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Sony’s A7 III makes me wonder why I’d need any other camera

If you cut me, I’d probably bleed Fujifilm. I’ve been a fan of the Fujifilm X line of cameras since I saw the first X100. There’s just something about the way they look, the way you take pictures with them, the great selection of glass and the amazing photographs their X-Trans sensors can produce.

But, they aren’t without fault. Weaknesses that range from a lack of full-frame options to their sub-par video recording are issues that have plagued the lineup for the longest time. And, it wasn’t until recently that they finally built a camera with in-body image stabilisation.

All of these things have already been done, and some might argue done better, by the kings of mirrorless in the modern age: Sony. I never really bought into the hype for Sony’s cameras because their menu systems are convoluted and I’ve always felt that they lacked the “soul” of a Fujifilm camera.

Then, Sony launched the a7 III and they managed to create something that may quite literally be too good to ignore.

I’ll admit that I’m not the foremost authority in Sony mirrorless cameras. In fact, I hardly ever use them and at the Malaysian launch of the a7 III, I only got to spend a brief moment with their brand new full-frame shooter. But, that brief moment was enough to leave a pretty lasting impression.

First, we’ll get some of the specs out of the way. Sony’s A7 III is designed to be the “entry-level” camera in Sony’s full-frame lineup but don’t let that name fool you — it’s a very capable camera. At its heart, it’s got a 24.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor combined with Sony’s BIONZ X image processor.

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With this, the camera is capable of capturing 4K HDR video at up to 30 fps and shoot 10fps burst stills with AF/AE tracking. Perhaps the most impressive thing of all is its battery life. For a mirrorless camera, this a7 III has a CIPA rating of 710 shots when you shoot with the LCD (610 with the EVF) which is double that of my Fujifilm X-T20. Besides that, it’s also got 693 phase-detection AF points and 425 contrast AF points.

If you’re like me, then these are all just numbers. Sure, they look good on paper but nothing beats picking the camera up and actually using it — something I thankfully got to do at the launch event. And let me tell you, it’s a beast.

The first and most apparent thing I noticed during the shooting demos was its autofocus — especially its autofocus during continuous-high burst. It was ridiculously accurate and fast. Sony’s also got something called the eye AF which is designed to identify and lock onto your subject’s eye so that your portraits are always sharp regardless of whether there are objects in your foreground or not.

For the most part, it was excellent and worked like a charm. But, when the foreground gets too busy, it becomes a little more difficult to track your subject’s eye especially if they’re not looking at the camera.

But, compared to the last camera I checked out — Fujifilm’s new flagship X-H1 — this a7 III felt like a whole nother monster. Accurate, fast and consistent, I really had no complaints with it.

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It’s also a really comfortable camera to hold with solid ergonomics and a build that feels sturdy enough. For a full-frame camera, I’d say the a7 III’s a very manageable size. It’s not quite as small as something like my X-T20, but it’s not super bulky either.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to test the video quality on a7 III but you can Google any number of reviews on the internet and you’ll be able to see that these reviewers that people are very happy with it. What’s more, it’s got 5-axis in-body image stabilisation which is a godsend for handheld shots.

I did get to grab some photos though, and from what I can see they’re excellent. Yes, I know that a lot of how an image looks depends on the lens, but I don’t think you can really fault this sensor either.

As a package, the a7 III feels pretty unstoppable. It borrows a lot of what makes its more expensive a9 and a7R III cameras great, pairs that with some serious video features for a killer combination. The best part is that it’s also significantly more affordable than the a9 or a7R III, meaning it’s probably the camera people like you and I will get instead.

Yeah, I know that its RRP of RM8,999 for just the body isn’t exactly “affordable” but if you consider that Fujifilm’s X-H1 with an APS-C sized sensor is already RM7,899 (body only), the a7 III really doesn’t feel like an overpriced machine.

My concern with Sony cameras, unfortunately, still remains the same on the a7 III because its menu system is still an absolute mess. In fact, even the Sony product guy at the launch had trouble navigating the menu when I asked him to help me switch picture profiles. Sure, it sounds like a really small complaint — and it probably is — but that just shows how good the rest of the camera is.

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Of course, it’s hard for me to come to a final decision having only spent a brief amount time with both of these cameras, but for the time being the a7 III is definitely one I’ll be keeping my eye on.