Bob Nuttmann

Sony A7iii Full Year Wrap-up – Is It Better Than What I Traded In

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Overall Yes.  The above shot was taken when I was Jeeping last March and had the Sony A7iii with me and the Sony 24-105mm f4 G lens.  This was a hard exposure to judge.  Bright sand and clouds, dark mountains in the shade of the clouds.  With a bit of Lightroom help in post this turned into a photo I like.  The Sony A7iii exposure control and EVF makes it possible to get more hard exposures than my Nikon D5500 and D750 DSLR bodies.

last roses of the year-13

The above flower shot was taken with the A7iii and an adapted Sigma / Quantaray 50mm f2.8 Macro using a Sony EA-LA4.  This lens I inherited from my Dad.  He bought it from Ritz Camera who back 15 years ago got Sigma to make lenses for them and put on the Ritz house-brand name.  This is a pretty funky mechanical auto focus lens designed for Minolta film bodies, but just gives great – excellent – fantastic results.  I have made more five star shots with this lens than any other with the Sony A7iii in the last year.  Having the Sony A7iii I got to use this lens on a modern digital body.  I also use it on my Minolta 600si film body, but it switches back and forth to the A7iii just great.

The Sony A7iii is easy to charge and has a large battery.  Unlike my Nikon D5500 and D750 you don’t need to take the battery out to charge it and regular USB connections work to charge the camera.  The Sony Z battery is very large for a mirrorless camera and gives the A7iii one of the best use before requiring a charge specs.

Large selection of newer design glass.  Sony has worked hard to provide a large selection of native glass for the Sony e mount which is what the A7iii is.  In addition, Sony has shared specs with outside lens makers and you have lots of Sony e mount glass from Sigma, Zeiss, Tammeron, and others.  At this point Sony has the largest selection of full frame mirrorless glass of any of the competitors.  However, if you include adapted lenses both Nikon and Canon have more glass to choose from.

One of the features of the Sony I started using early on was eye detect auto focus.  The above three shots were taken last Christmas time and this was before the eye auto focus upgrade that came last spring.  I was very surprised when looking at these shots on my computer monitor to see that in every photo the camera dove right in and found the eye and had perfect focus on it.  This feature was improved with the spring update.

So far I have had zero problems with this camera.

Very good video.  I have taken a number of videos with this camera since I bought it.  I am by no means as good at video as I am at still photography.  The Sony is a huge improvement over the D5500 and D750.  When you use any of my native glass with silent style auto focus you get excellent results.

In my opinion this and the native lenses I have bought have all had solid build quality.  The exception might be the plastic doors for charging the battery and other connectors.  None of these have broken and none have leaked water in.  To me the lenses I have bought for this camera either from Sony or Sony-Zeiss have had very good quality.

Pros

  • Very capable of getting good exposure.
  • Ability to work with non native lenses including the large and reasonably priced lenses that use the Minolta – Sony A mount.
  • Large battery and easy to charge with USB.
  • Large selection of native glass.
  • Good working eye auto focus.
  • Reliable.
  • Very good video capability.
  • Solid build quality

There is no doubt that for the reasons listed above under Pros that the Sony A7iii is a big step up from the 2 Nikon DSLRs I sold to buy this camera body and several lenses.  And as I said in the first line of this post, overall the Sony A7iii is a step up.  But now we need to list some of the things I gave up to switch to this rig.

Cons

  • Comfort in the hand.  To me both of the Nikons were more sculpted to fit my hand than the A7iii
  • The Nikon DSLR bodies felt more balanced in my hand than the Sony.  This is especially true of the DX D5500.
  • The D5500 had a very useful touch screen that had a number of uses.  You could tap the back of the screen to take a photo.  You could flip through photos you had taken or enlarge them with pinching in our out.  And you could go through the menus.  The Sony does not do any of this.  And it is remarkable that Sony has not included it as they make millions of cell phones every year that do.
  • The D750 had marked buttons on the body to instantly get to the function you wanted to adjust.  The buttons were laid out so you could find them without looking.  I would have to say that now after a LOT of practice I now know where to Sony buttons are by sight or feel.
  • The D750 had a top lcd panel that gave you and overall view to how the camera was set up.  I used this top panel all the time when using this camera.
  • The Nikon menu systems are easier to use than the Sony system.
  • The Sony get sensor dust easily.  My Nikon DSLRs did not have this problem.  I don’t know if this was the fact that they were DSLRs or if they had auto sensor cleaning.  Likely a combo of both.  I find that on the Sony if you manually use sensor clean every time you use the A7iii it helps keep down the dust issue.
  • The Nikon DSLRs both got better battery life than the A7iii.  However, the Sony battery is big and it is not a problem for me.

And that is it for cons.  As you can see almost all of my issues were with how the camera fit into my hand and the balance of it, plus controls, and menus.

So if I had it to do over again would I make this switch.  No.  And it all boils down to how I feel about this camera compared to how I felt about the other two.  After 3 1/2 years of owning the D5500 it was my favorite digital camera ever.  It had some shortcomings, but overall it was and still is my favorite.  After less than a year with my D750 I really liked that camera a lot and was just getting to know it.  I was frustrated by not getting exposures right and was attracted by the fact that with mirrorless you could solve that problem.  After 12 months with the Sony A7iii I am able to operate it fine but still don’t like it all that much.  I do like it with a small lens like the 35mm 2.8, but it is just too big with the 24-105.  But then the D750 was too big and heavy with the 24-120.  The thing that saved the D750 was that the grip was much better designed for my hand and especially with the extra grip that camera balanced in my hand better than the A7iii.  Mirrorless does solve the exposure problem and gives much better video than DSLR style cameras, but I still have not found a mirrorless I love.

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