Around our full review of the Sony a7R III, we have put the latest camera up against its predecessor, the a7R II. Read on to see where the cameras are alike, where the main improvements have been made and if the a7R III is worth the upgrade and extra money.
So it’s the Sony a7R III vs a7R II, let’s go!
Sony a7R III vs a7R II: Sensor
On paper, the sensors of the a7R II and a7R III appear identical. Both are back-illuminated, full-frame CMOS sensors, with 42.4-million-pixel resolution and no anti-aliasing filter. In short, both cameras are capable of satisfying the most demanding of landscape and studio photographers who need great levels of detail in their images.
Where the two cameras differ slightly is how the a7R III benefits from the new and improved Bionz X processor. ISO range is very similar, with the a7R III featuring an extra 1/3EV native range, up to ISO 32,000. Sony makes two claims about the new camera; better color reproduction especially for skin tones, plus improved dynamic range.
DXOmark seems to back up these claims, measuring the a7R III’s dynamic range at 14.7EV at ISO 100, while the a7R II has a dynamic range of 13.9EV.
Sony a7R III vs a7R II: Video
Again, video specification looks quite similar. You get 4K video recording at 30fps and 100Mbps with both cameras. At 1080p, the a7R III has a maximum frame rate of 120fps, which in the a7R II is only possible at 720p. Otherwise, we’re looking at tweaks only. The A7R III now includes S-Log3 and a new HLG profile for a HDR workflow.
Sony a7R III vs a7R II: Burst shooting
The a7R II is most definitely a camera designed for landscape and studio photographers. However, the a7R III takes great strides to also cater for action photography, like sports and wildlife. The a7R III does for the full-frame mirrorless camera world what the Nikon D850 does for the full-frame DSLR world. This is the best all-round camera, with high-resolution sensor and high-speed shooting.
Burst shooting is upped from 5fps to 10fps. This improved speed is backed up by a solid AF system (more on this next) and a processor that can shoot longer image sequences. That 10fps rate in the a7R III is maintained for up to 28 raw & 76 JPEG images, while the a7R II is limited to 9 raw & 24 JPEG images.
Sony a7R III vs a7R II: Autofocus
Both cameras feature a hybrid phase detection and contrast detection AF system. On-sensor phase detection AF is the same 399-point array in both cameras, but the contrast detection system in the a7R III has had a major upgrade.
In the a7R II, contrast detection is a modest 25-point array, while in the a7R III it’s a 425-point array, albeit across a similar frame coverage. Sony claims that AF speed is twice as fast and accurate in the a7R III, including its Eye AF mode. AF sensitivity is improved by 1EV, acquiring a sharp focus down to -3EV compared to -2EV.
Sony a7R III vs a7R II: Viewfinder/ LCD
The Sony a7R III benefits from a couple of tweaks to its OLED viewfinder (EVF) and LCD. The EVF is the same 3.69-million-dot one with up to 120fps refresh rate as found in the a9. The EVF in the a7R II has 2.36-million dot resolution and a 60fps refresh rate. In use, the EVF in the a7R III should, therefore, feel more like the ‘real’ thing.
As for the 3.0in LCD screen, the resolution is up slightly to 1.44-million-dots from 1.28-million-dots. More significantly, the a7R III LCD screen is touch sensitive. It’s not a comprehensive touch screen, but it is possible to select the focus point, even when using the EVF via the Touch Pad function.
Sony a7R III vs a7R II: Build & Design
As we would hope for a camera more able for action photography, the a7R III has dual SD card slots, one of which is the fastest UHS-II compliant type. The a7R II has a single SD card slot only.
There is also the AF-On button, plus AF joystick as found in the a9. These controls are really useful for sports photography, where it will be possible to select the AF point more quickly.
Most other buttons and controls are positioned in the same place. The grip of the a7R III is slightly larger, with a deeper recess. Presumably, this helps to hold the new, larger battery unit.
Regarding connectivity, the a7R III has a new USB 3.1 Type C port, which is quicker than the micro USB 2.0 port of the a7R II when transferring images. Also, you get a flash sync port in the a7R III, which does not feature on the a7R II.
Sony a7R III vs a7R II: Battery Life
One writer for DPReview has named his product of the year 2017 as the NP-FZ100 battery. Say what? Not a camera? Well, battery life is one of the main downsides to Sony’s mirrorless cameras when compared to DSLRs. While they still lag behind, the new battery closes that gap from approximately 30% power to around 50% power of most comparable DSLR batteries (high-end Nikon DSLRs aside).
The new NP-FZ100 battery used in the Sony a7R III (and a9) gives almost twice the number of shots on a full charge than the battery used in previous generation Sony cameras. That’s 650 shots to 390 shots or 100 minutes 4k video recording compared to 50 minutes. Who’d have thought it was possible to get so excited over a battery?
Sony a7R III vs a7R II: Other features
Sony claims that the 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization of the a7R III gives up to 5.5EV stabilization, which is a 1EV improvement over the a7R II.
A new feature is the Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode. This combines four images, sequentially shifting the sensor by one pixel between each of the four shots. In theory, the resolution of a picture taken in this mode is four times that of the full resolution image, at 170MP. At this stage, Pixel Shift Multi Shooting Mode has limitations – you will most definitely need steady ground, a sturdy tripod and totally static subject in order to get workable results.
Sony a7R III vs a7R II: Price
Sony a7R III vs a7R II: Conclusion
If you are solely a landscape photographer or perhaps a studio photographer that needs a high level of detail, then we recommend saving the extra $800 because the a7R II will do just the trick for you. The a7R III offers only fractional improvements in this field.
Where the cameras differ greatly is in the overall handling and operational speed.
The a7R III features an improved AF system, faster burst shooting, quicker processor, it can be used while images are being buffered, it has twin card slots, plus there a few tweaks that speed up the handling, such as the AF joystick.
This improved performance is backed up by a superior battery life as well – you will only need to buy one or two additional batteries rather than three or four!
We say the a7R III is the most complete full-frame mirrorless camera on the market. If you are the sort of photographer that is as likely to shoot wildlife and sports as landscapes, then the a7R III is definitely the one to choose between these two cameras.
For more details about the Sony a7R III, please visit the product page on the Sony website.