Six years ago (?!) as I was touring the vendor tradeshow at WPPI, I remember snarkily dismissing the Sony booth out of hand. I went so far as to say I couldn’t take a photographer seriously because they were shooting with Sony cameras.
Joke’s on me!
For the past year or so I’ve been considering switching to mirrorless, but without any serious option from Canon (the brand I have been using since 2009, aka the brand that matches all my existing gear), the switch felt incredibly daunting: not merely buying *something* new, it meant buying EVERYTHING new. Suddenly veering left after almost a decade. Much more comfortable to stay put. Much easier.
Nevertheless I was at the point of daily digital window shopping with Fuji cameras when I got an out-of-the-blue email from a relative familiar with the secret-ish mirrorless desires of my heart. “I thought of you the other day when Sony released their latest camera body (A7III)… I think this new camera is perfect for [you].”
Reader, I swooned. I did the research. I actually talked another photographer into buying it, sight unseen. Then of course it went out of stock everywhere. Womp womp.
In May I finally found one for sale and snatched it up. It was supposed to be a trial period, but I never touched my Canon DSLRs again. (I’ve since sold them both, and bought a second a7iii). Obviously I’m a huge fan and convert, but after two months of steady use I thought I’d give my review:
1. Smaller form factor and less weight. For me this is the main benefit. Carrying 5+ pounds of gear on my body for 9 hours might not sound like much, but it was taking a serious toll. This grip is more suited to my small hands, and in June I left a full-day wedding without hand cramps for the first time in years. 🙌
2. Silent shutter. Is legit silent. Actually so silent I rarely use this feature because I think it’s weird for clients. Mostly useful for taking sneaky photos of my kid, but also for wedding ceremonies.
3. EyeAF. AMAZING. It works! Using continuous auto-focus mode, you can lock focus to your subject’s eye and it tracks with them as they move without you having to re-focus. This feature is another godsend for photographing toddlers, and enabled me to get some great wedding recessional shots, such as:
For the record, it doesn’t seem to work with pets.
4. Auto White Balance. Practically every camera has this feature and yet white balance has always been a trial for me. The Sony gets it right the vast majority of the time.
5. Dynamic Range. I have picked up things in the shadows and highlights of images that I could NEVER have done with my 5D3.
(You can check out my Instagram stories “Photog Life” highlights for how I push/pulled dynamic range details for this image.)
6. Electronic View Finder. Shooting with EVF required a brief adjustment period, but it is SO COOL to see the actual exposed image you are taking rather than the true scene. It’s a little bit like cheating. Maybe it’s a lot like cheating.
Related minor con: if you aren’t paying attention, the EVF can trick you into taking some photos with very stupid settings.
7. Adaptability to Canon gear. In the end because I want to make other life-simplifying-gear-changes, I’ve decided largely to sell my Canon gear and move to native Sony lenses, but it is a huge plus that you don’t HAVE to do that. A $300 adaptor will mount most Canon lenses and save a ton of money. Even better, I just learned I can continue using my Speedlites with it – no adaptor required!
All this and it has dual card slots and is full-frame!
1. Flickering. This is the biggest con I’ve yet encountered. In certain indoor lighting situations, dropping below a certain shutter speed introduces hideous flickering/banding in the image. Like so:
However, there is an “anti-flicker shooting” menu option, which I have enabled, just note that it can’t be used concurrently with the silent shooting feature. Pick your poison!
2. No ability to do in-camera multiple exposures. (By which I mean layered images, not bracketed images). Multiple exposures were something that I played with about once per year, so I’ve decided to just accept it. For photographers who really enjoy that as a big part of their business, you’re out of luck here.
3. Battery situation. My understanding is that the Sony a7iii’s battery is the pretty much the best mirrorless battery available, and indeed I can get around 1000 shots on a single charge. Still, that’s a fraction of what I could get with a Canon DSLR battery. Additionally, the camera ships with only a USB cable for battery charging, meaning you have to have the camera plugged in and not be shooting with it to charge. This con is at least easy to rectify – I’ve picked up an external battery charger and two backup batteries to get through the day.
Related minor pro: you can charge your camera in the wild using the same kind of external battery pack you’d use with your phone.
4. The menus. As convoluted as everyone says. This website is required reading.
cell phone pic 😬
Those are all the pros and cons that come to mind! In terms of my other previously mentioned life-simplifying-gear-changes, I’ve also changed my lens situation! (PS: the Sony lens situation is not a con exactly, but it is yet another thing to figure out if you’re not simply going to use an adaptor to stick with your Canon glass.)
For the last few years I have shot dual-wielding harnessed cameras with a 24 or 35mm lens on one side and a 100mm on the other. Since I want to reduce physical and metaphorical weight, I’m now shooting with one zoom lens (currently the 28-70 kit lens, though I plan to get the 24-105 f/4 lens as soon as it comes back on the market) on a single-camera harness, with one small 35mm f/2.8 lens for travel. I have no regrets. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve never been happier.
I’m happy to answer any questions, but otherwise I guess that’s all I have to say. I’ve made my life easier and have really had some joy brought back into the PROCESS of photography as well. Buy a Sony!