Hand’s On: new Sony A9III and Sony 50mm G Master, Sony 85mm G Master, Sony 75-350mm APS lenses

Camera & Technology

March 29, 2024 ·

Swindy

As someone who loves photography and cinematography, what Sony is doing really amazing. The Sony A9III camera is a pleasure to use, with the only real complaint with the camera having no built in ND.

User Experience:

Right off the bat, I feel, the user experience is fantastic. The lightweight magnesium alloy body feels incredibly sturdy yet portable, with an excellent ergonomic grip. The buttons and dials have a great tactile feel with a satisfying “push” to them. Customizing and programming the buttons to my preferences was pretty straightforward.

And, navigating the colorful touchscreen menu was a joy to use. Framing shots with the 3.69m-dot OLED viewfinder with the 120fps refresh rate had a more “real” and viewfinder like feeling to it.

SONY A9III Imaging Capabilities:

The 24.2MP Exmor R BSI is a stacked sensor combined with the new BIONZ XR processor which enables 20fps burst shooting with full AF/AE tracking. The autofocus system is incredible for tracking action. The Sony sensor stabilization is supposed to negate the need for a gimbal. I didn’t get to shoot anything action oriented this time out.

The video capabilities are impressive, thanks to the oversampling technology Sony has implemented. When shooting 4K video, the A9III actually captures video footage at a higher 6K resolution and then downsamples it to provide a better 4K image with increased detail with reduced moire and aliasing.

In post, the footage has been great to work with the oversampling, combined with the 10-bit 4:2:2 color sampling, and Sony’s Log format S-Log, with the full pixel readout created natural-looking 4K footage that give a lot of flexibility in post-production.

Sony’s low light capabilities remain incredible. With a native ISO range of 100-51,200 that goes up to a staggering 409,600. I used ISO 250 with the video and it of course was really clean.

Standout Features:

Now, what makes this camera truly special is the 35mm full-frame global electronic shutter. Bye bye, rolling shutter skew! You can even sync the flash at incredible speeds. Also, the “pre-capture “mode continuously buffers images when you half-press the shutter, so you never miss “the moment” – so great for sports and wildlife shooters.

Lenses and Shooting Experience:

On my recent “talking portrait” video shoot, I used the cinematic S-Cinetone picture profile (thanks, Sony https://helpguide.sony.net/ilc/2380/v1/en/index.htmlhelp guide!) with the SONY 50mm and 85mm G Master primes. The bokeh was smooth.

Let’s talk about those Sony 50mm and Sony 85mm primes in more detail. The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 G Master is an optical marvel, featuring two XA (extreme aspherical) elements that reduce spherical and chromatic aberrations to practically zero. The 11-blade circular aperture created a bokeh that was smooth, with the defocused areas looking natural. Clean, sharp, and medium contrasty lenses as we’d expect.

Since this was for a project, I’m unable to share stills of the shoot. Using the shallow depth of field really helped with the lackluster background.

The real magic lies in that f/1.2 maximum aperture, which allowed me to achieve razor-thin depth of field and separate the subject with a nice creamy bokeh. I shot the project at a conservative 1.4. Ha!

With Sony’s eye-detection AF, you can really trust it to keep up on the subject. The speed of the focus adjustments seemed great without adjustment.

Autofocus is driven by dual linear motors, making it silent and blazingly fast to lock focus, which pairs perfectly with the A9III’s 693 phase-detect AF points. The minimum focusing distance of just under 1.5ft also enables some lovely close-up capability. To note, People don’t love it when the lens is that close.

As for video, this lens is a gem, with industry-leading linear response manual focus, suppressed focus breathing, and a de-clickable aperture ring – which eliminates jarring shifts when racking focus.

Then we have the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 G Master, another low-light beast. That fast f/1.4 aperture combined with the smooth, creamy bokeh makes it a portrait photographer’s dream lens. The AF eyetracking was incredible with the lens and camera.

Now, let’s talk about the Sony 75-350mm lens, which has quickly become one of my new favorites. I didn’t use it on the video shoot, but decided to walk around with it for the weekend. The 75–350mm lens proved to be an incredible companion. Its lightness and comfort made for an easy day out.

Using this lens transformed the act of street photography. It shifted the dynamic from being a participant in the moment and getting close to the subject to being an observer, watching life unfold through the lens. Observing from a distance, This was particularly helpful during an encounter with a violinist, where the lens allowed me to capture the intimacy of the moment without intrusion.

Right out of the gate, the portability is what struck me – it’s remarkably lightweight and compact for a lens with this kind of reach. At just 1.4 lbs and around 6 inches long when retracted, it’s an absolute joy to travel with and hike around compared to traditional super-telephoto lenses.

Sony A9iii w/ Sony 75-350, it did focus on her hands instead of face

The new XD Linear motor delivers fast, accurate, and also near-silent autofocus that pairs perfectly with the A9iii’s impressive 693 phase-detection AF points.

With the 75-350mm range, you get that versatile zoom range that covers everything from portraits to telephoto wildlife and sports without being overly bulky. The constant f/4.5-6.3 aperture across the zoom range is great for low light too.

The Sony A9III combo with the zoom did seem to get a little noisy around 12800 ISO.

Something I appreciate is the zoom lock switch – it prevents that creep you often get on extending zooms when wearing around your neck.

Videographers will also love the linear response manual focus ring and internal focusing design that prevents the lens from protruding when racked – this is a major plus for maintaining balance on gimbals and rigs.

All in all, this lightweight 75-350mm would become my go-to “walk around” Sony telephoto zoom. The size, speed, and optical quality make it the perfect pairing for the nimble A9iii body for everything from photojournalism and sports to wildlife observation. Going with the APC lens, allowed me to get even closer to the subjects. The price is super reasonable too, given the pro-grade performance. A real welcome addition to the Sony E-mount lens lineup!

Sony A9iii on 75-350mm APS zoom, f6.3, ISO 1600: no crop
Sony A9iii on Sony 75-350: Cropped in Sony “Edit” software, no noise suppression, just jpeg conversion

Final Thoughts:

Bottom line – whether you’re “running and gunning” as a hybrid shooter or setting up for more controlled video work, the Sony A9iii is an absolute winner. The cutting-edge tech packed into this portable body is huge: 5-axis in-body IS, global shutter, 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording, Oversampling, Twin UHS-II card slots, brilliant OLED EVF – the features go on and on. Is it an investment? Sure. Does it need internal ND? Yes.

For photographers and videographers, the Sony A9III delivers professional-grade performance in a portable package. Innovative features like the global electronic shutter eliminate frustrating issues photographers and videographers have long battled.

Some competitors to this camera Is Canon EOS R5, NIKON Z9, Panasonic S1H, Fujifilm X-T4, Olympus OM-D E-MIX, and SONY’s own SONY A1.

Sony has reset expectations for mirrorless cameras with this SONY A9III technological achievement. As someone who values quality and advanced tech, I’m looking forward to using this camera again.

Never seen a cat being walked on a leash. Sony A9iii on Sony 75-350mm, 328mm, ISO 320 f6.3

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Jon 'Swindy' Swindall, based in Atlanta, GA, is a seasoned photographer, cinematographer, and skilled drone pilot, known for his dynamic visual storytelling and passion for capturing the world's diverse beauty through his lens. Sr. Editor Click, connect, and create at Luminous Landscape.

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