Sony A7 III vs A7S III
The Sony Alpha A7 III and the Sony Alpha 7S III are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2018 and July 2020. Both the A7 III and the A7S III are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The A7 III has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the A7S III provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha A7 III and the Sony Alpha 7S III? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7 III and the Sony A7S III. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7S III is somewhat larger (1 percent) than the Sony A7 III. Moreover, the A7S III is markedly heavier (8 percent) than the A7 III. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Sony FE Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.
The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|2.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Nikon Z6||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|5.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799|
|6.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|8.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|9.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|10.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|11.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|12.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|13.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The A7 III was launched at a markedly lower price (by 43 percent) than the A7S III, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, the A7S III uses a more advanced image processing engine (BIONZ XR) than the A7 III (BIONZ X), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the A7 III offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the A7S III. This megapixels advantage translates into a 42 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the A7 III has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 8.40μm for the A7S III). Moreover, it should be noted that the A7S III is much more recent (by 2 years and 4 months) than the A7 III, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7 III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7 III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A7S III are 21.2 x 14.2 inches or 53.8 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.1 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.1 x 9.4 inches or 35.9 x 24 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A7 III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Sony Alpha A7 III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha 7S III are ISO 80 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 40-409600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the A7 III has a notably higher overall DXO score than the A7S III (overall score 10 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|2.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|4.||Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|5.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|6.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|8.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|9.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|10.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|11.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|12.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|13.||Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A7S III provides a faster frame rate than the A7 III. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/120p, while the A7 III is limited to 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A7S III offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A7 III (9440k vs 2359k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A7 III and Sony A7S III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|2.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|6.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|8.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|10.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Sony A7 III has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The A7 III writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the A7S III uses CFexpress or SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. However, while the A7S III supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s) on both slots, the A7 III supports UHS-II only on its first slot and UHS-I (data transfer speed up to 104 MB/s) on the second one.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Sony Alpha A7 III and Sony Alpha 7S III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|2.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|10.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Both the A7 III and the A7S III are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The A7 III replaced the earlier Sony A7 II, while the A7S III followed on from the Sony A7S II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A7 III or the Sony A7S III – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7 III:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 12MP) with a 41% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (43 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2018).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha 7S III:
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (BIONZ XR vs BIONZ X).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/120p versus 4K/30p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (9440k vs 2359k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.91x vs 0.78x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 3.1).
- More solid recording: Has a full-sized HDMI port for a sturdy connection to an external recorder.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 4 months of technical progress since the A7 III launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (10 points each). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony A7 III and the Sony A7S III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A7 III or the A7S III perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|2.||Sony A7S III||..||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Nikon Z6||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|5.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799|
|6.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|7.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|8.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|9.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|10.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|11.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|12.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|13.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Sony A7 III vs Sony A7S III
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Sony A7 III||Sony A7S III|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2018||July 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 1,999||USD 3,499|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A7 III||Sony A7S III|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.6 x 23.8 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||847.28 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||42.8 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4240 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm||8.40 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.83 MP/cm2||1.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/120p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||80 - 102,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 204,800 ISO||40 - 409,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ XR|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||96||86|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.0||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.7||13.9|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3730||2520|
|Screen Specs||Sony A7 III||Sony A7S III|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots||9440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A7 III||Sony A7S III|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||CFexpress or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||Single UHS-II||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A7 III||Sony A7S III|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 3.2|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||full HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Sony A7 III||Sony A7S III|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||610 shots per charge||600 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
127 x 96 x 74 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
127 x 97 x 81 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||650 g (22.9 oz)||699 g (24.7 oz)|
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