Eight Things Stopping the Sony a7 III From Being the Perfect Camera

Eight Things Stopping the Sony a7 III From Being the Perfect Camera

I already wrote an article stating that this camera is the best wedding photography camera you can buy. But like most cameras, it's not perfect. These are eight things holding back the a7 III.

Programmable Record Button

Sony is known for their amazing button customizations. You can basically program every single button on the camera to any item in the menu. Because of this, I find it extremely strange that I can't program the video record button, especially since this button doesn't even work unless you have movie mode selected on the main dial. If you are in any other mode and press the button, you are met with an error message. Instead, they should allow you to program this button like any other button, especially since you can program custom buttons differently depending on if you are in photo mode or video mode. You could easily have the video record button stay as it is when in video mode, but have something useful programmed for when in photo mode. But for some reason, Sony feels that if you are shooting stills, you should be left with basically a dead button.

No Dedicated Charger

I get it, Sony went on a cost-cutting rampage in order to get the camera under $2,000. But to buy a camera and not even get a battery charger is a little off-putting. Instead of a dedicated battery charger, they give you a short little charging cable that you have to plug into the camera in order to charge it. If you want to get a Sony charger, be prepared to spend almost $100. That’s not even including a battery. That’s just for the charger.

Left Dial From the a9

At first, I thought this missing dial was due to Sony trying to save cost on the camera. But then I realized that the more expensive a7R III doesn't even have this dial. I think that including this dial would make both cameras much more user-friendly. The a9 was even released before both cameras and uses the same body design. So, the missing dial is a strange call by Sony. I would have happily paid an extra couple hundred dollars for the dial to be included.   

Toggle Instead of Menu Selection

This feature ties into the button customization. Once you have an item programmed to a button, the way you adjust this item is by pressing the button and then using the directional pad to change it. So, if I want to turn on silent shooting, I press the button, then press up on the directional pad to select silent on, then I can half press the shutter to lock in that setting. But if there are only two options, I should be able to just press the button once and have it toggle to the next setting. So, press once to turn silent shooting on, press it again to turn it off. The frustrating thing about this is that this is exactly how the button works if you have it set to turn on or off the touch screen operation. So, why can’t it work that way with other items? I would also like the option to toggle between user-selected items. Let’s take the drive modes as an example. You have the option of choosing single-shot, four different continuous shooting speeds, bracketing, etc. But 90 percent of the time, I just need to switch between continuous Hi and single shot. So I would love the option to press the button in order to toggle between those two modes. If I want to select another of the options, then I could simply press and hold the button to bring up all the options.     

PlayMemories Apps

This is probably the biggest missing feature on the camera. On older Sony models, features like multiple exposures, time-lapse, HDR, touchless shutter, etc. were all found inside their PlayMemories app. It was annoying that you had to pay extra for these features, but you at least had access to them. On all the recent models though, Sony has removed the ability to use the PlayMemories apps. The frustrating part is that they didn't leave users with another way of getting these features. So things like multiple exposures, which are built into most every other camera, are just not there. What you are left with is a state of the art camera that is missing key features that are found on 10-year-old cameras.   

Silent Shutter Max Speed

The silent shutter has a max speed of 1/8,000th of a second. The Sony a9 and even my two-year-old Fuji X-Pro2 have a max speed of 1/32,000th of a second. This isn't a dealbreaker by any means, but having a higher speed really helps when working with bright light and shallow depth of field.   

Format Speed

I mentioned this in my other article, but the time it takes to format a card inside the camera is very annoying. Where it takes maybe 10-15 seconds to format two 128 GB SD cards in my Nikon, it takes about two minutes to format the same cards inside my Sony. It’s a small thing, but that time adds up.

Electronic Front Shutter With Flash

One of the drawbacks of using an electronic front curtain is that is can cause banding when using flash. This is most apparent when dealing with shutter speeds higher than the sync speed. I wish there was a way to have the electronic front curtain automatically kick off when using flash or when using flash above sync speed. Instead, I have had to set up a special memory function on the dial so that whenever I use flash, I know I need to be on that dial setting. This issue isn’t a big deal if you know there is a problem. But because the electronic front curtain is on by default, most users have to find out the hard way.

Conclusion

While no camera is perfect, this list of items is what is keeping the Sony a7 III from being the perfect camera for me and how I work. I do still think that the a7 III is the best camera for wedding photography, but it has the potential to be so much more. Little things like adding should-be-standard features such as multiple exposures can go a long way. Same goes for ironing out how custom buttons work and function, especially when they work well for one setting but not another.

What are some things you feel are holding the a7 III back from being the perfect camera?     

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23 Comments

I swear I'd have finally made the jump to fullframe with the A7III if it wasn't for that damn lack of timelapse in camera.
I know you can use an external remote but it's just mind blowing that a 2000$ camera lacks a software feature that would literally take less than 1 hour for a programmer to implement.

Edit: and also mark my words, the A7IV will probaly implement it just to give the people who bought the A7III one more reason to upgrade.

Roberto Serrini's picture

Actually there is an easy work around. S&Q slow motion video mode, set the frame rate to 1fame per second (or whatever you want). Not ideal but does time lapse.

Doesn't work for me, I'd use the timelepse mode mainly for astrophotograhpy so I'd need the RAW files and full control of picture parameters and time intervals.

Edit: and what's even more shameful is that with the full electronic shutter I could take timelapses with much shorter exposure times and many more frames (which could be handy for certain applications like meteor shower photo) without worrying about trashing the shutter mechanism. Mirrorless are the perfect cameras for timelapses and ironically the newst generation can't do em.

Spy Black's picture

If you're doing astrophotography, the LAST thing you want is a Sony camera.

Photo Kaz's picture

Star eater chomp chomp :)

The A7III doesn't really have any visible problem with missing stars

Spy Black's picture

Right, out of sight, out of mind...

Just a very, very small clarification/correction:

"...especially since this button doesn't even work unless you have movie mode selected on the main dial. If you are in any other mode and press the button, you are met with an error message."

While the movie button isn't capable of being "moved" to a different button, you can enable it to start video in any mode, not just Movie. It's easy to miss since it's buried in the options though. At least, it's that way on the A7rii and A7riii, I can't imagine they removed it for the A7iii. Also, I think the A7riii has the option to start video via the shutter button when in movie mode, not sure about the A7iii. It's also disabled by default.

My wishlist is for all menu items, not just some, to be accessible via either custom buttons or, at the very least, the Fn menu. The A7riii has improved a bit with the custom Menu section, but still.

Also, the ability to back up the camera settings would be nice.

Jason Vinson's picture

I'll dig into that. But as someone that doesn't shoot video, the button is basically useless for me at this point without being able to remap it.

Jason Vinson's picture

What menu items would you like access too that aren't already available?

For a while the biggest one on my A7rii was the Finder / Monitor option to switch from Manual to Auto when I used the Touchless Shutter app. Since I can’t use that on the A7riii I ended up getting a remote anyway so I don’t use that feature as much, but it was a pain digging into the menu to set that to Auto just to get the app to work.

Other settings you can’t program to the Fn menu:

Monitor Brightness (can use custom button though)
USB Connection - alternating between mass storage for transferring files and
PC for tethered shooting
RAW Type - you can set RAW to JPG in the Fn menu but not Compressed/Uncompressed RAW
Format - memory cards
Airplane Mode - would be nice to toggle that more easily

Like I said, it’s a little better on the A7riii since you can set a custom “Menu” section, but why the Fn menu is so limited remains a mystery to me.

The record button works in all modes by default. It's been this way on all 4 A7 models I've used including the A7III. Things like these always makes me wonder if the author even touched the camera they "reviewed".
The left dial is personal taste, I've seen reviews that praised the A7III for it being gone. I personally prefer it that way too.
The toggle thing is true in part. Some settings already work this way for others it would be a nice change. Even though it might be hard to change it from the way itr works in the menu.
Charger: stop bring this up pleeeeaase. It's ridiculous. Just use the USB charger and shut up.

FLIPOUT SCREEN for video!

Matthew Saville's picture

I might be wrong, but I think that the format time has to do with how "deeply" they are "scrubbing" the data off the card, and the Sony is attempting to prevent any blips or potential corruptions in long, long video files.

Maybe I'm totally wrong, though. Would love clarification on that!

Matthew Saville's picture

For me, the most annoying thing is definitely the lack of a charger. I've done experiments with the different ways to charge batteries, and simply put, charging them in-camera via USB is the worst way. It takes longer, and literally wastes energy. (I tried using an Anker 20100 battery to charge the 1050 NPFW50, and no, it did not charge the battery ~20 times, it didn't even charge the battery 10-15 times. It charged the battery ~4 times. That's ~20,000 mAh converting into ~4,000 mAh. A huge, huge waste of power.

So yeah, if you buy any of the Sony cameras that don't include a charger, buy one...

Jonathan Brady's picture

I'd love it if there was a button in the middle of the exposure compensation dial that would engage auto ISO when pressed/released

Christian Lainesse's picture

I wish the anti-flicker option would ALSO work with the silent shutter

David Pavlich's picture

If it only had the in hand feel of a 5DIV or a D850. It's totally subjective but it's a deal breaker; it feels like a toy in hand. It's not only Sony, it's the smallish cameras in general. I like the feel of my 5DIV with a grip. I just spent a lot of time with it at a tennis tournament with the Canon 70-200 f2.8 and it's just a dream to shoot with.

1) Sony sucks as a company to deal with as a consumer.

"Silent Shutter Max Speed" you do understand that 1/8000 at extended ISO50 is EXACTLY THE SAME EXPOSURE as 1/32000 at ISO200 with additional DoF that a full frame sensor produces? Like really, you took the time to write this, you should have cought this.

Ryan Davis's picture

#9 it's ugly as sin.

It seems the EVF is another factor.

hmm, the video record button works for me in all modes. There is probably a setting you have on that prevents it. As I shoot both still and video, I find the dedicated button really useful. I agree with you on timelapse, I was really surprised it wasn't there, I had to buy an external intervalometer also the lack of battery charger seems like a cheap move.
I'd like to add another one, having a touch screen that doesn't do anything but focus seems like a waste. I'd like it to work on the menus too.