October 25, 2017

Everything We Know About the New Sony a7R III 4K Full-Frame Camera

Sony a7R III
Sony unveils the 42.4 MP a7R III mirrorless 4K camera. 

As rumored, Sony has announced the a7R III, a 35mm full-frame 42.4 MP mirrorless 4K camera with a back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor. While the sensor is nearly identical to the a7R II, Sony improved 4K UHD shooting with a brand new Hybrid-Gamma Log profile and 15-stops of dynamic range. Sony is also claiming it has reduced noise reduction almost a full stop compared to the a7R II. 

4K video

The a7R III offers internal 4K (3840x2160 pixels) in multiple frame rates up to 30 fps. When shooting in Super 35mm, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 5K (15-megapixel), oversampling to produce its 4K footage. 4K recording has also been improved in the mid to high levels to use the entire full-frame sensor width. The a7R III can also record Full HD up to 120 fps. UHD 4K movies and lower-resolution proxy movies can also be simultaneously recorded. 

Both 4K and full HD can record the 100 Mbps XAVC S format using UHS speed class 3 or higher memory cards with 4:2:0 sampling. Additionally, 120 fps recording enables 4x and 5x slow-motion recording with frame rates of 30p or 24p, but no sound will be recorded. 

An uncompressed HDMI output allows you to connect an external recorder like a Video Devices PIX-E or Atomos for clean 4K recording with 4:2:2 sampling. While recording 4K video, you can also shoot 8MP stills during playback with a screen grab and saving it as a separate file. 

https://youtu.be/xVjo2G-c01s

HDR and color 

The HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) supports HDR workflow, allowing HDR (HLG) compatible TVs to playback true-to-life 4K HDR content without the need to color grade. Also, the S-Log2 Gamma Curve is available, which squeezes up to 1300% more dynamic range in the video signal than Rec. 709 for increased flexibility in color grading. New to the a7R III is S-Log3, which offers up to 14 stops of dynamic range with increased grading control in the shadows and mid-tones. 

The a7R III supports Rec. 2020 (aka BT 2020) along with SGamut3/S-Log3 and a new S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3 wide color space. S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3 is designed for more like pure log workflow with color space similar to negative film scan. Color reproduction is slightly wider than DCI-P3 and the tone curve is more like pure log encoding characteristics, preserving more tonal gradations in the blacks. 

Sony a7R III
Sony a7R III Credit: Sony

Image sensor 

The back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS works with an updated BIONZ X image processor. The design utilizes a gapless on-chip lens and AR (anti-reflective) coating to improve light collection for better low-noise performance and a wider dynamic range. The a7R III has a native ISO range of 100-32000, which can be expanded to 50–102400 for still images, and eliminates an optical low pass filter to maximize resolution. 

For the shutter bugs, you can continually shoot up to 10 fps in Hi+ mode and up to 8 fps in continuous Hi mode. A new low-vibration shutter reduces vibration and image blur in all modes and Sony has said it has made several advancements in color reproductions of skin tones. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-811lVi0Qc

Imaging Edge software suite and Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode

New with the a7R III is a software suite dubbed 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 new to the a7R III is Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode. According to Sony, "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 utilizing the new 'Imaging Edge' software suite." The idea behind this mode is to offer images with high levels of color accuracy and resolution in still photography.           

Sony a7R III
Sony a7R III Credit: Sony

Stabilization and design 

The a7R III is equipped with a 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization with a 5.5 step shutter speed that compensates for five different types of camera shake during handheld work. Pitch and yaw will only be compensated for in long focal lengths while macro lenses will have horizontal and vertical shift compensation. 

A magnesium alloy chassis provides a durable yet lightweight feel. The a7R III now includes dual media slots with one for UHS-II type SD cards for 100 Mbps recording. Sony has also increased the battery life 2.2 times over the a7R II W series battery with the new NP-FZ100 battery . 

Sony a7R III
Sony a7R III Credit: Sony

An upgraded Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder has 3.69m-dot resolution for bright, clear viewing with detailed reproduction. The Tru-Finder also touts the same a ZEISS T Coating found on the a9 to reduce reflections and the fluorine coating on the outer lens helps to repel dirt. There's even customizable frame rate options of either 60 fps or 120 fps in NTSC (50fps or 100fps in PAL). 

The LCD screen has been upgraded as well, with a resolution of 1.44M dots and WhiteMagic technology to improve viewing in bright, outdoor conditions. Standard or High display quality settings are also available for both the viewfinder and monitor. A multi-selector joystick provides a fast, efficient way to shift focus points, as well as an AF ON button to activate autofocus when shooting movies or stills.

The new a7R III allows for convenient transfer of files to a smartphone, tablet, computer or FTP server via Wi-Fi. A sync terminal enables external flash units and cables to be connected directly for convenient flash sync. Sony also added a SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1 Gen 1) USB Type-C terminal. 

Pricing and availability

The Sony a7R III will ship this November for about $3,200 US and $4,000 CA. 

Tech Specs: 

  • 42.4 MP 35 mm full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor (35.9 x 24 mm)
  • Max Resolution: 7952 x 5304
  • Sony E Mount
  • ISO 100-32000 range (expandable to 102400)
  • Fast Hybrid AF with 399-point focal-plane phase-detection AF
  • 425-point contrast-detection AF
  • High-speed continuous shooting of up to 10fps
  • 5-axis image stabilization with 5.5-stop exposure
  • Electronic viewfinder, Quad-VGA OLED
  • Memory Card Type: SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • NTSC/PAL
  • Recording format: XAVC S, AVCHD format Ver. 2.0 compliant
  • Video Compression: XAVC S: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, AVCHD: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
  • Available recording formats:
    • 3840 x 2160p at 23.98, 25, 29.97 fps (100 Mbps XAVC S via H.264)
    • 3840 x 2160p at 23.98, 25, 29.97 fps (60 Mbps XAVC S via H.264)
    • 1920 x 1080p at 100, 120 fps (100 Mbps XAVC S via H.264)
    • 1920 x 1080p at 100, 120 fps (60 Mbps XAVC S via H.264)
    • 1920 x 1080p at 23.98, 25, 29.97, 50, 59.94 fps (50 Mbps XAVC S via H.264)
    • 1920 x 1080p at 50, 59.94 fps (25 Mbps XAVC S via H.264)
    • 1920 x 1080p at 25, 29.97 fps (16 Mbps XAVC S via H.264)
    • 1920 x 1080i at 50, 59.94 fps (24 Mbps AVCHD via H.264)
    • 1920 x 1080i at 50, 59.94 fps (17 Mbps AVCHD via H.264)
  • Aspect ration: 16:9 
  • Up 29 minutes of video clip shooting 
  • Built-in Mic, optional external 
  • 1/8" Headphone, 1/8" Microphone
  • HDMI D (Micro), Micro-USB, USB 3.0, USB Type-C
  • 2.2x longer battery life than a7R II

Your Comment

33 Comments

Will there be a 2x sensor crop with 120fps like on the A7SII? Any Information about that?

October 25, 2017 at 1:36PM, Edited October 25, 1:36PM

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Full sensor

October 26, 2017 at 2:44PM, Edited October 26, 2:44PM

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Philip Bloom
Filmmaker
89

Thanks PB.

October 27, 2017 at 1:49PM

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Daron James
Writer

Impressive upgrade. However, I was surprised to see no 4k60 in this unit.

What is the difference between the $3200 and $4000 price points?

October 25, 2017 at 1:37PM, Edited October 25, 1:37PM

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US dollars and Canadian dollars?

October 25, 2017 at 1:50PM

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Austin EI
Screenwriter, director, cinematographer
1

Thanks Austin. Correct. One is US dollars, the other Canadian.

October 25, 2017 at 3:00PM

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Daron James
Writer

panny better step up and match this with their mystery announcement coming up in two weeks ...

October 25, 2017 at 2:04PM

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stephen knifton
owner / creative director
348

huh? Think it's sony that needs to catch up! At least so long as we're talking about video. 10bit 422 4K, 10bit 422 4K 60p out through HDMI, Full spec/size HDMI, Anamorphic, XLR adapter, All-I internal recording, Proven battery life without overheating, much better rolling shutter, shall I keep going?

October 25, 2017 at 4:21PM

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You're correct. I think the GH5 is a better video camera. Now, for stills, sure, that Sony is going to be better.

October 26, 2017 at 8:56AM

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You mean step down?

October 25, 2017 at 4:24PM

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Does it have any type of facial recognition?

October 25, 2017 at 2:19PM, Edited October 25, 2:19PM

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Walter Wallace
Spokesperson/Entrepreneur
1011

Yes. The Sony a7-series also has Eye Detection AF option. The camera tracks focus on the subject’s eye instead of the entire face.

The a7R II showed signs of focus breathing and other undesirable characteristics. Hopefully Sony improved this in the a7R III.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK3NWG7hEFY

October 25, 2017 at 3:19PM

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Daron James
Writer

Uncompressed HDMI out, 4K 422 sampling.
8 or 10bit?

October 25, 2017 at 2:20PM, Edited October 25, 2:20PM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
812

Would be pretty silly to list the HDR video capabilities if it is only 8 bit. I am also wondering about rolling shutter.

October 25, 2017 at 2:48PM

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d shay
338

Richard - the uncompressed HDMI out 4K 422 is only 8-bit.

HDMI Output provides: 3840 x 2160 (25p), 1920 x 1080 (50p), 1920 x 1080 (50i), 1920 x 1080 (24p), 1920 x 1080 (60p), 1920 x 1080 (60i), 3840 x 2160 (30p), 3840 x 2160 (24p), YCbCr 4:2:2 8bit / RGB 8bit.

Sure you know the a7R-series has been typically the "photographer's camera" from Sony while the a7S is more for video. Crossing fingers for the a7S III to have 12-bit internal or an external option. Seems unlikely they would spec higher than the a9 though.

Hoping we won't have to wait long for internal 444 12-bit to be the "entry level" standard. :/

October 25, 2017 at 3:48PM, Edited October 25, 4:00PM

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Daron James
Writer

The A7RII is arguably a more versatile video camera than the A7SII, especially when you add a speed booster. I wouldn't count on it.

October 25, 2017 at 4:32PM

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Hence "typically."

October 25, 2017 at 4:40PM

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Daron James
Writer

How is this an "impressive upgrade"? Because they gave it a usable battery? I've been shooting stills and video with the A7RII for two years and there's nothing about this announcement that excites me. Hopefully they've improved the horrendous ergonomics.

October 25, 2017 at 4:19PM, Edited October 25, 4:23PM

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Physical dimensions are the same as the a7R II but button feel has changed texturally. Viewfiinder same as a9.

Good overview video to watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYG7_BXKsEM

October 25, 2017 at 4:49PM

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Daron James
Writer

MUCH better autofocus, 1080p 120p no crop, better dynamic range, better battery, full frame video looked great, s35 is apparently better but not tried it. That’s for video.

Stills, autofocus again is much better, eye AF is excellent, 10fps is really impressive, two slots including one for UHS ii cards, better 5 axis stabiliser, 1 stool cleaner with noise. This is now a fast stills camera. I was very impressed.

October 26, 2017 at 2:48PM

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Philip Bloom
Filmmaker
89

So the ‘improved’ video is still only 8-bit 4:2:0?

October 25, 2017 at 5:18PM, Edited October 25, 5:18PM

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The "improved" video Sony is pointing out on the release is more about color space. They've added Hybrid-Gamma Log profile, Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3... improved dynamic range for color grading.

My guess, in terms of bit/sampling, they didn't want to jump the a9 (HDMI out 4:2:2 8-bit). We'll be able to tell more about alpha when the a7S III comes out.

October 25, 2017 at 6:27PM

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Daron James
Writer

I don’t get your A9 comment. The hdmi out is the same and the A9 has no video profiles at all

October 26, 2017 at 2:43PM

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Philip Bloom
Filmmaker
89

Exactly. "HDMI is the same" sans VPs. Meant they probably didn't want to leap frog to 4:2:2 10-bit. Maybe developing it for the a7S III or a9 II. We'll have to wait... If you've heard of anything feel free to share.

October 27, 2017 at 1:56PM

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Daron James
Writer

What is this new technology called "Aspect ration"? I've never heard of it.

October 25, 2017 at 5:49PM, Edited October 25, 5:49PM

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Hideto
79

Never? You have to get out more. It's used during wartime. Basically, a go-to when you want the "Saving Private Ryan" look.

October 25, 2017 at 6:28PM

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Daron James
Writer

Simply woww...!!
It's really confusing these days, to choose one camera. The competition is so tough.

Start to dream about Sony a7R III.

October 26, 2017 at 2:45AM, Edited October 26, 2:45AM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
668

Sorry, no. Maybe the A7siii will be more impressive for video? 4:2:0 and 8-bit internally? On a $3000 camera in 2017?

October 26, 2017 at 8:13AM, Edited October 26, 8:13AM

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Lee Cohen
161

One stills camera does 10 bit 422.

At least it uses the full sensor without crop unlike the 5Dmkiv

October 26, 2017 at 2:42PM

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Philip Bloom
Filmmaker
89

8 bit.... 100mbps .... $3,000+ ..... ya, not me. If you need a DSLR format, the d850 is a better choice...if for no other reason than 150mbps .... and better dynamic range ... then again, if you're doing video ....just get a real cinema camera

October 26, 2017 at 10:44AM, Edited October 26, 10:44AM

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Share your thought and insights.
Sony a rmark iii will always be a better than Nikon 850 whatever they call it.
in video productions and even in image quality if dp review will be honest with themselves.

October 26, 2017 at 3:17PM, Edited October 26, 3:17PM

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This really does not excite me. There seems to be merely minor incremental improvements. The most important feature we're all waiting for is 10 bit 422 and better skintone. Hopefully the new colorgamut will be decent...

October 26, 2017 at 1:49PM

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It's a beautiful camera! They shot some of the demo footage around Juneau, Alaska and at the Mendenhall Glacier 3 miles from my home! I was quite surprised to see that! It's a great location for scenic images but somehow they managed to travel up here on one of the few sunny days this summer and get footage. I've been struggling all summer to get sunny filming days.

October 28, 2017 at 2:03AM, Edited October 28, 2:03AM

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Anton Doiron
Creator/Filmmaker
585

Will the A7r3 be limited to 12 bit operation in continuous shooting mode as is the A7r2?

November 8, 2017 at 11:28AM, Edited November 8, 11:28AM

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