Why the Sony a7s3 is my favorite camera
Updated: Mar 25
I've shot with many cameras over the years. Each one is better than the last. But when the Sony a7s3 was released, it felt like a "quantum leap" forward in compact camera shooting. For a run-and-gun shooter like myself, I need my setup to be as small and agile as possible. Sure there are "better" cinema cameras out there, but a lot of those would hinder my ability to shoot and also make it more challenging to tell a story. Thus, I prefer the cinema camera capabilities of the a7s3 and its pocket size weight. Here are a few of my thoughts on the a7s3, I hope it helps you with your decisions when picking a camera.
Resolution: So let's start here first. Most photo-centric cameras want a high resolution for their imagery and are often associated with how "good" a camera is. But with video, you kinda want it to match what you're trying to accomplish. The a7s3 has 12mp and that makes it pump out picture-perfect 4K video with no pixel binning and helps with the amount of work the camera has to do to sort through all the pixels on the sensor. This allows for higher frame rates and also larger pixels, which adds to its phenomenal low-light capabilities.
Frame rate: The a7s3 has a maximum frame rate of 4K 120fps and it does so with no compromise. You can shoot at the rate with no dropped frames or any crop. There is the option to shoot at 1080p at 240fps, but this is not a true 240fps and can hinder the camera's ability to shoot quality video.
Low-light performance: The a7s3 is heralded as the "low-light" king and for good reason. I mentioned the large pixels lend a hand in how well a camera operates in low light. Well, this has to be one of the best, if not the best cameras in a low-light scenario on the market. It has a dual gain ISO which allows the camera to shoot at base ISO 100 - then flip over to 12,800 ISO and shoot at a "clean" base ISO and regain all its dynamic range as well (about 13.5 stops of DR at ISO 12,800). This allows me to shoot with a higher F stop if needed, or just use ambient lighting to achieve my shot, with very usable noise. It sets it apart from the pack in that it can shoot so well in these low-light conditions.
Image stabilization: The a7s3 offers two options with its stabilization. One is the standard built-in stabilization that allows you to shoot stabilized footage on a monopod or handheld (to an extent) and your video quality looks fantastic. The next step is "active" stabilization. You can while walking and achieve almost gimbal-like quality. You still have to think about your walking technique to achieve a good final result. You can also only shoot at 60fps in this mode, which is worth noting. Also, the active mode can chew through your battery life a lot faster than regular stabilization.
Battery life: Battery life greatly varies on this camera. Since there are a lot of different frame rates and options for stabilization, it goes without saying that the higher you push this camera, the more it will take a toll on the battery life. 4K 120fps tends to eat the battery the fastest, and also active stabilization mode. These are my favorite features on this camera, so I am continuously changing batteries throughout an event day.
User interface: Although daunting to look at at first glance, this is a much-improved menu system than previous models. I love the layout for each category and the color schemes that correlate to each particular item help the user find what they are looking for with ease and efficiency.
Durability: Since this is an Alpha series "professional" camera from Sony, it has all the dust and water protection needed to take it out on your next excursion. I wouldn't recommend shooting in the pouring rain with this camera, but it can handle a drizzle. If you pair it with a G-Master lens that has proper weather sealing, you shouldn't have any issues shooting in national parks or on long hiking trips.
Thanks for checking out my thoughts on this camera. It is a workhorse for the working professional and very versatile on the type of shoot you are trying to do. When choosing the right camera, you need to take a lot of things into consideration and this has all the workings of a near-perfect camera for what it does. Happy shooting!