28 September 2020
The day is finally here – the a7S III has landed at Hireacamera, and we can’t wait to explore what it has to offer! The highly anticipated sequel to the firm favourite of many filmmakers – the a7S II – has been on everyone’s lips for a long time now, especially since the release of the a7R IV last year, a move by Sony that caused quite a stir.
Some of the new features this videocentric new body has to offer include: (deep breath!)
4K at 120 frames per second, front-facing touch screen, new and improved image stabilisation, 759 phase detection points for greater autofocus coverage, 15 stops of dynamic range, improved colour science, no recording time limits – and, probably therefore, improved heat management. It also goes without saying that the a7S III has phenomenal low light capabilities, with extended ISO values up to 409600. This of course is just the tip of the iceberg, there is a wealth of new and improved features, read on for more details.
New image-processing engine with up to 8x the performance
The new BIONZ XRTM image-processing engine boasts a performance level up to eight times that of the previous processor, minimising latency while markedly improving real-time processing capabilities for both movies and stills. The engine performs real-time processing of AF, image recognition and image-quality adjustments, while also handling data transfer, user interface and other camera operations.
High sensitivity, wide dynamic range
The full-frame 12.1-megapixel configuration enables high sensitivity with low noise throughout the camera's sensitivity range by optimising the output signal from the sensor. The standard ISO range is 80-102400, which is further expandable to 40-409600 (80-409600 for movies). The dynamic range is an impressively wide at 15 stops, for beautiful, true-to-life images without blown highlights or shadows. Together, the camera's high sensitivity and wide dynamic range expand your creative freedom during shoots.
All-intra internal recording
In addition to long GOP inter-frame compression, the α7S III supports internal intra-frame (All-Intra) recording for the first time in an α-model body, where each frame is recorded independently at a high bitrate of up to 600Mbps. This can be useful for certain types of shoots as it allows maximum flexibility in post-production editing.
Full-frame 4K recording at 120p
Full-frame 4K recording at 120fps with autofocus is possible (with a 10% crop factor) thanks to the high-speed readout capabilities of the new image sensor working in tandem with the newly developed, powerful BIONZ XR processor. This high image quality 4K, with full-pixel readout without binning, allows for clear post-produced slow motion (up to x5 slower than real time), as well as bokeh effects typical of full-frame cameras, all with smooth, high-precision autofocus. Despite the α7S III's compact size, it provides impressive scope for your creativity.
Recording movies with 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 colour sampling
The camera is capable of performing 4K internal recording with 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 colour sampling when using either long GOP or all Intra compression. This makes it possible to push your colour grades further, stretching video out for ultimate HDR realism while still retaining natural gradation, for true editing freedom.
HEVC codec with high compression efficiency
Available for the first time, XAVC HS format recording using the MPEG-H HEVC/H.265 codec roughly doubles the compression efficiency. Compared to a normal 4K XAVC S format, XAVC HS allows for detailed 10-bit video with 4:2:2 colour sampling at comparable or lower data rates, delivering even better image quality as well as manageable file sizes. (XAVC HS compatible editing software required).
S-Log2 and S-Log3 with 10bit 4:2:2 support
S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma curves are available, with S-Log3 designed for better reproduction of gradations from shadows to the mid-grey range (18% grey), enabling a dynamic range of up to 15 stops. Three colour gamut settings (S-Gamut, S-Gamut3, and S-Gamut3.Cine) are provided, and the latter two settings make it easier to match the colours of footage shot with Sony's professional cinema cameras. Because the colours match, colour grading is easier in post-production, making it more convenient to use the α7S III along with other pro cameras.
16-bit RAW data output
Facilitating improved image quality and more flexible and efficient editing in post-production, the camera supports 16-bit RAW data output to an external recorder via HDMI, for the first time in the α series. The output is full-frame 4264 x 2408 (16:9 aspect ratio) 16-bit data from the image sensor, with a choice of frame rates (60p/50p/30p/25p/24p)21.
(Compatible recorders to be announced).
10-bit HLG picture profile
An HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) HDR picture profile, complete with the wide-gamut BT.2020 colour space, can be used for direct HDR (HLG) playback on compatible TVs. The result is true-to-life imagery close to what the naked eye can see, with detailed shadows and highlights, less blackout and less whiteout, all without the need for colour grading. In particular, 10-bit recordings reproduce a level of fine gradation and detail for extraordinary realism.
Enhanced movie image quality
Thanks to the improved capabilities of the α7S III's new image-processing engine, colours and textures of foliage and human skin can be more consistently reproduced without over-dependence on light sources. Gradation rendering has also been refined, for better-looking skin tones and highlight roll-off in portraits. When shooting 4K, the new image sensor and processing engine reduce rolling shutter distortion to as little as one-third that of the α7S II.
Proxy recording for more efficient editing workflow
When shooting movies, low bit-rate HD proxy files can be recorded simultaneously with higher bit-rate formats such as XAVC S-I 4K, and these smaller proxy files can then be used for editing and previewing prior to final production delivery. This reduces computer load and allows faster and more efficient workflows. Proxy files can be captured in either 10-bit XAVC HS (1920 x 1080) or 8-bit XAVC S (1280 x 720). NB: Proxy recording is not available under certain conditions.
AF support in manual-focus mode
The camera's autofocus support can be useful even when you're primarily using manual focus. For full AF speed, half-press the shutter button or press the AF-ON button, as you would when shooting stills. Alternatively, slower, more cinematic AF transitions can be achieved by initiating AF via the touch focus feature or Real-time Eye AF via a custom button assignment, resulting in slow, smooth autofocus at the pre-set AF transition speed.
Game-changing tracking features revolutionise movie shooting
Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF make movie-making much easier. Touch Tracking initiates subject tracking with an intuitive touch to the LCD monitor, processing data on colour, pattern (brightness), distance (depth) and facial information to keep your subject in steady focus. You can then concentrate more fully on composition, which can be especially useful when you're shooting solo or using a gimbal. Touch operations can be used to temporarily engage AF even when you're shooting manually.
Fast Hybrid AF for dependable focus during movie shooting
Inheriting technology and performance standards from Sony's large-format FX9 pro camcorder, Fast Hybrid AF combines focal plane phase-detection AF with contrast-detection AF. This results in highly precise, smooth tracking of fast-moving subjects even over a wide range with a shallow depth of field, taking full advantage of Sony E-mount lenses' smooth linear-motor focusing and power-zoom operations. Newly added AF Transition Speed and AF Subject Shift Sensitivity parameters allow more flexible focus control, as requested by professional users. Both allow preset settings to be recalled during recording by using a customisable button.
Active Mode optical image stabilisation for handheld shooting
Relying on a new high-precision stabilisation unit, gyro sensors, and optimised image stabilisation algorithms, the camera's Optical SteadyShot Active Mode provides the precise degree of optical image compensation needed during movie shooting, even for 4K video. With this unprecedented level of stabilisation, it's possible to shoot without a gimbal, allowing you to take advantage of the compact size and mobility of the α system.
New heat-dissipation design for extended recording times
The camera's design has been optimised to prevent overheating even during extended recording sessions. A unique Sony Σ (sigma) shaped graphite-alloy heatsink is built into the image stabilisation unit, allowing the sensor to dissipate heat five times more effectively than in previous models, while allowing it to move freely and avoid interference with the stabilisation system.
Enhanced audio quality
A digital audio interface is incorporated in the camera's Multi Interface (MI) Shoe/hotshoe, to facilitate cleaner, clearer audio recordings without loss of quality. The XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit additionally provides the camera with 4-channel 24-bit digital audio recording capability. Three recording formats can be selected from a menu: 48 kHz/16-bit 2-ch, 48 kHz/24-bit 2-ch, and 48 kHz/24-bit 4-ch, with the XLR-K3M XLR adaptor Kit required for the latter two formats.
Dedicated settings menu for movie shooting
A subset of the camera's settings can be changed independently for movie or still shooting, which can be useful if you want to use different ISO, iris (aperture) and other settings depending on the shooting mode. Another convenient feature is the use of Flexible Exposure Mode instead of normal PASM Mode when Movie or S&Q mode is selected. This allows quick switching between auto and manual control of Iris (aperture) and shutter speed, and the function can be assigned to a custom button to allow one-touch toggling between auto and manual.
Fast Hybrid AF for still shots
The Fast Hybrid AF uses a high-density array of 759 phase-detection AF points (covering around 93% of the imaging area) in conjunction with 425-point contrast-detection AF. Real-time Eye AF (for humans and animals) and Real-time Tracking features are also available for the first time in the S series. Advanced AF algorithms facilitate precise AF down to light levels as low as EV-6, for accurate focus even when the subject would be difficult to see clearly with the naked eye.
Designed for smooth movie-making
The a7S III provides flexibility when positioning the camera and framing shots with the side-opening, vari-angle monitor, which incorporates a bright 3.0-type, 1.44 million-dot LCD screen. The MOVIE button is within easy reach on the camera's top panel, and a durable HDMI Type-A terminal ensures reliable connections to external monitors. The item arrangement and initial settings on the mode dial have also been adjusted to meet the needs of pro users.
High-speed continuous shooting performance
Mechanical and electronic shutters are each capable of continuous shooting at up to 10fps with AF/AE. Continuous shooting of over 1000 uncompressed RAW images is possible with a CFexpress card thanks to increases in the buffer memory of the BIONZ XR processor and memory-card writing speed.
Creative Look feature sets the mood and atmosphere
The new Creative Look feature is a quick way to establish a particular mood in still shots and movies by altering parameters like brightness, contrast and colour saturation. Ten Creative Look presets are available in-camera, and each of these can be used as is, or further customised using eight individual parameter settings. Custom Creative Look settings can be easily saved and stored for later use.
Enhanced image quality for stills
The new image sensor and image-processing engine deliver an extraordinary degree of sensitivity, a defining characteristic of the S series, and significantly better reproduction of colour and textural details. Improved rendering capability provides realistic-looking images with reduced noise, particularly in the mid-to-high sensitivity range. A new Visible Light and IR Sensor improves auto white balance, and HEIF file options and an HLG still image mode (for 8-bit and 10-bit HEIF stills) have been added.
Two CFexpress Type A-compatible media slots
The camera's two media slots are compatible with new CFexpress Type A cards as well as SDXC/SDHC cards supporting UHS-I and UHS-II speed classes. CFexpress Type A cards are the next standard for compact storage with fast write/read speeds suitable for both high-speed continuous still shooting and 4K movie recording at high bit rates. They are capable of quickly clearing camera buffers even when high volumes of still image and movie data are being generated.
New touch-driven menu with workflow-based navigation
Responding to requests from pro photographers and videographers, the menu structure has been redesigned to allow professionals to work more efficiently. Menu tabs are on the left side of the display, while parameter groups and parameters related to the selected tab appear on the right. Up to three levels can be displayed together, making the menu structure more clearly visible. Touch-responsive menu operations enable fast, intuitive control.
High-definition 9.44 million-dot electronic viewfinder
Boasting the highest resolution in its class (as of July 2020), the α7S III's viewfinder rivals the resolution of the human eye. It provides category-leading 0.90x viewfinder magnification, a 41º diagonal field of view, and a 25mm high eyepoint for clear, low-distortion viewing. Improvements in sealing greatly reduce the chance that even drastic ambient temperature fluctuations will cause interior condensation.
Reliable, durable construction
To maximise dust and moisture resistance, additional sealing has been applied to all body seams and to the battery compartment cover, and the media slot cover has been redesigned to handle harsh outdoor environments. A filter in front of the image sensor oscillates at an ultrasonic frequency of 70,000 cycles per second to remove dust from the sensor surface. The camera chassis is highly durable thanks to full magnesium-alloy construction.
External flash control from the camera body
It is now possible to configure the settings of a compatible attached flash or wireless radio commander (both sold separately) from the camera. Most settings, including light output, can be accessed and easily changed directly from a camera menu, for high-performance flash control. Flash parameters are shown in the selected camera display language.
Data communications to support on-site workflow
Wired and wireless communications features support FTP transfer for still and movie files as well as remote shooting capability, to facilitate professional workflows during shoots. Wireless 5GHz/2.4GHz LAN connections are supported, and wired connectivity to 1000BASE-T Ethernet networks is available via a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor cable connected to the camera's USB Type C® port supporting SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps (USB 3.2). Remote shooting can be controlled from a PC with Sony's Imaging Edge Desktop application, or from a mobile device with Imaging Edge Mobile.
So what are you waiting for? Hire the Sony a7S III, HERE.