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Sony A7 III vs Sony A7 IV

Now that Sony has announced the A7 IV, a lot of photographers are wondering what it brings to the table compared to the previous generation A7 III. Sony is still selling the A7 III new ($2000, compared to $2500 for the IV), which adds to the confusion.

In this article, I’ll compare the specifications of the Sony A7 III and A7 IV in detail and explain which one I recommend to photographers today. Certainly the A7 IV is the more advanced camera, but do its new features justify the price?

Let’s start by taking a look at the design of the two cameras. Sony largely kept the construction the same but did make a few nice design changes on the A7 IV.

Construction

Let’s start with the front of the camera. The Sony A7 III is on the left, and the Sony A7 IV is on the right:

Sony A7 III vs Sony A7 IV

Other than the nameplate (“7III” versus just “7”), there aren’t many obvious differences. The angle of the front dial is a bit different and arguably more ergonomic on the A7 IV, but the two are largely the same at the front.

Here’s the back view, again with the A7 III on the left and the A7 IV on the right:

Sony A7 III vs Sony A7 IV Back View

This time, there are a couple minor differences. The movie record button on the A7 III has been replaced with a custom C1 button on the A7 IV. We can also get a glimpse of the top panel, where the PASM dial on the A7 IV has a secondary dial beneath it, which controls your shooting mode (such as stills versus video). You’ll also notice that the rear LCD screen on the A7 IV has the necessary lever on the left to allow the screen to articulate fully.

Now let’s look at the top panel, still with the A7 III on the left and the A7 IV on the right:

Sony A7 III vs Sony A7 IV Top View

Sony has simplified the PASM dial, removing the Scene and Movie modes and adding a third custom setting along the way. The new movie record button is up top where C1 used to be, and the exposure compensation dial now has a locking button in the center. Overall, the A7 IV’s design changes are small but welcome refinements.

Also, what isn’t immediately visible here is that the A7 IV has some additional programability compared to the A7 III. For example, you can now customize the function of the exposure compensation dial. And in manual mode, you can select which of the dials changes what setting, rather than the dials being pre-assigned.

I doubt that any of these changes are enough to make you switch to the A7 IV on their own, but it’s still nice to see Sony improving their layout over time. It should make for a somewhat smoother camera in day-to-day use without being so different as to give long-time Sony users a steep learning curve.

Now let’s take a look at the biggest things that Sony changed in the specifications from the A7 III to the A7 IV.

Specifications Comparison

Camera FeatureSony A7 IIISony A7 IV
Sensor Resolution24.2 million32.7 million
Sensor TypeBSI CMOSBSI CMOS
Sensor Size35.6 × 23.8 mm35.6 × 23.8 mm
Low-Pass FilterYesNo
Image Size6000 × 40007008 × 4672
Image ProcessorBIONZ XBIONZ XR
ViewfinderElectronic / EVFElectronic / EVF
Viewfinder Type / ResolutionXGA OLED / 2,359,296 dotsQuad-VGA OLED / 3,686,400 dots
Viewfinder Coverage100%100%
Viewfinder Magnification0.78×0.78×
Built-in FlashNoNo
Flash Sync Speed1/2501/250
Storage MediaTwo SD (one UHS-II, one USH-I)One SD (UHS-II), one CF Express Type A / SD (UHS-II)
Lossless Compressed RawNoYes
Continuous Shooting Speed10 FPS (uncompressed or compressed raw)10 FPS (lossy compressed raw); 6 FPS (uncompressed or lossless compressed raw)
Buffer at Highest FPS30 frames (raw + JPEG); 34 frames (uncompressed raw); 89 frames (compressed raw)828 frames (raw + JPEG); unlimited at all other settings
Shutter Speed Range1/8000 to 30 sec, Bulb1/8000 to 30 sec, Bulb
Electronic Front-Curtain ShutterYesYes
Shutter Closes When Changing LensesNoYes
In-Body Image StabilizationYes, 5 stopsYes, 5.5 stops
Exposure Metering Sensor1200 Zone1200 Zone
Meter Detection Range (f/2 Lens Attached)-3 EV to 20 EV-3 EV to 20 EV
Focusing Range (f/2, ISO 100 Standardized)-3 EV to 20 EV-4 EV to 20 EV
Base ISOISO 100ISO 100
Native ISO SensitivityISO 100-51,200ISO 100-51,200
Boosted ISO SensitivityISO 50-204,800ISO 50-204,800
Autofocus SystemHybrid AF (phase-detection AF / contrast-dection AF)Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF / contrast-dection AF)
Focus Points693 points (phase-detection AF); 425 points (contrast-detection AF)759 points (phase-detection AF); 425 points (contrast-detection AF)
Max Video Quality4:2:0 sampling and 8-bit (internal); 4:2:2 sampling and 8-bit (over HDMI)4:2:2 sampling and 10-bit (both internal and over HDMI)
Video Maximum Resolution3840 × 2160 (4K) up to 30p; 1920 × 1080 up to 120p3840 × 2160 (4K) up to 30p at full-frame at 60p at aps-c crop; 1920 × 1080 up to 120p
Articulating LCDYes, tiltingYes, fully articulating
LCD Size3.0″ diagonal LCD3.0″ diagonal LCD
TouchscreenYesYes
LCD Resolution921,600 dots1,036,800 dots
Built-in GPSNoNo
Wi-Fi FunctionalityYesYes
Sony’s New MenuNoYes
BatteryNP-FZ100 Rechargeable BatteryNP-FZ100 Rechargeable Battery
Battery Life610 shots (viewfinder); 710 shots (rear LCD)520 shots (viewfinder); 580 shots (rear LCD)
Weather Sealed BodyYes, dust and moisture resistantYes, dust and moisture resistant
USB Version3.03.2
Weight (with Battery and Memory Card)650 g (1.43 pounds)658 g (1.45 pounds)
Dimensions (Includes Protruding Eyepiece)127 × 96 × 74 mm (5.0 × 3.8 × 2.9″)131 × 96 × 80 (5.2 × 3.8 × 3.1″)
Price at Introduction$2000 (check current price)$2500 (check current price)

The new A7 IV is certainly a more advanced camera than the prior A7 III. Few of the differences are dramatic on their own, but they’re numerous and spread out across enough areas that almost any type of photographer will find something they like better. Some of the highlights are the higher resolution sensor, the fully articulating rear LCD, the improved menu system, the newer autofocus system, and the bigger buffer.

By comparison, the A7 III is only ahead in a few minor areas. It has more FPS when shooting uncompressed raw, a marginally longer battery life, and an almost imperceptibly smaller form factor. Otherwise, the only big reason to get the A7 III – and the reason why Sony is still selling it new and seems to have no plans to discontinue it – is the price.

The difference between the two cameras is $500 if you buy them new. That’s substantial in its own right, not to mention that the A7 III has been around long enough that it sells used and refurbished for fairly low prices. Used copies routinely go for under $1500, and I’ve seen them as low as $1200 in good condition.

Recommendations and Conclusion

So, which of these two cameras should you get? Despite the sudden 180 from some YouTubers about the apparently diminished quality of the older A7 III, both are very capable machines in the right hands. You really can’t go wrong with either. (Of course, this impression is pending our full-length review and lab tests of the A7 IV at Photography Life.)

That means it’s down to the usual conundrum: price versus features.

If the difference in price where you live is $500, and you’re not going to buy either camera used or refurbished, I recommend the A7 IV. The changes Sony made are substantial enough to justify the price increase almost regardless of what genre of photography you shoot. Landscape photographers will appreciate the higher resolution sensor. Sports and wildlife photographers will appreciate the bigger buffer and newer focusing system (which inherits some DNA from that of the Sony A1). Videographers will appreciate the fully articulating LCD and the ability to record 4K 60p (albeit at a 1.5× crop). And I think almost everyone will appreciate the newer menu layout and the lossless compressed raw file options, which fix two of the biggest complaints we’ve had with Sony mirrorless cameras in the past.

However, if the difference in price is higher – for example, if you’re buying used – my recommendation reverses. The A7 III is easy to find more than $1000 cheaper than the A7 IV on the used market, and at that point, it’s generally the better deal. Photographers on a tight budget will find their money is better spent on a used A7 III and a top-notch lens rather than the A7 IV with low-quality glass.

So, that’s my recommendation. Either buy the A7 III used for under $1500 if you’re on a budget, or the A7 IV new for $2500 if you have more cash to spend. The one thing I recommend against these days is buying the A7 III new, since the current price of $2000 is a bit high in my opinion. (That’s actually the same price as it was at launch.)

Finally, if you already have the A7 III, my recommendation is to stick with it. It’s expensive and usually unnecessary to upgrade every time a new generation of camera is released. Wait a few more years, or make a bigger jump to something like the A7r IV, A9 II, or A1 if you can’t shake the upgrade bug.

The good news if you’re stuck deciding between the A7 III and A7 IV is that there’s no bad answer. You should be able to take amazing photos with either camera no matter what genre you shoot – and that’s the story of almost any camera today, frankly. It’s a good time to be a photographer.

30. Sunrise in the Plitvice Lakes
Copyright © Dvir Barkay
Sony A7 III + Sony FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G OSS @ 107mm, ISO 100, 1.3 seconds, f/14.0

You can purchase the A7 III or A7 IV from B&H below (affiliate):

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Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what’s the difference, and what’s new?

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new?

October 21, 2021

Sony has just announced the Alpha 7 IV – the follow-up to its hugely popular, and successful Alpha 7 III from 2018. You can read our detailed first impressions review of the Alpha 7 IV here, but in this article, we’re looking at what design changes and new features the A7 IV offers over its predecessor. We’re not going to do a line-by-line specification comparison, but instead concentrate mainly on body design and hardware changes and how they affect the camera’s usability.

Sony A7 IV vs Sony A7 III: new sensor and processor

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 1

The A7 IV (left) is built around a new 33MP sensor, in contrast to the A7 III’s 24MP unit.

Sony has paired the A7 IV’s new 33MP sensor with the Bionz XR processor – a newer version of the A7 III’s Bionz X chip. It outputs images measuring 7008 x 4672 pixels, in contrast to the 6000 x 4000 files from the A7 III.

Both cameras provide the same sensitivity range of ISO 100-51,200 as standard, extendable to ISO 50-204,800. The only difference is that on the A7 IV, you can now use this top ISO setting for video as well as stills.

Both cameras can shoot at 10 frames per second, but the A7 IV can keep going much longer before slowing down, although only if you use a CFexpress Type A card.

Both cameras record 4K video at 30fps from the full sensor width. But the A7 IV gains a plethora of more advanced video features, along with the ability to record 4K 60p in Super-35 / APS-C crop mode.

Sony A7 IV vs Sony A7 III: revised control layout

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 2

The A7 IV (below) gains a new stills/video mode switch and a top-plate record button, while the exposure compensation dial is unmarked

There are some notable changes on the A7 IV when it comes to control layout. You now select between stills, video and fast/slow motion shooting using a separate switch that’s stacked beneath the mode dial, with the latter two options disappearing from the mode dial as a result. In exchange, there’s an extra custom setup position, marked 3.

The video record button has also moved to the top plate, with the C1 custom button swapping into its old position beside the viewfinder. These buttons are customisable, though, so you can switch them back again if you like.

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 3

Here’s a close-up of those top-plate controls; A7 IV left and A7 III right

The dial on the camera’s shoulder that was dedicated to exposure compensation is now unmarked and freely rotating, with a toggle lock switch in its centre. It still controls the same function by default, but you can now reconfigure the camera’s four control dials to work as you see fit.

The dial alongside that was previously embedded into the camera’s back is now more accessible on the top. But I found that it’s also more easily confused with the exposure compensation dial, when shooting with the camera up to your eye.

Sony A7 IV vs Sony A7 III: rear controls

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 4

While the rear layout is similar, key controls on the A7 IV (right) are larger and easier to use

While the rear layout of both cameras is basically the same, both the AF-ON button and focus-area joystick are larger and easier to use on the A7 IV. You can also see how the C1 button is now beside the viewfinder.

This view also shows more clearly the A7 IV’s stills/video selector switch beneath the mode dial. It has a button on its front that has to be pushed inwards to change the operational mode.

What’s not visible here, but equally important, is that the A7 IV’s rear screen offers significantly expanded touch functionality over the A7 III, while also being noticeably more responsive. You can now use it to navigate the Fn menu and the main menu, and change settings in both. On the A7 III, it could only be used to set the focus point when shooting with the rear screen, and zoom into images in playback mode and then scroll around them.

Sony A7 IV vs Sony A7 III: screen and menus

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 5

Sony has fitted the A7 IV with a fully articulated screen, and used its updated, improved menu layout

On the subject of screens, there’s a really a significant difference in terms of articulation.

The A7 III’s dual hinged design can tilt up and downwards with the camera in landscape format, with a design that’s quick and easy to use. But the moment you rotate the camera 90° to shoot in the portrait orientation, that tilt-only design becomes essentially useless.

On the A7 IV, the side-hinged design gives far more freedom, facilitating low or high-angle shooting in both landscape and portrait formats. The screen can also face forwards for selfies and vlogging.

The main disadvantage is that the A7 IV’s screen can be slower to reposition. Some users also find that its position to the side of the lens axis makes for unintuitive compositional adjustment.

Sony A7 IV vs Sony A7 III: viewfinder

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 6

Sony has upped the viewfinder resolution from 2.36m-dots to 3.68m-dots on the A7 IV.

Both cameras have a similar-sized viewfinder. But the A7 IV’s employs a higher resolution panel, at 3.68m dots. Combined with an improved live view feed, this makes it visibly that bit sharper and clearer than the A7 III’s.

Above the viewfinder, the A7 IV’s hot shoe now includes digital audio interface for wireless connection of a compatible microphone, such as the £339 Sony ECM-B1M.

Here you also get a glimpse of the A7 IV’s much-improved ports covers – more on them later.

Sony A7 IV vs Sony A7 III: handgrip

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 7

The A7 IV gains a considerably taller, deeper grip compared to its predecessor

While the A7 III’s handgrip was a big advance over the older A7 II, it’s still a bit too small for many users, and doesn’t have quite enough depth to wrap your little finger around it.

On the A7 IV, the grip is much bigger, being both taller and deeper. This makes it much more comfortable to hold, and more secure when shooting with large telephoto lenses.

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 8

Despite the larger grips, the body dimensions and weight are only slightly increased

Here you can see how the grip manages to be taller without significantly increasing the overall body dimensions.

The memory card door has a different, more secure design too; instead of springing open when you push down the switch, you have to push down the latch and then slide the door backwards.

Sony A7 IV vs Sony A7 III: Storage and CFexpress

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 9

Both cameras have dual SD card slots, but on the A7 IV, one will also take CFexpress Type A

While both cameras have two SD card slots under a door on the side of the handgrip, the upper one on the A7 IV will also accept the faster, but much more expensive, CFexpress Type A cards.

This is also now designated slot 1, which is more logical than on the A7 III, where slot 1 was the lower of the two. This might seem academic, but could make a difference when you’re formatting a new card in a hurry.

As with other Sony cameras, straight out of the box the A7 IV will essentially ignore the fact that it has a second card slot. You have to decide how to use it and then set this up in the menus.

Sony A7 IV vs Sony A7 III: connector ports

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 10

Sony has arranged the ports more logically and placed them behind more substantial covers

Significant improvements here, with the A7 IV’s chunky, hinged ports inspiring much more confidence in the camera’s weather-roofing compared to the A7 III’s floppy covers that are only attached at one corner.

Sony has placed the A7 IV’s microphone input high on the shoulder, where it won’t interfere with the screen’s articulation. Plugging in headphones will however restrict the screen’s movement, which isn’t helped by the fact that the port has a larger cover than necessary.

Serious videographers will also appreciate the full-size HDMI connector, which should be much less prone to having the cable knocked out.

The A7 IV’s USB-C connector offers faster transfer speeds, as it supports the USB3.2 standard. The camera also retains the Micro-USB multi-connector, into which you can plug a wired remote release.

Sony A7 IV vs Sony A7 III: summary

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 11

Sony’s A7 IV (right) gains plenty of updates and improvements over the A7 III

It’s no great surprise that, three and half years after the A7 III’s launch, its successor is a significantly improved camera that boasts a higher specification in almost every department. It also has an array of control updates, most of which make perfect sense and improve the shooting experience, although not radically. Some existing users may be perturbed by the loss of the marked exposure compensation dial, but when shooting with the camera up to your eye, it makes very little difference to the overall experience.

There’s plenty here for both photographers and videographers to consider upgrading from the A7 III. For users of older-generation Alpha 7 models such as the A7 II, Sony’s new camera is a huge step forwards in both capability and usability. If you have the funds, it’s a very worthwhile upgrade.

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what's the difference, and what's new? 12

Sony Alpha 7 III (left) and Alpha 7 IV (right)

Compared to the competition at a similar price point, it’s a close call. Canon’s EOS R6 offers rather lower resolution, at 20MP, but is an incredibly accomplished camera that also works well with legacy Canon EF-mount DSLR lenses, as long as you can find an adapter available to buy. Nikon’s 24MP Z 6II is more affordable, at £1900 body-only, and likewise, works well with many Nikon F-mount DSLR lenses. However, there’s a much wider range of native mirrorless lenses available in E-mount than either Canon RF or Nikon Z. Overall, we’ll reserve judgement on whether the Sony A7 IV is the new class-leader until we’ve conducted our full, in-depth review.

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Sony Xperia 5 III Smartphone Review

Sony Xperia 5 III Smartphone Review

P1010020 | 1/125 sec | f/3.5 | 17.0 mm | ISO 200
 

 

Quick Verdict

The Sony Xperia 5 III smartphone shares some of the excellent features found on the more expensive Sony Xperia 1 III but in a smaller, easier to hold body that’s also got a better price tag. The camera is great, taking true-to-life photos and if you have the patience to learn how to use the Pro Mode then you’ll capture even better shots. If you can get on with the unusual dimensions and want a smartphone with premium tech that’s not priced at over £1000, the Xperia 5 III could be for you. 

+ Pros

  • Good screen 
  • Good image quality 
  • A useful line-up of cameras 
  • Compact shape
  • Excellent battery life 

– Cons

  • Still quite expensive
  • No wireless charging
  • The design won’t be for everyone

 

 

The Sony Xperia 5 III updates the Sony Xperia 5 II and as its predecessor did with the Sony Xperia 1 II, The Sony Xperia 5 III shares quite a few of the specs found on the Sony Xperia 1 III but as a price point more of us can afford.  

It’s priced at around £899 which is still quite expensive and £100 more than the Sony Xperia 5 II was priced at launch so we’re going to be taking a close look at this new smartphone to find out if the price equates to good value for money or if your cash will be better spent elsewhere. 

 

Sony Xperia 5 III Features

P1010011 | 1/125 sec | f/4.0 | 14.0 mm | ISO 200
 

The Sony Xperia 5 III features the same cameras as the Xperia 1 III but there’s no time-of-flight sensor for judging depth and it has a 6.1-inch screen as well as a 3.5mm audio jack. A new 30W charger is included in the box of the Xperia 5 III, too. 

As for the cameras, you get a 16mm ultra-wide, 24mm wide and a 70-105mm telephoto lens (all 12MP) with 20fps continuous shooting on offer as well as Sony’s Dual PDAF technology. There’s a 6.1-inch, tall and long 21:9 ratio screen (a USP of Sony smartphones), a 3.5mm stereo jack and a 4500mAh battery (improved over the Xperia 5 II). You also get 4K video, a Pro video mode, two memory options that are expandable with a MicroSD, water/dust resistance and an 8MP 24mm selfie camera. 

If it’s all sounding a bit familiar, that’s because quite a few of the specs are shared with the Xperia 5 II:

 

SpecsSony Xperia 5 IIISony Xperia 5 II
Rear Camera12 MP, f/1.7, 24mm (wide) with Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, 12 MP, f/2.3, 70mm – 105mm f/2.8 (telephoto) with Dual Pixel PDAF, 3x/4,4x optical zoom, OIS, 12 MP, f/2.2, 16mm (ultrawide) with Dual Pixel PDAF12 MP, f/1.7, 24mm (wide) with Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, 12 MP, f/2.4, 70mm (telephoto) with PDAF, 3x optical zoom, OIS, 12 MP, f/2.2, 16mm (ultrawide) with Dual Pixel PDAF
Front Camera8MP f/2.0 24mm Wide Angle Lens8MP f/2.0 24mm Wide Angle Lens
Display6.1″ OLED display6.1″ OLED display 
Video4K, FullHD (5-axis gyro-EIS, OIS)4K, FullHD (5-axis gyro-EIS, OIS)
USBUSB-CUSB-C
Battery4500mAh (no wireless charging)4000mAh (no wireless charging)
Weight168g163g
Dimensions157 x 68 x 8.2mm158 x 68 x 8mm
Memory128GB/8GB RAM or 256GB/8GB RAM (microSDXC slot for expanded storage)128GB/8GB RAM or 256GB/8GB RAM (microSDXC slot for expanded storage)

 

Sony Xperia 5 III Key Features:

  • Triple Rear Camera: 12 MP, f/1.7, 24mm (wide) with Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS, 12 MP, f/2.3, 70mm – 105mm f/2.8 (telephoto) with Dual Pixel PDAF, 3x/4,4x optical zoom, OIS, 12 MP, f/2.2, 16mm (ultrawide) with Dual Pixel PDAF
  • Front Camera: 8MP f/2.0 24mm Wide Angle Lens
  • Display: 6.1″ OLED display
  • Zoom: 3X-.4X optical zoom (telephoto lens)
  • Optical Image Stabilisation
  • Phase-Detection Autofocus
  • Pro video and camera modes 
  • Video: 4K 24/25/30/60/120fps and HDR,1080p (5-axis gyro-EIS, OIS)
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Type-C USB
  • 4500mAh battery with fast charging but no wireless charging
  • 128GB/8GB RAM or 256GB/8GB RAM (microSDXC slot for expanded storage)
  • Dimensions: 157 x 68 x 8.2mm
  • Weight: 168g

 

Sony Xperia 5 III Handling

P1010022 | 1/160 sec | f/4.0 | 17.0 mm | ISO 200
 

As mentioned, if you’ve read our review of the Sony Xperia 5 II or have held it in your own hands, you may be experiencing some deja vu as they are very similar in looks and specs. In fact, the Sony USP of a 21:9 aspect ratio display has been around for some time now which means you get a narrow smartphone with a big screen but the dimensions still won’t suit everyone. It does fit well in the hand, though, and you can easily control the smartphone one-handed. It’s also easier to hold and use than the Xperia 1 III it it shares specs with. 

The rounded edges/corners remain which makes the smartphone comfortable to hold and there’s still a chin as well as a slight bezel where the selfie camera sits at the top but along the sides, it’s pretty thin. 

On the right side of the smartphone, there are volume controls, a Google Assistant button and a shutter button for when you’re taking photos in a landscape orientation. There’s also a fingerprint sensor sandwiched in between these buttons as there’s not one built into the screen.

Turn your attention to the bottom of the Xperia 5 III and you find a USB-C port and on top is a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can charge your smartphone and use your headphones at the same time. 

On the back sits the triple camera housing which sits pretty flush to surfaces so there’s no rocking when it’s placed down but the back is a magnet for fingerprints (it doesn’t have the lovely matt finish the Xperia 1 III has) and its slipperiness means it has a habit of sliding so we recommend popping a case on it for added protection. 

 

P1010014 | 1/100 sec | f/3.2 | 26.0 mm | ISO 200
 

As for the display, it’s covered in Gorilla Glass 6 so it’ll be slightly more prone to scratches/cracks than the Xperia 1 III which has Gorilla Glass Victus but brightness levels are good and colours are accurate. There’s also a 120Hz refresh rate available for selection in the settings which will improve your viewing experience. For those creating visual content, there’s a Creator mode that will provide even better colour reproduction. 

It’s good to see an official IP rating which means the smartphone will survive a dunking up to 1.5m for 30 minutes and the 4,500mAh battery is impressive, providing plenty of power for a day’s use and improving on the 4000mAh battery found in the Xperia 5 II but it’s a shame wireless charging is still missing from a device at this price level. 

The camera set-up is similar to that on the Xperia 1 III with just the time-of-flight sensor which is used for judging depth missing but this didn’t cause any problems. However, as we’ve come to expect from Sony, you get some nice camera features built-in including Phase Detection Auto Focus, Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), ZEISS optics and eye-tracking. 

Sony Xperia 5 III Camera Features:

  • 12 MP, f/1.7, 24mm (wide) with Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
  • 12 MP, f/2.3, 70mm and f/1.8 105mm (telephoto) with PDAF, 3x-4.4x optical zoom, OIS
  • 12 MP, f/2.2, 16mm (ultrawide) with Dual Pixel PDAF
  • Front Camera: 8MP f/2.0 24mm Wide Angle Lens
  • Zoom: 3X and 4.4Xoptical zoom (telephoto lens)
  • Optical Image Stabilisation
  • Phase-Detection Autofocus
  • 20fps burst mode
  • Pro video and camera modes 

 

The camera app is very similar to other camera apps you’ll have used with basic modes such as panorama, selfie assistance and creative filters built-in. There are also round buttons to switch to the different lenses, modes found across the top of the screen and a big shutter button. You can click the screen to focus and adjust the exposure of an image, too. You’ll occasionally see a symbol pop up which is the AI looking at the scene in front and ensuring the optimal settings are selected to capture the best photo. 

To access the many Pro modes that are built-in you have to click the ‘basic’ wording that’s found top right. When you do, a wheel with various options such as P, S, M and Auto will appear along with explanations of what they’re used for. The tools on offer are in abundance and it can take some time to get used to how they all work but if you have the patience to harness their power, your photos will improve. The only mode you can’t access is aperture priority (there isn’t one) and you won’t find a dedicated night mode either. 

The two zoom lenses on the telephoto sensor is a different approach but there’s no real difference in speed when you compare with other smartphones that have separate telephoto cameras. 

 

P1010025 | 1/160 sec | f/4.0 | 17.0 mm | ISO 200
 

Video is captured in 4K at 24/25/30/60/120fps and HDR,1080p with 5-axis gyro-EIS and OIS to keep footage steady and you get access to a Pro video mode should you want more control over the settings used. 

Some will be impressed with the Pro modes on offer and use them all of the time but for most, the normal auto mode will be their go-to choice as it’s simpler to use and produces great results without too much effort. 

Battery life – The 4500mAh battery is really great and you’ll easily get a full day’s use out of the smartphone. It does support fast charging but not wireless. 

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LowePro PhotoSport PRO AW III Announced

LowePro PhotoSport PRO AW III Announced

October 5, 2021

LowePro has announced an updated range of camera bags, the PhotoSport PRO AW III available in two sizes, 55L and 70L (shown above), the bag comes with a removable GearUp PRO XL II camera box designed to carry all your gear, so that you can use the bag for everything else you might need, and then take the camera box with you whilst leaving the main bag at base. The GearUp PRO is also available separately.

An optional LowePro RunAbout BP 18L backpack is available, for the shorter day trips, where you just want to take the GearUp PRO section with you.

  • The LowePro PhotoSport PRO AW III 55L is priced at £429.95
  • The LowePro PhotoSport PRO AW III 70L is priced at £457.95
  • The LowePro GearUp PRO camera box L/XL II is priced at £41.95 / £54.95
  • The LowePro RunAbout BP 18L is priced at £74.95

The new 55L and 70L backpacks compliment the Photosport Outdoor BP 24L AW III and 15L backpacks.

We’ve previously reviewed the LowePro Flipside BP 300 AW III.

From LowePro: LOWEPRO’S PHOTOSPORT PRO PROVIDES SUSTAINABLY-MADE GEAR CARRYING SOLUTIONS FOR MULTI-DAY JOURNEYS

Lowepro completes their innovative Photosport III Series with the Addition of the PhotoSport PRO

  • PhotoSport PRO line tops off the third-generation PhotoSport collection designed for adventure photographers who embark on multi-day photographic journeys
  • 85% of all fabrics are recycled*, lightweight and water-resistant with included All Weather AW Cover™ to protect gear from the elements.
  • Integrated GearUp™ camera insert and accessory strap system bring flexible protection for multiple carrying configurations with an optional Runabout pack for explorations from the basecamp.
  • ActivLift™ system on the back panel provides a comfortable fit and weight distribution for optimal outdoor comfort.

Cassola, October 2021 – Lowepro, a company with a 50-year legacy of creating protective gear-carrying solutions for adventure photographers, content creators, explorers and travellers continues the enduring PhotoSport III Series with the addition of the PhotoSport PRO, a range of multi-day hike backpacks designed to give the utmost protection, comfort, and modularity for the most challenging photographic journeys. The PhotoSport PRO comes in 2 sizes along with modular accessories designed to efficiently carry the necessities of a multi-day photographic expedition. The PhotoSport PRO line advances the Lowepro green line label that features sustainable products with a loading bar indicator of recycled fabrics level measured by surface area.

The PhotoSport PRO line consist of backpacks that carry an expansive array of both camera gear and hiking essentials to cover hiking and shooting for several days. The PhotoSport PRO backpacks come with a durable all-weather design that features the characteristic PhotoSport V-shaped exterior front panel. Built for the most extreme outdoor photography adventures, the PhotoSport PRO backpacks offer the carrying capacity needed for multiple days of hiking and backcountry travel without compromising on comfort and modularity while keeping their photography gear safe and secure.

LowePro GearUp PRO Camera Box XL

LowePro GearUp PRO Camera Box XL

This professional backpack line is offered in 2 sizes: 55 and 70 liters, both made to carry a full frame mirrorless or DSLR camera with a vertical grip and attached 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, with room for 2 additional lenses or a portable camera drone and accessories. Both bags are made to carry hiking and camping essentials such as a sleeping bag, a tent, meal camp, jacket, and trekking poles enough for the needs of a multiple day journey. Each variant is available with a choice of two sizes of shoulder straps. S-M straps are designed to fit smaller torsos better. The straps have slightly more curve and a shorter length. M-L straps are designed to fit larger torsos better. The straps are longer and less curved. Foam is strategically perforated for flexibility where you need it and more padding where it helps most.

Each backpack comes with a modular GearUp PRO XL, accessible from both a front and a back access door, and serves as a removable camera compartment as well as provides added protection from impact and moisture.

An outdoor photographer requires carrying solutions that adapt to what the situation calls for. As the PhotoSport PRO backpacks allow the photographer to bring anything and everything needed for the journey, they also offer an adaptive carrying solution. Not all the equipment has to be carried throughout the adventure. Once at basecamp, the GearUp Pro XL can be removed from the entire backpack to be brought for when the photography happens.

The backpack comes with an array of straps that allows added modularity in carrying the GearUp Pro individually, or to make additional attachments. The GearUp Pro XL can also be purchased individually, along with the GearUp Pro L variant which is only sold separately.

LowePro RunAbout BP 18L

LowePro RunAbout BP 18L

The 18L Runabout daypack to be sold separately as well, is a portable backpack which is folded to a minimal size and expanded to carry the entire camera compartment as a stand-alone camera bag while all other equipment are left at basecamp.

The PhotoSport PRO backpacks are equipped with a fully adjustable ActivLift™ system that offers outstanding weight distribution and breathability that assures optimal comfort even with the heaviest loads in the longest of journeys. With its adjustable torso length, shoulder pad angle, chest straps, and waist straps, the backpack ensures comfortable fit for outdoor photographers and hikers of any body type.

Anyone who loves the outdoors surely has a lot of concern for the environment. That is why the PhotoSport PRO backpacks join Lowepro’s green line label in which all gear carrying solutions are made from recycled fabrics. Each variant comes with a loading bar indicator that contains information about the percentage of recycled fabrics in the product. The PhotoSport PRO backpacks consist of 85% (BP 55L) and 86% (BP70L) recycled* fabric while the GearUP PRO XL and L consist of 50% and 47% respectively. The Runabout daypack is made up of 84% recycled fabric as well. As the brand continues to grow supporting photographers and travelers through any photographic endeavor, Lowepro carries its community of photographers towards a direction committed to preserving and protecting the environment on which we set foot on each journey that begins with a packed bag.

The PhotoSport PRO collection will be available worldwide by October 2021.

*Measured as recycled yarn content by surface area as percent of total fabric surface area. Some materials are 100% recycled. The specific xx% percentage of each item accounts for all the fabric panels.


Further reading

Top 20 best travel accessories
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Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution

Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution

Often described as a technical marvel, Sony’s latest flagship packs a unique combination of notable features, such as a physical shutter button, a high-quality manual camera app, and a 120Hz 4K HDR OLED display.

In terms of audio, the Xperia 1 III, in collaboration with Dolby, promises a powerful, immersive and clean playback through its speakers, and a 360-degree Spatial Sound upmix with headphones. Customized microphone and speaker settings are also available to enhance the gaming experience, as well as a good old headphone jack to keep the audio latency to a minimum. An audio mixer allows the user to balance voice and game levels separately when recording gameplay videos.

Finally, in some regions, the pinnacle of the Xperia 1’s third generation comes with a pair of WF-10000XM3 — a truly excellent model in the wireless noise canceling earbuds market.

Audio specifications include:

  • Stereo speakers (bottom center and top center)
  • Headphone jack
  • Intelligent wind filter
  • Hi-Res Audio

About DXOMARK Audio tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone audio reviews, DXOMARK engineers perform a variety of objective tests and undertake more than 20 hours of perceptual evaluation under controlled lab conditions. This article highlights the most important results of our testing. Note that we evaluate both Playback and Recording using only the device’s built-in hardware and default apps. (For more details about our Playback protocol, click here; for more details about our Recording protocol, click here.)

Test summary

Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution 13
Sony Xperia 1 III

Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution 14

66

audio

65
playback

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67
recording

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Playback

Pros

  • Clear and natural tonal balance
  • Appreciable stereo wideness
  • Precise attack and unaltered dynamics
  • Very well centered stereo balance

Cons

  • Lack of low-end and low-midrange body
  • Below average punch
  • Below average localizability
  • Volume performances below expectations
  • User-induced artifacts

Recording

Pros

  • Natural frequency response in life and selfie videos with clean mids allowing a good vocal reproduction

Cons

  • The frequency response as well as dynamics are considerably impaired when recording in loud environments.

With an overall score of 66, Sony’s cutting-edge flagship only secures a mid-pack position in our DXOMARK Audio ranking. That said, the Xperia 1 line’s audio quality has improved over the generations, starting from an overall score of 45 for the first iteration and then reaching a 57 for its second iteration.

The Xperia 1 III speakers deliver a clear tonal balance, natural midrange, appreciable stereo wideness, an exceptionally well-centered balance between left and right channels, and well-preserved dynamics overall. On the other hand, playback would benefit from more presence in both the high-end and the lower part of the register, which would have provided more brilliance, warmth, and punch, as well as an improved localization of the sound sources within the sound field. Although its speakers are supposed to be “40% louder,” the phone’s volume performance is disappointing: maximum volume isn’t loud enough, minimum volume isn’t well-tuned, and volume steps aren’t evenly distributed. In terms of use cases, the phone’s speakers are best suited for gaming.

Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution 16
The Sony Xperia 1 III fared best in recording life and selfie videos.

Life and selfie videos fared best in our recording tests, thanks to a natural tonal balance, clear midrange, correct signal-to-noise ratio, good spatial attributes, and very few artifacts. Meeting room recordings (content mainly vocal in calm environments) also scored above average. The type of situation for which the Xperia 1 III is less adept at is certainly recording in loud surroundings (for example a concert) because of the phone’s inability to handle high sound pressure levels, which induce strong compression and bass distortion.

Sub-scores explained

The DXOMARK Audio overall score of 66 for the Sony Xperia 1 III is derived from its Playback and Recording scores and their respective sub-scores. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at these audio quality sub-scores and explain what they mean for the user.

Playback

Timbre (61)

Timbre tests measure how well a phone reproduces sound across the audible tonal range and takes into account bass, midrange, treble, tonal balance, and volume dependency.

The Xperia 1 III delivers a natural yet somewhat thin tonal balance. As shown in the graph below, the speakers’ bass and low midrange responses (up to 600 Hz) are weaker than that of both its competitors. The lack of both high- and low-end extension and power result in a relatively flat and neutral rendering, which would have benefited from greater brightness and strength.

Music playback frequency response

What the phone lacks in the extremes of the spectrum, it makes up for in the midrange, which sounds open and natural, despite a slight lack of warmth procured by the low mids — it may be noted that a clear high midrange is the main signature of the Xperia’s line. As the volume increases, the lower register gradually disappears, which emphasizes the midrange prominence, and thus a more nasal overall sound.

Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution 17
The Sony Xperia 1 III’s sound field is pleasantly wide.

Dynamics (65)

DXOMARK’s dynamics tests measure how well a device reproduces the energy level of a sound source, and how precisely it reproduces bass frequencies.

Dynamics attributes are average, with fairly precise (and even sometimes predominant) attack, decent punch, and a laudable volume consistency overall.

Attack can occasionally be impaired by minor distortions, and punch is a bit lacking due to the recessed low-end energy. This also makes it hard to assess the bass precision, which seems nevertheless to remain rather accurate.

Spatial (60)

The sub-attributes for perceptual spatial tests include localizability, balance, distance, and wideness.

Thanks to the speakers’ position, the balance between left and right channels is perfectly centered. While the sound field is pleasantly wide, it does not rotate accordingly in inverted landscape, when using the music app.

Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution 18
Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution 19

While decent, the sound source localization within the field could be more precise. Further, due to the lack of precision in the low midrange register, they are generally perceived to be a bit farther than they are.

Volume (49)

Volume tests measure both the overall loudness a device is able to reproduce and how smoothly volume increases and decreases based on user input.

Hip-HopClassical
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra75.3 dBA70.4 dBA
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)73.9 dBA71.2 dBA
Sony Xperia 1 III74.2 dBA67.9 dBA

Despite Sony’s claims in this area, the Xperia 1 III’s volume performance leaves much to be desired. To begin with, at maximum volume, loudness isn’t above average, on the contrary.

Music volume consistency

As shown in the graph above, the volume steps distribution is far from being consistent from softest to loudest levels. Finally, minimum volume isn’t well tuned: all types of content — that is, regardless of their dynamic characteristics — aren’t intelligible enough.

Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution 20
Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution 21

Artifacts (88)

Artifacts tests measure how much source audio is distorted when played back through a device’s speakers. [glossary_exclude]Distortion[/glossary_exclude] can occur both because of sound processing in the device and because of the quality of the speakers.

In the artifacts department, Sony keeps its promise: sounds played back through the Xperia 1 III’s speakers exhibit very few artifacts, aside from slight, occasional distortion at maximum volume. The overall reproduction is thus very clean, whether in respect to spectral or temporal artifacts.

User-induced artifacts are less discreet. For instance, pressing play after idle time will cause playback to start again with only the right (or bottom, depending on how the phone is oriented) speaker working for the first few seconds. Further, pressing the pause button generates a metallic sonic artifact. Finally, when using the video app, playback resumes automatically, whether when switching back from another app or waking the device — even if the video had been paused beforehand. Overall, the phone fares best when playing games, with absolutely no noise, temporal or spectral artifacts perceivable.

Recording

Timbre (71)

In life and selfie videos, the overall tonal balance is fairly good and natural, with a clean midrange allowing a good capture of voices.

Life video frequency response

Meeting recordings also sound natural, but reveal a slight lack of power in the lower register. As for recordings made in loud environments, they are outright boomy: bass notes regularly trigger a severe dynamic compression, which affects the entire spectrum.

Dynamics (67)

Again, selfie videos, life videos and meeting recordings fare best with a correct signal-to-noise ratio in both home and urban scenarios, while high SPL surrounding suffer from the previously mentioned compression triggered by bass hits. This strong compression, in turn, impairs higher percussions, such as snares, by crushing the transients.

Spatial (61)

Spatial attributes in recorded audio files are decent overall. In life videos, wideness, localizability and distance are very satisfying. In selfie videos, while distance is also accurate, wideness is limited and localizability is imprecise. In meeting scenarios, all spatial characteristics are on target, including distance rendering.

Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution 22
Meeting recordings sound natural on the Xperia 1 III.

Volume (73)

Unlike in playback, the Xperia 1 III’s volume performance in the recording area is well above average. The maximum level reachable without triggering perceivable sonic artifacts is excellent, and nominal loudness is satisfying across all use cases.

Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution 23
Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution 24

Here are our test results, measured in LUFS (Loudness Unit Full Scale). As a reference, we expect loudness levels to be above -24 LUFS for recorded content:

MeetingLife VideoSelfie VideoMemo
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra-30.9 LUFS-22.8 LUFS-21 LUFS-21.9 LUFS
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)-26.9 LUFS-19.5 LUFS-22.2 LUFS-22.4 LUFS
Sony Xperia 1 III-30.5 LUFS-22.4 LUFS-20.2 LUFS-21.3 LUFS

Artifacts (72)

In life and selfie videos, very discreet clipping can be noticed on shouting voices. In selfie videos only, they trigger a perceivable compression. When recording in loud environments, strong pumping and slight distortion are audible.

You can check for artifacts yourself in this sample recording:

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track6144cc885e680.register(
‘#sound-sample-6144cc885e680 .wave-container’,
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waveColor: ‘#0176a7’,
barWidth: 2,
barHeight: 3,
barGap: null

);
track6144cc885e680.load();

$(‘#sound-sample-6144cc885e680 button’).on(‘click’, function()
track6144cc885e680.playPause();
);
);
);

Background (44)

The phone’s background recordings are decent, thanks to the natural tonal balance in life and selfie videos. That said, both indoor and outdoor scenarios can exhibit a strange background noise, which sounds a bit like distortion.

Conclusion

Despite an impressive list of audio features,  sound turns out not to be the Xperia 1 III’s strongest point. In playback, while Sony’s latest and priciest phone makes an acceptable choice for gaming thanks to a natural and fairly wide sound reproduction and the practical low-latency headphones jack, we wouldn’t recommend it for playing music nor for watching movies. As a recording device, the Xperia 1 III is fairly good for videos (both life and selfie) and quiet meetings, but it proves to be deeply inadequate when it comes to recording in loud environments, such as concerts.

 

The post Sony Xperia 1 III Audio review: A slow but steady evolution appeared first on DXOMARK.

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A Year With the Affordable Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens

A Year With the Affordable Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens

Tamron’s holy trinity of f/2.8 zoom lenses has been a runaway hit for the company, offering smart compromises that bring professional-level quality and performance at prices that significantly undercut those of first-party options. The 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD is the longest of the trio, offering a versatile focal length range and wide maximum aperture suitable for a wide range of scenarios. This great video review discusses how it holds up after a year of usage. 

Coming to you from Stefan Malloch, this excellent video review takes a look at the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD lens after a year of usage. The company’s 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD and 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD lenses have been huge hits, offering professional-level performance at prices often about half those of first-party options. In fact, the 28-75mm f/2.8 was one of my favorite lenses I have had the pleasure of testing, as it offers fantastic image quality in a small and portable package all at a budget-friendly price. So good are the prices that you can actually fill out the entire holy trinity for about the price of one first-party lens. Check out the video above for Malloch’s full thoughts. 

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Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD (A057) Lens Review

Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD (A057) Lens Review

Tamron 150 500mm Top View At 150mm | 0.5 sec | f/16.0 | 36.0 mm | ISO 100

The introduction of the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD lens opens up all sorts of long-range possibilities for Sony FE full-frame and Sony E crop-frame cameras. In the latter case, the lens offers a “35mm-equivalent” field of view of 225-750mm. Add to that the ability to focus very closely indeed, surely a major strength of many zoom lenses over primes, and we have a very attractive proposition. Let’s team the new lens up with the 42MP Sony A7R III camera body and put it through its paces.

Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD (A057) Handling and Features

Tamron 150 500mm On Sony A7R III With Hood | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100
 

This is a heavy lens, weighing in at a substantial 1725g, with the supplied tripod mount adding another 155g. However, it is also fairly compact and actually balances well with the Sony A7R III. Starting our tour of the lens with the supplied round lens hood, this bayonets lightly but positively into place. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a conventional 82mm filter thread. The lens is multicoated using Tamron’s BBAR-G2 second-generation version of the highly successful Broad Band Anti Reflective coatings. In addition, the front element has a Fluorine coating to help repel dust, grease and moisture. The whole lens is moisture resistant, a useful feature for any optic that is likely to be used in the field rather than the studio.

The zoom ring is smooth in operation, but quite heavy, presumably as it is shifting a fair amount of glass. The scale is clearly and accurately marked at 150mm, 200mm, 250mm, 300mm, 400mm and 500mm. The zoom ring can also be pushed forwards to lock the zoom at any desired setting. A white ring is revealed to indicate the lock is activated. This feature really comes into its own when using the lens for close work on a tripod and pointing it downwards. There is then no chance of the zoom setting creeping whilst using a longer exposure. There is also a conventional zoom lock switch to lock in the 150mm setting for use when transporting the lens.

Apart from the aforementioned zoom lock switch, there are also several other switches around the barrel. VC Mode is selectable, Mode 1 being a general-purpose one, Mode 2 for panning and Mode 3 for maintaining a composition whilst moving objects are within the frame. The VC on/off switch is self-explanatory. The AF/MF switch works as expected and the lens is compatible with Fast Hybrid AF, eye AF, DMF (Direct Manual Focus) and also lens corrections in-camera. The lens firmware updates are handled via the camera. Finally, the focus limiter gives a choice of Full Range, infinity to 15m or infinity to 3m.

 

Tamron 150 500mm On Sony A7R III | 0.6 sec | f/16.0 | 36.0 mm | ISO 100
 

The manual focusing ring is electronic in operation and silky smooth, as we would expect. Focusing is down to a very useful minimum focus distance of 0.6m (23.6 inches) at 150mm, a maximum magnification of 1:3.1, and 1.8m (70.9 inches) at 500mm, a maximum magnification of 1:3.7. This is excellent, although at very close distances the field is not particularly flat so the edges of flat subjects may start to fall out of focus. This may not be a problem with more 3D subject matter.

There is a well-made tripod mount, released by a screw that is long enough and secure enough to give confidence that it will not become easily dislodged. The tripod foot is Arca SWISS compatible. There are also locking screws provided that can be used to make absolutely sure that the lens will not become detached from the tripod head.

Optical construction is 25 elements in 16 groups, including 1 Glass Moulded Aspherical, 2 Hybrid Aspherical, 5 LD (Low Dispersion) and 1 XLD (Extra-Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 7 rounded blades.

The VC (Vibration Compensation) system is a particularly useful inclusion with such a long and heavy lens. It works extremely well, and although this will vary from photographer to photographer and even from day to day, for this reviewer on this day it proved to reliably deliver 4 stops to 4.5 stops advantage.

 

Tamron 150 500mm Rear Oblique View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 40.0 mm | ISO 100
 

AF is driven by a linear VXD motor, which is quiet, fast and effective. It is rare for the lens not to lock on to the subject virtually instantly.

So, this is quite a package, to which we can add a 5-year warranty; clearly Tamron expects the lens to continue to deliver for a very long service life.

In terms of handling, the ergonomics are excellent, although there is no escaping the weight. This can be mitigated by using a sling-type strap that can carry the weight easily until the lens needs to be swung into position. But overall, a really good lens to use and very versatile.

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Is Sony’s Xperia 1 III the Ultimate Phone for Photographers?

Is Sony's Xperia 1 III the Ultimate Phone for Photographers?

Phone cameras have become remarkably competent and versatile in recent years, to the point that they can deliver professional-level results in certain situations, particularly when the light is good and you do not need extreme focal lengths. The Sony Xperia 1 III offers some of the most impressive capabilities yet, and this great video review takes a look at how it performs.

Coming to you from Kai W, this awesome video review takes a look at the Sony Xperia 1 III phone. The Xperia 1 III comes with an impressive combination of rear cameras, sure to catch the eyes of many creatives. One thing that I particularly love is that its maximum focal length is 105mm. Most multi-camera phones’ “telephoto” lenses actually sit around 50mm or maybe 70mm, which can feel a bit limiting, but 105mm opens up a lot more possibilities. On the other hand, there is a bit of a focal length gap between the 24mm and 70mm, which may annoy some users, but still, having 16mm, 24mm, 70mm, and 105mm in a phone, with optical stabilization available at 24mm, 70mm, and 105mm is quite impressive and makes the Xperia 1 III a versatile performer. Check out the video above for the full rundown on the phone. 

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Pentax K-3 III Review | ePHOTOzine

Pentax K-3 III Review | ePHOTOzine

PENTAX K3 III (1)

The Pentax K-3 III is the long-awaited update to the Pentax K-3 Mark II, released in 2015, Pentax’s flagship APS-C sensor DSLR. The Pentax K-3 III is a 26mp DSLR, with a BSI CMOS sensor, and whilst the rest of the camera market has almost entirely switched to mirrorless cameras, Pentax believes “in the future of SLR photography” with the optical viewfinder being central to this experience.

Pentax K-3 Mark III Features

PENTAX K3 III (4)

Looking at the Pentax K-3 III website, the first main point to come up is the optical viewfinder, which offers a 100% field of view, and approx 1.05x magnification (0.7x equivalent), making it one of the largest you’ll find in an APS-C DSLR, and an improvement over the K-3 II (with 0.95x magnification) – Pentax say there’s also a 10% increase in brightness. There’s an eye-sensor to detect when you have the camera held up to your eye, and this will automatically switch the screen off when needed.

 

“This viewfinder also provides an almost 10-percent increase in brightness, thanks to the improved reflectance of the pentaprism, while also assuring a nearly 100-percent field of view. By incorporating a distortion-compensating optical element and optimizing the lens coatings, it provides natural, true-to-life image rendition with high-magnification observations.” – Pentax

Pentax K3 Iii Viewfinder |

Another key update to be found in the Pentax K-3 Mark III can be seen in the new autofocus (AF) system, which now features 101 AF Points (SAFOX 13) when using the OVF-AF system, of these there are 25 cross-type AF points, and you can select 41 individually. The focus system will work down to -4EV with an f/2.8 (or brighter) lens, in the central AF area.

The camera features a new 25.7megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, without an anti-aliasing (AA) filter, to give improved detail and resolution capture. This makes it one of only few APS-C cameras available with a 25.7mp BSI CMOS sensor, with only Fujifilm also using a BSI CMOS sensor.

The K-3 III, like other Pentax DSLR cameras, features a SHAKE REDUCTION (SR) mechanism, SRII, which is an In-Body Image Stabilisation system, which moves the camera sensor in 5-axis, to give up to 5.5stops of stabilisation, by moving the sensor and compensating for camera shake caused by horizontal and vertical shift, roll, pitch and yaw. There is an Auto mode, as well as a panning mode option.

Using the shake reduction system, and the camera’s ability to move the sensor, the camera has a Pixel Shift Resolution System, designed to give full-colour information at each pixel, by capturing 4 images of the same scene, but with the sensor slightly shifted. This is designed to work with the camera mounted on a tripod, and ideally with still scenes. However, there is a Motion Compensation feature that can be turned on to help with any motion in the scene. This gives you a 26mp image, with better colour, detail, as well as improved noise control.

There’s also an AA (anti-aliasing) filter simulator so that you can reduce moire and false colour if this is an issue in your shots.

PENTAX K3 III (5)

There’s a new PRIME V image engine (processor) and “second-generation accelerator unit” (processor) to give high-speed performance, and this is said to improve the Pentax Real-Time Scene Analysis System, and autofocus system. Along with the new image processing engines, the camera has a new generation “Fine Sharpness” function that is on by default and is designed to improve the reproduction of detail more naturally and sharply.

Pentax says that the noise reduction system is designed to reduce noise, whilst maintaining detail in the outline of subjects, with Pentax claiming that “even at the top sensitivity of ISO 1,600,000, it delivers a natural, well-defined image with a sharp subject outline and vivid colours.” We’ll have to have a look at the results to see if this is true.

There’s a new RGBIr AE sensor with approximately 307,000 pixels (0.3mp), which detects the subject in greater detail than before, and Pentax says that this is also used to detect the subjects face and eyes in viewfinder shooting. The Real-time Scene Analysis System uses this to provide exposure control and automatic selection of the focus point. This is also used to provide more accurate tracking of subjects in motion.

The K-3 Mark III camera has P, Sv, Tv, Av, TAv, M shooting modes, giving you full manual controls, along with B (Bulb), X (X-sync), 5 User modes, and Auto. The lag between shutter release and image capture has been improved, compared to the K-3 II, and the mirror and shutter drive mechanisms have also been upgraded. There’s said to be minimised mirror bounce, and reduced weight of the main mirror unit, which reduces collision energy, and a new damper mechanism.

The K-3 III offers improved compatibility with classic lenses, saving the aperture value as Exif data when you set the aperture using the electronic dial, and you can set the focal length of the lens to make the most of Shake Reduction (SR). It also allows AE photography with the aperture closed-down for M-series lenses.

For continuous shooting, the camera offers 12fps continuous shooting (AF-S), and up to 11fps with continuous AF.

Custom Image control lets you choose from 13 different colour profiles, with options to adjust saturation, hue, high/low key adjustment, contrast, contrast (highlight), contrast (shadow), and fine sharpness.

The camera body features a 3.2inch touch-screen, that is fixed, and does not tilt. There are dual SD card slots, with one of these supporting UHS-II.

Wireless connectivity supports image transfer to a smartphone, and low-power Bluetooth can be used to transfer GPS data to the camera so that images are tagged with GPS location data.

The camera records 4K UHD video at 30 or 24fps, and FullHD video at 60, 30, 24fps, there is no 50/25fps option. When recording video the camera benefits from the shake reduction system, which will help stabilise video. There are mic and headphone sockets, and you can adjust the microphone level (or leave it on Auto), and adjust the headphone volume. You can use the touch-screen to set the focus point, and there are a number of other settings that can be adjusted using the touch-screen.

The camera supports the ASTROTRACER function, with an optional GPS unit. This lets you take astrophotographs, where the camera will move the sensor when needed for long exposure photographs.

PENTAX K3 III (7)
 

Key Features

  • 25.7mp APS-C BSI CMOS sensor
  • Pentax K bayonet
  • In-Body Shake Reduction system, SR II (IBIS)
  • 3.2inch touch-screen, with 1.62m dots
  • 1.05x magnification TTL prism optical viewfinder, with 100%
  • 101 AF Points (SAFOX 13), 25 cross-type
  • 12fps continuous shooting (AF-S), 11fps AF-C
  • ISO100 to ISO1600000 available
  • Shutter life rating of 300,000 shots
  • 4K video recording, UHD, 30 or 24fps
  • FullHD video recording at 60,30,24fps
  • Weather sealed magnesium alloy body
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in
  • Available in Black or Silver

Pentax K-3 Mark III Handling

PENTAX K3 III (10)

For those who like the feeling of holding a Digital SLR, the Pentax K-3 III has excellent ergonomics, with the grip being particularly comfortable and pleasing to hold. It has the same shutter release button mechanism as the Pentax K-1, using a leaf switch, and the shutter release button feels really nice to use

The body is made from magnesium-alloy, and this includes the top, bottom, front and rear panels. The camera is weather-sealed, and when an AW (All-Weather) or WR (Weather Resistant) lens is mounted, you have a completely weather-sealed camera system.

The top LCD panel provides you with the shutter, aperture, ISO speeds as well as additional information so you can quickly see the cameras settings, battery status, and memory card information, as well as AF information.

The top LCD screen is backlit, and on default settings, this illuminates when you switch the camera on, and when you press the shutter release button. It automatically switches off the illumination (on Auto settings), after a short period of inaction. You can set the screen to manual, and then set one of the custom buttons to switch it on and off when needed, or you can set it to be off at all times. It’s unfortunate that there’s not a button already dedicated to switch the illumination on and off. However, as there are 10 customisable buttons this is easily resolved.

PENTAX K3 III (9)

The Pentax K-3 III features the expected front and rear control dials, plus a third, additional control dial (E-Dial) on the top. This can be used to change settings, such as AF type, or ISO speed, and this can be selected using the S.Fn (Smart Function) button on top of the camera. When you press this button you get to set what the third dial does, from a choice of 5 different things, and these 5 functions can be customised from 22 options. If you do use the E-Dial for ISO control, then it takes the camera out of Auto ISO, as expected, but trying to get back into Auto ISO can take a while – you can either press the ISO button and then the green button, or you can go back into the S.Fn button and switch to Auto ISO there – rather than being able to scroll through to Auto ISO like on other cameras.

It can take a little while to get used to the three control dials, and it’s easy to accidentally use the third E-dial accidentally. You can set it so that it’s switched off completely (in the menus), so this could be an option for those looking to simplify camera operation, however, it would be nice if you could set up the Smart Function so that you had say 4 options available, and a 5th option where the E-Dial was switched off.

 


Now for some Q&A: What’s in the box?

There is no external battery charger provided – these are available separately, however, if you’re upgrading from an earlier Pentax, it’s likely you already have one.

Q&A: Where can I find the manual?

As there’s no printed manual in the box, here’s where you can find the manual to download from Ricoh / Pentax.

Q&A: Where can I find the software to use with the Pentax K-3 Mark III?

The provided software “Digital Camera Utility 5” is stored in the internal memory of the camera, and you can access this when you connect the camera to your computer and switch it on, however, make sure you’ve set the access to CD-ROM in the settings menus. Here are the instructions you’ll need to follow:

The software can be installed by following the procedure below.

  1. Set [USB Setting] to [CD-ROM] in the D4 menu.
  2. Turn the camera off.
  3. Connect the camera to a computer using a USB cable.
  4. Turn the camera on. The camera is recognized as CD-ROM [S-SW177].
  5. Open [S-SW177] on the computer. The [Win] or [Mac] folder appears.
  6. Open the [Win] or [Mac] folder.
  7. Double-click [setup32.exe] or [setup64.exe] for Windows, or [INSTPUT5.pkg] for Mac.For subsequent steps, follow the on-screen instructions.
  8. Return [USB Setting] to [MTP] in the D4 menu.
  9. Turn the camera off and back on.The [USB Setting] setting switches to [MTP].

With “Digital Camera Utility 5”, you can develop RAW images, make colour adjustments, or check shooting information on the computer.

You’ll find this vital piece of information in the full manual (or above, on this page), it would be nice if this information was provided on a piece of paper in the box, or alternatively why not just let users download it from the Pentax website? In answer to our own question, you can download it from Pentax’s website, however, it informs you that you have to install the (original) software before installing the update on the Pentax website. We ignored this and installed the software from the website without any problems.

Pentax K 3 III Silkypix Digital Camera Utility 5
Pentax K-3 III – Digital Camera Utility 5

Q&A: Is Digital Camera Utility 5 the same as SilkyPix?

No, but it’s based on SilkyPix software, so the interface and controls will be familiar to anyone who has used SilkyPix.

Q&A: Do I have to use Digital Camera Utility 5 / SilkyPix?

No, you can use any photo software compatible with Pentax K-3 III PEF raw files, or switch the camera to shoot AdobeDNG raw files, and then this will make it possible to open raw files on older software.


 

There are 101 AF points, vastly more than the 27 found on the K-3 II. You can select 41 of these points, and 25 are cross-type sensors (found in the central area of the image). You can select Auto area, Zone select, Select, Expanded select area, Select and Spot, and the joystick on the back lets you set the focus point more quickly. Focus works down to -4 EV, when using an f/2.8 lens. The 307,000 pixel RGBIr image sensor is used to provide tracking of subjects, includes faces and birds, to help the camera focus more accurately.

The optical viewfinder (OVF) overlay is a little difficult to see at times, indoors and outdoors mostly, and the focus points that light up red, are also quite dull, and disappear quickly. You’ll also find that there isn’t much of a protrusion, and we’d prefer it if the OVF extended further back out of the camera, so that your nose isn’t so close to the camera body and camera screen. The camera settings such as shutter speed, aperture, ISO speed and other camera settings are shown clearly at the bottom of the OVF.

You can use the 3.2inch touch-screen to change settings and options, as well as scroll through the menus. When using the screen, there were often times when photos look overexposed on the rear screen, and in live-view images look brighter and whiter than they actually are, so if you’re shooting product shots, the white background will look correctly corrected, and white, however, when you look at them on your computer, you’ll find they will have a yellow tone (depending on your white balance settings).

If you’re using live-view or video recording, then the lack of a tilting screen can be frustrating, and for the most part, you may want to use the optical viewfinder. However, if you’re used to a fixed screen, then this may not be an issue for you.

PENTAX K3 III (15)

Menus – The menu system found on the K3 III has been updated. You can choose the colour theme, we went for blue, however, the camera is also set up so that every section uses this colour theme, so the photo menus, the playback menus, the custom settings menus, and the setup menus are all the same colour. We much prefer different sections to have different colours, so you can quickly see where you are in the menus. If you’re used to using an earlier Pentax camera, then it may take a while to get used to the new menu system. One really nice feature of the new menus is the built-in help system, which explains functions, options and settings in an easy to understand manner.

PENTAX K3 III (13)

Battery life – Battery life is rated at 800 shots according to Pentax / CIPA test results, which is quite good but is likely to be less when using live view. The camera takes the same battery as previous Pentax cameras but does not include an external charger in the box. The battery is therefore charged in-camera using the USB Type-C connection, you can also use the camera whilst powering it over USB. There’s an optional D-BG8 battery grip available.

Whilst you can shoot at up to 12fps, the number of shots is fairly low, with 36 JPEG (SF) shots / 27 RAW+JPEG shots possible, before slowdown/stopping. The camera has 2 SD card slots, however, only the first one is UHS-II.

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Pentax K-3 Mark III Review: An Excellent, Expensive DSLR

Pentax K-3 Mark III Review: An Excellent, Expensive DSLR

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Pentax put a lot of time and effort into making the K-3 Mark III, and it shows: it’s a huge leap in tech for a DSLR. But it’s still a DSLR in a mirrorless world, and that perception combined with a premium price might hold back Pentax’s latest $2,000 APS-C camera.

The APS-C K-3 Mark III from Pentax was in development for quite a while before it launched, and after many teases and then delays, the system was finally released.

Pentax’s latest comes loaded with improvements over the previous Mark II, including a new autofocus engine, an improved set of tools for video, a built-like-a-tank rugged and all-weather build that loyalists to the brand have come to know and love, as well as even a few interesting features that take advantage of the modern technology built into current smartphones.

Where the system doesn’t seem to keep up to date is with the price. Sitting at a lofty $1999.99 just for the body, the K3 Mark III is one of the more expensive APS-C bodies currently on the market, especially when you consider it is a DSLR system and not mirrorless like most of its competitors.

Build Quality and Design

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The new K-3 Mark III is actually just slightly heavier than its predecessor by a mere 20 grams, but considering the body as a whole is made with magnesium allow and this system has a dual memory card slot, the extra weight is a small price to pay.

With the Mark III, Pentax has added a new dial on the top right of the camera body that can change various settings on the camera. This would be a nice addition, however, the default is set to crop modes and no matter how many times I took the camera out during my time with it, my muscle memory kept attempting to use it to change the aperture (instead of the one on the back of the camera) since it actually sits closer to where my thumb naturally rests when shooting. A small annoyance that probably gets worked out over a longer time with the camera, but I thought it worth noting.

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The viewfinder has a 1.05x magnification with what Pentax says is improved diopter adjustment that allows for better visual accuracy (handy for a glasses wearer like myself), and an almost 10% increase in brightness from the Mark II, which the company hopes will allow shooters to get a much clearer view of what they are aiming at. I would agree, these are nice improvements in practice.

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Another noticeable difference in design from the Mark II vs the Mark III is the eight-way controller/joystick for direct control of the autofocus area sitting on the back of the camera just above the familiar “green” button. This additional tool makes it very easy to make AF selection adjustments quickly when shooting and is a very welcome and useful tool.

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Overall Performance

As you would expect with a DSLR, the battery life with the Pentax K-3 Mark III was impressive. During my entire time testing the camera, I never charged it other than its initial unboxing, and after shooting two timelapses and many test shots, there is still more than half a charge left on the battery.

The official manual states the battery is officially rated for 800 shots per charge, but in practice, I’ve found I’ve been able to get many more shutter actuations than that. If you need more life, the system also has an optional battery grip available for those who know they may have an extra-long day of shooting ahead. It is worth noting that the K-3 Mark III battery can be charged in-camera using a USB-C cable connected to a computer or a power adapter, which is becoming more common on mirrorless cameras, making it a nice competitive feature to find here.

Using the Pentax K-3 Mark III was pretty straightforward and easy to get used to. The menu and information displays on the rear of the camera are very informative. It has options to show either the live view or a sort of “heads-up-display” with any and all the relevant information you’d need for your settings that is then easily and quickly accessed.

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What was even more impressive (at least to me) was the 3.2-inch touch screen display will automatically rotate from horizontal to vertical based on the orientation of the camera to the ground, ensuring it is always easy to see, read, and make adjustments as needed. The speed of this auto-orientation was also outstanding and appears to be so responsive that it does it even faster than my iPhone. The touch screen will also allow you to quickly select focus points by tapping the screen in live view mode, and they can trigger the shutter from here as well should you want to select focus and get the shot immediately.

My only grievance with the display is that it doesn’t tilt or pivot at all like most modern mirrorless systems, meaning, if you have to get a low/difficult angle for a shot, you’re back to crawling through the dirt to get it if you want to see what you’re getting. It’s a bit of an odd design decision since Pentax has integrated some really unique and cool articulating designs on its past cameras. To ditch those entirely here feels like a missed opportunity, especially since some kind of articulation is pretty much standard on all new cameras.

Alternatively, you could opt to use the mobile app — available for Android and iPhone — to control the camera when shooting at the more difficult angles and positions if you find yourself in a tough spot.

The K-3 Mark III definitely feels as though it would work well for either a travel or action photographer, since it boasts a burst speed of 12 frames per second, an increase over the 8.3 frames per second in its predecessor. It also has an impressive buffer size to go alongside it.

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During some testing of surfers at the beach, it took about 25 to 30 RAW plus JPEG frames before it started to slow down. Once you fill up that buffer from continuous shooting, you’ll need to wait about 10 to 20 seconds with a modern UHS-II card before the shots fully clear, so keep that in the back of your mind if you’re going to be shooting a high volume of burst shots. As a note on this, only the primary card slot is UHS-II compatible. The backup slot only writes at UHS-I speeds.

Given this is an APS-C system, the 1.5x crop factor will make you adjust the way you shoot if you’ve gotten used to full-frame setups like me. To be honest, I thought shooting on a crop sensor would bother me more, but the K-3 Mark III was honestly so easy to shoot with, I quickly forgot those worries especially since I was shooting action from afar and the system doesn’t skimp on the resolution.

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Speaking of resolution, the K-3 Mark III has an effective resolution of 25.7 megapixels and a maximum file size of 6192 x 4128 pixels, which is more than enough to let you get everything you would want out of a print.

The system has a five-axis “Shake Reduction System” capable of handling up to 5.5 stops, with a quick access button to enable/disable and switch between modes right on the side of the camera. Having in-body image stabilization is great, but it’s a bit strange on a DSLR where you can’t actually see it in action while shooting since the camera uses a pentaprism, not an electronic viewfinder. I found that it works quite well, on par with the stabilization found in other manufacturers’ systems, it just took some getting used to since — at least for photos — you can only see the results after the fact.

In some photos below, I was zoomed in as far as 300mm in some cases and my hands were quite shakey, but the system corrected for it beautifully.

Image Quality and ISO

The Pentax K-3 Mark III boasts an impressive native ISO range of 100 to 1,600,000. Obviously, most of us would never ever have reason to go this high for our shooting, but it is very nice to know that should you ever be in a situation where you need it, the camera is quite capable of delivering at that range.

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6,400 ISO
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25,600 ISO
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102,400 ISO
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204,800 ISO
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1,600,000 ISO

The images above have no noise reduction applied and, as you can see, the details even up to iso 102,400 are pretty decent, especially considering this is an APS-C system. While the small details are missed when shooting at this high an ISO, it is actually quite nice to see the colors come through accurately. It is not until you hit ISO 204,800 that the colors (along with the details) start to muddy. The good news is the camera has some pretty decent noise reduction filters built into it that, once enabled and adjust to your taste, should make it a better experience to shoot at these high ISOs.

While the K-3 Mark III is mainly a stills shooter’s camera, it can also shoot 4K video at up to 30 frames per second. The body includes ports for both external headphones and an external microphone for improved audio recording and monitoring as well and while a DSLR is not typically the go-to system for videographers on the go and its recording specs aren’t particularly impressive compared to the field, it is nice to know that If you need to shoot some 4K footage at a moment’s notice, the K-3 Mark III can deliver.

I found that the colors rendered on the K-3 Mark III sensor are accurate even in harsh bright lighting conditions to dark settings (you can see this in the sample photos below), and if you happen to be an astrophotography fan, the camera still supports the AstroTracer star tracking function that moves the sensor slightly while shooting to compensate for the earth’s rotation which allows for longer night sky shots with pinpoint stars. Granted, to take full advantage of this feature, shooters will need to add the Pentax O-GPS1 tool for $196.95.

Autofocus

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Pentax says the K-3 Mark III has a greatly improved autofocus system compared to its predecessor. Where the Mark II had 27 AF points, the Mark III multiplies this to 101 phase-detection AF points, with 25 of these points being the more sensitive cross-type that are capable of performing pretty accurately even down to -4 EV. Also available in the Mark III is support for eye detection in the viewfinder. While not as accurate as Canon or Sony systems and their more advanced mirrorless tech, it is still a useful feature on the DSLR camera, especially when doing portraits.

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Pentax K-3 Mark III Review: An Excellent, Expensive DSLR 41

During my testing, I used the 55-300mm f/4.5-6.3 lens which may not be a premium lens, but autofocus was still fast and pretty accurate. It did well for action shots, which I tested with surfers. There were a few missed focus moments throughout my testing, but nothing out of the ordinary when shooting from a distance or with a lot of motion in the frame. Pairing the improved autofocus with the camera’s stabilization system makes it possible to capture almost half-second exposures while shooting hand-held for wider shots.

Sample Images

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Worth the Wait….For Existing Pentax Shooters

For Pentax shooters, the K-3 Mark III marks a long three-year wait for an update, and the system does deliver several reasons for those shooters to make the upgrade including improved autofocus, 4K (cropped) video, a much higher ISO capability, faster burst shooting speeds, and an overall improved image sensor all with the continued compatibility with lenses dating back 50 years. Enthusiasts and brand loyalists will definitely love everything this new system has to offer, especially after such a long wait. It is officially Pentax’s fastest camera to date, and it offers a good alternative for wildlife and action shooters that would prefer to stick with DSLRs instead of making the leap into mirrorless and EVF systems.

I should note that with the disadvantages stacked against it (it’s a DSLR, it’s a crop-sensor, and Pentax only supplied one entry “all-in-one” lens for me to test it with), that I still really liked the camera. That is saying something. I just don’t think it’s going to sway anyone already invested in another system to pick up a Pentax. It’s a great love letter to current owners, but that’s it.

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Are There Alternatives?

Comparing features straight up, there are many alternatives to the K-3 Mark III, most of which are available at a significantly lower cost of entry. For those looking to stick with the DSLR system, the Nikon D500, while significantly older, offers many similar features to the K-3 Mark III and it only costs $1499. Making the leap over to the mirrorless world, you have several options including the Fujifilm X-T4 for $1699, the Sony Alpha 6400 for just $898, and the Nikon Z50, similarly priced at $859.

Should You Buy It?

Maybe. If you already own Pentax cameras and lenses, then the update to the K-3 Mark III is worth it despite the premium price for an APS-C DSLR. The features and components that have been updated work very well and provide a lot of new and improved tools to the Pentax shooter’s arsenal. For everyone else, this system will be a hard camera purchase to justify.

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