Sony A7S III First Shots: Sony’s third-generation high sensitivity full-frame Alpha camera hits the IR lab


posted Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 5:36 PM EDT

Click here to browse our Sony A7S III First Shots


It was a long time coming, but the successor to Sony's popular video-focused and high ISO powerhouse from 2015 finally arrived. The new Sony A7S III, much like its predecessor, maintains a similar (but all-new) 12-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor. This time around, the A7S III's uniquely low-res sensor uses a backside-illuminated design, which should allow for the already highly light-sensitive sensor to be even better with light-gathering performance. Further, the new sensor also offers faster readout performance, which will help with combatting rolling shutter and high-speed video recording tasks.

Paired to this large-pixeled sensor is Sony's latest-generation image processor, the BIONZ XR, which, in addition to overall performance improvements, is also said to offer improved color reproduction and more natural tonal gradations with the in-camera image processing. Like its predecessor, the A7S III offers an incrediby wide ISO range, with a top extended high ISO level of 409,600. Native high ISO is also the same as before, at ISO 102,400, however the base ISO is now lower, at ISO 80 for the Mark III rather than ISO 100. Extended low ISO on the A7S III also now goes to ISO 40.

Base ISO

Although much of Sony's marketing and the conversation around the A7S III feels focused on the camera's video features and capabilities -- which are impressive in and of themselves -- the A7S III is also quite capable as a stills camera, even with "just" a 12MP sensor. For anyone shooting in challenging or low-light conditions, such as photojournalists, documentary photographers and even perhaps wedding and event photographers, the low-light and high ISO capabilities of the A7S III can be a key benefit. As such, like most cameras that arrive on our doorstep, we subjected the Sony A7S III to our First Shots lab treatment.

ISO 80 Crop

Over on the Sony A7S III Samples Page, you can browse the full set of our classic First Shots series of sample images, which offer a standardized series of images across the camera's full ISO range. As always, our First Shots series are offered with a set using the camera's default level of in-camera noise reduction, and then another with it disabled -- and, of course, RAW files are also available for download. To see side-by-side comparisons of the A7S III's sample images against other cameras we've tested, see our Comparometer tool.

ISO 102400 Crop

Sony A7S III PreviewSample Images