#661. Sony A7r3, diminishing returns & Maslow hierarchy of needs

#661. Sony A7r3, diminishing returns & Maslow hierarchy of needs

So Sony announced the new iteration of their A7r range. And its promises are numerous and mouth-watering. Better AF, better sensor circuitry, a better battery, a better shutter mechanism, a better EVF, a better IBIS and the star of the show : pixel-shift. All at an unchanged price point. Sweet!

 

Probably.

 

 

Following the announcement, I resisted the urge to read the hundreds of comments that piled on at the bottom of the articles announcing this new gem, to be sure I would maintain an unbiased frame of mind when viewing the first samples.

Now that that’s done, I have learnt nothing, except that Sony are continuing their powerful push towards uber-technological cameras that have taken the market by storm. Definitely not the direction I’d personally want to see them go but, judging by the sales stats, probably the most intelligent one to follow to survive and thrive in a collapsing market.

A couple of years ago, the addition of a joystick at the back of a camera would have driven me nuts. But when I realised Sony’s commitment is to tech lovers and content producers, not old-fashioned photographers like me, all that angry mist evaporated and revealed the cleverness of the strategy.

I shan’t repeat what the dozens of videos produced by far more informed influencers have explained in the past days but will wonder instead whether all of this is enough. And my apologies if that seems unfair to a company that is pushing so hard and is evidently listening long and hard to the wants and complaints of the majority of its users (they make no fuss about it, but it’s pretty obvious they read all the comments and take them into account. Kudos for that !!!)

 

 

Objectively, and by any popular measure, the Sony A7r3 is a great camera. Really great.

The nagging question is: how much greater than the great Sony A7r2 ? Well, think of it this way: just about everything that matters in a camera is better in the new version. That’s how much! And that’s the brilliance of Sony. They take a camera that’s draining the market from under all their competitor’s feet and make it better in almost every conceivable way. Better still, they launch the A9 flagship that wows the whole planet then release a camera with 90% of its goodness and far better IQ, at a fraction of the price, just a few weeks later. A bit like the Tesla Model S and the newer Model 3.

So why isn’t Sony’s image as a photo incumbent growing as fast as their market share ? As Philippe asks in his latest post, why is Leica so respected in spite of crazy prices, outdated tech and a very shaky loyalty towards their customers, when Sony are constantly expanding the shooting envelope and receiving so little love for it?

 

 

If I knew for sure, Sony would probably pay me millions to explain … 😉

But my guess is that (beyond the inertia of brand dynamics) they are battling the laws of diminishing returns and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, both far more powerful than their photo division.

In our little list of DS contributors, 4 people (at least) own a Sony A7r2. 2 are on the fence about upgrading, 2 have largely decided against. Not good for Sony.

Me, I’m firmly leaning towards the NO camp. I have no interest whatsoever in tech gadgets and only image quality speaks to me. So far, nothing in the official literature has suggested image quality improvements over the A7r2 (pixel shift results initially seem a bit underwhelming, more like catching up than overtaking), but new joysticks and unwanted thingamabobs abound. This is a camera for camera lovers, not for image lovers. I’m unmoved.

But that’s just me. For others among us who enjoy technology and use it to the most, the differences are all welcome but may not add up to a strong enough USP to justify an upgrade. Sony have little competition, except for Sony. And the A7r2 is likely to be the A7r3’s greatest foe (financially advantageous upgrade plans, maybe ?) And that’s before we get into the whole smartphone thing (which of these pictures were made with my – now positively antique and battered – Samsung Galaxy S6 ?)

We’re all viewing images on the web and we’re all well-enough equipped for that. Who needs a marginally better cookie cutter that doesn’t make the shooting experience significantly better ?

And this brings me to my final point.

 

 

Ask a starving beggar how you can help him self-actualize and he’ll probably slap you in the face. Food & shelter first. New age comes after.

In our little group, several of us have faced catastrophic failures with our Sony cameras. That was years ago, but reputations stick. And Sony have done remarkably little to address that rep issue.

Ditto weather sealing. Some manufacturers plunge their bodies into streams for all to see on YouTube, but my A7r2 faints at the sight of clouds on telly. It’s hard to fathom that a company who can muster the genius and tech to perform the millions of calculations required for pixel shift, faster than a fly can fart, isn’t able to slap a few rubber bands at the appropriate places … In an age where every new smartphone is more hermetic than Rosicrucian masters, this just doesn’t cut it any more.

Neither do the sharing abilities. In a world where the home printing experience has never been so shitty, people love to share online. Heck they love to share online, even if they do print. Here again the phone needlessly crushes the mirrorless dinosaur. How hard can it be to include a well-implemented dedicated section in that endless pit of buttons, joysticks, dials, paddles, touchscreens and menus ??? Seriously, 2018 and no social ?

 

 

I’m not asking that Sony do things my way, just wondering whether an empire built on tech FOMO and that doesn’t solidify its foundation isn’t a likely candidate for an unsightly collapse when the all wrong conditions align. Reliability and IQ first. Joysticks and pixel shift come after.

All this being said, my greatest wish is to be proven 100% wrong. My respect for Sony grows with every passing year. Respect, and gratitude with it. It’s entirely possible that weather sealing and reliability have been quietly improved, while the marketing focus was elsewhere. It’s entirely possible that the IQ and colours are noticeably better, irrespective of pixel shift, thanks to better circuits and downstream signal processing. It’s entirely possible that you can now press a custom button to send your fave pic of the day to your Tumblr feed. If so, you’ll find me eating a double serving of humble pie waiting in line to collect my new toy, with a huge smile on my face 😉

How about youz ?

 


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42 Comments

  1. Avatar
    philberphoto October 28, 2017

    Well, on the key question (for me), of IQ, the jury is out. On the one hand, some say that, because the sensor is the same, IQ must be the same, or very close. Which would mean that Sony have done a Canon 5DIII. Others, led by yours truly, see a goodness in the very limited selection of A7RIII pics taken with very good lenses that I can’t get out of my II. Even though my glass is even better, and I am shooting RAW Vs. The III’s JPEG.
    If you’d asked me what camera outputted those shots, I’d have said Hasselblad X1-D, which is not exactly an insult! I can’t wait to get pics out of production cameras, in RAW, with top glass, from trusted ‘togs…

    Conversely, had Sony relesed a A7RIII with 60Mp, I know full well who would have been the first to lambast that feature. None other than Pascal! Claiming that a camera is not only a sensor, but more importantly a shooting experience, where things like build quality (improved), user interface (improved), battery life (improved), EVF (improved), physical layout (improved), shutter feel and sound (improved) matter so much…

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      I certainly would have grumbled 😉 There’s a certain elegance to making the most of a limited number of pixels (Foveon style) as opposed to piling on the megapixels (like modern phones do). It’s very similar in concept to big uncouth american blocks vs optimised euro engines. So I’m really happy with the quality-over-quantity approach to IQ that Sony seems to be adopting and really hope that it translates into meaningful visual improvements. If the rest follows suit, well then, bliss 🙂

  2. Avatar
    The anonymous grunter October 28, 2017

    For many photographers out there, discussing the new A7 r III is like asking a vegan to differentiate the taste of differents eggs. Vegans don’t eat eggs. Period. Discussing sth that you won’t buy anyway on the basis of spec sheets or tests undertaken by others is a strange (web) phenomenon.

    Real ‘togs out there understand that creativity does not improve by an extra button on the backside of the tool (I sometimes refer to these tools as ‘lens holders’). Either the tool fits your workflow/requirements and you get along with its quirks, or you don’t.

    That leads me to the specs. I would tick the boxes in the following order
    1) weather resistent and durable – since I found myself enjoying a shoot in heavy rain with Canon body/Milvus glass, I have sold my Sony Nexes and worked to improve my hit rate (OVF and manual focusing can be tricky)
    2) a logic menue system adressable by speedy touchscreen operation
    3) one tap touchscreen enlargement for checking critical focus with MF lenses
    4) wide adaptability of vintage MF glass and Canon L glass with good AF speed (tele lenses)
    5) full frame sensor with excellent DR of 36-50 MP
    6) big enough grip for my large hands

    As 1) and 2) are not adressed by the A7rIII, and I don’t know whether 3) is implemented, I guess I will wait for iteration IV or the Canikon FF mirrorless offerings expected in 2018.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      Aaah, lens holders. That’s a beautiful concept. And one that the unnecessary complexity of modern cameras is battering badly. It remains to be seen how well the A7R3 caters to points 1 and 2. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise is some of these points had been secretely improved without any mention of it. If enough users have mentioned these, Sony will probably have listened. Not much longer to wait to see 🙂

  3. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron October 28, 2017

    I’ll sit this one out.

    I’m supposed to be having exactly this problem, choosing between staying with my Nikon D810 and their new wunderkind, the D850. I finally realised there IS a feature that I lust after – improved dynamic range. Oh – and about a one stop improvement for idiots like me who like to shoot in the dark, without flash, and still avoid noise in the shadows.

    But as I said the other day, if it’s going to cost $5,000 to get that, then I have a short list of other things that would mean more to me than those few features.

    Yes there ARE other features in the D850 that I can’t get in the D810. Mostly, things I don’t want and wouldn’t use anyway. Some are, but I’m not missing them. I’m still blown away by what my D810 can do.

    Sorry to hear your cam is allergic to the weather reports on the TV News, Pascal. Perhaps you need to censor which programs it watches. I can’t claim any better for the D810 because I shoot mostly with the Otus lenses, and alas – all that money buys great glass, but not even a sniff at an attempt by Zeiss to weather proof such expensive junk. And I simply couldn’t bear to give my Otuses swimming lessons!

    BTW – love your photos – especially the last one – c’est moi !! That’s just the kind of shot I like to grab, relying purely on available light !! Coulda kicked my ass last night – out walking the dog, without a camera – and the rest is history. Oh dear – I can see another late night coming !!!

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      You’re right. After all, if we make sure kids don’t get exposed to the wrong media, we should ensure our cameras receive only positive vibes at home too 😉

      Price … ahhh … I recently visited a gallery selling beautiful prints for 300 grand. Yup. Given my naive hopes to acquire one, that floored me. You could buy a number of lovely prints, photo gear, a car, a flat and quite a bit of traveling for that price. Or you could buy a complicated watch … Or you could buy a fraction of a canvas painted by a mad guy centuries ago. Once manufacturers understand the power of a brand, they can charge whatever price they want.

  4. Avatar
    Scott Edwards October 28, 2017

    Brilliant writing and thinking by Pascal. Brilliant response by Philber! I purchased my backup A7R2 about five weeks ago. I knew that a USD $2399 tag (with rebates) meant that the A7R3 was right out around the corner. I thought about renting but it cut so much into margin and the great unknown was when (italics) would the new beast be revealed… I simply couldn’t “afford” to do commercial shoots without a backup. I’d love to have the new one, of course, as it’s completely brilliant almost to the degree of oversaturation of color. Yet, I must remind myself that the A7R2 is simply one of the best cameras made to date and I must keep revenue generation in mind as I build up my business. I don’t need 10fps and the $1K variance for better IQ doesn’t yet justify chucking my new model or selling off my “old” (two years) model for even more $. Thus… I only looked at two articles and two videos on the A7R3… the key and fundamental goal should always be whether my clients are pleased with the work and whether my soul is moved. Referencing your “soul” article just posted today, I ride BMW motorcycles exactly for the reasons described… my K1200R has soul and power (I’ve quenched my desire for the S1000RR for sake of domestic peace) and my 1950s Leica Summaron 35 2.8 and Summarit 50 1.5 have souls into eternity… and yet, I’ll argue that anyone who took ridicule and heat for adopting the A7R platform back when it wasn’t cool will testify that, indeed, the Sony A7R2 (and 3) have wonderful soul. The registration of soul was immediate; when I picked up my first A7R I felt I had an old Minolta in my hands… it spoke to me. Can I get a witness?

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      Thank you Scott. It’s fascinating that the resemblance to the old Minolta give the Sony so much sould for you. I had never seen it that way.

      Isn’t it ironical that amateurs ‘rationalise’ the need for an expensive camera when they don’t really. Count me among the guilty here. It’s true that when you buy something as a professional tool, you apply much more ROI thinking to it. As for the bikes, even a non biker like me sees what you mean about the two BMWs … 😉

  5. Avatar
    Astolat October 28, 2017

    It’s not all better. The upgraded USB connection has forced the abandonment of the handy, at least for studio photographers, cable clamp. Tethering is more problematic as a result. Of course, the A7R2 was the only camera supplied with such a clamp but, for some of us at any rate, it was mighty useful. That said I have sold mine (although I have kept my original A7) and moved to Leica’s SL, prompted by the fall in prices which was initiated by Leica itself. The SL may not have the high tech features of the Sony, nor its high IQ (which in many ways is overkill except for heavy croppers and poster photographers – 24mp is even enough for most landscapers). However, I find the SL a very nice camera to use when I do not need AF as I enjoy the solidity of Leica build and the old fashioned things like aperture rings. The EVF makes focusing a breeze. Of course, AF is compromised right now by the availability only of rather large and heavy AF lenses but new primes, we are told, are in the pipeline even if they are taking their time to arrive. What about AF? Well Olympus is pretty good now and their Pro line of lenses is strikingly good. All that said, the Sony remains the best specified camera but I found it unintuitive to use and hated the fiddly little buttons whose allotted functions I could never remember. But I do miss the cable clamp.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      Aah, a similar debate raged when the new MacBook Pro dumped all connectivity in favour of USB-C. It’s hard to charge ahead without discontenting some part of the user base.

      The SL is an interesting camera, I guess. But Leica’s lack of commitment to ‘recent’ ranges such as the S (users are still waiting for some of the lenses that were initially announced and will never see the light of day) is worrying, to say the least. That being said, the great build quality and aperture rings are a very strong argument in my books as well. Have fun with it.

  6. Avatar
    Per kylberg October 29, 2017

    The photographer is THE creator, gear are enablers. The higher your skills and ambitions – the higher your demands/expentations on gear. I don’t, but I fully understand some do prefer to carry around an Otus 28mm!
    If you do art photo or documentary, then Leica brand carries all (or close to) the great photographers with it. Ferrari is the worlds emotionally strongest brand and Leica is also on that list.
    If you are a photo journalist, then Canon brand is the main enablers provider. The Toyota.
    Sony wants up there but it will take time. (BMW?) Their way is to get attention by a food of ever improving enablers. And they do it well, as with the A7R3. “Many small creeks leads to a big river” sort of. Will I upgrade from mk2? Maybe….. The changes alltogether means the mk3 is a better enabler, but with how much?
    Note: The basic sensor may be the same as mk2, but surrounding electronics and mainly program code is actually today MORE important for IQ.

    • Avatar
      jean pierre (pete) guaron November 02, 2017

      Your footnote is interesting, Per. I have long had the feeling – but never come across any technical discussion – that the system in these digicams runs on a “sensor” and a “processor”, and that unless both are A+++, you don’t end up with the “right result”. I got suspicious a long while back, when it seemed that different cameras with the same sensor were producing quite different quality in their images.
      I also suffer from an impression that the choice of camera is as much a question of personal taste or preferences, as anything technical. Yes there are differences – but why do so many people choose brand X, so many brand Y, and so on? How else do you explain why some cling to Leica, others choose Canon over Nikon (or vice versa – PS, I shoot with both, and like them both for different reasons), some are besotted with Fuji and others with Sony? To be honest, I am at the moment intrigued by Sigma’s Foveon sensor and I’d love the chance to try one out – there’s no logic to it (well there is SOME, I’ve seen some amazing photos taken with one), it’s as much part of my exploration of the world of digital photography as anything else.
      Sony’s new A7 has superb dynamic range – that impresses me more than a lot of other features.
      Can’t think why, but I found myself overnight dreaming about the logistical impossibilities of taking shots on a tripod, shooting vertically up in the air (the dream didn’t explain why I wanted to 🙂 ) and cursing the camera because it didn’t have a tilt screen on the back. Which left me wondering – if shots on a tripod are now generally fired using a WiFi remote, why can’t someone give us a remote viewfinder? So many cams now have ELVs, it can’t be all that difficult to apply WiFi to the creation of a remote ELV. 🙂 That would be a lot more “interesting” than trying to turn DSLRs into a sort of hybrid between a still camera and a movie camera !!!

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      Hi Per, my gut feeling after seeing a few shots is that the Mk3 will be as big a step up from the Mk2 as that was from the original. It wasn’t my initial impression but it does seem that Sony have done a lot of work on those surrounding electronics. Can’t wait to get my hands on one TBH. I love the term enabler 🙂 Some people say it’s not about the gear but I disagree. The potential is in the person using it, of course, but the idea of making that potential come to life is inspiring 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo October 29, 2017

    Good points!

    Sony for me?
    Mirrorless yes, I don’t like noisy vibrating mirrors, so I’ve followed Sony since NEX.

    It would have to be an APS-C (FF to expensive), but they only have lossy compressed RAW as yet.
    And then there is lens choice …
    ( Good if you can afford Zeiss.)

    And the handling, not yet cameras that could grow into an extension of me …

    Rumors and reports of problems with durability … let’s hope Sony improves!

    According to this revealing report
    https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2017/10/about-getting-your-camera-wet-teardown-of-a-salty-sony-a7sii/

    the Sony A7sII – supposed to be environmentally sealed – has _no_ weather sealing at the bottom, only on top.
    – – –

    Waiting for *my* mirrorless I ended up with Magical Lantern in the first Canon M plus a screen loupe and a nice market of good enough used EF(-S) lenses.
    (Time for a better sensor though!)

    But I might get a used NEX 7 plus a Mirex tilt/shift adapter …

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      Hi Kristian, what is that Canon M like? Philippe (co-author) has a NEX 7 in great condition that he’s not using. If you’re interested …

  8. Avatar
    Steffen October 30, 2017

    In my book, Sony only delivers 95%. They don’t go the extra mile beyond that. You get a great camera but when you use it, you find these odd quirks where you think “Has no one of you seriously used these camera before and found this annoying? Why didn’ use fixed it right away?” I’m not talking about bugs or things they had to invent before. The small things. Probably everyone has their own story. But this is the problem. This has probably to do with their “challenger” status that forces them to iterate quickly but in the end leaves to time for the details. Or a strategy. Or the user understanding what’s going on here.

    That being said, I’m a Sony user since they were called Minolta. I’m fine with them. I’m just not going to buy something that I’m not feeling 100% right about.

    Concerning your question “How much greater than the great Sony A7r2?”: According to our Youtube professional influencer reviews, break-downs, impressions and unboxings, it’s 12%. Maybe 16%. I think that’s a nice number. Don’t you, Philippe?

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      It appears that most of the people working in the A7x design team are avid photographers. So the camera probably feels optimised to them. We shouldn’t rule out cultural distinctions between Japan and Europe. If you consider watches, we have a tradition of luxury mechanical timepieces that don’t focus on performance as much as on philosophy. Whereas Japanese brands create very high end watches too (Grand Seiko, for example) but following much more a technological and performance-based ethos. The same probably applies a bit to cameras and the Sony is close to perfection from certain points of view but lacks in other departments that are more dear to us European buyers.

  9. Avatar
    Jay Hemphill October 31, 2017

    I’m on the fence. I’ve been with Sony since I jumped into digital in 2008 with the A900, then the a99, and then the A7 series cameras. But this last year I’ve thought of getting a system that I use for personal projects and exhibition work. I’m leaning towards selling my A7rII and RX1RII and putting that cash towards a Sony A9 that I will use for all my commercial work and then a Fuji GFX for my fine art photography.
    I Just spent two weeks trying out a Sony a9 and I was blown away with that cameras responsiveness. It truly made my working day easier! I’m sad to send it back to Sony tomorrow.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      The two cameras you mention are interesting as they lie at opposite end of the spectrum. One has great IQ and needs a more deliberate approach. The other is super responsive and offers a huge shooting envelope at the expense of some resolution. If that dichotomy fits your personal/exhibition needs, it’s hard to imagine a better duo. Have fun 🙂

  10. Avatar
    Tarmo October 31, 2017

    Based on the spec sheet this seems like a very relevant upgrade, indeed based on user feedback. It seems to improve usability (controls) and will give you more *pictures* in low light, with moving targets, and at the end of long sessions (with improvements in stabilisation, autofocus and battery, respectively). Bad weather may still be outside of the shooting envelope, but many other things have just been included. If I was on the market for a serious (hobby) camera right now, I would tentatively score mk3 much higher than the previous iterations.

    However, I would share your concerns about robustness. By all means, keep being vocal about the features/improvements you’re still missing. Someone at Sony may be listening.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      I’d love to know how their monitoring works but it seems obvious to me that someone is listening hard to the comments and that nothing comes out of the assembly line that hasn’t been scrutinised in the light of public desire. It can happen that individual tastes (such as my desire for greater simplicity) don’t line up with the general concensus and you can’t expect Sony to do otherwise but serve the stronger segment of the market. So, as you say, it’s our duty (and pleasure 😉 ) to be vocal about what we feel is important.

  11. Avatar
    JL November 02, 2017

    Typically a Frenchie comment : ‘I don’t own the camera but I know that I hate it’. Don’t take it badly, Pascal, I’m also Frenchie, so I know what I’m talking about 😉

    Allez, sans rancune, j’espère ! Je possède un Canon 5DIII et je pense que je vais passer au 7RIII, une fois des tests sérieux publiés.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      Don’t worry, no harm done. I’ve owned or used extensively more or less every mirorless camera Sony have ever produced (NE5n, NEX 5r, NEX 7, A7r, A7r2) so I feel my comments are pretty much informed. Plus, I really, really, don’t hate any of these cameras. Sony’s customer support has driven me bonkers in the past and some of the more flawed cameras were a pain to live with (A7r most of all) but they all delivered enough to make them worthwhile. The lovability of these bodies is definitely on the rise and I hope Sony don’t leave out the essentials that would make them very highly desirable.

  12. Avatar
    Adrian November 02, 2017

    It’s funny that every time Sony announce a new camera it is question whether it is “enough”, does it warrant an upgrade, have they fixed pet issue.

    When Canon and Nikon announce a new camera with minor incremental improvements, those things are never questioned.

    It’s a shame that a company trying so hard to be innovative and responsive to customer feedback is damned with such feibt praise.

    What revolution does any number of “me to” SLRs offer that makes them worth while?

    Canon have a me too 50mp with a typically Canon not entirely competitive sensor in an expensive body with an AF system from 2 or 3 generations ago. Does that offer more than the A7R series?

    I am convinced this camera is intended to bring new owners to the system more than get existing owners to upgrade. It’s a D850 killer in many ways and makes the latter look like what it is – the last gasps of a dinosaur design solution with extinction looming on the horizon, spawned from a genus that has failed to adapt and evolve.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      Sony can be criticised for a few things. But no one is pushing the envelope as hard as they are. I don’t think the “enough” criterion applies to them. At least not when compared to the rest of the field. But you can’t deny that when something as good as the A7r2 gets replaced, the newcomer needs to be really special to justify the outlay. And the improvements need to be more of qualitative nature than a quantitative one. I criticise Sony only because I use their gear and pay for it (I’ve owned 5 bodies in the past few years) and feel that, in the absence of any real competition, it’s important to be vocal about what’s good and what isn’t. Innovative companies crave feedback, good and bad. I just hope my articles convey the good as much as the bad. Otherwise, the bias is purely my fault.

      The (in)validity of Canikon’s incremental improvements (to put a polite word to it) is aptly demonstrated by their revenue stream.

  13. Avatar
    Rohan Mendonca November 02, 2017

    I would rather have a camera manufacturer that’s responsive to feedback on their products and incorporates these improvements into the prior model leading to a extremely refined camera.

    Yes I will upgrade from my A7r II. I have used mine exhaustively and have learned to live with some of its operational short comings.
    No more. I think version 3 will just get out of the way and let me focus on the moment.

    I have come from Canon 5D series. No real improvement on image quality after every update only feature le taken away. This after a gap of 4-5 years. Improvement on operational use which alone makes a lot of users want to upgrade.

    In the case of the A7rIII you don’t have to wait for 4 years and the improvements are not small iterations.

    I do understand that the sensor is the same so like you said the image matters. Wouldn’t you want the camera to get out of the way so that you can focus on the image?

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      It does look that way. Agility has paid off at Sony. Every generation so far has been markedly better than the previous. And I hope the trend continues with the A7r3.

      What you describe at Canon feels like a desperate joke …

      Would I want a camera to get out of the way ? sooooo much ! The standard by which all other cameras should be judged, in my limited experience, is the Mamiya 7. Why no one simply made a digital version of this with no added sugar, salt or fat, is completely beyond me 😉

  14. Avatar
    Mahesh November 02, 2017

    I am tempted by this coming from an A7ii. I love the EVF that comes with the A7Riii and right now, there is a great introductory offer by cameraworld in the UK.- with trade-in and free 3 year Sony warranty as well.

    The EVF, the fast focus with eyeAF, joystick are all great.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      Wow, thanks Mahesh ! I’m almost tempted to buy from the UK now. Or at least to check whether a similar offer is available in the land of cheese 😉

  15. Avatar
    Rohan Mendonca November 02, 2017

    I would rather have a camera manufacturer that’s responsive to feedback on their products and incorporates these improvements into the prior model leading to an extremely refined camera.

    Yes I will upgrade from my A7r II. I have used mine exhaustively and have learned to live with some of its operational short comings.
    No more! I think version 3 will just get out of the way and let me focus on the moment.

    I have come from Canon 5D series. No real improvement on image quality after every update, only feature taken away. This after a gap of 4-5 years. Improvement on operational use which alone, makes a lot of users want to upgrade.

    In the case of the A7rIII, you don’t have to wait for 4 years and the improvements are not small iterations.
    I do understand that the sensor is the same, so like you said the image matters. Wouldn’t you want the camera to get out of the way so that you can focus on the image?

  16. Avatar
    James Johnson November 02, 2017

    My A7RII is still going strong and I’m more interested in getting some of the newly announced glass in my bag. For $3200 I can get the 12-24 and 24-105. That said, the improvements seem ok and I would definitely go for the III if I was starting from scratch. A joystick for selecting the focus point, a better EVF, and a longer lasting battery all sound like wins and pretty much get rid of the only issues I’ve had with the camera.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      That 24-105 sure is a tempting proposition; now that AF seems nippy. Tempted, myself …

  17. Avatar
    Steve McKenzie November 03, 2017

    I’ve happily shot the A7r for 4 years and could quite easily live with it for another 4 years. All the reported issues around functionality, shutter slap, form factor, limited lens selection and the menu system etc. etc. haven’t stopped me from producing beautiful images with that camera. For me, the upgrade to the MKIII is almost a no-brainer (and preorder lodged). Not so sure if I had the MKII.

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      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      That temptation to skip a generation seems to be the fate for most modern equipment. It’s certainly my case with phones and more and more the case with cameras. That being said, some recent photographs seem to hint at better IQ (without pixel shift) and that would definitely be a selling point for me. We’ll soon know.

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    ADog November 03, 2017

    Great article. One thing I would question though is the assertion that upgraders from the A7R2 are the critical target. I think this is Canon thinking, where their upgrade cycle is 4 years, timerd to coincide with people thinking they are due a new cam. I think Sony cams are more like iphones, where new models are released more frequently than most people upgrade – for phones most people (in the UK anyway) are on two year contracts and so tend to skip a generation each time they upgrade. If you maybe double that for Sony cameras, new a model every 2 years, and most people upgrading more likely every 4 or so. So I think the main targets of this cam are more likely upgraders from A7R or even original A7’s, but also of course (and maybe primarily) upgraders/downsizers from DSLR, and other brand mirrorless cams (MFT etc).

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      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      Exactly ! More frequent releases mean more reasons for outsiders to jump on board. Current customers will probably skip a generation as we do with phones.

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    jean pierre (pete) guaron November 04, 2017

    You guys might draw some comfort from this article.

    https://nikonrumors.com/2017/11/03/weekly-nikon-news-flash-443-nikon-d850-edition-d850-vs-a7r-iii.aspx/

    One of the main “advantages” of the D850 over the a7rIII is dynamic range. Or so we were supposed to think. This article shows that there’s more to it – it ain’t that simple, after all.

    Another article I just read in N ikon Rumors suggests they are ceasing production of the D810 this year. That seems a bit dumb, to me. It sells well, and it’s WAY cheaper than the D850. Their factory can’t keep up with demand for the D850. There’s not much difference between the two, really. I’ve just finished printing a thousand photos taken with a D810, and I am mightily impressed with its performance. To be honest, the next step up, for me, would be the Hasselblad – but that’s never going to happen for me, because I can’t afford it – and in the meantime, this debate is making my head hurt. In the tug of war between the D810, the D850 and the a7rIII, the differences are so slight that I really don’t see the point of the discussion. ESPECIALLY when I am told that 99% of all the photos are never going to be printed, and they’ll just live out their lives in digital format – with the pixellation that carries with it, and the totally bewildering range of colours between one screen and another, or one software program and another.

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      pascaljappy November 06, 2017

      It would take an adventurous person to test these 3 cameras head to head, on real subjects and identical conditions to know what situation favours what camera. But ergonomics are a much greater differentiation than IQ here.

      As for printing, it is a lost art. Visit a good gallery and you’ll instantly be reminded how essential printing is to extract the most impact from a photograph. Good prints are simply staggering. I plead guilty here. Digital printing has become such an unpleasant experience that I use pro labs for my prints and think (too) long and (too) hard about what photograph to send. None ever seem good enough? Ugh …

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      philberphoto November 08, 2017

      JP, many of us here have looked at the Hassy X1-D and, so far, no-one has pulled the trigger. Some pictures I have seen suggest that it it delivers better IQ than my Sony in areas that matter to me (colours, texture, differentiation). But it would also mean losing fabulous glass, losing my IBIS, losing my tilt screen. The latter two categories mean losing shots altogether, like church shots, because Hassy glass isn’t fast either. So, for me, so far, the answer is “nay”

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    Brian Nicol November 11, 2017

    I have recently transitioned from a Sony A7R system and a Leica M system to a Leica SL and the following glass: Leica SL 24-90, Leica 18mm, CV 21 1.8, Zeiss 35 1.4, and Zeiss 50 1.5. The Leica SL is a dream to use intuitively compared to any non Leica I have used and the image quality is amazing. I loved using my Sony cameras since the A900 but the Leica SL feels like an extension of my hand and the images are more natural. The best is that I do not have to watch Blogs on Sony anymore as there are a lot fewer announcements- more time to take pictures! At least we have great choices and should be more content with our current cameras if they are less than 5 years old. People should put more interest in glass than updating cameras in my opinion. Cheers Brian

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      Mahesh November 16, 2017

      It is really horses for courses. I have a Sony A7ii and when I hired SL for a weekend, I was lost! I had no clue what to do with this huge black thing in my hand. The image quality was of course good. I seriously want Leica to produce M10 size full frame with an EVF. The I can use all wide angle lenses as well without an issue. – which is a problem with Sony.

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    Patrick JP December 13, 2017

    Pascal, Interesting and well put thoughts… I bought the NEX5, NEX6, A7R and the A7R2 and fully enjoyed using each of these cameras. I am quite happy with the A7R2 although I find that it would benefit from a faster autofocus in some situations. This lead me to wonder about upgrading to the A7R3 and of course any dynamic range, image quality and stabilisation improvement would be a fantastic bonus for low light pictures. I then had a look at the A7R3 at the Salon de la Photo 2017. I found the camera quite more responsive i.e. faster than the A7R2. All looked very promising until I found out that the focus point joystick and touch screen could not be disabled through the menus !?? I shoot through the viewfinder and don’t do video thus I consider both nice to have / non-essential features with potential to displace the focus point by error… The fact that I was told that neither of these things could be disabled derailed my thoughts of upgrading… At times simplicity has its virtues…

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