SONY a7R iii General Impressions and First Images « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

SONY a7R iii General Impressions and First Images

What’s Up?

DeSoto was pretty good on Saturday morning. Anita North and I had lots of skimmer and terns along with a big flock of Red Knots. She was on the last DeSoto IPT but was not feeling well on the mega-afternoon that we had and came back for a second chance at the copulating terns. Time will tell. I tried out the SONY a7R iii thanks to the generosity of the folks at B&H. Read on to learn of my initial impressions.

In the afternoon I headed out with my Nikon 500 PF, the TC-E14, and my souped up back-up D850. (My #1 D850 is back at NPS for another repair …) Anita and I felt as if we were walking on the Outer Banks. We had lots of bathing terns and Laughing Gulls, and some drop-dead gorgeous breeding plumage Red Knots. But the wind from the southeast made things difficult … It had been straight west in Gulfport … My gut feeling is that at some point in the future the powers that be might wind up closing this newly accessible location. If you would like to join us for part of the IPT, please get in touch asap via cell phone: 863-22-12372 — see the trip details just below.

IPT Stuff

I am still seeking one or two photographers for the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime — no reasonable offer will be refused, and one more photographer (male or female) for the UK Puffins, Gannets, and Red Kites IPT — with a large late-registration discount.

  • The 2019 Fort DeSoto Short-Notice Sandbar Secrets IPT/Sunday May 5 through the morning session on Wednesday May 8, 2019: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1649.00. Late-registration discount. Limit 4, openings: 2.
  • The New, Expanded 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Seahouses, Bempton Cliffs, and the Dunbar, Scotland Gannet boat to Bass Rock! Thursday June 27 (from EDI) through Tuesday, July 9, 2019 (on the ground; fly home on Wednesday July 10.): $9,999 — a large late-registration discount is available. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 1
  • The GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. July 23 to August 6, 2019 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $14,499 — no reasonable offer will be refused. Limit: 12 photographers/Openings: 2.
  • The 2020 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) WED JAN 8, 2020 thru and including the morning session on SUN JAN 12: 4 1/2 days: $2099.(Limit: 8/Openings: 7)

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can always see the current listings by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Four-lens Canon EF-S Bundle

IPT veteran Mark Overgaard is offering a four-lens EF-S bundle, all in near-mint to like-new condition for the crazy-low price of $949.00. EF-S lenses work only with Canon crop sensor bodies such as the 7D, the 7D Mark II, the 70D, and the 80D.

Here are the lenses:

  • Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
  • Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
  • Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

The sale includes all front and rear lens caps and hoods and insured ground shipping by UPS or FEDEX to the lower 48 states only. For all but the 18-135mm lens, the original Canon box is also included.

Please contact Mark via e-mail.

If you are sold on Canon crop factor bodies like the 7D Mark II (see the work of Dan Cadieux), and are looking for some supplementary lenses, this package represents an incredible deal. artie


BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


For the first time in months, we have Mongoose Action Heads in stock.

Lessons From the Field/BIRDS AS ART Style is a 1 hour, 15 minute, 314 image, click and play MP4 video

Lessons From the Field/BIRDS AS ART Style: $10.00

Click here to order or see the Save $10 Bundle offer below.

Lessons From the Field/BIRDS AS ART Style is a 1 hour, 15 minute click and play MP4 video. It is available here in the BAA Online Store, by phone order, or by sending a Paypal for $10.00 to As the file is a large one, be sure to upload it when you have a good internet connection.

The video features 314 of artie’s best images, educational and otherwise. Based on his 35 years of in-the-field experience, it covers all the basics along with many fine points. Are you making mistakes that give you no chance to create a great image? Learning to avoid those and learning to think like a pro will make you a better photographer. If you purchase and study the video, it will surely prove to be the best ten dollars you’ve ever spent on photography.


birds as art: The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris/The Top 100:

Save Ten Bucks!

Order the Lessons From the Field MP4 video and add a copy of the birds as art: The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris/The Top 100 (via convenient download — normally sells for $20.00) for an additional 10.00.

Order the bundle for $20.00 by clicking here.

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.


Many IPT folks have been using the Booking.Com link below to get great rates and save a handsome $25.00 in the process. If you too would like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and to earn a $25 reward on your first booking. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.


I have been using AirBNB for all of my travel lodging needs. Everyone on the Fort DeSoto IPT is staying at an AirBNB property in Gulfport. Airbnb lists more than 4.5 million homes across 200 countries; you’ll find spacious, affordable options for every occasion. With Airbnb you will travel with confidence as reviews from past guests help you find the right fit. Once you do, their secure messaging makes it easy to coordinate with your host. And Airbnb support teams are available 24/7. And this morning, I made a 17-day reservation for an Airbnb condo for San Diego, 2020. I am staying with Rick again: his place has lots of room, a full kitchen, two bedrooms, and great WiFi. All for a lot less than the price of a chain hotel.

Yikes. I almost forgot the best part: Airbnb rates average less than half of even the least expensive chain hotels and motels. If you would like to save $40 on your first booking sign up by using this link: Airbnb. Airbnb does charge clean-up and service fees that make short stays less attractive bargains than long stays.

Those who prefer to stay in a motel or hotel are invited to use the link above to save $25.00.

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on May 4, 2019 while scouting for the upcoming 2019 DeSoto Sandbar Secrets IPT. I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens (at 400mm) and the high mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 1600: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial … AWB at 8:45am on a clear sunny morning. Center Zone AF was active at the moment of exposure.

Image #1: Black Skimmer slowing down in flight

SONY a7R iii General Considerations and Flight Photography

We tried a nice sunrise location and had a stately GBH in the water with the sunrise color building. We were the only car in sight. A guy drove up, got out his car with his egg mc muffin and coffee, and headed for a concrete table along the shore. He was walking right at the bird. I waved and called out to him: “Please don’t scare the bird.” He smiled and waved and continued to walk right at the bird. The bird promptly left the scene. And we did too :). You gotta love it.

Our next stop was filled with skimmers and terns and shorebirds. Anita crossed to the spit and I opted to work the skimmer flock along the shore. We both did well. The tide was coming in so we headed for our point-blank egret and heron location with the expected excellent results.

Though the menu locations and numbering varied a bit from the a9, setting up the a7R iii was easy. And handling the camera after working with the a9 was a no-brainer. I love the image quality of the 42MP ARW files. IQ with the 7R III is right up there with the Canon 5D Mark IV (30.4MP) and the Nikon D850 (45.7MP). (please remember that there are other factors involved in Image Quality aside from file size). And I liked the ISO performance at 1600. NeatImage killed on the ISO 1600 small pixel noise — the BKGR is now as smooth as the proverbial baby’s tush.

AF with the a7R iii is not as fast to acquire, nor is the tracking accuracy for birds in flight as good as with the a9, at least in my hands. And the frame-rate pales in comparison to the a9 but so does the frame-rate with every Canon and Nikon body. Patrick Sparkman loves his a7R iii and uses it successfully for flight as well as for nearly all of his general bird photography. He does go to the a9 for pure flight and action bird photography. But heck, this was my first time in the field with the a7R iii. And I will be using it again soon.

On a somewhat related topic, does anyone know where this line is from, “They don’t have bobsleds in San Juan.”

This image was also created on May 4, 2019 while scouting for the upcoming 2019 DeSoto Sandbar Secrets IPT. For this one I used the hand held Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter (at 560mm) and the high mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 500: 1/2000 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial … AWB at 8:45am on a clear sunny morning. Expand Flexible Spot on the bird’s eye.

Image #2: Snowy Egret head portrait

More on the SONY a7R iii

AF performance at close range is superb, with and without the 1.4X teleconverter. That is true with both Zone and Expand Flexible Spot. One of the best things about SONY, Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial, is works perfectly with the a7r iii as it does with the a9. I did the whole morning, about 500 images, with a single battery (though I did have a spare in my fanny pack).

As the water at DeSoto often looks a sickly green, I did some good work in post-processing by tweaking the HSL sliders to get the BLUE looking just right. That and a bit of bill clean-up were all there needed to create Image #2. I would describe the Image Quality for this one as luscious.

Your Fave?

Which of today’s featured images do you like best? Why? I do have a clear favorite.

If In Doubt …

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To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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14 comments to SONY a7R iii General Impressions and First Images

  • Hey Arthur, Like the snowy egret portrait the best. Have fun with the new rig.

  • avatar Mukesh Patel

    Artie, after our last correspondence, I have been using mostly A7Riii with 400 f 2.8 GM and there is some learning curve with AF but getting more success than before, I think they have changed something during last FW update, they don’t explicitly mentioned in the FW update but I do see the change in AF speed and tracking.
    I personally think that A7Riii slows down with low light, so if you are using 100-400 zoom with TC 1.4, it does slow down quite a bit. However, with 400 GM + 1.4 TC, it does the outstanding job. Been shooting eagle catching fish at Conowingo dam with almost 90% success rate so you should try it out more and see what do you think.


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Mukesh, I did the firmware update last night but did not do any flight on Monday morning …

      With love, artie

  • I like both shots. Skimmers are so cool. Possibly my favorite bird is a Snowy Egret. So you can’t go wrong today!! Skimmers are kind of tough to get that gleam in their eye. I’ll flip a coin and go with the Skimmer by the skimmest of margins. Enjoy, you’re living the dream. Were you ever able to rescue the photo contest pic’s?

  • avatar Warren H

    Gotta love the Snowy Egret! The contrast between the beautiful blue and white just makes a great composition.

  • Hi Artie, I prefer image #2, it has a really nice colour palette – looks very harmonious. Thanks,

    P.S 304 megapixels would be a real killer 🙂

  • avatar Richard

    We had lots of bating terns and Laughing Gulls

    Mu gut feeling is that at some point

  • avatar Eugen J. Dolan

    For “they don’t have bobsleds in San juan” – The Musical chorus Line- Song “Nothing”

  • avatar Jordan Cait

    Hi Art,
    Sorry to hear that the inconsiderate fellow scared your GBH away.

    Here is a quick typo I noticed:
    Out next stop was filled with skimmers and terns and shorebirds. s/b . Our next stop…

    Jordan Cait

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