This is a continuation of a series of posts on the Sony a7RIII. You should be able to find all the posts about that camera in the Category List on the right sidebar, below the Articles widget. There’s a drop-down menu there that you can use to get to all the posts in this series. You can also click on the “a7RIII” link in the “You are here” line at the top of this post.
On Saturday, I made photos for a church at a fundraising event. Normally, for this kind of thing, I’d use a D5, a 24-70/2.8 and a 70-200/2.8. But that kit weighs a ton, and besides, I had a new a7RIII that I was interested in trying out. So I took that body with a Sony 100-400 G on it, and an a9 with a Batis 18/2.8. I had misplaced the Sony 12-24/4 that I wanted to use on the a9, and the Batis was an emergency substitute.
The lighting was awful. Sickly yellow-green low-CRI fluorescents with harsh glare mixed with some daylight filtering through the windows. I didn’t have much hope for the color but was pleasantly surprised. Even carrying two bodies was much easier than dealing with a big SLR and fast zooms, and there was no need to change lenses. The 100-400 was a little long for the room. A 70-200 would have been fine, but the only Sony 70-200 I have is the f/4 one, and it’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer at f/5.6 at 200 mm. Not that it would have made any difference on the web or in small printed images, where these images were destined to end up, but I just like sharp images.
The a7RIII has a bewildering number of focus modes, and I have no pretensions to mastery of all of them. I used flexible spot with a medium size focus area, with some considerable success. The great thing about Sony’s PDAF-first-then-tweak-with-CDAF autofocusing system is that the images are uniformly very sharp. With PDAF-only cameras like the D5 and D850, when I’m sorting the images after a shoot, I need to check sharpness on the ones that I’m thinking about keeping before tossing the similar shots. With the a7RII and now its higher-resolution sibling, under most conditions, I don’t need to do that. I know the shots will be sharp. That makes editing go a lot faster.
I also used the face-recognition AF feature, and it worked pretty well. I did not use eye-recognition, as I have not found it particularly useful where there are several folks in the frame, but in reviewing the images, I can see that would have been the way to go for many of the images.
The camera is faster and more responsive than the a7RII in almost every way, which translates to greater confidence and less tension when shooting an event. That seems to include the autofocusing, although I can’t be sure without a real test.
While the joystick is an undeniable improvement, I don’t like the implementation as well as that in the D5 or D850, or even as well as the a9. It is too easy to press the little nub straight down when you are trying to move it sideways. Maybe it’s the location on the camera. Maybe it’s the size of my hands or the way I hold the camera. I’ll try holding it in different ways.
I developed the images in Capture 1 until I could take no more, then exported the partially-edited keepers as TIFFs and finished the job in Lightroom.
All in all, I consider my little experiment a success.