1-line Sony A73 Review:
If you can get past the poor ergonomics, confusing menus, and frame-rate dependant auto-focus and zoom features, the Sony A73 is a tremendous value for a full-frame mirrorless camera for video shooters. Highly recommended!
The Sony A7iii is undoubtedly one of the best full-frame mirrorless cameras of its time. Though not perfect, I’ve learned to rely on the strong video capabilities of this class-leading camera. Here’s my thoughts on the Sony A7iii after putting it through its paces over the last several months and the accessories I’ve gathered and love.
Sony A7iii Review
- image quality – low light and all light
- Full-frame 4K (unlike cropped 4K of many competitors)
- very good in-body sensor stabilization (though not quite as good as the micro four thirds Panasonic GH5)
- great 1080-120p slow motion with audio!!
- Great battery life
- Very good Auto-Focus in Video mode
- Customizable buttons and menus
- Price (body is great value)
- Usably good and smooth [1.3x] digital zoom option (not available at 120fps)
- Built-in mics are quiet and very omni-directional (shockingly bad for capturing audio even when compared to my aging Nikon D750’s which are admittedly not even thought of as “video” cameras)
- no Eye-track AF in Video mode
- Limited and awkward central AF-follow options in 1080-120p
- No digital zoom in 1080-120p
- Ergonomics – brick of a body does not feel good in the hand (more important for shooting stills)
- Battery door design does not auto-latch when pushed closed (SD card door does)
- low video bit-rate vs Panasonic GH5 series (more compression makes for lesser quality stills pulled from video)
- Confusing and non-intuitive menu system (even for geeks like me)
- Lens Price & native glass selection – expensive G series lenses (though, with the recently announced 24mm f1.4, things are getting interesting)
- reports of overheating in hot environments during long shoots
- 30minute record limit
- No 4K60fps, but hey: at least it’s full frame 4K
Quirks and Questionables
- Weather sealing – not up to the standard of its higher-priced siblings, but good enough for most I suspect. Time will tell how good it actually is for non-abusive real-world professional use
- I rarely shoot stills with my Sony A7iii, and on the rare occassion I did, I had a catastrophic failure which I could not fix without formatting the card. To be fair, I’ve never encountered this issue when recording video. But this was not a good scenario to find myself in at a paying gig so I’ll continue to shoot stills with my trusty stable of Nikon D750’s.
I know it’s not the fault of Sony, but I wish my Sony would play nicer with my Ronin-S gimbal. Unlike Panasonic cameras, I cannot remotely control focus without an external focus motor, and even the record start/stop relies on unreliable IR.
Sony A73 Recommended Accessories
Though heavy and large, this is the best 24-70 zoom lens I’ve ever used. When paired with the Sony A7iii the focus is fast and accurate, and continuous focus for video is reliable and better than third part lenses i’ve tried. Coming from shooting all f1.8 or faster primes, it took a while to grieve the loss of shallower depth of field than the stock 2.8. But the bokeh, when zoomed in, is beautiful and having the flexibility to shoot most everything but landscapes and wildlife makes this my go-to lens for pretty much everything I shoot. If you only get one lens, this is the one.
Extension Tube Kit
I’ve been carrying extension tubes in lieu of dedicated macro lenses for years. They’re a convenient way to get super-close to your subject though I should note that, when matched with the 24-70 above, you’ll only have a very narrow band of the focal range in focus and that the focus distance will change as you zoom.
I already complained about the poor built-in mics of the Sony A7iii, but one thing I add to every video camera I own is wind control over the built-in mics. These little Micovers are the easiest solution I’ve found. Though not perfect, they give me a fighting change to get usable audio in the great outdoors.
I’ve tested the touch screen with and without these tempered glass screen protectors (hey: the package came with three!), because I’m always second guessing myself as to whether the touch is negatively affected by this thin sheet of glass. It matters because you don’t want to press harder than necessary to select a focus point or feature whilst in the middle of recording video. I’ve been using my iPhone X without protection for a year now and love it (insert joke here). I’m not sure if it’s my fingers or the screen, but even without the screen protector applied I find the A7iii screen not as responsive as I would like it to be. But as the LCD is my primary touch screen and viewer, I thought it wise to advise to add this little bit of protection for peace of mind and resale value.
The Sony A7iii with 24-70 is a great kit, but super front-heavy. I add a simple hotshoe top handle which allows for easy low angle shooting and gives a great, balanced grip when shooting this kit.
If you shoot in a studio on sticks, then AC power is great. This one is better than the rest because it doesn’t hum, and the dummy battery fits in the next recommended accessory for infinite power via inexpensive USB battery packs!
Infinite USB Power
Though I’ve sworn off Tether Tools’ cables (they’ve failed me soooo many times), I do appreciate their Case Relay design. It not only allows you to power your camera via USB, but has a built-in (small) battery to allow hot-swapping of USB batteries for unlimited powering. Super tip: instead of purchasing their over-priced dummy battery for the Sony A73, buy the AC Power adapter above and, if it’s the same as the one I purchased, it will fit the plug on your Case Relay.
The Sony A7iii is far from perfect, but offers a lot of bang for the buck for both video and stills shooters. Even with new competition from the Canon R, Nikon Z and Panasonic S, it’s hard to beat the value found in the Sony A7iii. As a former Canon and current Nikon stills shooter, I’m glad to report I have no regrets on purchasing my Sony A7iii kit. Definitely recommended even for shooters of other systems like me.
If you’ve got a suggestion on recommended accessories or setup for the Sony A7iii, please share a comment as I’m always wanting to find a better way 🙂