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Sony A7iii Scores 96 on DXO Mark | ‘Low-light score is the highest of any full-frame 35mm sensor we’ve tested’

By Kishore Sawh on March 26th 2018

The DXO score of 96 for the A7iii will come as no surprise to those who have used it. That being said, it is always interesting to see the specific and basic breakdown of numbers that DXO puts together, and out of all the numbers listed, it’s the Low-Light ISO score which really stands out as remarkable. In fact, as the title denotes, it’s the best low-light 35mm full-frame camera they’ve tested, beating out the A7Sii.

The A7iii now sits in the top 5 of Sony cameras ranked on DXO Mark, placing a solid 4th, right above the A7R and below the A7RIII, a7RII, and RX1Rii. That means it’s in some very good company with the Pentax K-1 and Nikon D800E scoring the same.

[RELATED: Best Accessories For Sony A7iii & A7Riii Kit]

However, while the three scored the same overall, we know DXO has their own way of weighing these performance parameters and the overall score doesn’t really paint the overall picture. The differences in performance of color depth and dynamic range between them are relatively negligible, whereas for low-light performance the A7iii is leaps and bounds ahead, and the ’96’ doesn’t quite reflect that.

Interestingly, however, the DXO comparisons within the review are with the D850 and 5D Mark IV, and what you can see from the graphs is that the A7iii‘s high ISO performance bleeds in to affect the other parameters too, particularly noticeable once ISO ranges of about 600-800 are reached. The D850, for instance, secedes its color-depth advantage over the A7iii at about ISO 800 and in dynamic range at about ISO 400.

What can be garnered from all of this? Well, we’ll have out own full review and critique of the A7iii coming shortly, but from this alone we can see the A7iii makes for a compelling unit for many types of photographers, from wedding photographers, astro, sports, event… the works. It also helps to neatly show that all other brands have a new baseline for ‘entry-level’ now, at least when it comes to camera’s sensor performance.

At 10FPS, however, with scores like this, it also sort of suggests that the A7RIII and A9 can be more relegated to be ‘niche’ cameras, as this does so much so well. It makes me think that a price drop for those units will come within the next 6 months unless Sony ushers in some nice firmware updates. I know many A7RIII users who would love to have the various raw file sizes options like that of the D850. Just a thought…

[RELATED: Best Accessories For Sony A7iii & A7Riii Kit]

You can check out the full DXO review here.

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

13 Comments

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  1. Kyle Fredrickson

    as a travel photographer, I feel like this is a no brainer over my fuji. While I LOVE shooting landscape..saving $1,200, getting faster AF, and a bit better low light makes this much more compelling than the riii and its increased MP.

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  2. Matthew Saville

    And yeah, I also predicted that 50-75% of Sony A9 buyers would regret their purchase within 6-12 months, because they were buying way more camera than they actually needed compared to what I knew would inevitably surface in the A7iii. And at 10 FPS on the A7iii, (I was honestly only expecting 6-8!) …wow, you really gotta be shooting serious sports in order to need the A9!

    Actually to be honest, the one thing I didn’t know if Sony would deliver in the A7iii was the dual SD slots. Since the “plain” 7-series is their cheapest FF option, it was conceivable that Sony would go the Canon 6-series route, instead of the Nikon D6xx / D750 route, opting to keep the single SD slot and only add the A9’s battery and AF system (and ergonomics, more or less) to the A7iii.

    But, Sony decided to go for broke, and with all three of the major factors that a pro needs to cover anything from “light” sports to weddings, the A7iii is definitely going to be a winner, unless it has some debilitating bug although that seems unlikely since it would have surfaced by now IMO. 

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    • Matthew Saville

      I mean seriously, how many $$ does it really cost to put dual card slots in a camera? Nikon has been doing it since the D30s and D7000, they literally “gave up” with the D7500 because NOBODY else was competing with dual card slots in that price range, even after they had offered that feature for many generations.

      I guess some engineers / marketing directors are of the impression that memory cards are reliable enough at this point that dual card slots are less important, even to an aspiring professional, but personally I’m not going to take my chances.

      TLDR, the D750 and A7iii are currently the champions in the “budget professional” category of camera body. Canon needs to put dual SD slots and a better (At ISO 100) sensor in their 6-series before I give them that title. Until then, I’ll continue to recommend that any Canon pro use a 5-series.

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    • Jonathan Brady

      Owning both the A7RIII and A9, I have to say that the AF of the A9 is clearly superior to the A7RIII in terms of performance. That plus the no-blackout-viewfinder/silent shooting is worth the price difference.
      I’ve only shot continuous frames once – otherwise, it’s been single shot since I bought the camera.

      I don’t feel like I bought too much camera in either instance. That said, if I never owned either and bought an A7III, I’m sure I’d be ecstatic with it, especially at $2k.

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    • Matthew Saville

      I thought the A7R3 had truly silent shutter as well, and I thought it had no-blackout too although I’m less certain of that one. Either way, do we know if the A7mk3 has either of those features? Again, I’m pretty sure that all Sony’s have had silent shutter mode since the A7R2 actually…

      Either way, it’s interesting to know that you find the A9’s AF to be better than the A7R3. I was under the impression that more megapixels actually aide in on-sensor AF, since they’re simply higher-resolution detectors. I guess there’s a law of diminishing returns that clashes with the demands of actually resolving such high megapixels precisely…

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    • Kishore Sawh

      A7Riii has full silent mode. only the A9 has no blackout. 

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    • Jonathan Brady

      The A7RIII (and A7III) do have silent shooting, but the potential for distortion of a moving subject means it’s not always usable. Ditto for shooting under artificial, flickering lights. With the A9, moving subjects (and artificial lights) are not a problem, as evidenced by their promotional images of a golf club mid-swing being perfectly straight. Additionally, the lack of blackout with the A9 makes tracking moving subjects substantially easier. That plus the better AF means shooting with the A9 is a better, easier experience than shooting with the A7RIII (and by extension, the A7III). The only time I’m not shooting in silent mode with the A9 is when using on or off-camera flash. With the A7RIII, the only time I shoot with silent shutter is during an actual wedding ceremony (I don’t even shoot the precessional or recesssional with silent shutter as it’s not worth the risk of distortion).
      Matthew, it seems as though you’re making some comments without the experience to back them up.

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  3. Yen test

    [Yen test has deleted this comment]

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  4. Matthew Saville

    On the one hand, I always take DXO’s numbers with a grain of salt, because they’re using both a “laboratory” and math, two things which I never encounter in the /real world/. They arrive at their ISO number via some algorithm that isn’t as simple as just measuring noise levels at 100% on a patch of blank grey image. They scale down the image to “normalize” it, and I think they also take into account the level of detail retention, not just noise levels. Last but not least, IIRC they don’t apply any color NR at all, which is totally weird because color NR is effortless to almost completely remove at all but the “worst” high ISO’s.

    TLDR, this sensor “winning” may not mean you’ll actually see a real-world difference compared to an A7S, or one of the  Nikon FF flagships that also have 12-20 megapixels.

    On the other hand, this is still a HUGE milestone for Sony, even if it’s mostly on paper. Why? Because historically, Sony has spent almost their entire history lagging behind what Nikon is able to do with the “same” sensor that each company gets from Sony Semiconductors.

    Just look at the D3X and the A900 / A850, or the D610 / A7, D750 / A7iii, …and pretty much all of the APS-C sensors that have been shared. Each time, Sony’s sensor was 1-2 stops behind the Nikon.

    The A7S and A7R2 were a foretaste of what was to come, apparently. Even though their resolution caused them to be a bit more ambiguous of a comparison between their nearest Nikon competition, the word on the street was still that Sony (Imaging) had finally contracted with Sony (Semiconductors) to make THEIR OWN sensors, sensors that would not go to Nikon. And now we have the A7iii, with performance that I don’t even know if the D750’s imminent replacement will be able to beat in every single measurement. Hopefully Nikon can come as close as possible, or match it, of course. But I’m not even sure if they’re continuing to source their sensors from Sony (Semiconductors) anymore, so we’ll have to wait and see.

    Either way, many kudos to Sony on the A7iii. IMO this will be their equivalent of the Canon 5D / 5D2, or the Nikon D700. That is to say, EVERYBODY is going to buy one, and it’s going to cause a lot of “ship-jumping”…

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    • Dave Lyons

      Personally, I would take the natural grain over Sony’s over “doctored” raw files any day, I can only imagine how bad the star eater issue is now.

      “or the Nikon D700”, I disagree… The D700 pretty much requires you to know how to take pix, it’s not going to do it for you like these new  ones will. IMO theres a point where too much is too much and we’re well past that now. All these features and advancements on a  mirrorless and yet they don’t prodce a better pic and if you can’t get a great shot off a d700 then you shouldn’t worry about which system to buy but instead learn actual photography first. ( not saying that to you matt), but they are trying to make the cameras more like phones, just doesn’t interest me personally… but i’m a crappy shooter anyway lol, although i’m thinking about getting a pentax for landscapes and milky ways and a fuji for the rest Obviously I’m in no hurry to trade up for but if you buy it, enjoy it

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    • Matthew Saville

      Well, then if the D700 was a more difficult camera to understand, (I don’t disagree with that) and yet it was still the camera that EVERY Nikon shooter at the time (And loads of 5D / 5D2 shooters too!) had to own,

      …then doesn’t that prove my point even moreso, that the A7iii will sell like crazy?

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    • Kishore Sawh

      “Because historically, Sony has spent almost their entire history lagging behind what Nikon is able to do with the “same” sensor that each company gets from Sony Semiconductors

      Just look at the D3X and the A900 / A850, or the D610 / A7, D750 / A7iii, …and pretty much all of the APS-C sensors that have been shared. Each time, Sony’s sensor was 1-2 stops behind the Nikon.”

      Matt, I’m really not sure if I agree with this at. Where have Sony sensors since the A7R lagged behind Nikon’s to that extent? Truly, I just don’t know where that comes from. Having used every Sony camera since the A7 and every Nikon FF since the D700 it’s hard to say unequivocally that Nikon has been leading. And if they were (as in the case of the A99 and D800 – I know why that was the case, and you can check my Sony story as to why. 

      Furthermore, after spending some time with the A7iii I can tell you it’s not just on paper. I shoot daily now with the A7Riii and the A7iii is remarkably good for the price point. It definitely does a lot better in use than say a D750 – AF, overall speed, and low light. 

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    • Matthew Saville

      Indeed, the A7R was one of the many small tips of the iceberg we see today.

      However at the same time as the A7R, like I mentioned the A7 and A7ii were still a stop or more behind the D610 / D750. Same thing for their APS-C 24 MP sensors: the A6000 was atrocious and quite far behind the original Nikon 24 MP DX sensors. (the Sony ones, not the Toshiba ones)

      The starkest differences were indeed much older, from the earliest days of Nikon DX and FX getting sensors from Sony. What seemed to be the M.O. was that Nikon would “request” a sensor from Sony Semiconductors, and they would get to make their camera first, while Sony (Imaging) had to wait a year or so before they could make a camera with that same sensor. And when it hit the market, the sensor was still a bit less impressive.

      The important question now is, can Nikon and Canon keep up? Even if they use sensors from Sony Semiconductors? I’m not so sure, but I’m at least hopeful.

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