FAQ: Sony a7S III

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It's new, feature-rich, and loaded with tons of unheard-of settings...it's the Sony a7S III! We gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about this camera, threw in some of our own thoughts about what might be asked, and then put together this guide to the camera. Keep in mind that the FAQ is always a work in progress, so if you have a question not listed here be sure to let us know. Let's get to it!

IMAGING
VIDEO
CAMERA DESIGN
GENERAL

IMAGING

What resolution and sensor does the a7S III use?
It uses a newly developed 12.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor. It now uses an Exmor R back-illuminated that promises faster readout and improved low-light performance.

Why is the resolution so low?
The use of a lower resolution sensor offers many benefits: large photosites (pixels) deliver dramatically improved low-light performance; lower resolution means less data for faster performance in all modes; and 12MP, specifically, supports 4K video with a 1:1 pixel readout for eliminating artifacts such as moiré.

What does "back-illuminated" mean in terms of sensor design?
In literal terms, it means the wiring is moved below the light-receptive layer, allowing light to directly hit the receptive layer. Practically, this is more efficient for capturing light, so there will be less noise and better image quality.

What is HEIF?
This is a newer compressed image format. It’s similar to JPEG, but can be much smaller and offer better quality due to increased compression efficiency. You may have seen it in use on your latest smartphone. Other benefits of HEIF over standard JPEGs are that they can support 10-bit 4:2:2 color, as opposed to JPEG’s 8-bit limitation. This means more detail, more dynamic range, and more color fidelity. The only problem is that support is not widespread, so be careful and test it on your devices and with your software before you use it.

Older a7S models had spectacular low-light performance. How does the a7S III compare?
Well, the a7S III has the same general sensitivity range, maxing out at ISO 409600. The new sensor design promises better quality at these higher sensitivities, likely of at least a stop improvement.

How is the dynamic range?
For stills, the camera offers about 14 stops of dynamic range. In video, with S-Log2/S-Log3, you actually see this improve to more than 15 stops.

How much faster is the readout and what does that change?
The 2x faster sensor readout and vastly improved 8x processing will result in things like rolling shutter being virtually eliminated and enhanced speed for features and camera operation.

How much has rolling shutter been improved?
Sony has stated that rolling shutter on the a7S III has been improved by 3 times compared to its predecessor.

What is the continuous shooting speed?
Up to 10 fps, and when using a CFexpress Type A card, you can shoot for over 1000 uncompressed raw images in a single sequence.

Is there silent shooting?
Yup, photographers can use an electronic shutter that is completely silent.

What is the ISO range?
Natively, the camera will offer a range of ISO 80-102400. This can be extended to ISO 40-409600.

How is the image stabilization?
The in-body sensor-shift IS system has been improved to 5.5 stops. For video, there is also an Active IS mode that uses more precise data for even smoother footage straight out of camera.

Will lens stabilization work with the in-body stabilization?
Yes, the in-lens stabilizers will communicate with the in-body stabilizers to provide a higher quality stabilization.

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VIDEO

What is the maximum resolution for video?
The a7S III maxes out at UHD 4K internally.

Does it use pixel binning or other methods to create 4K?
The unique 12MP sensor has a full 1:1 pixel readout for 4K recording; so, no binning required.

Can I use the APS-C/Super 35mm crop mode for video?
Yes, but you won't get access to 4K recording. The APS-C/Super 35mm crop mode is limited to Full HD.

Can I use the Clear Image Zoom function in video?
Yes! In 4K you can use Clear Image Zoom to do a 1.5x zoom and in Full HD you can extend to 2x. This could theoretically enable support for smaller format lenses.

Are there DCI resolutions and/or true 24.00 fps modes?
Unfortunately, the a7S III does not offer DCI resolutions or true 24.00 fps frame rates.

What slow motion recording can we use?
In 4K, the a7S III can record at up to 120p, for 5x slow motion on a 24p timeline. And in Full HD you can hit 240 fps in the S&Q mode.

What frame rates are available?
For 4K, the camera has 24p, 30p, 60p, and 120p, and a PAL mode will unlock 25p, 50p, and 100p. 

Is there any crop during recording?
No, the a7S III will not crop in for most 4K modes. However, at 4K 120p there will be a small 1.1x crop.

Is true 24.00 fps available?
Not at this time.

Bit depth? Color sampling?
The a7S III will offer up to 10-bit 4:2:2 recording internally at up to 4K 120p.

Are there recording time limits?
No recording time limits!

Will the camera stop recording at 30 minutes?
No, really, the camera has no recording time limits and will record indefinitely or until the camera gets too hot or runs out of storage space.

Is there support for anamorphic formats?
No, the a7S III does not have built-in anamorphic support. You would need an external monitor for true anamorphic compatibility.

What are the details on raw video?
For raw video, you will have to use the full-size HDMI output. It will send a raw 16-bit 4K signal up to 60p to a compatible external recorder.

What recorders will support the a7S III's raw video output?
At launch, only Atomos has announced upcoming support for the a7S III with their Ninja V.

What is the raw video format?
The 16-bit linear raw signal can be saved by the Atomos recorder as a 12-bit ProRes RAW file. You can find out more about this format in our ProRes RAW Demystified article.

How is rolling shutter?
Rolling shutter is extremely well controlled and at least 3x better than its predecessor.

Is autofocus available in video?
Yes! The a7S III's fantastic 759-point phase-detect AF system will work in video in every single mode.

What new autofocus features are there?
Real-time tracking and Eye AF have been added to the a7S III. Also, the touchscreen permits touch tracking. Additional controls are available in the settings for changing responsiveness and speed.

How much control over the autofocus is there?
There are 7 steps of control for autofocus speed and 5 steps of control for the autofocus responsiveness. This should help create a smooth look for any type of shot.

Are there focus and framing assists?
Yes, Sony has added peaking, zebras, histogram, and gamma display assist functions to help when shooting.

Vertical video?
Yes, videos can be automatically tagged for vertical payback to suit social media output needs.

Is there an articulating screen?
Yes. Sony has finally added a fully articulating touchscreen to the a7 series with the a7S III.

Are there any warnings about overheating?
Sony has implemented a new passive heat management system that seems effective. They have publicly stated that this system will permit recording of over an hour straight at 4K 60p.

What new formats are available?
Sony has developed two new codecs: XAVC HS and XAVC S-I. XAVC HS uses highly efficient HEVC/H.265 encoding to retain more detail at smaller bit rates. XAVC S-I is a brand-new intraframe codec for consistent performance and quality at bit rates up to 600 Mb/s.

When you record slow motion, will sound be recorded?
Yes, for basic recording up to 120p, sound will be recorded. However, in the camera's Slow & Quick motion mode, sound will not be saved.

Will the a7S III support HDR?
Yes, the a7S III has HLG for instant HDR, and its S-Log2/S-Log3 gamma profiles will enable advanced HDR production with editing.

What is the base ISO for S-Log?
The native setting is ISO 640, though Sony permits recording down to ISO 160.

Is there a headphone/microphone jack?
Yes, the camera has both a 3.5mm headphone output and a 3.5mm microphone input.

How are the built-in audio solutions?
The a7S III has a powered 3.5mm microphone input. It also supports the XLR-K3M and can record 24-bit audio, which is improved over 16-bit on previous cameras.

What size is the HDMI port?
There is a full-size HDMI port on the a7S III.

Can I output over HDMI and record internally at the same time?
Yes! You can record over HDMI and record internally at full quality.

Will autofocus work when using HDMI output?
Yes! Full autofocus will work in all HDMI modes.

Can I use the camera’s screen while outputting video over HDMI?
Yes, the built-in screen and HDMI output can be used simultaneously.

Can I output 4K 120p over the HDMI?
It does not seem this is possible at the moment. 4K 60p is the most reliable recording method for external devices. Most recorders cannot support greater than this yet.

Is there proxy recording in-camera?
Yes, proxy recording is available and can be sorted to the second memory card if desired.

Will it support the XLR-K3M XLR Adapter?
Yes, it will support the XLR-K3M via the Multi Interface Shoe. The a7S III also supports higher-quality 4-channel 24-bit audio from this configuration.

How is the battery life?
The a7S III retains the NP-FZ100 battery pack of other recent Sony cameras. There is a 60% improvement in the battery life compared to its predecessor, at about 600 still images and 90 mins of video.

Can I use a battery grip?
Yes, the camera will work with the VG-C4EM Battery Grip.

Can I power it from an external source?
Yes, the camera will support USB Power Delivery via the USB Type-C port. With a sufficient power delivery device, this can keep the camera powered indefinitely, though a battery will need to be in the camera at all times.

Is there a built-in ND filter?
No, there is no built-in ND filter.

Is S-Cinetone available in camera?
No, while the color science has been improved for better matching with Sony’s cinema cameras, this profile is not built-in.

Does the camera offer Dual Native ISO?
No, the camera does not have a dual native ISO architecture, though low-light performance is superb.

Will this camera be Netflix or BBC certified?
Technically, select modes on the a7S III would appear to meet Netflix’s published specs. However, at this moment no official announcement has been made about whether or not the a7S III will be certified.

Can I use a custom LUT?
The camera does not support the use of custom LUTs. This would require an external monitor with that functionality.

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CAMERA DESIGN

What mount does it have?
The a7S III features Sony's E mount.

Can I adapt my lens to the a7S III?
Yes, much like other mirrorless, the Sony E mount will support the use of adapters and third-party lenses. Keep in mind some functionality may be limited.

Is there an articulating screen?
Yes, Sony has used a new fully articulating touchscreen on this model.

Can you use the HDMI and other outputs and tilt the screen?
Sometimes. The 3.5mm mic input is out of the way, but some other ports, such as the USB input, and doors may interfere with the screen’s full range of motion.

What about the viewfinder? Is it new?
The viewfinder is a "world's first" 9.44m-dot QXGA OLED electronic viewfinder, the highest resolution finder in the a7 Series so far. It has a 0.9x magnification and 25mm eyepoint for comfortable viewing, too.

What battery does it use?
It uses the NP-FZ100 battery pack of many other a7 series cameras.

Can I use an external battery?
Yes, the USB-C port supports Power Delivery, meaning a USB battery pack can power the camera for extended times.

Will the shutter close when a lens is removed to protect the sensor?
Currently, the a7S III's shutter remains open when a lens is removed.

Is there a dedicated record button?
Yes, Sony has put a larger record button on the top of the camera, behind the shutter release.

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GENERAL

Can I use the a7S III as a webcam over USB?
Yes, upcoming software from Sony will allow the use of select Sony cameras, including the a7S III, as a webcam using just a USB cable.

What are the new CFexpress Type A memory cards? Do I need them?
CFexpress Type A is a brand-new media format. It's about the size of SD, but offers much faster speeds. It is recommended for the faster frame rates and higher bit rate video, as well as extended burst shooting at 10 fps for stills. Generally speaking, you will likely be fine with fast V90 SD cards instead if that is what you have right now.

What speed cards do I need to use certain modes?
For general recording in 4K up to 120p, you will have to use at a minimum V60-rated SD cards. Slow motion with the XAVC S-I 4K setting at 60p will demand a V90 SD card, while S&Q 120p XAVC S-I 4K will require a CFexpress Type A.

Has the menu system been changed?
Yes, Sony implemented a new menu structure that supports the touchscreen and should be easier to navigate.

Can I have different settings for stills and movies?
Yes, Sony has made it so many functions and settings can have different defaults depending on whether you are in stills or movie mode.

Can I save my custom settings to a memory card for use on other cameras?
Yes, you can export custom settings and then load them onto another camera. You can also save settings to load for specific situations.

Is there a built-in GPS?
No, but location data can be tagged by connecting to Sony's Imaging Edge mobile app on a smartphone.

How is the weather sealing?
This is a very well sealed mirrorless camera, equivalent to the a9 II, and can comfortably operate in less-than-ideal conditions. 

Where is the camera made?
The country of origin at launch is Thailand.

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If you have a question not listed here or just need some extra help, please make sure to leave it in the Comments section, below. You can also reach out to our knowledgeable sales staff with more specific inquiries and to help find your next camera.

33 Comments

I just received my a7S III.

I'm very disappointed that none of my Sony Tough SF-M UHS-II V60 cards work. The camera says "Unable to use memory card." Both the 128gb and 256gb.

Does anyone know why and if there will be a firmware that will accept them later on? 

I found the answer.

All my SF-M cards were on recall. I chatted with Sony Support and they will be exchanging them for the updated version.

The updated versions should have a star on the back of the cards.

I also asked if this is why the a7S III didn't accept this card and they confirmed that is the very reason why. So I'm happy I don't have to sell these. 

You can NOT say that this camera has got 15 stops dynamic range ! The tests, on a IMATEST showed max. 13 ! and the SONY fx9 clocked in at 11.5 :)))

Hello,

From my understand IMATEST tests performed by some reviewers focus on usable dynamic range and account for noise, while manufacturer ranges discuss maximum measured potential of the sensor in lab conditions. It would obviously be perfect if we could do our own independent testing of every single camera that we offer, but this is not possible, so we have to trust manufacturer-given specs. Also, as every manufacturer tends to use the same (perhaps overly optimistic) ratings, it does make it possible to compare things on a relative scale.

For example, if Sony says camera A can hit 14 stops of dynamic range and camera B offers 15, you can surmise that camera B will have more dynamic range. Whether that means they are both actually 12 and 13 stops in usable DR is another story, but as a comparison point it is helpful.

Can I use the USB-C port to transfer media from the camera to my computer?

Yup! It is the recommend connection if you opt for a direct connection to your computer.

Why do they say that the A7SIII's 12MP sensor does a 1:1 full pixel readout without any pixel binning?  There must be some downscaling being calculated OR they are pixel binning OR they are not doing a full sensor readout.
So I did the math on the MAX resolution you can get out of that sensor at 16:9 ratio.
At 16:9 aspect ratio you could get up to 4264 x 2408 from that sensor.  Go to Sony's website to the product page for the A7SIII, go to full specs, scroll down to the RAW section and that is also stated by Sony as the max 16:9 ratio output.
So 4264 x 2408 is 10,267,712 pixels, yet we only get 3840x2160 or 8,294,400 pixels.
That's 1,973,312 missing pixels or pixel binning of 19.22%
And since they claim they are doing a full sensor readout with no pixel binning... I have to believe that they aren't pixel binning, so that means they are likely down sampling to 3840x2160 (16:9) from the 4264x2408 (16x9) max from the A7SIII's 12MP (3:2) sensor.

They are certainly doing full pixel readout and downsampling in some modes. The key part is that even in modes such as 4K 120 where there is a slight 1.1x crop it still has full UHD 4K resolution.

The 1:1 readout likely is Sony’s way of emphasizing that they are reading every pixel for an accurate downsample as opposed to doing any binning or skipping.

Does the A7Siii have an ECS (extended clear scan - FS7) / (synchro scan - S1H) shutter mode? Thanks.

It does not appear to have those options available.

Thank you Shawn.

The lack of anamorphic options is extremely frustrating and a potential dealbreaker for me. The sensor resolution is 4240 x 2832, but raw recording maxes out at 4240 x 2408 at 59.94 fps? Why not full vertical readout? If the camera can pull of this resolution at 59.94, and if it can pull of true 4k at 120fps, then getting an open gate mode in raw externally with a limit of 24 or 30fps is clearly within this camera's capabilities. The only reason this mode would not be in it, is because Sony just didn't think of it? Or they're purposely restricting it? Or are they holding it off for a firmware update?
The extra vertical resolution is crucial if I actually want to make true 4k anamorphic videos. The camera obviously has the capability with external recording, but for some reason the mode just isn't there? Doesn't make sense. I'm assuming Sony just forgot.

or maybe it's not up to Sony for this option. Maybe Atomos has to develop it? Idk, but it's clearly possible so giving us a camera with this obvious potential capability just to have it not be programmed in, is a serious shame.

The raw output requires collaboration between Sony and Atomos to pull off. Sony has to enable it on the cameras and then Atomos has to develop a system that can read and translate the data. It does seem like this is technically possible, so the current options could be simply that Sony felt that a 16:9 option was all most people would need. Or it is that they/Atomos could not get an open gate function working by launch and have additional plans for later, but that is a pure guess. We will have to wait and see, but the current 16:9 ratio should work very well.

Is clear image zoom available when Record Setting is set to [120p]/[240]?

Now that is a good question. I believe you should have no problems with Clear Image Zoom in the normal recording modes. However, I am not sure if it will function properly in the Slow & Quick mode (required for Full HD 240 fps and specifically the XAVC S-I at 4K 120p).

Thanks Shawn, Clear Image Zoom would be great in 4k120p🤞

Please tell us about Full HD at 50-60 fps and 100-120 fps, with what bit rate it shoots?
As far as I understand

50 fps
8 bit    4: 2: 0 at 50 Mbps
10 Bit 4: 2: 2 in 50 and 185 Mbps All-I

100 fps with sound only
8 bit 4: 2: 0 at 100 Mbps

And 100-240 fps S&Q mode without sound
10 Bit 4: 2: 2 at 222 Mbps

We don't have  Full HD
50 fps    10 Bit 4: 2: 2 100 Mbps  and 
100 fps  10 Bit 4: 2: 2 200 Mbps  with sound, Is it right?

That would be correct based on information I checked.

It has a full 1:1 pixel readout for 4K recording (without crop) at 60p and below , yet 4k120p has a 1.1 crop. This doesn't quite add up for me. 

In past Alpha cameras some higher frame rates would have slight clops.  It is not surprising that 4K120p would have a 1.1 crop, which is a very small crop.

It’s a good question. It appears that there is some very slight downsampling at the lower frame rates, still full pixel readout. And then when in 120p it drops down to the true 1:1 readout, so you still get the full resolution.

With the color science updated to match Sony's cinema lineup, what would be a good mirrorless Sony b-cam to match with this? If I get the A7Siii, will a A7Riv, A7iii, A6600 or another camera match the color profile closely?

The Sony A7 III would be a good B-camera option to go along with the A7S III. Going with the A7R IV would only be for those looking for higher resolution with stills, while the A6600 would be for those wanting the APS_C format. 

Soft 1080 used to be an issue with previous models. Are the FullHD modes also using full sensor information for downsampling without line skipping or pixel binning like the 4K modes are? What about APS-C mode?

Full HD will be using full readout and downsampling. The APS-C mode is only available in Full HD and will do the same, though with a much smaller area of the sensor.

The specifications list live streaming.  Will the Sony QoS Network Client Mode streaming system be available in this camera, as it is in most of the professional XDCAM line?

The streaming functionality here will be provided via an upcoming software for Sony mirrorless and stills cameras. It is unlikely to offer the same support as the professional XDCAM line.

Will touch autofocus tracking be supported via the Imaging Edge mobile app?

I believe the answer is yes. But we have actually reached out and will be sure to update if we get more information.

Yes it will! Sony just updated the Imaging Edge Mobile app to add this feature alongside support for the a7S III.

I would expect that under the FAQ section, somewhere I would find where the camera is made.  Why is it that on most products, cameras, lenses and other accessories, it does not say where the item is made?  I want to know where the item I'm interested in is made.

Please include that information in the item description.

The country of origin as of now is Thailand. Keep in mind that this can change over the course of the lifetime of a product. It will be added to the FAQ above.

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