Sony Surprises with Enhanced a7R III and FE 24-105mm f/4 Lens


Sony still manages to surprise us with its announcements, this time by preëmpting the start of Photo Plus Expo with the reveal of the Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera and the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens. The obvious headliner here is the a7R III, the next generation of Sony’s high-resolution full-frame mirrorless series, now with major updates to the body design, notable improvements to speed with 10 fps continuous shooting, and a boost to image quality in stills and video. Alongside the camera is a lens that is sure to make many happy, the 24-105mm f/4. One of the most popular options in numerous systems, this mid-range zoom is sure to become one of the top choices of the E-mount system due to its outstanding sharpness and optimization for video and stills.

Using the same high-performing full-frame 42.4MP Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor as its predecessor, the a7R III uses an updated processing system with the BIONZ X processor and a front-end LSI that leverages the full potential of the system. Sony claims some impressive improvements to image quality with this setup, including a 15-stop dynamic range with 16-bit processing and 14-bit raw output, advances in Sony’s Detail Reproduction Technology and Area-specific Noise Reduction to improve detail and significantly reduce noise in the mid-range. The camera can also work within a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-32000, which can be expanded to ISO 102400. As the a7R lineup has been known for detail, Sony has taken another major step here with a Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode, which uses the 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE stabilization system (now rated to 5.5 stops) and uses it to capture full values at every pixel location, creating four distinct images that can be used in post to create a single highly detailed photo.

Pleasing Filmmakers, Too

Speed is the next major boost in the a7R III’s laundry list of improvements, with it now able to reach 10 fps in continuous shooting using either a completely silent electronic shutter or a newly developed mechanical shutter. This works with the larger buffer of up to 76 JPEG or compressed raw images. The Fast Hybrid AF system provides a much-needed assist here, with performance that is twice as fast and can now perform at down to -3 EV. The system uses 399 phase-detection AF points covering 68% of the frame and now also has 425 contrast-detection points for added precision. This results in dramatically improved subject tracking and precision in all modes, including Eye AF.

Filmmakers should be pleased as well, since Sony has made some major jumps in video quality with the a7R III. It features UHD 4K video at up to 30 fps and, like before, Sony highlights 5K oversampling when using the APS-C mode, resulting in sharp footage with minimal moiré and aliasing. However, Sony also made improvements to full-frame recording, especially at mid-to-high sensitivities. Interestingly, Sony has implemented a Hybrid Log-Gamma, or HLG, profile with support for the BT.2020 color space, allowing videos to be played back immediately on compatible HDR displays with a wider color gamut and vastly enhanced dynamic range. This is in addition to the implementation of their S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma profiles for capturing up to 14 stops of dynamic range. Slow & Quick Motion is available here too, with shutter speeds ranging from 1-120 fps.

Even though the improvements to image quality are the most important and significant aspect of this camera, I must say that the redesigned body is my favorite part. The body now offers the 3.7m-dot OLED EVF and 3.0" 1.44m-dot tilting touchscreen LCD for providing multiple ways to compose and review images. There is also a dedicated AF-ON button and a multi-selector joystick for more efficient control over multiple autofocus settings and functions. The a7R III will accept the NP-FZ100 battery pack, providing 2.2x the capacity of the previous battery. And it also sports dual SD memory card slot, one of which supports the UHS-II standard.

Numerous additions have been made to connectivity, with the camera sporting a new USB 3.1 Gen 1 compatible USB Type-C port alongside a Multi Terminal, both of which can accept power. A PC sync terminal can be used for connecting strobes more easily. Finally, there are many different customization options available to shooters, including the new My Menu and menu design. Bluetooth can be set up with a connection to a smartphone for location information and FTP file transfer can be used via Wi-Fi. Additionally, Sony has developed a new suite of software to help get the most out of the camera’s files, and is required to take advantage of the camera’s Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode.

New Mid-Range Zoom Lens

Complementing this camera is the release of a new mid-range zoom for full-frame E-mount cameras, the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS. This versatile and compact lens will quickly become a go-to for many shooters, thanks to its wide zoom range and constant f/4 aperture, which ensures consistent performance and exposure during use. It also features four aspherical elements, including two Advanced Aspherical, and extra-low dispersion glass to improve resolution and minimize chromatic aberrations. Also, it has a Nano AR Coating to minimize flash and ghosting along with a fluorine coating on the front element to protect it from the elements.

This lens is optimized for stills and video with minimal focus breathing and focus shift while a Direct Drive SSM focus system ensures shooters will be able to lock on and track subjects with ease. The lens even has Optical SteadyShot image stabilization to reduce the effects of camera shake and it can focus as close as 1.25' for a magnification of 0.31x.

Overall, the a7R III looks to be a major improvement in nearly every way imaginable over its predecessor, and if you are looking for a new high-resolution option, it is well worth adding to the list. For current E-mount shooters the 24-105mm looks to be the all-around zoom many have been waiting for.

What do you think about Sony’s new releases? Any questions about specific features in the camera?

1 Comment

The A7R3 is everything I expected in the D850! As a 35yr. nikon shooter, I'm about ready to to switch to sony. I love everything about the A7R3, and my brand loyalty is almost dead!!!!!! The 24-105mm is a lens I've often longed for. It is the perfect range for everything I like to shoot!!! Looking at the build of this lens, it should deliver crisp, sharp images. I WANT THIS CAMERA AND LENS!!!!!