As you know if you're interested, Sony recently did a refresh on its leading full-frame stills camera, addressing shortcomings identified by the market and taking the opportunity to add a few features.
The main improvement of the A7RIII is the processor, which increases speed and throughput pretty much across the board. Low-light focussing and focus tracking are also improved.
An incremental improvement in the effectiveness of the IBIS is also claimed, although those tend to be hard to quantify in actual use (and sometimes even hard to notice).
The main physical features that have been improved are the battery, which is claimed to offer more than 2X better life, and the addition of a second card slot, not a small matter in a 42-megapixel camera; and the main feature that's been added is called "Pixel Shift Multi Shooting," Sony's variant on the technology pioneered by Olympus (and that you can get in much less cutting-edge form in the E-M5II for $900) and also offered in the super-bargain Pentax K-1. Pixel shift is the kind of thing elicits a sort of quasiorgasmic gaaaaaah reaction from geeks'n'dweebs who revel in theoretical technical capability, but that, in practice, is pretty severely limited by what that master of understatement Lloyd Chambers calls "strict limits on applicability." It does offer the equivalent of 169-megapixel composited images, but that's only a) for still lifes with the camera locked down hard on a sturdy tripod or, better, studio stand; and b) when your lenses and the rest of your chops are well honed too; and it assumes c) you need rilly rilly large prints. If you actually can use it, it would be utterly awesome. Otherwise, having it is kind of like kids with 700-horsepower Hellcats who just use the motor to burn up tires in parking lots impressing their bepimpled littermates.
Kind of on the expensive side at $3,200, but let's face it, it's best to have the camera you really want, whether you need it or not: it makes photography more gratifying. (But look hard at that do-everything K-1 if Pixel Shift is the main thing that's giving you GAS.)
Gaaaaah, save $500
The real opportunity here might be the fire sale prices on the 28-month-old A7RII, which, astonishingly, is still capable of taking pictures, crippled though it is by advanced old age and yesterday's features. Does a rose that has begun to wilt still smell good? It's up to you to evaluate. I'll just point out that was launched at $3,200, and now costs a perfectly reasonable-for-what-it-offers $2,398. That's $800 less than when it was news, and $500 less than what it cost a few weeks ago before the A7RIII came out. It's probably still useful if you shoot like most people do. I'd get one with the reasonably priced FE 24–105mm ƒ/4 G OSS lens, adding the tiny 35mm ƒ/2.8 to make a compact combo for carrying around.
Pros will jump on the new one, of course. It's fantastic that Sony is continuously improving this wonderful and popular family of cameras, unstinting in its generosity with its latest updates.
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Peter Wright: "One of the things that is well within the 'strict limits of applicability' for the pixel shift capability on my Olympus E-M1 Mark II is its use as a digital 'scanner' of my film negatives and slides. It is far, far, faster in use than my dedicated film scanner which now sits unused. With the right lens and technique, it provides excellent resolution and tonality. Ironically this digital improvement makes my film work more enjoyable."
Oskar Ojala: "I haven't felt I needed more image quality after the Nikon D800. Using the A7RII offered me a surprise though: IBIS combined with excellent high ISO quality. I'm working more and more hand held, even for subjects that are traditionally tripod based. It has been very refreshing.
"What tempts me with the A7RIII is not anything with image quality; rather, it's about speed of operation, AF and the ergonomics of the controls. Being able to work fast with very sophisticated AF and low blackout times is also refreshing; shooting rapidly changing situations becomes more doable. But you're right in that the A7RII was never a better deal than now; it has a superb 42 megapixel sensor in a body the size of an '80s SLR and has well-rounded features so it can be used effortlessly for many kinds of photography. And with a 35mm ƒ/2.8 it's a fun camera."
Peter Mc Convill: "I've always felt that one of the great mistakes people make when considering a newly introduced camera is to compare it to the model that immediately preceded it. Few people I know actually upgrade every release; rather, like me, they jump on every second iteration. Therefore as someone whose original A7R (which, let's face it, had some flaws since introduction) is getting a little tired, the A7RIII is a no-brainer for an update. It will be about four and a half years per upgrade by the time I pick up the III, and spending about $3k that often is hardly bank-breaking."
Mike replies: Plus, if you upgrade less often, you're more likely to find the improvements noticeable and be pleased by them. More pleasure where cameras are concerned is usually good.