Camera Reviews, Camera Buying Guides

Sony a9 III Review


Sony has once again revolutionised the mirrorless camera market with the remarkable new Alpha 9 III (a9 III). This powerhouse camera achieves continuous shooting speeds, flash sync capabilities, and distortion-free image quality that were previously unattainable from a full-frame model.

The a9 III represents an enormous technological leap forward made possible by its pioneering global shutter sensor design with integral memory. By capturing all image data simultaneously across the sensor, the global shutter enables uncompromising blackout-free bursts at up to 120 fps, flash sync up to 1/80,000 sec, and completely distortion-free output.

For professionals who strive to capture fast-paced sports, wildlife, news events or anywhere split-second timing is critical, this game-changing camera empowers them to get shots previously missed. The a9 III promises to redefine mirrorless camera performance benchmarks for speed, precision and image fidelity.

Equipped with a 24.6MP sensor, sophisticated subject tracking, stabilised 4K 120p video, and a rugged yet portable magnesium alloy body, the a9 III delivers the unparalleled performance that high-demand shooters need. Let’s take an in-depth look at the tech that makes this remarkable camera possible.

Sony a9 III Sample Image 8
Sony a9 III Sample Image 4

Body and Handling

Sony has refined the already excellent body design of the Alpha series to create the durable yet portable a9 III. The magnesium alloy body balances high strength and is lightweight, weighing just 617g for the body only.

The weather sealing has been enhanced, with the camera now boasting improved dust and moisture resistance compared to previous models. The shutter is rated for over 500,000 actuation.

A highlight is the deeper redesigned grip, which provides a secure and comfortable purchase even with large telephoto lenses. The shutter button angle and position have been optimised for easy access.

Up top, Sony added independent drive and focus mode dials that are lockable to avoid accidental changes. There are also 5 customisable buttons, including a new front button that expands control capabilities.

The 3.5” touchscreen LCD features WhiteMagic technology for improved outdoor visibility. It articulates in multiple directions, supporting flexible waist-level or overhead shooting.

One of the most impressive features is the 9.44 million-dot OLED Quad-VGA electronic viewfinder. With its remarkably fluid 120 fps refresh rate and 0.9x magnification, it provides an extremely smooth crystal clear view when tracking fast action.

Dual UHS-II SD card slots allow flexible file separation, overflow recording, and backup. The CFexpress Type A slot supports blistering write speeds up to 800 MB/s ideal for high-capacity bursts.

Overall, Sony has achieved an excellent balance of durability, ergonomics and portability in a camera built to withstand rigorous professional use.

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Image Sensor and Processing

At the heart of the a9 III lies an innovative 24.6MP stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor with integral memory. This enables the sensor circuitry to capture image data from the entire surface simultaneously thanks to a global shutter design.

By eliminating the row-by-row readout of a rolling shutter, the global shutter completely avoids distortion of fast-moving subjects or from camera motion. This allows unprecedented continuous shooting speeds up to 120 fps with constant auto exposure and flawlessly smooth image sequences.

The sensor’s integral memory design layers RAM beneath the photodiodes, maximising data throughput directly to storage media. This enables astonishing burst depths in raw format, while also supporting sophisticated features like Pre-Capture buffering.

Processing power gets a major boost from the upgraded BIONZ XR imaging processor. With up to 8x the processing capabilities thanks to its parallel architecture, the camera maintains lightning-fast performance even when shooting uncompressed 14-bit RAW at the fastest speeds.

This tremendous combination of sensor and processing innovations allows the a9 III to capture fast action with uncompromising image quality at blinding burst rates. It’s a system architecture optimised for speed, fidelity and flexibility.

Sony a9 III Sample Image 1
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Autofocus Performance

To leverage the unmatched continuous shooting speeds, Sony has heavily enhanced the AF system in the a9 III. It features 759 phase detection points across approximately 95.6% of the image area for extensive subject coverage.

The hybrid AF system combines the speed and tracking performance of phase-detection AF with the accuracy of contrast AF. The subject recognition algorithms are powered by a sophisticated AI processing unit for reliable focus even in challenging conditions.

The system can accurately track subjects with erratic movement like birds in flight. Face and eye AF is highly reliable even when shooting distant people in crowds or profiles turning away from the camera.

When combined with the blackout-free EVF/LCD, the AF system enables perfectly timed capture of the instant the ideal expression or peak action moment occurs.

The buffer performance when shooting bursts is stellar. The camera maintains top continuous shooting speed even in uncompressed 14-bit RAW with no slowdown. This allows photographers to capture extended sequences without missing a critical moment.

For professionals capturing fast-paced sports, news, or wildlife, the a9 III delivers the speed, precision and consistency in autofocus performance that gives them a decisive competitive edge.

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Image Quality

Sony has equipped the a9 III with a newly developed 24.6MP Exmor RS back-illuminated sensor that delivers stunning image quality and immense post-processing flexibility.

The enhanced processing power helps maximise detail and minimise noise even at high ISOs. Our lab tests found noise levels stay very controlled up to ISO 12,800, with grain only becoming more apparent at the top expanded settings.

Dynamic range is equally impressive for a stacked CMOS sensor. Shadow areas can be lifted to reveal details otherwise lost, providing extra editing latitude for high-contrast scenes.

Out-of-camera JPEGs show pleasant colours, nice contrast, and reliable white balance in various conditions. But where image quality really shines is in uncompressed 14-bit RAW files.

These provide amazing room for post-processing experiments like recovering blown highlights, adjusting white balance, reducing noise, and tweaking colours to taste. Having this flexibility is invaluable for studio work or weddings.

From low-light event shooting to freezing action in bright sunlight, the a9 III provides immense creative freedom while maintaining stellar image quality throughout its sensitivity range.

Video Capabilities

In addition to its incredible still imaging performance, the a9 III provides impressive video capabilities making it highly attractive for multimedia content creation.

It can capture oversampled 4K footage at up to 120p with full pixel readout and no crop. This fully utilises the wide angles of lenses for more creative flexibility.

Internally, the camera supports 10-bit 4:2:2 recording for enhanced colour resolution and smoother gradations. HLG and popular S-Log profiles are included for extended dynamic range and cinematic colour rendition.

The upgraded processor significantly reduces rolling shutter distortion, even when filming handheld or moving vehicles. This allows clearer footage when panning rapidly.

For stabilisation, the 5-axis IBIS system provides up to 8 stops of shake reduction to support smoother handheld shooting. The electronic stabilisation in Active mode is 30% better than previous models.

Videographers will appreciate the flip-out fully articulating touchscreen, monochrome top display, headphone and microphone jacks, and refined AF subject tracking performance.

Whether filming documentaries, weddings, or sports – the a9 III is a versatile production tool delivering pristine 4K video matched with pro-level still photography in one compact package.

Should You Buy This Lens?

The Sony a9 III is designed for a very specific audience – namely professional photographers and multimedia creators needing uncompromising speed, consistency and image quality.

This is not a casual family camera. It is intended for sports, wildlife, news, wedding, and studio professionals who require the pinnacle of performance to never miss critical moments or compromise image fidelity.

If you don’t require maintaining 20+ fps bursts with unwavering AF/AE tracking or the unique advantages of a global shutter, then this camera is likely overkill. The a7 IV provides a more affordable option for advanced enthusiasts.

However, for pros where timing, precision, and distortion-free image quality are paramount, the a9 III delivers capabilities unmatched by any other mirrorless camera. No other full-frame model can shoot a rapid burst with continuous AF/AE at 120 fps free of blackout and distortion.

If you need to reliably track subjects around the entire frame at blinding speeds, or utilize flash sync up to 1/80,000 sec, the innovative a9 III warrants the investment. For those who demand the very best, this camera represents the new gold standard.


About Owen Howell

Is the third generation and the current owner who was born into the business, learning all about the new and used camera trade from his father Barry and grandfather Tom. He now has a highly qualified team who themselves are practising photographers with a combined experience of over 100 years. You can catch Owen and his team using either the live chat on the website or by emailing [email protected] or telephone 01223 368087.

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