Sony A9 III review so far


The A9 III becomes Sony’s fastest full-frame camera for sports and action photography, shooting 24 Megapixel photos up to 120fps with an optional pre-capture buffer, blackout-free viewfinder, uncropped 4k 120 video, and their best autofocus system to date.

Behind the scenes is Sony’s first full-frame CMOS sensor with a global shutter, which not only makes these speeds possible, but eliminates the rolling shutter of conventional sensors which can cause skewing on video or electronic photos, as well as banding under artificial light.

The global shutter also lets you sync flashes at speeds way beyond rival cameras, all the way up to 1/80,000, in turn giving you the creative possibilities of transforming bright sunlight into the appearance of dusk or even night.


Beyond the usual caveats with certain combinations of lenses or settings, it really does perform as advertised, but be in no doubt this is a highly specialist camera which excels at very specific tasks and will only be a game-changer for those who play very particular games.

If you want more detailed images from a Sony camera, go for the A7r V. You want a Sony aimed at video first? Get the A7s III or an FX3. You like the idea of a fast Sony camera for sports but can’t afford the A9 III? Get the older A9 II or even the original A9 – they’re both plenty fast enough for most of us. You want a Sony camera that still does pretty much everything? How about the A1, albeit in the knowledge it’s due for a successor.

Ultimately you should only consider the A9 III if you absolutely need the benefits of its global shutter. For example if you need 120fps, or need to avoid skewing on video or electronic photos, or need to avoid banding under artificial light, or need to sync flashes at fast shutter speeds. And crucially if you’re happy to pay six grand for any of those privileges.

It’s also important to remember while the A9 III’s global shutter hugely improves electronic capture, you can achieve or approach some of its benefits with older or alternative technologies. 

For example, camera systems with leaf shutters have been syncing high-speed flashes for years, while mechanical and EFC shutters can already minimise skewing and banding to a point most of us don’t notice.

Sure, they’re not eliminating skewing completely, and they’re not shooting anywhere near as fast as the A9 III, nor for silent shutters, pre-burst captures, or for video, but when you’re spending this amount, it’s critical to look beyond the hype and think very carefully about which features you actually need, and which products will deliver the experience you want.

Personally speaking when using the A9 III I was most struck by the absence of rolling shutter on video and immediately hoped it would filter down to mainstream cameras sooner than later. I’d like that tech for my family and holiday videos. But I think it could be a long time, at least for larger sensors. 

The A9 III’s global shutter literally builds upon existing stacked technology that even years after the first A9, is still too expensive for mainstream cameras. I think it may turn up on the smaller sensors in phones or dedicated vlogging and action cameras, but if you want it on full-frame, you’ll need to dig deep and I suspect only find it from Sony for some time to come.

One thing’s for certain. In the highly niche World of pros who photograph The Olympics and other elite sporting events, the A9 III is a truly impressive camera which throws down the gauntlet to Canon and Nikon. Let’s see how they respond.

And that’s as much as I can say for part one of this review. I hope to follow-up with a second part once the camera is in final production, at which point I can answer more of your questions and dive deeper into the performance and quality.

Check prices on the Sony A9 III at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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