I’ve been a Canon photographer for close to two decades. I was an early adopter of digital imagery and saw the potential with the underlying technology. In my mind, there was just no looking back. Digital photography was going to take over. Way back in 2002, I had one of Canon’s first fully digital SLR camera DSLR bodies, the 6.3 megapixel EOS D60. Today, compared with the new Sony A7III, my first Canon seems almost ancient. Before the Canon, I had primarily been a Minolta shooter, starting with their 100 series in the early 1980s.
Adding the new Sony A7III to my gear box
I currently shoot commercially with one of Canon’s top-of-the-line camera bodies, the 50 megapixel, medium format-wannabe, Canon EOS 5Ds, together with a meaningful range of the company’s professional L series lenses. Over the years, in between the D60 and 5Ds, I’ve owned a half dozen pro level Canon cameras, including the workhorses, Canon 1Ds Mk III and 5DMk III.
Today, for travel, I’m perfectly content with the full frame Leica Q I bought last year. It’s fixed 28 mm lens, and though basic, adequate feature set, fits most of my needs splendidly. It shoots decent video, though unfortunately not at 4k.
After selling my previous video camera, Canon’s C100Mk II, last year, I’ve been yearning for a replacement that would add excellent quality, flexibility and mobility – with emphasis on the latter. A seemingly utopian camera.
Honestly, up until just a few months ago, I’d never even considered Sony as candidate when musing about my »dream camera«. I was just too mentally invested in Canon yet frustrated that they refused to listen to their pro customers demand for more versatile camera with relevant features for those of us that had ventured into the wold of motion pictures.
First of all, I desperately wanted to keep enjoying the cinematic look and color reproduction I enjoyed my Canon lenses provide so wonderfully. Especially those beautiful skin tones and gorgeous bokeh I loved from the Canon 135mm f2 or Canon 35mm f1.4.
Secondly, I didn’t want to be forced into an additional brand’s eco-system. Canon and Leica are already very far apart insofar that each company has their own distinctive operating system as well as approach to things like color rendition and user experience (UX).
A few months ago, I happened to hear about the announcement of the Sony A7III. And since the leading third party lens adapter company Metabones had just come out with a new version of their Canon EF adapter which would allow me to use my L lenses without losing too many crucial features, or, more importantly, image quality, I started researching the camera – primarily by watching dozens of the overwhelmingly positive reviews about the Sony A7III on Youtube.
Though it’s been with me here in India, the Metabones adapter or either of the two Canon lenes I brought with me have left my camera bag.
The new Sony A7III, on the other hand, I’ve been using on a daily basis, testing it, checking out some of the umpteen available settings and numerous options. I needed to get a feel for the praised AF performance and overall handling to assess if it really can become my go-to video camera.
I bought the camera just a few days before I left Europe, together with two new lenses, a Sony E-mount Zeiss 18mm f2.8 and a Zeiss 85mm f1.4. I figured that if I also packed my Canon 35mm f1.4 and Canon 135mm f2.0, I’d be more than covered for most situations.
During the ten days I’ve been here, I’ve transitioned from skeptical to optimistic and finally to enthusiastic about the Sony A7III.
It turns out that the camera delivers astonishingly beautiful footage and stills – regardless of what I throw at it, including filming in near darkness, erratically moving subjects, or, even really harsh mid-day sunlight.
The auto focus is superbly adjustable (from slow to lightning fast), focus lock is fully reliable (locks on and focus tracks the subject in any direction) and the 5-axis stabilization means handheld shooting and filming is actually a usable feature. The battery life is phenomenal, the touch screen is very useful for tapping and locking focus and using the internal microphone is good enough to record reference audio (to use later when syncing with higher resolution audio recordings).
Werner, oh Werner!
Legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog once said something to the tune of that he never lets his camera equipment get in the way of creating movies. I can’t find the exact quote, but the essence is nevertheless something I always think about. As long as your story is worthy of watching and your camera doesn’t thwart or obstruct the path you want to take the viewer on, even the simplest gear will suffice. The Sony A7III’s features and functions aren’t remotely simple to master, but once you do, the camera is genuinely uncomplicated to operate.
As film assignments by far outnumber my still photography engagements, a development or evolution I’m happy about and embrace, the Sony A7III is going to fit just nicely in my potpourri of creative tools.
It’s small enough, robust enough and competent enough to meet the technical requirements that allow me to work organically within my own artistic projects and also enable me to reach my clients goals and visions.
The shot above was taken with a two and a half year old iPhone 7.