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Sony A7RIII vs A9: Which is best for me?

In our Sony A7RIII vs A9 camera comparison, we take a look at what separates the two, including video quality, sensor size, battery capacity and price, to see which is best.

Let’s face it, the Sony A9 would be perfect for most photographers but the lower resolution can be off-putting and how many people have £4,500 spare? Luckily, then, the A7RII and its video-based sibling, the A7SII, were more than capable of picking up the slack.

But there were quite a few features of the A9 flagship that we wanted to filter down into a new, slightly more affordable camera ─ preferably into the long-awaited A7RIII. And after months of silence, owing to factory delays, it has arrived.

Has the wait been worth it and just how close is the A7RIII to the A9 in terms of image quality, video potential, autofocus speed, battery life and all the other important stuff? Allow us to pick apart the specs for you to enlighten you.

Sony A7RIII vs A9: Body design, battery size & SD slots

Everything from the touchscreen to the new joystick control is inherited from the A9, as well as the larger battery that supports 650 shots per charge (depending on usage), dual SD card slot, Type-C USB and a dedicated AF On button.

The dual card setup is comprised one faster UHS-II SD slot and one of the slower standard, which will be music to the ears of those who shoot weddings where a failed card would be a huge problem.

Elsewhere, the new battery is actually 2.2 times the capacity of what you had in the A7RII, which means you can be more relaxed about switching off your camera in between shots or video capture.

Sony A7RIII vs A9: Sensor, resolution & autofocus

The A7RIII has the A7RII’s 35mm full frame 42.4mp back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, but the A7RIII has the ability to continuously take photos up to 10 frames per second, whether that is using the silent shooting mode or mechanical shutter. The A9 can manage up to 20 frames per second.

The autofocus system is faster than the A7RII, but not quite up there with the A9. You get the same 399 phase detection AF points but now supplemented with 425 contrast AF points, which is said to improve autofocus speed and the accuracy of eye tracking.

Supposedly the autofocus speed improvement is double compared to the A7RII, but then the A7RIII will struggle to compete with the A9’s 693 point local plane phase detection AF points. With that said, the A9’s resolution is a much lower 24.2 megapixels.

Another A7RIII improvement is the uprated Bionz X processor, which is said to be 1.8 times faster than what you had in the A7RII so expect a generally snappier experience as well as the ability to perform certain functions after a burst of photos instead of being unable to do anything.

Both the A7RIII and A9 feature five-axis physical image stabilisation, which means all lenses you put on (Sony or other) will be stabilised. The only difference between the two is that the A9 offers a five step shutter speed advantage, compared to the A7RIII’s 5.5 steps.

A new feature unique to the A7RIII is called Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode. Basically, the camera captures four separate pixel-shifted images and sticks them together into one super image that holds around 169.9 megapixels of image data.

The result, in theory, should be much better resolution, colour accuracy and overall a better image. Just prepare for files this size to eat into your memory card storage dramatically faster.

Sony A7RIII: Display & EVF

Building on the A7RII’s capability is the EVF quality, which is now the same 3,686k dot Tru-Finder offering and the same Zeiss T coating to reduce reflections. The frame rate can be switched between a 50 and 100 frames per second refresh rate, depending on how fast your subject is moving.

The LCD screen, meanwhile, has the same 1.44m dots and WhiteMagic technology that makes it easier to view in bright conditions. But unlike the A7RII’s display, you can use the touchscreen of the A7RIII for focussing.

Sadly, the LCD’s limited folding angles makes the A7RIII no better for selfies or vlogs than the A7RII, something catered for by the likes of the Panasonic GH5. You can, of course, use the PlayMemories app as a display although it can only snap photos and not initiate video recording.

Sony A7RIII vs A9: Video quality, ISO & resolutions

The Sony A7RIII is also superior to the A7RII in terms of video quality, on paper at least. The Super 35mm mode, which uses an APS-C amount of megapixels, captures 5K of information that is then oversampled to create higher quality 4K footage.

The A9, in comparison, captures 6K of information and oversamples that into 4K, meaning the A9 should be better overall but the gap is smaller than it was before.

In the standard 4K shooting mode that uses the full frame, as opposed to just the APS-C amount, the A7RIII and A9 can capture 3,840×2,160 pixels of data.

Where the A7RIII ups the game over the A7RII is the fact it now supports S-LOG3 for colour grading (like the A7SII), as opposed to just S-Log2. A new Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) mode can also be used for playing back 4K HDR content on a 4K-capable television or monitor.

Another plus of the A7RIII is that it can now record 120 frames per second at full HD quality (1,920×1,080 pixels), where the A7RII topped out at HD ready (720p).

ISO capability is also better than it was in the A7RII, with an ISO range of 100 to 32,000 available and expandable to 50 to 102,400 for still images and a 15-stop dynamic range.

Sony A7RIII vs A9: So which is best?

Unless there is some sort of issue or defect with the A7RIII, it will outshine the A7RII significantly in terms of video and stills. But even with faster autofocus abilities, it will still pale in comparison for shooting fast-moving subjects ─ an area where the A9 is unrivalled.

Fundamentally, the A7RIII and its higher resolution makes sense for pixel peepers and those who like to really crop into a shot when needed, whereas the A9 is all about never missing a photo. Which works best depends on your needs.

We will say this. The A7RII was all the camera most people will ever need and the A7RIII’s improvements make it even more compelling. Unless you only shoot action stuff, justifying an extra £1,200 for the A9 will be difficult.

Sony A7RIII vs A9: UK price and when can I buy?

The Sony A7RIII will cost £3,200 when it goes on sale in November, 2017. That is more than the A7RII, which retails for around £2,500, but it is worth noting this camera also started out life at £3,200 when it launched two years ago.

It is unclear if there will be an upgrade path for those with an A7RII that want to make the leap to an A7RIII. This does, however, seem like a decision for retailers such as Jessops as opposed to Sony.


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