I purchased the new Sony a7R III last week as an upgrade to my a7R II. I’ve used my a7R II in hundreds of shoots over the last year and it has always given me amazing results, but I’ve had one major issue with the camera: tethering speed.
I shoot for magazines and clients. I make it a point to tether my camera to my Microsoft Surface tablet so the clients can see what I am shooting as I do my work. Using Capture One, I can even have settings apply to each image as I shoot them so the client can have a more realistic view of the final image look.
But my issue was, when shooting tethered, the Sony a7R II could only capture 22 images in a row before it got “buffered” and you had to wait for the camera to transfer the images it held over. If you tried to take more shots, you could only take one every 3-4 seconds, which is annoying when you are missing some great shots.
Furthermore, because the a7R II only comes with a USB 2.0 slot, this takes a while to transfer over the 42 megapixel shots (which are about 40MB in size RAW). Sometimes what I am shooting is not the actual shot still loading on my Surface, as the buffer is 1 minute behind.
This being said, I wouldn’t give up the a7R II for another camera, as all the other features of the camera such as eye-AF and incredibly sharp photos make up for this.
But then the Sony a7R III came out on December 1st and with it, USB-C. Not only that, it could do a burst rate of 10 shots a second, which is incredible. I had to test it right away!
I purchased the Sony a7R III and then purchased a new Microsoft Surface Book 2. I chose the Surface Book 2 because not only does it have USB-C built in, but it also has an i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and an ultra-powerful Nvidia 1060 video card, so I knew it can handle the throughput.
Tether Tools send me their brand new USB-C to USB-C cable for testing (which should be available for all by the end of this month). Finally, I used my Profoto B1 lights at a power of 2.0, to get really fast recycle times.
I wanted to test the USB-C to USB-C speed of the a7R III but I also knew that not everyone has a laptop/computer with USB-C, so I tested USB-C to USB 3 as well. I additionally added the a7R II speeds to see the vast improvements.
As you can see in the video below, the results were amazing!
I first tested single shot speed, which is the amount of time after the camera takes the picture until it is downloaded into the computer:
Sony a7R III: 1.8 Seconds USB-C Single Shot
Sony a7R III: 1.9 Seconds USB-3 Single Shot
Sony a7R II: 5.9 Seconds USB-2 Single Shot
I then tested burst shot speed, which is the amount of time after the first shot in the burst until the last shot is loaded into the computer:
Sony a7R III: 84 Shots in 1 min 7 seconds, 0.8 Seconds a Shot USB-C Burst
Sony a7R III: 84 Shots in 1 min 8 seconds, 0.8 Seconds a Shot USB-3 Burst
Sony a7R II: 22 Shots in 1 min 17 seconds, 3.5 Seconds a Shot USB-2 Burst
This GIF shows the burst speed of the a7R III and Profoto B1 lights — 10 frames a second in burst at 42 megapixels:
This is groundbreaking for photographers who tether. Hell, this should convince any studio shooters to start tethering. No longer are you constrained by the buffer. Now you have the amazing quality of photos from the a7R II with all these additional features introduced on the a7R III. It is worth the upgrade!
About the author: Evan Guttman is the owner of EvanWasHere Photography, based in NYC which shoots portrait, editorial, beauty, commercial, and celebrity. You can find his work on his Instagram, his BTS videos on his YouTube, and write-ups on some of his shoots on his website.