After shooting sport with the Sony A7R III I was invited to take Sony’s latest full-frame 42Mp mirrorless camera out onto the streets of London for a few hours at night to see how it performs in low light.
In addition to the A7R III, I had the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G and FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS lenses. As I was shooting on a cold, overcast December night, the only light available was from street lights or shop windows.
Although it’s not a major surprise, I found the automatic white balance (AWB) system struggled in the mixed artificial lighting conditions and some images have a strong cast. In some instances, I set a custom white balance but in most, I stuck with the AWB with the intention of adjusting the raw files to taste post-capture.
Sony claims that the A7R III’s autofocus (AF) system is sensitive down to -3EV and I saw no reason to doubt this. Naturally, it needs a little contrast to latch on to, but I was impressed how little light it required to achieve focus with either lens.
Sony has given the A7R III a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-32,000 for stills and expansion settings that take it to ISO 50-102,400. That’s a wide range, especially for a camera with 42.4million pixels (even if it has a full-frame sensor).
However, the Sony A7R III handles noise well and even images at ISO 25,600 impress. Comparing jpeg images with raw files shot at ISO 25,600 and the native maximin ISO 32,000 reveals that at 100% the jpegs look a little smoothed whereas the raw files have a fine, even texture of noise.
The raw files also have more detail and look more natural – although it’s a bit squished out in the images shown here.
Even at normal viewing sizes, jpeg images shot at ISO 25,600 and 32,000 look a little smoothed in comparison to the raw files shot at the same time. It’s not objectionable, but if you compare the two types of image you’ll see more detail in the raw files.
The expanded settings are there in case you need them but they don’t produce images of sufficient quality for Sony to put them within the standard range. As you’d expect, images captured at ISO 102,400, the uppermost value, have a lot of noise (or signs of noise reduction in the jpegs) but it’s still possible to produce usable images.
The ISO 102,400 raw file below has been processed in less than 5 minutes in Adobe Camera Raw to adjust the white balance, tweak the contrast, take out the perspective distortion and crop to square format. Noise is evident, but it captures the scene well and makes an acceptable end result.
Follow the link to browse and download full resolution images from the Sony A7R III