The Sony Alpha 7 III – a great full-frame camera for photomicrography when used with one of our high-end LM microscope adapters
The Sony Alpha 7 III – a great full-frame camera for photomicrography when used with one of our high-end LM microscope adapters
Sony’s Alpha series comprises a wide variety of top-rated cameras, including the “silent” Alpha 7 III, which has taken over many features of the Alpha 7R III.
The Alpha 7 III has a standard Sony E-mount lens mount and can thus be attached to a microscope or macroscope in just a few easy steps with one of our LM adapter solutions. Thanks to the flexible, modular design of our products, we can offer solutions that fit most microscope connections and make microscope work easier and more convenient.
Sony’s Alpha 7 III is a small, handy mirrorless camera that packs lots of power in a small package. It is equipped with a backside-illuminated 24 MP CMOS image sensor which can capture full-resolution images with exceptional detail and depth. Its sensor shift image stabilisation system provides compensation for movement and minimises the effects of camera shake. This is a real plus for microscope photography, because at high microscope magnifications, even the most subtle vibrations can have a disastrous effect on image quality.
The key features of the Sony Alpha 7 III at a glance:
24 MP CMOS full-frame sensor with sensor shift image stabilisation
Continuous shooting at up to 10 fps
ISO sensitivity: ISO 100 to 51,200 (expandable to 204,800)
4K UHD video recording
Full HD video with up to 120 fps for slow motion recording
USB-C port for data transfer and power input
Live View tethering with Live View feed
Digital shutter speed control
The most apparent trait of system cameras like the Alpha 7 III is that they don’t have a mirror or prism for diverting the light from the lens into a viewfinder. This has the advantage that the camera body can be kept very small. Therefore, mirrorless cameras are an excellent choice for mobile use. With a weight of about 650 grams, the Alpha 7 III is quite a bit heavier than Alpha 7R, for example, but still a lightweight compared to DSLRs.
The sensor offers a wide sensitivity range of ISO 50 to 204,800, along with a dynamic range of up to 15 stops, which enables premier detail and quality for a wide variety of applications. This dynamic range is comparable with that of the Sony 7R II.
The camera’s high ISO sensitivity offers many benefits for microscopy applications, because in many microscopic imaging methods (e.g. fluorescence applications, marked antibodies or self-illuminating specimen slides), only a small amount of light reaches the camera sensor. Longer exposure times (1/8000 to 30 seconds; Bulb setting) also compensate for the lack of available light.
The 3-inch (7.5 cm) LCD monitor has an impressive 921,600-dot resolution screen and can be tilted up and down.
This makes working with a microscope easier – also when the camera is mounted on the phototube. Attaching the Sony Alpha 7 III to a microscope is an easy task with our LM digital adapters. We recommend attaching the camera to the phototube of the microscope. For microscopes without phototube, we also offer LM digital adapter solutions that work on eyepiece tubes (30 mm or 23.2 mm internal diameter).
Image: Adapter solutions for eyepiece tube and C-mount phototube
The Alpha 7 III offers continuous shooting with up to 10 fps and up to 8 fps in Live View mode. Thanks to its electronic shutter, it can also capture silent bursts of up to 10 fps at maximum resolution.
Like its sister models, the Alpha 7 III features 4K Ultra HD resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixel) video recording capabilities.
In Full HD, it can even film up to 120 fps, which allows for 4x and 5x slow-motion recording. Live View videos and images can be displayed on an external 4K monitor via HDMI port. The recording limit is 29 minutes.
Remote camera control from a PC/Mac has become something of a standard in the photography world, especially when it comes to microscope images. For Sony cameras, we recommend Capture One for Sony, a special version of the classical Capture One software, but specifically for Sony cameras. As an alternative, Sony’s new Imaging Edge software suite can also be used to access and control the camera remotely when it is connected to a computer (tethering).
The Live View image can be conveniently viewed on the monitor of a PC/Mac, which significantly improves the workflow. Sony also added a USB 3.1 Gen 1 port for high-speed data transfer to the Alpha 7R III.
The camera’s built-in Wi-Fi enables remote control from a tablet or smartphone. Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app is an easy-to-use application that makes camera use more convenient. Releasing the shutter remotely minimises the impact of camera shake, which is essential for high-quality images. We did an in-depth field test of the app with the Sony Alpha 6500.
At this point, we would like to extend special thanks to Opernfoto Hausleitner Graz, the camera store who kindly provided the camera we used in our test.
CONCLUSION: The Sony Alpha 7R III is a highly capable camera and excellently suited for microscopy applications. Priced at around EUR 1,900 (body only) as of May 2019, it also offers a good price/performance ratio. We recommend operating the camera remotely using a software or app, which also offers the advantage of being able to adjust many camera settings from the computer or smart device. This not only boosts workflow efficiency but also brings benefits in terms of ergonomic working conditions. More information about cameras can be found in our current camera recommendations and our camera ranking.
Select a microscope connection C-Mount thread with factor of 1x Standard Tubus 23,2 mm inside diameter Tubes outer diameter between 24 mm and 25.3 mm Tubes with 30 mm inside diameter Tubes with 30,5 mm inside diameter Tubes with 37 mm inside diameter Tubes with 38 mm inside diameter WILD M400 photomacroscope Olympus BH Microscopes Olympus phototubes SZ with 34 mm inside diameter Olympus phototubes SZ61 with 32 mm outer diameter Olympus phototubes with 38mm dovetail Olympus phototubes with 42mm dovetail Olympus Makro Zoom Fluoreszenz Mikroskop MVX10 Nikon Microscopes with V-T phototube Zeiss phototubes with 30mm inside diameter Zeiss phototubes with 44mm dovetail Zeiss phototubes with 52mm outer diameter Zeiss Primostar with Phototubus Carl Zeiss Jena phototubes with 42mm dovetail Leica phototubes with 35mm dovetail Leica phototubes with 37mm thread Leica CME/DME with 36mm Phototubus Bresser phototubes with 32mm inside diameter Euromex Novex RZ phototubes with 23mm outer diameter Euromex Novex RZ eyepiece tube with 30,5mm inside diameter Euromex Novex B-Reihe with phototubes with 32mm inside diameter Motic phototubes with 38mm inside diameter
New LM Digital Adapter for:
Sony Alpha 1 / Sony FX3 Cinema Line / Sony Alpha 9 II (ILCE-9M2) / Sony Alpha 9 / Sony Alpha 7R IV / Sony Alpha 7S II / Sony Alpha 7S III / Sony Alpha 7R III / Sony Alpha 7R II / Sony Alpha 7C / Sony Alpha 7S / Sony Alpha 7III / Sony Alpha 6600 / Sony Alpha 6400 / Sony Alpha 6100 / Sony ZV-E10 / Sony Alpha 6300 / Sony Alpha 6500 / Sony Alpha 99 II (SLT-A99 II) / Sony Alpha 77 II / Sony Alpha 7R / Sony Alpha 7 / Sony Alpha 68 / Sony Alpha 99 (SLT-A99) / Sony Alpha 7II / Sony Alpha 6000 / Sony Alpha 77V / Sony Alpha 580 / Sony Alpha 5100 / Sony Alpha 5000 / Sony Alpha 55 /
Which Camera Brand Belongs in Your Bag?
Previous Next 1 of 2 Daven Mathies/Digital Trends Gannon Burgett/Digital Trends
Canon has been the best selling interchangeable lens camera brand for more than a decade, but Sony is catching up — and just became the number-one brand of full-frame cameras in 2019. Thanks to other formats, Canon maintains the edge overall, but the race is neck and neck.
The question of which company makes the better camera is no different than the Apple vs. Android debate — the answer depends on exactly who’s asking. If you’re a photographer who demands an optical viewfinder, a DSLR is the way to go — and that’s Canon’s bread and butter. But if you’re looking for the best performance in a mirrorless camera, that’s where Sony shines. Canon entered the full-frame mirrorless category in 2018 with the EOS R, but it’s still catching up to Sony in this department.
In the end, it’s the little details — and what and how you shoot — that will end the tug-of-war between these two brands. Here’s what to consider in the Canon vs. Sony debate before buying a new camera, or even jumping ship and swapping brands. You may also want to read our articles on Sony vs. Nikon and Canon vs. Nikon.
History and company profile
Canon originally launched in 1933 (as Kwanon). The company originally focused on optics, but quickly becoming known for developing cameras, as well. Throughout the company’s history, Canon has been first in a number of different technological feats, from adding video to still cameras to synchronizing the flash. The EOS name that’s found in both Canon’s current DSLR and mirrorless cameras goes all the way back to 1987, when Canon developed an electric connection between the camera and lens, allowing the two to share data.
Today, Canon develops both consumer and professional cameras from point-and-shoots to DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The company also has a line of both consumer and cinema-grade video cameras as well as printers and technology in the office, healthcare, and industrial sectors.
Sony launched 13 years after Canon — but the company’s cameras came much later, in the 1980s. Unlike Canon (and Nikon, for that matter), Sony didn’t start with film. It’s first camera was the analog, but electronic, Mavica. The company then waited several years before launching the CyberShot series — still a designation for Sony compact cameras — in 1996. A shorter camera history may not necessarily be a bad thing, however. The company has been quickly catching up, probably in part to the fact that it didn’t have existing products to worry about cannibalizing, which freed it to innovate in the mirrorless arena. Sony has been first to market with a handful of different features over the past few years and new launches are often impressive.
Sony’s electronics arguably cross more categories than other camera companies, with the Sony name stamped on everything from video game systems to TVs, headphones, smartphones, and robots. And yes, Sony has a line-up of camcorders and professional cinema cameras, too.
Current camera series
Canon currently has more than a dozen different DSLRs stratified from beginner to professional models. Canon’s DSLRs start with the more affordable Rebel series with the likes of the EOS Rebel T7i and Rebel SL3. Above the Rebels, you’ll find cameras like the EOS 77D and EOS 90D, which still use the same APS-C sensors but offer more control and customization than the Rebel line. Single-digit models, like the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and 5D Mark IV, use larger full-frame sensors and target a higher-end customer.
Canon’s mirrorless camera line is divided into two series, EOS M, which uses APS-C sensors, for beginners and the full-frame EOS R for enthusiasts and pros. Its most recent mirrorless camera is the EOS RP, an entry-level full-frame model that is the cheapest new full-frame camera ever made. The two systems use different lens mounts that are not compatible with each other, making it difficult to upgrade from EOS M to EOS R.
For photographers that want an even smaller camera, Canon’s PowerShot line of point-and-shoots offers a variety of chocies. The G series, like the PowerShot G1 X Mark III, use larger sensors for better image quality, while cheaper models like the SX and ELPH models are more consumer-oriented.
Sony doesn’t have DSLRs — it has SLTs, which are similar but use a translucent mirror and electronic viewfinder. Sony doesn’t spend as much time developing SLTs anymore, but they still include some competitive features like fast performance. Currently, Sony lists three models: the A99 II, A77 II, and the A68.
Sony’s mirrorless line is where the company is really focused. The A7 and A9 series use full-frame sensors, with the A7 being the basic model, the A7R the high-resolution option, and the A7S targeting video users. The A9 — and now the A9 Mark II — is an action-focused camera with professional sports photographers in mind. Sony’s APS-C mirrorless cameras offer similar performance on a budget, like the A6400. Unlike Canon’s EOS M and R cameras, Sony’s crop-sensor and full-frame models are built around the same Sony E mount, so you can use the same lenses.
Sony is perhaps just as well known for the RX100 and RX10 series of compact cameras, which house a one-inch sensor that’s larger than what’s in most compacts. The RX100 series is more compact, while the RX10 is a bridge-style camera with much more zoom. Sony also makes lower-end point-and-shoots, but the RX cameras are the ones you should consider.
While there are differences in how different cameras process images, viewers won’t be able to tell if you shot a Sony or a Canon (nor should they care). A good photo is a good photo.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t differences between the image quality from the two brands. Color science — how a camera processes red, green, and blue light — varies between brands. While color quality is subjective, many say that Canon has the more realistic colors of the two, with better rendering for skin tones. (This is something Sony worked to improve in the new A6100 and A6600.) But color science really only comes into play for in-camera JPEGs. When shooting RAW, the manufacturer’s color science doesn’t mean anything. Here, it comes down to the color science of your editing software, like Adobe Lightroom or Skylum Luminar. Still, for in-camera JPEGs, you may find one brand gives you better results — but this is highly subjective.
There are objective differences that detailed image quality analysis can reveal. For example, DxOMark tests reveal that Sony’s sensors capture more dynamic range than Canon’s. But the numbers don’t always tell the full story, and any real world difference may not be noticeable. You’ve undoubtedly seen incredible images taken with both Sony and Canon cameras; as always, the photographer matters more than the gear.
What camera brand offers better autofocus? We’ll go ahead and annoy you (again) with this answer — it depends.
Canon uses a technology called Dual Pixel Autofocus, or DPAF, on its mirrorless cameras and its DSLRs when used in live view mode. This is a type of phase-detection autofocus, and it’s very fast and accurate. One advantage of Canon’s system is the sheer number of focus points that are possible, with the EOS R having over 5,000.
Sony also uses phase-detection in its mirrorless cameras, and while its cameras may not have as many focus points, Sony has had many more years to refine its mirrorless focusing systems. Its latest cameras stand out thanks to a system called Real-Time Tracking and Real-Time Eye AF which provide excellent subject recognition and tracking capabilities. It’s the most reliable autofocus we’ve seen on a mirrorless camera.
Speed-wise, Sony has a bigger edge. Not only does it dominate the top of the range with the 20-frames-per-second A9 II, but its lower and midrange cameras also boast impressive continuous shooting specs. Even the entry-level full-frame A7 III hits 10 fps. While the sports-oriented Canon EOS 1D X Mark II can shoot at 14 fps, Canon’s mirrorless cameras are much slower. The EOS R tops out at just 5 fps burst with continuous autofocus.
Button placement, menu interfaces, and ergonomics are more important to finding the right camera than you may realize. In general, we tend to prefer the feel of Canon’s cameras, although this is largely subjective. Sony’s menu systems are often more complicated, but part of this is to do with the additional options in them, especially for video settings.
When it comes down to which brand offers the better design, it all comes down to the way it feels in your hands.
Because Sony has a shorter history of interchangeable lens cameras, the brand has fewer lenses to choose from — but it still has quite a few. Sony now offers all the major lenses most photographers are looking for — it’s just the specialty lenses, like tilt-shifts, that may be missing.
Canon may not yet have many native lenses for its mirrorless systems, but its DSLR lenses are easily adapted to both M and R cameras without sacrificing performance or quality. That opens a decades-long history of optics for these new systems.
But that’s not the whole story. Canon DSLR lenses can also be adapted to Sony mirrorless cameras, and while some performance sacrifices might be made due to the reliance on third-party adapters, it’s still a useful way for Sony shooters to gain access to more lenses.
As major competitors, Sony and Canon are often close in price on competing camera bodies, though with some variation. The list price of the EOS R, for example, is $300 higher than the A7 III. With smaller mirrorless cameras, that variation can flip — the Canon EOS M50 is $200 cheaper than the Sony A6400 (although, it’s arguably not as good as a camera, either).
For lenses, Sony tends to be the higher priced brand, although it’s very hard to compare apples to apples here. Even two lenses with similar specifications may use vastly different optical formulas. This is how you end up with one 50mm f/1.4 lens costing under $400, while another may be $1,500. Another thing to consider is that Canon’s popularity and age makes used Canon lenses more prevalent than used Sony lenses, offering another way to save money.
Is there a clear winner?
Like the Tide Pod challenge, the Canon vs. Sony debate is a game where no one wins. When it comes to mirrorless cameras, Sony has a head start and more features to show for it, like in-body stabilization and better eye autofocus; Canon has the better DSLRs, however, and a greater lens selection.
That doesn’t mean you should just eenie-meanie-minie-mo your decision between the two brands, however. Start by determining what features are most important to you — like speed, autofocus, video, ergonomics, or price — and the type of camera you are looking for. Then compare competing models from both brands that hit all or most of the features that you need. Check to make sure the brand you are leaning for has the lenses you want. And trying one in person — even at a store display — to check and see how the camera feels in your hands is not a bad idea, either.
Canon vs. Sony — Which Mirrorless System is Best? The Answers Revealed by the Kit.
Overall, Canon and Sony offer outstanding camera and lens line-ups. It is hard to go wrong with either choice, and with no unanimous winner declared, neither Canon nor Sony will be referencing this article. However, making Canon or Sony happy is not my job — advising you is — and advantages exist between the brands.
While my kit is primarily based on Canon gear, I maintain a full complement of Sony cameras and lenses to use during evaluations. Having a solid basis from both brands permits a best-of-breed approach.
Aside from a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III utilized to capture the site's standard lens product images in the studio, the kit is all mirrorless (I know, I should sell that last camera and process R5 images to the 1Ds III pixel dimensions). Most of the best cameras and lenses are mirrorless models; those starting out should opt for a mirrorless kit, and those interested in bettering their kits should begin the migration to mirrorless.
The Canon side of the kit foundation is built on a pair of EOS R5 bodies. The R5 is an outstanding performer, featuring general-purpose utility, outstanding AF performance, and excellent image quality, including high resolution.
A Sony Alpha 1 and a Sony Alpha 7R IV represent sony in the kit. The a1 is Sony's flagship model, featuring up to 30 fps continuous shooting with no viewfinder blackout, 50 MP resolution, and best-available specs and features throughout. The a7R IV's only advantage over the a1 is higher resolution. It would only take a moment of weakness to upgrade the a7R IV to a second a1.
Listing the cameras was easy, and most often, the which camera decision is answered by the lens needed.
Let's look at the lenses, starting with the zoom lenses and following with the prime lens options. The sort within those two categories will be the widest focal length and then the widest aperture.
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM Lens
Although it does not go to 11mm, this phenomenal zoom lens is smaller and lighter, has a 2x wider aperture, is at least as sharp wide-open as the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens, and has the same price. That Canon lens is another great option.
I primarily use this lens for landscapes, nightscapes, and interior architecture. Note that the Sony cannot utilize front filters, a detraction for certain needs, primarily those requiring a circular polarizer filter. The Canon lens has the same problem; however, the Drop-In Canon Mount Adapter adds full filter capabilities to this lens.
Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens
The RF 15-35 is my go-to landscape lens, and it works well for other needs, including capturing the big view at events, etc. Because this focal length range is so important to me, I also have the most equivalent lens on the Sony side, the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM Lens. If a Sony camera is under evaluation, I'll take the Sony option without hesitation.
Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens
Canon RF 28-70mm F2 L USM Lens
The general-purpose focal length range tends to get a lot of use, and there are currently three superb-performing options in the kit. Initially, only the RF 24-70mm F2.8 had membership, and the results from this lens never disappoint. However, a wider aperture or lighter, more compact option was often needed.
The RF 28-70 F2 had been on the want list since it first arrived, but I waited long enough to ensure the high cost was justified. As it turns out, I waited too long, and this lens was still back ordered when a large indoor music festival assignment hit the calendar, providing the incentive to order. Unfortunately, the lens arrived about a month after the concert. Still, other needs for the f/2 lens are steadily arriving, especially the event coverage it is perfectly suited for.
While the RF 24-70 F2.8 is not a large or heavy lens, a modestly lighter option can make a big difference when hiking long distances, and the RF 24-105mm F4 recently joined the kit to facilitate some hiking needs later this year.
A phenomenal general-purpose zoom lens is arguably Sony's biggest opportunity.
Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM Lens
My uses for the 70-200mm focal length range include portraits, events, landscapes, and product images. Until recently, the relatively compact and lightweight F2.8 lens was the kit's solo 70-200mm option, but some distance hiking needs justified the F4 variant's entry into the kit.
The Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens is an outstanding option for those with a sony kit, and this lens addition would help round out the Sony kit shared here.
Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens
Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens
The RF 100-500 goes almost everywhere with me. This lens is an outstanding choice for landscapes, wildlife, portraits, daytime field sports, and more.
The FE lens fills this important role when working with a Sony camera.
Those with Sony-based kits should also consider the Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens. This lens shifts the focal length range to the long direction, which noticeably increases the size and weight of the lens. Because I most often have a 600mm f/4 lens complementing the long telephoto zoom, I opted for the more compact and wider-angle lens option.
Now we look at the primes, starting with a combined discussion of the widest three lenses.
Sony FE 14mm F1.8 GM Lens
Sony FE 20mm F1.8 G Lens
Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM Lens
These three lenses will outperform all others matching their focal length, and the ultra-wide apertures make them the ultimate astrophotography lenses. These three lenses are in the pack if I'm photographing the night sky.
Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM Lens
A 35mm prime lens most often joins the pack when portraits are scheduled. The strong background blur and low-light capabilities of the f/1.4 aperture are extremely attractive features, with the 35mm angle of view facilitating a great perspective for full-body portraits.
Canon's EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM is an outstanding lens, both optically and physically. However, the Sony lens is smaller, lighter, and less expensive. I purchased the Sony lens to review and kept it.
Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens
When this lens arrived in the Canon USA refurbished inventory, I couldn't resist adding it to the kit. Reviewing the RF 50mm F1.2 revealed it the incredible-performing 50mm lens we had long waited for.
The focal length and aperture make the RF 50mm F1.2 an ideal portraiture and event lens.
Later, Sony introduced the FE 50mm F1.2 GM Lens. It is also an outstanding choice, slightly smaller and less expensive. In this decision, select the lens that matches your camera.
Especially with the RF 85mm F1.2 and RF 28-70 later joining the kit, my 50mm prime lenses do not see much use. Thus, I don't own models from both brands, and the RF 50mm lens is at the top of the consideration to sell list.
Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens
This lens joined the most wanted list immediately upon providing the image quality test results, where it showed a stunning improvement over its EF predecessor. This lens is so optically high-performing that it is currently used for image quality testing of Canon EOS R-series cameras.
If portrait photography is on your list, the RF 85mm F1.2 lens is an outstanding choice, one that makes low light a non-issue.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
The only non-mirrorless lens in this list, the adapted EF 100mm L macro is an outstanding performer. I may upgrade to the Canon RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM Lens someday, but I'm not yet over the RF lens's focus shift issue.
Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM Lens
Similar to the RF 85 F1.2 to the Canon system is the FE 135mm F1.8 to the Sony system. The 135mm focal length is superb for portraits (and products), and the extremely high optical quality is the reason this lens is used for Sony Alpha camera image quality testing.
Canon RF 400mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens
Periodically, I decide that I could get along without a 400mm f/2.8 lens in the kit. Then life happens, and I realize how important this lens is to the needs coming in. A 400mm f/2.8 lens is used primarily for sports and wildlife photography, but it gets called upon for portraits since it is already in the kit. This lens delivers differentiating results in all its uses, with the background blur strength surpassing nearly all other options.
Sony-based kits should opt for the also-superb FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS Lens. I like the Canon option very slightly better, with better image stabilization performance being the biggest differentiator.
Canon RF 600mm F4 L IS USM Lens
Sony FE 600mm F4 GM OSS Lens
Wildlife and sports are among my primary photographic pursuits, the 600mm f/4 is the best option for those needs, and this option for both brands is covered in the kit.
The Canon lens's image stabilization system is better, but I'll pick the Sony option for a sharpness advantage if extenders/teleconverters are needed.
Canon RF 1.4x Extender
Canon RF 2x Extender
Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter
Sony FE 2x Teleconverter
I like carrying and using the RF 1.4 with the RF 400 F2.8, and I like using the FE 2x with the FE 600 F4 when photographing the sun and moon. Otherwise, getting closer is usually better than using extenders, and in this kit, extenders and teleconverters are most frequently used for lens image quality testing.
Which lens will be added to the kit next? It probably has not been announced yet.