someone might be using gloves.
What’s on Top of the Sony a7S III?
Look at the top left; there are few badges to indicate the Steady Shot and the focal plane of the sensor. Sitting in the middle of the a7s III, above what would traditionally be a mirror box is the hot shoe. Here users will most likely adopt Sony’s audio accessory, the XLR-K3M XLR Adapter which can hold a directional shotgun microphone. When attached it aids filmmakers with four-channel 24-bit recording directly through Sony’s multi-interface shoe.
To the right side of the camera expect five main controls. The mode dial, read adjustment dial, exposure compensation dial, dedicated video record button, independent shutter button with built-in power on/off switch. By grouping these main controls, instead of on the left-hand side, the a7s III masters one-handed controls.
Looking at the Back of the Sony a7s III
The biggest thing you will notice is Sony’s impressive flip-out rotating screen. A very handy feature for filmmakers, vloggers and creatives indeed! Precisely placed below the top left a7s III badge, you will find the third Custom Function (C3) button and Menu button. On the opposite side (right-hand side of the OLED viewfinder), sitting in a line sits the Custom Function Button 1 (C1), Autofocus on (AF-ON) and Auto Exposure Lock (AEL). These buttons are all accessible with your right thumb while hand-holding the camera.
Below these buttons is the very useful tactile rather large joystick. This is used for mostly navigating focus points on the fly or menu items. A Function button is positioned below the joystick and arrow keys which also include a fourth Custom Function button (C4). Finally, it is at the bottom right-hand side of the a7S III that you will find the Review and Trash buttons for previewing and deleting your files.
The Hidden Details in the Sides of the Sony
Looking at the back of the camera, to the right-hand side, you will notice a rather large memory card door. Behind the door, users can record files directly onto dual slot memory cards. The slots will house either two CF-Express Type A cards or two SD UHS-II memory cards (or a combination of the two types).
On the left-hand side of the camera, you’ll find all your ports including, a Full HDMI, USB mini, USB-C (which also can be used to charge the battery and run the camera), Headphone Jack and Plug in Power.
Enhanced Autofocus Performance To Rival the Rest
Sony is, without doubt, the industry champions of autofocus performance and the a7S III continues that reputation. It employs a hybrid autofocus system that covers 92% of the sensor and combines 759 phase-detection points with 425 contrast AF for blistering low-light performance. In terms of AF algorithms, the Sony a7S III has enhanced human and animal eye detection from a greater distance.
In addition to Direct Manual Focus (DMF), AF-S (Single-Shot) and AF-C (Continuous AF), there is a range of flexible focus area options. All while delivering blistering fast 10 fps with a mechanical shutter of up to 1/8000 of a second. Focusing on and tracking subjects has never been easier or more reliable in both video and stills photography.
In summary, the new Sony a7S III is a camera fit for professionals who require a fine amount of detail at an affordable price. We say affordable as the other options in this arena extend over $10,000 just for the camera body. Once you have this camera in your hands, you will understand Sony’s thoughts on the design and specifications. It’s essentially an all-in-one filmmakers toolbox. All that you will require is some extra CF-Express Type A memory, a card reader and an arsenal of accessories such as mics and external monitors (which you most likely already have). To learn more about the Sony a7S III, visit us in-store and ensure you place your pre-order straight away as demand will certainly be high.