Sony a7 III Review: Redefining “Entry-Level” Full-Frame Mirrorless

sony a7 III review: front of camera
With a smaller form factor than comparable DSLRs and some of the best image quality, dynamic range and ISO sensitivity in the class, the Sony a7 III is a tremendous camera for the $2,000 price tag.

Sony’s a7 III is the latest full-frame mirrorless camera from a company that’s been particularly prolific since it defined the category with the Sony a7 just a few short years ago. With a price tag of $2,000, a relatively small form factor and a laundry list of high-end specs, the a7 III is a compelling camera, even for those DSLR shooters who have been reticent to go mirrorless.

With a 24.2-megapixel sensor, a capture rate of 10 fps, an ISO range of 100-51200 and 14 bits of dynamic range, the a7 III compares well with any camera currently offered, regardless of price tag or whether or not it has a mirror. The most expensive DSLRs (the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS-1D X Mark II) just slightly best the a7 III in speed, while Sony’s own a9 sets the capture rate record.

Cameras like the Nikon D850, Canon EOS 5DS R and Sony a7R III boast a higher-resolution sensor, though these cameras tend to find a more specialized audience. The Sony a7 III sits nicely in a category that covers the majority of landscape and nature photographers.

There are some specs of the a7 III that help it stand out from the DSLRs it competes against, most notably the Canon EOS 6D Mark II and the APS-C Nikon D750. Thanks to the mirrorless nature of the a7 III, the camera can operate with a completely silent electronic shutter at 10 fps, and the mechanical shutter operates at the same speed.

The Sony a7 III’s 14 stops of dynamic range enable it to capture high-contrast scenes.

The a7 III has a 693-point phase-detection AF system coupled with a 425-point contrast detection AF system and can capture 177 JPEG or 89 compressed RAW files before the buffer fills. Video users will get some of the best 4K specs available short of a dedicated cinema camera. The a7 III captures full-frame, non-pixel-binned 4K footage from a 6K oversample and can record at 100 Mbps. Sony has included S-Log3 and HLG support for high dynamic range workflows.

Despite the great stats, the a7 III isn’t without compromise. To hit the $2,000 price tag, Sony made some design decisions to keep the body affordable yet not detract from image quality. Largely, these compromises come down to the quality of the electronic viewfinder as well as some video features, which means that many users might not even notice them.

Design Change

Sony’s a9 featured many highly requested design improvements, most notably a better battery (now able to last a whole shoot), a new AF control stick, dual SD slots and revamped AF system that’s even better at tracking faces and the eyes of subjects.

The Sony a9 introduced an enhanced EVF, which the a7R III also utilizes but the a7 III does not, retaining instead the EVF from the a7 II. This is not a bad EVF, though it’s not as bright as the one in the a9 and a7R III, and has slightly though perceivably lower resolution. That said, I’ve been using the older a7R II and a7 II models to shoot everything from airshows to weddings and haven’t found the EVF lacking—it’s just not as nice as the one in the a9 and a7R III.

Another way to say this: if you use a Sony a9 or a Sony a7R III, you’ll be getting a superb EVF, while the a7 III uses merely an excellent EVF. Video shooters will likely have more issues with the EVF, as it’s not as easy to determine critical focus on this EVF without zooming into a subject, which is not necessary on the newer EVF on the a9.

Another compromise, at least over the a9, is in the performance of the electronic shutter. Cameras in electronic shutter (i.e. silent shooting) mode are prone to an effect called rolling shutter, caused by the way the camera reads information from the sensor. Data is read off the sensor line-by-line from one end of the imaging chip to the other, and when shooting fast-moving subjects, distortion can occur as the subject moves enough that it has shifted position from the start of the exposure to the end. The result is an image that looks warped, with a bottom and top (or two sides) that don’t quite line up.

The Sony a9’s higher cost reflects the additional engineering in the sensor-reading process during electronic shutter, and the camera reads data fast enough that rolling shutter is nearly eliminated, even at the 20 fps maximum rate. The Sony a7 III doesn’t read data as quickly, and so rolling shutter is a possibility.

Luckily, the camera operates as fast with its mechanical shutter as it does with electronic shutter, so electronic shutter can be employed only when silence is needed. Photograph a lioness sleeping in the veldt and electronic shutter is the right choice for silence and because rolling shutter won’t be an issue. When she gets up to chase a gazelle, switch the camera to mechanical shutter and fire away without fear of distortion.

The takeaway here is that the majority of the compromises of the a7 III are only compromises relative to Sony’s other cameras, with the a7 III neither as fast as the a9 nor as high-resolution as the a7R III.

sony a7 III review: capturing late afternoon light
Late afternoon light at Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, California.

Sony a7 III Review: In The Field

Usability of the a7 III is vastly improved over the a7 II, thanks to the functional changes adopted from the a9. The inclusion of a focus-selection control on the rear of the camera improves the AF use immeasurably.

The improved battery life finally brings the Sony cameras on par with their DSLR counterparts (and Sony is being conservative with its 700 shot estimate), and the dual SD slots are a must-have for serious shooters.

Ergonomically, the a7 III is virtually unchanged from the a7 II, which is a positive or a negative depending on your shooting style. Those who like the small chassis of the Sony cameras will find the same design and general layout as before. I’ve heard some people say that they prefer a larger body, and for these shooters the camera will feel no different than the a7 II.

sony a7 III review: rear of camera
Photographers who have used previous models in the a7 series will find the a7 III’s control layout familiar.

While Sony improved its oft-maligned menu system in the a9, it’s still overly complex and one of the stumbling blocks for potential new users. Sony’s engineers always seem to have taken an approach of adding in every possible setting without much thought to grouping them. Items are now arranged more logically, but there are still too many oddly named settings, and dialing in a camera is an exercise in digging through sub menus and making guesses.

I feel that a lot of shooters overlook the benefits of in-body stabilization in cameras like the Sony a7 III and other mirrorless systems. The ability to shoot without a tripod or monopod in even challenging conditions can be the difference between getting a fleeting shot and missing it. In an era where national parks are cracking down on tripod use, having in-body stabilization keeps open some of the doors the Park Service is looking to close. That’s not to say you’ll never need a tripod, but an additional five stops of image stabilization is a huge deal that’s often left out of the purchase decision.

Having extensively tested Sony cameras since their arrival, I find the Sony a7 III to be much more functional than even the previous a7 II. The AF, which I already ranked among the best on the market, is now more accurate. Once you get familiar with the menu system, the camera is extremely customizable. It takes me about 20 minutes to configure a new Sony for the way I shoot, filling the function menu with my preferred tools and assigning tasks to the custom buttons, and then I’m good to go.

For example, when shooting animals or sports, I often set the camera to wide area selection AF but set it to toggle to a predefined focus point when I press and hold one of the function buttons. I’ll often use this when I suspect a subject will come from a specific place, like a path or clearing, but I still want to be ready for anything unexpected. With the camera set to a wide focus area, I can instantly capture anything in my field of view and then toggle to the specific focus point to capture when my subject emerges. Without an intimate familiarity with the menu system, though, you wouldn’t even know this was possible. The settings to achieve this are spread out across several different menu options.

Image Quality & Purchase Decisions

The 24-megapixel sensor in the a7 III is a revamped version of that found in the a7 II, which means that Sony shooters will already be familiar with the excellent image quality in the a7 III. Shooters of other platforms will have no complaints about the image quality with this camera, or any cameras in Sony’s system. We’re fortunate to be in an era where just about all cameras create excellent images, and the a7 III is no exception.

With 14 stops of dynamic range and a sensor designed for improved low-light performance over its predecessor, the a7 III creates excellent images with great tonality in a variety of lighting conditions. That means that there is very little to say about the image quality aside from the fact that it is on par with or better than any comparable system in this price range.

sony a7 III review: high contrast light
Another example of the a7 III’s ability to handle high-contrast lighting conditions.

For landscape and wildlife photographers, the Sony a7 III is a particularly good option, especially for those who go off the beaten path to capture images. With a smaller form factor than comparable DSLRs and some of the best image quality, dynamic range and ISO sensitivity in the class, it’s a tremendous camera for the $2,000 price tag.

If you’re shooting with the Sony system, the upgrades over the a7 II are enough to make the purchase worthwhile for most photographers. If you’ve got an a7R III, the a7 III is a good backup body and a better choice for times when you need fast capture, but it can’t touch the a7R III in terms of resolution.

Clearly, though, Sony sees this as the model best priced to attract converts from the DSLR world, or from non-full-frame mirrorless cameras, and with these specs and this price, it’s made a compelling camera. There are many reasons that people pick a camera system, and Sony’s working hard to make the combination of price and performance a compelling reason for adoption of its cameras. At very least, the Sony a7 III helps redefine the performance expected at this price point, and that’s good for all photographers.

The post Sony a7 III Review: Redefining “Entry-Level” Full-Frame Mirrorless appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

Powered by WPeMatico

Giving Voice

Aasha soaking in her bathtub shortly after recovering from severe ringworm. Aasha was given her Indian name because it means “hope.”

I knew the day I met Aasha that we’d be lifelong friends. She looked at me with her piercing aqua eyes, and we made an instant connection. Aasha was a 5-month-old tiger, yet she had the most intimidating vocalizations for such a tiny little girl. She was feisty but she was also sweet. She chuffed at me several times as she rubbed against the fence with affection.

Aasha was confiscated by the USDA from a tiger circus in east Texas and brought to In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center (, a sanctuary dedicated to the rescue of neglected, abused or unwanted exotic cats. On arrival, Aasha’s tiger stripes were pretty ragged. Her patchy fur was fighting a losing battle with big bald spots that were swollen, cracked and bleeding. Among other things, she was diagnosed with highly contagious ringworm and had to be isolated from all the other rescued animals. I really wanted to help but beyond cleaning enclosures, I was at a loss. Even though I was a brand-new volunteer still in training, I knew I wanted to do something more.

I had the idea that maybe I could help with my photography. It was clear to me that telling Aasha’s story with pictures was the voice that would make the most noise. I wanted the world to know about these cats and why sanctuaries like In-Sync exist. Cat conservation quickly became my passion. I’m not sure I would have made this discovery if I hadn’t become a volunteer. If helping animals strikes a chord in your heart the same way it does in mine, then maybe volunteering at a sanctuary or rescue is the right answer for you, too. I have laid out a few steps that can send you on your way to making a difference in the lives of captive animals through your photography.

Wildlife Rescue Photography: Finding A Cause

Commit your time and talent to something you’re passionate about. Sometimes just taking pictures of nature or beautiful animals isn’t enough. Yes, you want your images to have an impact and to provoke action, but if you really want to make a difference with your photography, find a cause or organization that will benefit from your talent while it feeds your soul.

When you’re really engaged, you give more of yourself, and your passion will shine through in your photography. I found my passion. It was rooted in a lifelong love for exotic cats. The first time my husband and I visited In-Sync Exotics, I was thoroughly fascinated. I don’t even remember how I heard about it. When I was looking for a way to fulfill a challenge at work, applying to the volunteer program at In-Sync was a natural fit. Seven years later, the cats are like family.

wildlife rescue photography
An iconic and playful moment captured while little tiger cub, Aasha, was inside her covered den area.

Even though we started our volunteer experience cleaning enclosures and prepping food (both incredibly vital tasks), it turned out that In-Sync really needed help with marketing. My husband and I have backgrounds in advertising and marketing, so we realized we could help in so many other ways. Now we donate our photography, marketing and design expertise along with our other duties. We are still a part of the feeding team. We help administer meds, provide enrichment, participate in animal rescues and also do post-surgery watches on the animals. Throughout it all, I’ve been given opportunities to photographically capture moments I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams. It’s been a seven-year exploration of my love for big cats. That deep love has helped me get through both the good times and also the heartbreaking times at the sanctuary.

There’s been so much growth at In-Sync since I started volunteering, and my own evolution as a photographer has mirrored that growth in many ways. I’ve been able to help give the animals a voice by capturing their beauty and their personalities. People don’t normally get to be this close to wild animals, but through photography, they fall in love with them and want to help.

Picking The Right Place To Volunteer

Your time and talent are valuable, so do your homework. There are so many causes that could really use professional-quality images to help give them the credibility they need to get the financial support they so desperately deserve. Whether it’s a rehabilitation center, animal rescue, zoo or other non-profit, find one that helps wildlife. Just because an organization calls itself a rescue, zoo or sanctuary doesn’t mean animals are their No. 1 priority. There are plenty of places out there that claim to be helping animals but instead are exploiting them. How can you know the difference? Ask questions, do some research and read reviews.

All reputable facilities have established protocols that will give you a good sense of how they care for their animals, maintain safety for their staff and the general upkeep of their facility. If they cut corners on any of these protocols, then you need to reconsider.

You can also ask whether the facility is accredited by a national or global organization. These organizations often have strict guidelines for facilities to follow that ensure their membership.

  • A good place to start is GreatNonprofits, where you can see the reviews and ratings of various non-profit organizations. Keep in mind that anyone can write a review here, so be sure to read them with that in mind.
  • The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is the most highly regarded body that defines a true sanctuary. They’ve set high standards of animal care and protocols that organizations must meet in order to be accredited or verified.
  • Tigers in America is another amazing organization that focuses mainly on tigers, and it has a list of criteria and organizations it supports.
  • If you don’t see the organization you’re interested in listed on these websites, you should reach out to these groups directly to find out why their facility is not listed.
wildlife rescue photography, lion cub Lambert
Lambert, a lion cub, at three months old in his covered den area. A family in west Texas purchased Lambert as a pet for their young children, then later donated him to In-Sync Exotics when he became too aggressive.

Just because a facility is not accredited doesn’t mean it’s bad. That’s why you have to also look at reviews and what the public is saying about them. Did people have a good experience? Do the animals seem content? Is the staff friendly?

Once you’ve selected a facility to work with, there are more questions you should ask. They should cover animal care, facility upkeep, fundraising activities, staffing and community involvement. A few specific questions are:

  • Do they breed their animals?
  • Do they spay/neuter?
  • Do they declaw?
  • Is there contact with the animals?
  • What is their record keeping like, including medical and dietary records?

Request a tour of every animal enclosure and every part of the facility, including food prep, quarantine area, vet hospital (if they have one), medicine storage and any onsite recovery enclosures.

A good facility should have no problem giving you the information you need to make this important decision. If you sign on as a volunteer, you will get to know the facility better in time, but at the beginning you’ll want a good feeling about it. All of these things are crucial indicators of the most important single factor in your decision making process: animal care.

Getting Your Hands Dirty

Now that you are a volunteer, it’s time to jump in. The more you get to know the animals and the organization, the easier it is to be an advocate for the cause and find opportunities to use your photography. Get involved where you can. Build or clean enclosures, prepare food, help with fundraising, become a tour guide, work in the visitor center or guest shop—basically work in areas that enhance the facility or visitor experience. You’ll get to know the organization, and you’ll have a better idea of what types of photos will help their cause.

wildlife rescue photography at In-Sync Exotics
Saber, a 17-year-old tiger relaxing in her pool. At only seven pounds, she was one of eight tiger cubs rescued from an inhumane breeding facility in 2000. Her first few months were horrific until the In-Sync Exotics staff was able to nurse her back to health.

For example, we produce a fundraising calendar every year, which can bring in as much as $20,000 for the cats. Also, many of my photographs are used in marketing materials and social media content. In the seven years we’ve been volunteering, the organization’s Facebook following has increased from a few hundred to over 65,000. This is due mainly to the improved quality of marketing content and better outreach on social media.

Getting To Know The Animals

This is the best part of volunteering. The more time you spend with the animals, the more you’ll get to know them. You can eventually begin to anticipate behavior, which will allow you to make better photographs.

As you spend time observing them, you’ll quickly realize that they have very distinct personalities as a species, but more importantly as individuals. When photographing animals in the wild, you can make some basic assumptions about a particular animal based on the tendencies of the species, like the hissing of a serval or the purr of a cougar. But when you spend time with rescued animals, you start identifying individual personality traits like a spoiled lion, a primping tiger or shy ocelot.

Every time I visit Aasha, after about 20 minutes she becomes really playful and begins to stalk me. By knowing these traits, you can capture unique moments that bring their personalities to life. You will also get to know the species better, which can help enhance your experience of photographing them in the wild.

Shots of captive animals still require patience even though they’re not in the wild. I volunteered several months and spent many hours observing before I started photographing the cats. I learned their personalities and gained their trust. There will always be animals that will not connect with you. That’s OK. When a cat doesn’t want me photographing them, I walk away. I’ll never sacrifice the comfort of an animal just to get a shot. That applies to wild animals as well.

wildlife rescue photography cougar kittens
Scarlett (top) and Outlaw (bottom), at two months old, in their covered den area. They are two of four orphaned cougar kittens who were rescued from the state of Washington.

Knowing mannerisms and behavior was extremely helpful to me when I photographed wild tigers in India for the first time. I knew when the tigers were relaxed, and I knew when they were agitated, so we left the area in order to not upset them further. I could also anticipate when siblings were about to become affectionate with one another or when they were about to mark their territory. I could tell when they were just lounging around or were sitting up in a hunting position. Spending time with the animals has always been the most fulfilling part of volunteering for me, but this knowledge has also been very helpful in my photography.

Being Involved To Make A Difference

There are many organizations and facilities in the U.S. dedicated to caring for neglected, abused or unwanted animals. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you can probably find a place you can volunteer close by. If you invest the time to find one that ignites your passion, you will be fulfilled way beyond the photographs you take.

Don’t forget to do your homework to find the right place. Make sure to research and ask tons of questions. Once you are a volunteer, dive in and get involved. Spend as much time as you can with the animals and really get to know them. The dedication will shine through in your photographs, you will become a valuable asset for the facility, and the animals will benefit from your time and talent.

There are many moments that have made a difference to me, like seeing a tiger walk on grass for the first time or seeing a lion becoming calmer knowing he was going to be fed regularly. These moments are waiting for you. And if you’re lucky like me, you’ll find a lifelong friend like I did in little Aasha.

See more of Karin Saucedo’s work at


Photographing Wildlife Rescues

Tips for creating wildlife portraits in support of rescue facilities. Read now.

The post Giving Voice appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

Powered by WPeMatico

Photo Of The Day By Michael Perea

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “Death Valley Colors” by Michael Perea. Location: Death Valley National Park, California.
Photo By Michael Perea

Today’s Photo Of The Day is Death Valley Colors” by Michael Perea. Location: Death Valley National Park, California.

This was taken at the famous and elusive mud cracks of Death Valley National Park,” says Perea. “After the sun set, the sky lit up like cotton candy, as well as the full moon rising over some colorful mountains.”

See more of Michael Perea’s photography at

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including AssignmentsGalleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

The post Photo Of The Day By Michael Perea appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

Powered by WPeMatico

Apple’s Siri will get a brand new voice and more at WWDC

Apple’s Siri today began leaking information about the upcoming WWDC event. According to the virtual assistant, it’s getting a brand new voice and another smart speaker. If you’ve got an iPad or iPhone you can ask it yourself. What’s the meaning of this: It looks like Apple is turning to Siri to generate some buzz for the upcoming WWDC event. Users with compatible devices can ask Siri to tell them about this year’s event, it responds: La la la, Siri is getting a brand new voice. Furthermore, as was initially discovered by The Apple Post, the virtual assistant is also…

This story continues at The Next Web

Or just read more coverage about: Apple

Powered by WPeMatico

Review: Royole’s RoWrite Smart Writing Pad is an upgrade on the ink pen

Royole today announced the launch of its RoWrite Smart Writing Pad to North American consumers. The device, perhaps a bit of a solution looking for a problem, lets you combine the experience of using a pen on paper with the reality that all of our information is on our phones now. The RoWrite is a digital notepad that allows you to use a special ink pen to write on actual paper. Everything you write is transmitted, in real-time, to an app, available on iOS and Android. You can change brushes and colors in the app, and while your ink is…

This story continues at The Next Web

Powered by WPeMatico

Epic Games announces $100 million prize pool for upcoming Fortnite season

If you can barely stop playing Epic Games’ ridiculously successful Fortnite long enough to read this sentence, you might be interested to know the company will soon offer the biggest prize pool in esports history. According to a company blog post: In the 2018 – 2019 season, Epic Games will provide $100,000,000 to fund prize pools for Fortnite competitions. We’re getting behind competitive play in a big way, but our approach will be different – we plan to be more inclusive, and focused on the joy of playing and watching the game. Stay tuned for more details about competitive structures…

This story continues at The Next Web

Powered by WPeMatico

Elon Musk reveals new Tesla Model 3 variants with AWD and dual motors

Two new all wheel drive (AWD) versions of the Tesla Model 3 will go on sale next month. Both models are pricier by far than the current Model 3, but they have an extra motor. And, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the Performance edition will gobble up a BMW M3 on the track. Wasn’t Musk, just a few weeks ago, sleeping on the Tesla factory floor, replacing robots with humans, and contending with an angry board? Now the eccentric CEO is on Twitter announcing new models and tossing shade at one of the most beloved luxury performance vehicles in…

This story continues at The Next Web

Or just read more coverage about: Tesla

Powered by WPeMatico

AC repair tech claims they found a missile in a server room

There’s nothing quite like opening a Reddit thread and finding yourself swept away in tale of international intrigue, government denials, and explosive cover-ups. But this window into the life of an average AC repair person in The Czech Republic has it all. Maybe. The mystery began when a person on Reddit posted the following image and accompanying text: Backstory: I am doing some air-condition maintenance in an small business office building. No one was in that server room for more than 2 months since the last IT guy left and apparently took the keys with him. AC gave up, found…

This story continues at The Next Web

Powered by WPeMatico

A serious slap at Seattle: Pierce County plans $275 tax incentive for companies, taking aim at its Northwest neighbor

Pierce County on Tuesday plans to introduce a new tax incentive program for employers looking to bring jobs to the county — a direct slap at the City of Seattle which last week introduced a controversial “head tax” on some of its biggest employers.

Pierce County, which includes Tacoma, a port city with a population of just over 200,000 people, plans to offer employers a $275 tax credit per employee —as long as the jobs pay more than $65,000 annually.

The choice of $275 per employee isn’t a coincidence. After all, Seattle approved a plan earlier this month to charge employers with income of $20 million or more $275 per employee, drawing criticism from the business and tech community who say it amounts to a tax on job creation.

Tacoma — about 35 miles south of Seattle — is using the “head tax” controversy in Seattle to tell its story. And, it hopes woo some new businesses. More details are expected tomorrow on Pierce County’s new tax incentive program, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.

Business migration patterns have not always worked in Pierce County’s favor, with timber and real estate giant Weyerhaeuser moving its headquarters from Federal Way to downtown Seattle a few years ago. Financial services firm Russell Investments moved from Tacoma to Seattle in 2010.

With the head tax debating raging in Seattle, Tacoma senses an opening. And economic officials in Tacoma and Pierce County released this video last week, appealing to Seattle companies that might want to establish a beachhead just to the south. The unemployment rate in Pierce County stands at 5.8 percent, compared to 3.4 percent in King County (which includes Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond).

The head tax debate has especially roiled CEOs of tech companies — including Amazon which said the “hostile approach” would force the company to question its growth in Seattle — who feel it penalizes their growth. Manny Medina, the CEO of fast-growing Seattle enterprise software company Outreach, told GeekWire on Monday that the head tax is a “punch in the gut.”

“When the city turns around and creates a tax, all of a sudden we feel like a punch in the gut because all of a sudden we have to pay for growth,” he said. “If we do well, we pay. It seems like it’s not enough to provide jobs and to be a center of excellence in technology. Now we have to also pay for excellence.”

Medina said his company is considering an office in Bellevue, Washington in response to the head tax.

The tax is expected to generate $45 million to $49 million annually over five years to fund affordable housing construction and homeless services.

Unemployment rates by county in Washington state. Click on image for full report. (Source: Economic Security Department)

Powered by WPeMatico

A ‘punch in the gut’: Fast-growing Seattle startup eyes Bellevue after head tax vote

Outreach CEO Manny Medina. (Outreach Photo)

Seattle-based sales automation startup Outreach announced a new $65 million funding round Monday — but its CEO, Manny Medina, also had another issue on his mind when GeekWire caught up with him: Seattle’s new head tax, which will levy Outreach and other companies making more than $20 million in annual revenue in Seattle about $275 for each full-time employee in the city.

“When the city turns around and creates a tax, all of a sudden we feel like a punch in the gut because all of a sudden we have to pay for growth,” he said. “If we do well, we pay. It seems like it’s not enough to provide jobs and to be a center of excellence in technology. Now we have to also pay for excellence.”

Medina said Outreach is “strongly considering” opening an office in nearby Bellevue, Wash., in response to the head tax. The Seattle City Council passed the legislation in question last week, winning praise from many supporters in the community but frustrating the tech industry. The tax is expected to generate $45 million to $49 million annually over five years to fund affordable housing construction and homeless services.

“It’s sad because the conversations you start having after that is, ‘Where are we going to put the next 20 developers?’ ” Medina said. “Do we need to stay here? Can we put them in Bellevue? Can we put them in Vancouver B.C.?”

Outreach isn’t the only company asking those kinds of questions. In the weeks leading up to the City Council vote, Amazon paused construction on one of the office towers it is building in Seattle and threatened not to move forward with plans to occupy another. Amazon has since resumed construction on the tower it paused. The e-commerce giant says Seattle’s “hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses” forces the company to question its growth in the city.

Housing advocates march on Amazon’s headquarters in support of head ax. (GeekWire Photos / Monica Nickelsburg)

Amazon will pay approximately $11 million annually under the new law, which Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant and her supporters refer to as the “Amazon tax.”

“They talk about the Amazons of the world, but what about us? We are still growing at a fairly fast clip,” Medina said. “These are real issues that are undercutting the possibility of having Seattle be a center like the new Silicon Valley, which is what we all want.”

The dynamics of employee recruiting are also factoring into Medina’s thought process.

“It’s no secret that startups here thrive because we have two giants feeding our headcount, Amazon and Microsoft,” he said. “They both have their own shortcomings in terms of their culture … we use that as a way to grow our team. We were locked and loaded and we had a great plan, but now with the tax passing and the fact that we’re poaching from Microsoft, a Bellevue office starts making a lot of sense.”

He added, “And once you dip your toes into the water, where does it end? We have quite a bit of management that lives on the Eastside and commutes to Seattle. It becomes an attractive option to just come into the office there.”

Though Medina sums up much of the frustration felt throughout the tech community, others specifically don’t want Seattle to turn into Silicon Valley, a region dealing with its own affordable housing shortages and chronic homelessness. Take Glowforge software developer Rachael Ludwick, a member of the Seattle Tech 4 Housing advocacy group.

“There are tens of thousands of people like me who make a lot more than most of Seattle, all while bidding up housing prices, and who largely moved here in the last decade,” she said in an email. She added later, “I am lucky and most folks in tech are lucky … we can afford to share our luck and the larger companies are best able to make a non-ideal tax policy work without hurting lower income workers.”

The city is formulating a spending plan for the funds to be raised by the tax. Meanwhile, a coalition of Seattle businesses has launched a campaign to put a referendum on the November ballot that would allow voters to overturn the tax. If the referendum is not successful, the tax will take effect at the beginning of 2019.

GeekWire reporter Taylor Soper contributed to this story.

Powered by WPeMatico

Just another WordPress site