San Diego, CA—Sony introduced the latest addition to its Alpha 7S full-frame mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera series. The Sony Alpha 7S III (ILCE-7SM3) features a brand-new 12.1-megapixel, back-illuminated, full-frame sensor and a new Bionz XR image processor.
Subsequently, the ILC provides ultrahigh sensitivity and 15+ stop wide dynamic range. Other notable features are 4K 120p and 10-bit 4:2:2 color depth video capabilities; a new heat dissipating mechanism; dual card slot relay recording for more than an hour of 4K 60p movie shooting; a new autofocus (AF) system; and a touch screen interface with a side-flip LCD screen.
“The Alpha 7S III is the ultimate representation of Sony’s passion to solve our customers’ pain points,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas, Sony Electronics.
“We are always listening to our customers’ feedback, pushing hard to deliver innovation that goes far beyond their expectations. There is no better example than this new camera. Combining classic S series sensitivity with a feature set, performance level as well as user experience that is simply unmatched in the market today—at any price level—the Alpha 7S III opens up a new world of possibilities for today’s creators.”
In addition, the system architecture for the camera was completely redesigned for improved video and still shooting performance. Its 35mm full-frame 12.1MP Exmor R CMOS sensor also reduces rolling shutter by up to three times. Moreover, it utilizes advanced light-gathering techniques to ensure high-sensitivity with low noise. As a result, photographers can shoot in low-light situations without large-scale lighting setups. In addition, the sensor includes a focal plane phase-detection AF for the first time in an S-series camera.
Furthermore, the new Bionz XR image-processing engine achieves eight times more processing power and minimizes processing latency.
Sony Alpha 7S III: Professional Video Workflow
The Alpha 7S III offers in-camera 4K recording at up to 120 frames per second, 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 color sampling. It also has a more flexible and efficient postproduction workflow, with such advanced movie recording modes as All-Intra and MPEG-H HEVC/H.265 coding (XAVC HS).
What’s more, the ILC makes it easier to integrate video recordings with professional camcorders by providing three color gamut settings: S-Gamut, S-Gamut3 and S-Gamut3.Cine. As a result, users are able to match footage shot on the Alpha 7S III with footage shot on professional camcorders.
In addition to S-Log3 gamma curves, the camera also supports an HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) picture profile with minimum postproduction. Plus, it permits up to 4K 60p 16-bit RAW output to an external recorder via an HDMI Type-A connector.
For video on the go, this is the first Alpha camera to include active mode with 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization to support difficult handheld movie shooting.
Also, a redesigned monitor display has a visible red frame that makes it clear when recording is in progress, even when mounted on a rig or gimbal. Additional movie assist functions include custom zoom settings; adjustable white balance while recording; display rotation; interval recording; and still extraction from movies.
Still Image Improvements
Beyond its advanced video features, the Alpha 7S III also delivers S-series sensitivity with enhanced color reproduction and texture renderings for improved image quality. The base ISO was lowered to 80, for a normal range of ISO 80–102,400. The native range is also expandable to 409,600 for video and ISO 40–409,600 for stills. In addition, it produces improved image quality by 1 stop of noise reduction in the middle and high sensitivity ranges.
Gradation rendering was also refined for better looking skin tones and highlight roll-off in portraits. Another improvement is its AWB (auto-white balance) performance with a new “Visible light + IR” sensor. It helps achieve more precise white balance under artificial lighting, like fluorescent and LED lights.
Furthermore, for the first time in a Sony digital camera, the Alpha 7S III shoots in the HEIF (High Efficiency Image File) format. The format enables smooth 10-bit gradations and advanced compression technology to maintain image quality while significantly reducing file size and saving storage space.
Hybrid Autofocus System
Moreover, the Alpha 7S III is the first in its series to include a fast, hybrid AF system with 759 phase-detection AF points; they cover 92% of the sensor. The camera can also accurately focus in light down to EV-6, where subjects are difficult to see clearly with the naked eye.
In addition, the ILC can continuously shoot more than 1,000 uncompressed RAW images at up to 10 fps, or 8 fps in live view mode. And it does so with either the mechanical or electronic shutter.
For environments with a lot of movement, Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF technologies are also available to maintain constant focus on the subject. The latest Real-time Eye AF improves detection performance by 30% over the previous system. In addition, Real-time Tracking is initiated by touching the subject on the screen. Real-time Eye AF is automatically initiated when an eye is detected.
Furthermore, based on feedback, the camera has several AF features for professional users. They include AF transition speed in seven settings, to create rack-focus transitions; and five AF subject shift sensitivity settings. They permit users to customize how easily AF will switch or stay with the locked-on subject.
Additionally, touch tracking allows users to not only initiate Real-time Tracking but also compose and shoot while using a gimbal. It’s now also possible to touch focus during manual focus mode on the LCD screen or remotely from the Imaging Edge Mobile app.
Additional Key Features
This is also the first Alpha E-mount body to employ a side-opening vari-angle rear screen. The LCD facilitates gimbal-mounted shots, complicated angles and handheld operation. The screen rotates sideways as well as up and down. It comprises a 3.0-type, 1.4M-dot touch-panel LCD monitor for visibility in bright outdoor environments.
The Alpha 7S III also includes the first 9.4M-dot, 0.64-type Quad-XGA electronic viewfinder with a high-def OLED display. The EVF offers a 0.90x magnification; a 41° diagonal field of view; and a 25mm high eyepoint for low-distortion corner-to-corner viewing. It is also dust, fog and moisture resistant and has switchable modes for different subject types.
The camera’s design was also updated to ensure effective heat dissipation. This is especially important during continuous recording sessions at 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 lasting an hour or more. The new heat dissipating structure keeps the image sensor and image processor’s temperatures within their normal operating ranges. In addition, the structure requires no fan or cabinet vents; this permits the Alpha 7S III to maintain dust and moisture resistance.
What’s more, a digital audio interface was added to the multi-interface (MI) shoe for clearer audio recordings from a Sony external microphone. When used with Sony’s XLR-K3M XLR adapter kit, the camera provides 4-channel 24-bit digital audio recording capability—an Alpha camera first. Like other MI shoe accessories, no cables or batteries are required.
In another first, the ILC integrates two CFexpress Type-A compatible media slots; they also support UHS-I and UHS-II SDXC/SDHC cards. CFexpress Type-A cards are ideal for high-speed continuous RAW still shooting as well as 4K 120p movie recording at high bit rates. The cards achieve next-generation write speeds that can quickly clear the buffers of cameras that generate high volumes of image and movie data.
In addition, photographers can set the dual slots to relay mode for extended continuous recording of even the highest bit rate data as well as simultaneous recording and sort by format type recording.
What’s more, to support photo and video journalists and sports shooters who need to deliver contents as quickly as possible, it has advanced connectivity options. The camera supports 5GHz/2.4GHz wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11ac). It also offers MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) to improve communication quality by using multiple antennas, doubling in speed compared to the Alpha 7R IV.
It also carries new USB tethering support. When connected to a 5G-compatible device via USB cable, it is possible to use a 5G network for faster FTP file transfer. USB to high-speed wired LAN connectivity also offers stable, fast FTP transfer for both movies and stills.
In addition, a USB Type-C connector that supports SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps (USB 3.2) data transfer is also provided. Subsequently, it enables high-speed PC remote (tethered) data transfer of large image files.
Other features include a redesigned grip for greater comfort and a more secure hold; improved dust removal; and it supports USB PD (Power Delivery). As a result, it allows power supplied from an external source for extended recording with minimal internal battery usage.
The Sony Alpha 7S III full-frame ILC reaches retail in September 2020. It will have a retail price of $3,499.99.