The Sony a9 II and the Sony a7S III may be aimed at different audiences, but both are high-end, professional-caliber cameras that are of a similar generation to one another (the a7S III was announced less than a year after the a9 II). What makes the cameras different and which one is right for you? This article will answer your questions!
Sony a9 II vs Sony a7S III Specifications Comparison
|Camera Feature||Sony a9 II||Sony a7S III|
|Announced||October 2019||July 2020|
|Sensor Type||Stacked CMOS||BSI CMOS|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X (front-end LSI)||BIONZ XR|
|Resolution||24.2 MP||12.1 MP|
|Sensor Dimensions||35.6 x 23.8 mm (Full Frame)||35.6 x 23.8 mm (Full Frame)|
|Sensor Pixel Size||5.9µ||8.4µ|
|Low Pass Filter||Yes||Yes|
|IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization)||Yes||Yes|
|Base ISO||ISO 100||ISO 80|
|Max Native ISO||ISO 51,200||ISO 102,400|
|Extended ISOs||ISO 50-204,800||ISO 40-409,600|
|High-Resolution Sensor Shift||No||No|
|Focus Stack Bracketing||No||No|
|Pre-Shoot Burst Mode||No||No|
|Fastest Shutter Speed||1/32000||1/8000|
|Longest Shutter Speed||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Continuous Shooting (Mechanical Shutter)||10 FPS||10 FPS|
|Continuous Shooting (Electronic Shutter)||20 FPS||10 FPS|
|Notes for High FPS Shooting||Compressed 12-bit raw at 20 FPS (uncompressed 14-bit raw is available at 12 FPS)||None|
|Buffer Size (Raw)||239 frames (20 FPS)||Over 1000 frames (10 FPS)|
|Autofocus System||Hybrid PDAF||Hybrid PDAF|
|Low-Light AF Sensitivity (f/2 Lens, ISO 100)||-3 EV||-6 EV|
|Standard Flash Sync Speed||1/250||1/250|
|Curtain to Protect Sensor at Shutdown||Yes||No|
|Maximum Video Bit Depth (Internal)||8 bits||10 bits|
|Maximum Video Bit Depth (External)||8 bits||16 bits|
|Raw Video||No||Yes, externally|
|4K Maximum Framerate||30 FPS||120 FPS|
|1080P Maximum Framerate||120 FPS||240 FPS|
|Additional Video Crop Factor||No||1.1x crop at 4K 120p (otherwise no additional crop)|
|Chroma Subsampling||4:2:0, 4:2:2 (External)||4:2:2|
|Video Recording Limit||780 min||780 min|
Physical and Other Features
|Slot 1 Type||SD (UHS-II)||CFExpress Type A, or SD (UHS-II)|
|Slot 2 Type||SD (UHS-II)||CFExpress Type A, or SD (UHS-II)|
|Rear LCD Size (Diagonal)||3.0 in||3.0 in|
|Rear LCD Resolution||1.44 million dots||1.44 million dots|
|Articulating LCD||Single Axis||Fully Articulating|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3.69 million dots||9.44 million dots|
|USB Type||Type C 3.2 Gen 1||Type C 3.2 Gen 1|
|Battery Life (Viewfinder)||500 frames||510 frames|
|Battery Life (Rear LCD)||690 frames||600 frames|
|Weight (Body Only w/ Battery + Card)||678 g (1.49 lbs.)||699 g (1.54 lbs.)|
|Dimensions (LxHxD)||129 x 96 x 78 mm (5.1 x 3.8 x 3.1″)||129 x 97 x 81 mm (5.1 x 3.9 x 3.3″)|
|MSRP, Body Only||$4500 (Check Current Price)||$3500 (Check Current Price)|
|Used Prices||Sony a9 II Used Prices||Sony a7S III Used Prices|
The differences between the Sony a9 II and the Sony a7S III begin with their resolution – 24 megapixels on the a9 II, and 12 megapixels on the a7S III.
These days, 12 megapixels is certainly on the low side, but that doesn’t mean the a7S III is a bad camera. In fact, the Sony a7S III has exceptional low-light performance, great video quality, and a nearly unlimited buffer. And as you can see in the chart above, it has more total wins in its column than the Sony a9 II.
It’s not like the Sony a9 II is a slouch, of course. The ability to shoot 24 megapixel photos at 20 frames per second, not to mention the high-quality autofocus system, make it one of the best pure sports/wildlife photography cameras of its generation. There are plenty of subjects where I’d rather have the a9 II in my hands than the a7S III.
Summary and Recommendations
The right choice between the Sony a9 II and the Sony a7S III really depends on what you’re shooting. If you’re a wildlife or sports photographer, I would pick the Sony a9 II because the extra resolution can be very useful for cropping, and 20 FPS is a meaningful step up from 10 FPS. The Sony a7S III is hardly a bad camera for photographing fast action, but the a9 II is still better.
For videography, it’s no contest – the Sony a7S III is fantastic in this regard, capable of better slow motion, higher bit depths, and even raw video (albeit external only). Sony really designed the a7S III with video in mind, and it shows. Beyond that, the low-light performance of the Sony a7S III (both for video and for stills) makes it the ideal choice for shooting in very dark environments.
As for other genres of photography, the Sony a9 II is arguably the more versatile of these two cameras simply because of its resolution. 24 megapixels is enough for making large prints and/or cropping, while a lot of photographers consider 12 megapixels to be too low for their work, especially in genres like landscape photography. But if 12 megapixels works for you, the Sony a7S III is the obvious winner. Compared to the Sony a9, the a7S III is newer, more advanced in most areas, and less expensive (at least if bought new; used prices are similar).
What does the Sony a9 II offer over the Sony a7S III?
- Twice the pixel count: 24.2MP vs 12.1MP
- Faster frame rate of 20 FPS compared to 10 FPS
- Useful voice memo feature for quickly labeling your photos in the field
What does the Sony a7S III offer over the Sony a9 II?
- Better video features overall, including in bit depth, slow motion video, and external raw recording
- Higher resolution electronic viewfinder, with about 2.6x more dots, making photography more enjoyable
- Lower price, with an MSRP that’s $1000 less – you could get a great lens for that price!
Questions? Go to our forum, where you can start a conversation and talk to photographers about these two cameras!