Sony A7 III Settings

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Wow what a camera, this thing is small yet super complicated 🙂 The main notes for first time users is

  1. You have to do a firmware upgrade by sideloading from a Mac or PC. This is a USB C camera, so on a modern Mac, you just need your USB C cable and then do a download from the right firmware page on the Sony site.
  2. You get a one year warranty from Sony. And so you should register. If you used a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the American Express Platinum, they will double this warranty, so make sure to keep track.
  3. Some of the sites erroneously say the body-only version of the Sony A7R III do not have a charger included, but this seems to be false, so you won’t need a charger if you get it, but you will need some extra batteries

There are quite a few tips and tricks sites. I’m glad they exist because this is really a deep product, there are pages and pages of settings. Wim Arys, Photography Life, Colby Brown and have a nice one. Here are some top tricks:

  1. Set the camera to Aperture priority mode. Most cameras have a aperture which is highest resolution. For instance with the 50mm f/1.4 ZA, this is where center sharpness is high and edge sharpness is rising about f/2.8, then set the camera to auto ISO and it will adjust ISO and shutter to always have the highest resolution. The Zeiss 25mm f/2 Batis as another example is sharpest at f/4.
  2. If you want maximum image quality, then set the file format for uncompressed RAW. These will really be huge images, but worth if as SDs are pretty cheap. I normally shoot JPEG+RAW so that most of the time I just use the JPEGs for quick copies, then have the RAW for archiving and deep edits.
  3. Long exposure reduction noise reduction. Leave on as the only way to solve this otherwise is to take a black photo to look for hot pixels.
  4. High ISO NR. Turn this too low because Sony is pretty aggressive about noise.
  5. Color space. Adobe is about 30% wider range in displayable colors but sRGB is the standard used on the web. I normally go to Adobe (1998) because I’m shotting usually scenes that don’t have lots of fine gradations of color and because it will make the color histogram more accurate since the histogram uses the color mode (even though it doesn’t matter for JPEG). Beware though that if you need subtle colors then sRGB works better since the color points are closer together. Note this doesn’t matter for RAW as you get well the raw bits, so another compromise is to shoot JPEG and RAW and just use the JPEG for web shots and sending to folks.
  6. Single vs continuous shooting. I normally leave in continuous in case I need it.
  7. Self-timer during bracket. This will shoot every 2 seconds apart when you are bracketing…
  8. Focus mode. The normal single shot and continuous (useful in sports)
  9. Priority set in AF-S and AF-C. This says, do you wait for focus before firing if the object isn’t in focus or just shoot. Balanced is some sort of compromise between the two. I usually leave in AF-S because the camera is so fast particularly with electronic shutter and because there is no blackout when you take a photo with electronic shutter. Change this manually.
  10. Distortion correction, this is only for JPEG, so you can leave on for JPEG and then correct for RAW.
  11. Focus area. Normally set to wide on for still objects and it uses all the focus points. But if you have a moving one, set focus mode to continuous and then focus area to Lock-on-AF. What ever it finds will stay locked on as it moves.
  12. Eye start AF. This means that autofocus only starts when it detects you are looking through the viewfinder. Useful for battery life.
  13. Set V/H AF Area. There is no way to know this means switch vertical and horizontal focus areas. This basically means if you turn the camera from vertical to horizontal, it will switch the focus area to track the subject, you won’t lose the focus when you flip the camera.
  14. Center Lock-on AF. Although this is buried in the menu, it is most useful in intelligent auto mode, then hitting the center button says lock on to whatever is in the center of the screen and track it.
  15. ISO. Native ISO is 100 and usable is in the 3200 range which is pretty incredible. Auto ISO changes dynamically, the selection default to standard which is 1/lens length
  16. You should probably limit the maximum ISO to 3200, things get pretty horrible above that.
  17. Metering Mode. Normally set to Multi and then Face Priority in Multimode means it will look for faces, this is the most automatic of all modes.
  18. DRO. Dynamic Range Optimization tries to change brightness levels to capture more detail. Photograph Life recommends turning it off.
  19. Spot Metering Point. Instead of just center, you can meter where you are focused
  20. Peaking Display. When in manual focus assist to dmf, will show peak colors so you can see if you are in focus.
  21. XAVC S 4K. This is the highest resolution video recording format. You need a huge SD that writes at 300Mbps, but what a high quality resolution.
  22. S&Q Settings. This means slow motion and quick motion recording.
  23. Proxy Recording. This means the camera records a smaller secondary movie so you can monitor what you are shooting more easily.
  24. Marker Display, do you want a grid while shooting a movie.
  25. Silent shutter means that the mechanical shutter isn’t used. This is nice to prevent bouncing when you are taking photos, the main issue is that since it is electronic, you cannot use it for flash photography, and when you are shooting bulb (that is unlimited exposure). For certain fast moving things, you can get a rolling shutter effect as there is a line by line read out using electronic shutter.
  26. Make sure to turn SteadyShot off if you are using a tripod, so it doesn’t interact with the tripod.
  27. Zebra setting, set so you can see what is going to be overexposed
  28. Gridlines use for composition.
  29. Live View Display. When Settings on, you can see the exposure.
  30. Network settings, set to airplane mode to save battery life. Kind of an annoying feature because Playmemories always needs to connect to your phone.
  31. Connect with bluetooth so that you can gps log where your photos are.
  32. Make sure you have the finder frame rate set to high and the display quality should be high as well
  33. When shooting movies you need mechanical shutter on and then you can set the picture profile to pp10 and the go for hlg2 so you shoot hdr movies
  34. Set the Zebra on to 95%
  35. Turn off review each photo so that the viewfinder is always showing the current image. A cool gesture inherited from the a9
  36. Turn on the rule of thirds gridlines
  37. The camera is modal so u want to set those things for movies in the movie mode view.

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