Portraits with the Sony a7riii Mirrorless Camera – Why I love this camera

Shoot portraits with the Sony a7riii Portrait Camera Mirrorless

Have you ever wondered what type of images you can get from shooting portraits on the Sony a7riii mirrorless camera?

The Sony a7riii is a 42mp full-frame mirrorless camera that provides superb quality and resolution for portrait photography. The camera features continuous eye auto-focus for capturing your subjects in motion and shoots at 10fps. With great dynamic range and subject tracking, this camera is a great choice for portrait photographers.

Let’s check out some of the other features of this camera and why you might consider upgrading your own gear.

Portraits with the Sony a7riii
Shot with Sony a7riii | Sony 24-70mm f2.8 GMaster Lens | Profoto B2 Strobe

Shooting portraits with the Sony a7riii

I’ve come a long way from shooting on my original Sony a7 camera. It was a simple 24mp full-frame camera that got me into shooting portraits.

Fast forward a few years and after a few upgrades, I now shoot with the Sony a7riii as my main camera.

A lot has changed, but a lot has also stayed the same. The overall style of the camera is still small but mighty.

More buttons and more customization allow for making the camera more unique and comfortable to your shooting style.

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Manual Mode or Auto Mode for Portraits

Shooting portraits on the Sony a7riii is pretty simple.

You can be in manual mode and have complete control of your exposure, or switch into auto-mode and let the camera do the work for you.

Yes, that’s right, I have used the auto-mode for a kid’s birthday party and I loved it. The images came out great even though this camera was a little overkill for that event.

There are just some times that shutter priority or aperture priority is just easier and faster to use. 

Sony a7riii Sony 85mm GMaster Lens
Sony a7riii Camera with Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master Lens

Sony a7riii Camera Features

  • 42mp sensor – Creates high resolution images
  • Eye-auto focus tracking (new firmware update)
  • Plenty of buttons for customization
  • Small body but slightly bulkier than my original Sony a7
  • Continuous auto-focus and subject tracking for fast moving subjects like dancers
  • Tilt screen comes in handy when shooting high angles or low angles on subjects
  • I can switch to crop mode and use my APSC lenses like the Sony 16-55mm f2.8 G Lens
  • Dual card slots for backing up my shots while I’m shooting
  • Joystick for changing focus points
  • Wifi Transfer – I use this on every shoot to show models the session and give instant feedback
  • Auto-mode works pretty well and comes in handy when I don’t want to stress about settings
  • Silent shutter for shooting at weddings
  • IBIS (In-body image stabilization) for shooting at lower shutter speeds and low light situations

Cons of Sony a7riii Mirrorless Camera

  • The 42mp sensor – Yes, I love and hate it. The large files are starting to kill my computer
  • LCD screen is not bright enough on bright and sunny days
  • Menu can be confusing when you are first staring out – Lots of options
  • Just small enough that my pinky hangs off – (I have a base extender now)
  • Sometimes the resolution and details are too much for skin editing
How to shoot sony a7riii portraits
Shot with Sony a7riii | Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G Master Lens | Profoto B2 Strobe

Sony a7riii Portrait Resolution

The 42.4mp sensor creates beautiful renders. There is no doubt about that.  But you have to figure out if you really need that resolution.

I recommend the resolution if you are shooting studio portraits or shooting really large objects and not just portraits. Like architecture or landscapes. Otherwise it really seems like overkill.

Sony a7riii Close up crop
100% Crop – Sony a7riii Portrait Details

Now, I do shoot in APSC mode often when using APSC lenses. This brings down the resolution to about 18mp and these are still large files.

Even with full-frame lenses, I like to switch to crop-mode to zoom in on a subject when I’m using prime lenses and I don’t want to move.

I know many photographers that do this to make their prime lenses a little more flexible.

The Sony a7iii as an alternative

The Sony a7iii for example is a great alternative to the a7riii when it comes to resolution.

The camera features a 24mp sensor and I feel like this is more than enough for a majority of portrait photographers.

The majority of my work is for web and digital platforms so 24mp is plenty.

The Sony a7iii comes with many of the same features like continuous eye auto-focus, 425 contrast AF points, joystick and great high-resolution view-finder.

If you’re a little more budget conscious, you may want to check out the Sony a7iii before you spend the extra cash on the Sony a7riii camera.

Sony a7riii Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master Lens
Sony a7riii with Sony 85mm F1.4 G Master Lens

How I got the camera

Full-disclosure – I purchased my Sony a7riii from a fellow photographer for a deal that was too good to pass up.

That is the only reason I went with the extra resolution of the a7riii and not the regular a7iii when I was ready to upgrade.

Hindsight being 20/20 I’m still confident I would do it all over again and still get the Sony a7riii.

Improved battery life

Coming from the Sony a7 and Sony a7ii and then making the switch to the Sony a7riii the battery performance is well improved.

The older cameras used the Sony NP-FW50 batteries. these were small and would drain pretty fast when shooting for long periods of time.

I would always have at least 2-3 batteries with me as a backup.

The Sony a7riii uses the newer NP-FZ100 batteries. These are almost 2 times bigger and last a deal longer.

Even when shooting longer sessions, I really only use about 50-60% of the battery during that time. I do keep a single backup just in case, but rarely ever use it.

Sony a7iii with lenses for sony full-frame cameras
Sony a7iii with Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 Lens

Pairing with Sony & Third-Party Lenses

Sony started with a small line-up of native lenses for the e-mount system.

Many of the lenses were for APSC and it isn’t until the last few years that the lens selection has grown to what it is today for their full-frame cameras.

As Sony is growing it’s line-up of FE lenses, so are third part companies like Sigma, Tamron and Rokinon.

Tamron makes some very affordable lenses that are comparable to Sony native quality and half the price.

Sigma on the other hand has large bulky lenses that are known for their size and weight.

They are good quality lenses but you have to get over the actual physical characteristics when shooting long sessions. Many photographers don’t mind, but it’s something to consider.

Sony a7iii vs Sony a7riii – What’s the biggest difference for portraits

I do own both cameras. (Technically the a7iii belongs to my wife but I do use it from time to time.) The biggest difference between the two cameras to me is resolution.

Sony a7riii = 42mp sensor
Sony a7iii = 24mp sensor

While the RAW files are pretty much both high quality, I shoot differently with the a7riii. I will shoot wider compositions and crop more in post production.

There is nothing wrong with this, but I notice I get my composition just right in camera with the a7iii. But I shoot with cropping in mind on the a7riii.

Sony a7riii Portrait Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G Master Lens Profoto B2 Strobe
Shot with Sony a7riii | Sony 24-70mm f2.8 G Master Lens | Profoto B2 Strobe

Shooting portraits with the Sony a7riii and Off Camera Flash (strobes/speedlights)

Within the last few months, I moved into OCF portrait photography. OCF is a short term for Off Camera Flash. I use the older and smaller Profoto B2 strobes with the Profoto Air Remote on my Sony a7riii.

This combination has worked wonders for creating dynamic photos in the sunset. I have the B2 head mounted on a small light stand, and the battery pack mounted via a small bracket.

I usually use the Profoto OCF 2×3 rectangular softbox to help soften the light and get an overall better result.

I also use a small variable ND filter to help block out a little bit of extra sunlight so I don’t have to use the B2 strobes to their full power output.

This saves battery power and helps prolong the strobe life.

Crop sensor lenses on an a7riii camera

Yes, I have used crop sensor lenses on a full-frame body. The Sony a7riii automatically set to go into crop mode and this brings the image composition down a bit on the sensor.

If you didn’t use the crop mode then you would have a really dark vignette around the edges of the frame when using the APSC lenses.

I don’t do this often but I like having the choice of placing APSC lenses on the a7riii so the file size of the raw files comes down a bit. It also just extends my lens line-up for my camera.

Sony a7riii camera Accessories

  • Pinky grip
  • Battery grip
  • Camera strap
  • Extra batteries
  • Extra memory cards
  • Screw coin

Sony a7riii Pricing – Is it worth it. 

Yes, I believe for portraits this camera is worth every penny. I also like that it’s already a few years old so you can find great deals on used Sony a7riii camera bodies.

Check out some of these deals on Amazon.com and save some serious money. 

If your budget will allow then definitely consider this camera. If you’re trying to just get started, you might consider the Sony a7iii or even the Sony a6400.

Conclusion

Portraits with the Sony a7riii are a blast. The camera is intimidating when you first start out but it really grows on you.

I love the quality of the images that come out of this camera, even if they just destroy my computer hard-drives.

Keep in mind your budget and look into what camera works best for you.

Remember I always recommend renting cameras first so you can see what they feel like in your hands and how they work.

You can’t really go wrong with Sony mirrorless cameras so make sure to check them out.

Author - Jason The Creative
My goal is not to be best portrait photographer. It’s to enjoy the journey and have some fun learning. Welcome to my photography blog on portraits, Sony gear and more.

If your interested, check out my portfolio at dallasportraits.com. I hope you learn something and leave being inspired to grab your camera and go out and shoot. Instagram.com/jasonthecreative


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