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Sony A7S III Review: This Or The Alpha 1?

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

The Sony A7S III is a beautiful camera that is a perfect fit for people who are into videography but still want great photography. However, with the new announcement about the Sony A1, which camera is a better fit for you?

Sony’s A1 has a price tag of approximately US$6,500 and combines the performances of the A9, A7R III and R IV, as well as the A7S III to deliver the best in both still photography and video recording. The A7S III, on the other hand, is mainly for video recording while still offering a decent output in still photography.

The A7S III is the best “prosumer” camera in the market in our opinion due to its feature set, size, portability, and price of US$3,500. The camera has fantastic auto-focusing and its tracking is easy and sticks like glue. The video and the colour science has been improved on in the A7S III. We named the A7S III the best hybrid camera of 2020 in our “Best of” series. We still stand by our decision to this day even after we reviewed cameras like the Canon C70. The only thing that’s missing from the A7S III is the built-in ND filter system, which is in the Sony FX6 and the Canon C70. Understandably, Sony wasn’t able to include that feature due to the A7S III’s small size.

The A7S III has a swivel flip-out display which is a very welcome addition, especially for vloggers. Although the A1 does not have this flippable display, it does have a new menu system.

One thing we like about the A7S III, which the A1 also has, is support for CFexpress cards. The A7S III has one CFexpress Type A card port on the right side of the camera. The card is small, compact, and fast, but the write speeds are not as good as a CFexpress Type B card. We’re not sure why Sony decided to make a proprietary card system when the Type B card is the much faster one.

You might not really need a CFexpress Type A card with the A7S III. You can utilise the card in Slow and Quick Motion (S&Q Motion) mode but for the most part, it should be fine as long as you have a V90 UHS-II card. The CFexpress Type A card comes in 80GB and 160GB variants, with the former costing around S$200. The price may have come down somewhat, but it is still an investment.

One other thing we like about the A7S III is the menu system. Sony has finally decided to upgrade the menu system and added a touch interface similar to Panasonic’s menu system. Sony still has that proprietary terminology that only long-time Sony camera users will understand. This terminology needs some getting used to, but once you dial everything in the camera, you’ll rarely have to go to the menu system. The A7S III is fully customisable in a way; once you remember where the buttons are and customise those buttons’ function, you’re good to go.

The touch display is good but we think it should have been bigger. People with big fingers will have some difficulty tapping on the exact option they wish from the menu.

One of our favourite features of the A7S III is its ISO. It performs fantastically in environments with low lights. Sony might not have said that the A7S III is a dual gain sensor, but it feels like it is. Other people have mentioned that ISO 800 is optimal with the A7S III, but when you go to ISO 1600 to ISO 3200 while you’re shooting in S-Log, it can get a little noisy. However, as soon as you get to ISO 12,000, the image suddenly becomes beautiful.

Another of our favourites is the electronic viewfinder (EVF). The A7S III has a 9.44-million dot EVF which is arguably the highest or second-highest resolution EVF currently out in the market. The A1, meanwhile, has the same EVF but with a higher framerate.

The A7S III’s EVF is clear and sharp but it seems to be a little small inside of the camera system. It’s nice, but it isn’t a big jump from the 5.76-million dot EVFs out there. People would probably not be able to tell the difference between the A7S III’s EVF and the one in Leica’s SL2 and SL2-S. However, when compared to other cameras in Sony’s arsenal, the A7S III’s is “the king.”

Should you get this over the A1? The speed of the A1 for photography is enticing, but for video recording, the A7S III is the better choice. This is because of how usable and high quality the footage that the A7S III records are.

The still images the A7S III captures is also not that bad. Nobody needs 50 megapixels for social media and 12 megapixels is more than adequate. The only reason we can think of where using 50 megapixels is the better choice for social media is when there is a need to crop in and show more detail on a specific subject or something people will want to show to others.

In our opinion, the A7S III is the right camera for a majority of people. The A1 may be Sony’s all-in-one camera, but it is more expensive than any other Sony consumer camera to date. Any other camera system may have a hard time competing with the A7S III’s feature set right now. The only thing that’s missing with this camera is the built-in ND filters. You can’t record RAW internally, but who does? Most people don’t need RAW.

What the A7S III gives you is more than enough for most people. Its S-Log2 and S-Log3 is fantastic, the colour grading is excellent and the colour science is really nice. Overall, the A7S III is a stunning camera. For those who want to record quality videos without spending too much and still get decent pictures, the A7S III is a better option than the A1.


Content by Bobby Tonelli

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