Sony Releases the a7R III With 42MP, 10fps, 15-stop DR, 5.5-stop IS and 4K Video

Sony a7R III with FE 24-70mm f/2.8

Sony has pulled all the stops with the release of the a7R III, an update to the highly successful and highly-acclaimed a7R II. It probably has everything you could ask for—a resolution of 42MP, 15-stop Dynamic Rage (DR) and shoots at up to 10fps with full AE/AF tracking. This is twice as fast as the 5fps offered by the a7R II Additionally, the in-body image stabilisation provides 5.5 stops of stabilisation—the world’s highest for a full-frame camera. The buffer is able to store up to 76 JPEG/RAW photos and 28 uncompressed RAW files, and the updated BIONZ X processing engine is able to process them at 1.8 times faster than the a7R II. This means that you can still use many of the camera’s key features while a batch of photos are still being written to the memory card.

The a7R II features a ISO range of 100-32,000, expandable to 50-10,2400, and at the low ISOs, the camera is able to achieve an extremely high dynamic range of 15-stops. There’s also a Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode, similar to what Olympus have on their OM-D E-M5 II, which captures 4 separate photos shifted by 1 pixel to produce a 169.2MP image.

The AF system has been substantially improved, with 399 phase-detection AF points spanning 68% of the image area, in addition to 425 contrast-detect AF points. With this improvement, the a7R III can lock focus twice as fast as the a7R II in low light. Eye AF is also twice as accurate as the a7R II.

At the back of the a7R III is a 3.686M dot OLE EVF with coatings that reduce reflections, and dirt resistance. The refresh rate can be toggled between 60 and 120fps. Below the EVF is a 1.44M dot tilting LCD screen.

Sony a7R III back

On the video side of things, the a7R III can record 4K video using the full width of the sensor, and also shoot in super 35mm without pixel binning. There’s Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), S-Log2, S-Log3 and full HD recording at 120fps at up to 100Mbps.

The Sony a7R III will be available from November at US$3,200.


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Sony Announces the Top-of-the-Line a9, a Blazing Fast 20fps Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Perfect For Sports

Sony a9 with FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM

Sony has announced what’s possibly the most advanced full-frame mirrorless camera at a live event at New York. The 24MP a9 is Sony’s new flagship and features a stacked CMOS sensor for super-fast readout. This allows the a9 to achieve a staggering 20fps for up to 241 compressed RAW frames before the buffer is full. If you shoot in JPEG mode, you can get up to 362 frames!

The a9 has a 693-point AF system providing 93% coverage, and AE/AF calculations are done at 60fps while also providing 60fps blackout-free live feed. Sony also claims improved subject tracking and Eye AF speeds, and focus down to -3 EV with F2 lens. This is a whole stop better than the a7R II. How does shooting at 20fps with no blackout look like? Check out this video by Hugh Brownstone of Three Blind Men and an Elephant Productions. With no blackout and a high frame rate, it looks as if he has not started shooting!

The Electronic View Finder (EVF) has a resolution of 3.68M dots (1280×960) and runs at 120fps, making it one of the fastest EVFs around. In comparison, thet X-T2’s EVF can only achieve 100fps in boost mode, and a resolution of only 2.36M dots. This should be quite something to look through. The shutter on the a9 is primary electronic, but it also has a mechanical shutter with a flash sync speed of 1/250s. There is also a 5-axis in-body image stabilisation providing 5 stops of stabilisation.

Sony a9 (Front)

On the video side of things, the Sony a9 shoots 4K downsampled from 6K worth of pixels, with full pixel readout without pixel binning. It is also able to record Full HD 1080p at up to 120fps with a data rate of 100Mbps.

Sony a9 (Rear)

Other improvements include dual SD card slots supporting UHS-II cards, an AF joystick and an AF mode dial. In addition to USB, an Ethernet port on the a9 alows for super fast data transfer. Sony also says that battery life has been improved by 2.2x with the new NP-FZ100 battery. A separately-available battery grip lets you double your shooting time by allowing the use of a second battery.

It looks like Sony has pulled all the stops for this, and it sure is a good contender for the stalwarts like the Nikon D5 and Canon 1DX II, both of which costs more than the a9.

Tempted? The a9 will be available in May 2017 at a cost of around US$4,500.

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Sony Announces the a6300, Said to Have the World’s Fastest AF

Sony a6300
Sony a6300 with 16-70mm f/4

There sure are many camera releases over the last month! The latest is Sony’s new a6300 announced today. It boasts the world’s fastest AF and the world’s highest number of AF points. Every camera manufacturer seems to be claiming this, and Sony’s fine print qualifies that it has the fastest AF among APS-C cameras as of Feb 2016, and the highest number of AF points applies to interchangeable lens cameras as of Feb 2016 based on their research.

The super fast AF is achieved by Sony’s 4D FOCUS system that can lock focus on a subject in as little as 0.05s (hmm, sounds like other cameras too). It also has an incredible 425 phase detection AF points that are densely populated over the entire image area. It can shoot up to 11fps with continuous AF and exposure tracking.

The a6300's 425 AF points (screen grabbed from Sony's video)

The new a6300 supports full live-view continuous shooting on the Tru-Finder EVF or LCD screen at up to 8fps. This produces a real-time shooting experience that combines all the benefits of an EVF with the immediacy of a TTL optical view finder.

The XGA OLED-based EVF has 2.4M dots and a 120fps frame rate for smooth, lag-free viewing, whilst the tilt 3″ LCD screen below it has a resolution of 921,600 dots. Unfortunately, it’s not a touch screen. The magnesium-alloy body is sealed from the elements and has 9 customisable buttons.

Sony a6300 tilting LCD
Sony a6300 tilting LCD

The camera has a 24.2MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor, that together with the BIONZ X image processing engine produces outstanding image quality within the ISO range of 100–51,200 (expanded.) The sensor uses copper wiring within its structure, which Sony said will “improve light collection efficiency and significantly accelerate the readout speed.”

The video capabilities are pretty impressive. The a6300 can capture 4K with full pixel readout and no pixel binning in Super 35mm. This is done by using a 20MP (6K) region of the sensor to offer a 2.4x oversampled 4K video, giving a sharp, low noise footage, even in low light. A S-Log3 gamma setting as well as S-Gamut are available to achieve a higher dynamic range and wider colour space, allowing for greater creativity for video post-production.

The Sony a6300 will be available from March for US$1,000 (body only) or US$1,150 with a 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.

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Sony Releases the A7S II

Sony A7S II
Sony A7S II

Sony has announced the Alpha 7S II, an update to their low-light king, the A7S. This update brings the same 5-axis in-body image stabilization found in the A7 II and A7R II to the A7S camera, as well as 4K video recording.

Resolution is the same, at 12.2 megapixels, probably in order to keep noise levels as low as possible. Like the predecessor, the ISO can be set from 50 to 409,600 (through ISO expansion; standard ISO is only up to 102,400.), and the 35mm full-frame sensor. The BIONZ image processing has also been optimised for improved noise reduction in the mid-high end of the sensitivity range.

The Sony A7S II features 4K video recording at 30fps with full pixel readout and without pixel binning, using the Sony XAVC S codec. At 1080p, it can record up to 120fps, allowing for a 4-5x slow motion footage.

Video capabilities are also improved with the addition of new profiles: S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3 and S-Gamut3/S-Log3. These new profiles deliver a wider dynamic range (up to 14-stops) and makes colour grading easier in post production. S-Gamut/S-Log2 is also supported.

The AF capabilities on the A7S II has been improved over the previous model, and now offers 169 AF points for fast and precise auto focussing. Sony says the AF speed during video recording is twice that of the A7S.

Finally, the XGA OLED EVF has also been upgraded with a magnification of 0.78x, which Sony claims to be the world’s highest. It also features ZEISS T& Coating to reduce reflections on the viewfinder.

The Sony A7S II will be available in Europe from November. No details on pricing are available at this point of time.

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Sony Announces Alpha a5100

Sony Alpha a5100 with 16-50 lens

Sony’s first off the blocks for the Photokina news, with the NEX, err, I mean, Alpha a5100. It is basically an updated a5000 with the a6000’s guts. So that lovely 24 megapixel sensor with the 179 phase detection autofocus points is now available in a cheaper camera that also does selfies.

There are also a bunch of other upgrades, such as a proper VGA resolution LCD at 3″ in size, a slightly higher continuous drive at 6 FPS, and like the recent Sony cameras, supports 1080p video at 60 FPS encoded with the 50mb/s XAVC-S codec. This is achieved with a full sensor readout too.

Those are pretty serious specs at a lower price, starting at US$550 for the body or US$700 for the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 power zoom kit lens. There are a few things missing, like superb lenses for the E-mount, no EVF, and lack of microphone and headphone jacks, but it is still a pretty serious set of specifications.

The a5100 is expected to arrive sometime in September.

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Sony Tweaks A77 with A77 II

Sony A77 II with DT 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens Minolta lovers, Sony’s still not totally given up on the Alpha mount yet, and while the A77 II does not add much, the changes are likely to be welcome. The sensor is now a 24 megapixel sensor that will probably be best-in-class if not for the “translucent” mirror robbing about half a stop of light, thus making the sensor having to work that little bit harder. The autofocus is improved now, and features a 79 point autofocus sensor with 15 cross type sensors with additional options. I remember when having more than one autofocus point was something great, and now we have 79! Will we break 100 before 2020?

Other upgrades include a new LCD, which uses Sony’s newfangled “White Magic” screen that adds another bunch of white sub-pixels (resolution should still be VGA), and there is also Wi-Fi now, though GPS was lost in the process. The rest of the camera is still pretty much the same, including that rather nice EVF. It is not a bad upgrade, but I still think the overall concept is flawed; giving up half a stop of light hitting the sensor just for live view. Half a stop might not seem like much, but that means you are getting dangerously close to Micro Four Thirds level performance, while Canon and Nikon pull away with their more traditional designs.

The A77 II will be available in June for a body-only price of US$1200.

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Sony Announces Next Stage of Mirrorless Race: A7 and A7R Cameras

Sony A7

So it is finally here: The “full-frame” (a rubbish moniker really, what about medium format sensors? Can something be fuller than full?) a.k.a 35mm-sized sensor equipped A7 and A7R cameras. The former is a 24 megapixel camera with phase detect autofocus sensors, while the latter is a 36 megapixel camera without an antialiasing filter but needing to make do with plain ol’ contrast detect autofocus. Like any modern mirrorless camera, they are full-time live view cameras, and have pretty decent viewing options: A VGA LCD with the “triluminous” thing (whatever that means) and the XGA EVF that first appeared on the NEX 7.

Other nice features include WiFi with NFC, a 1/8000 top shutter speed, which I have recently discovered as being very useful in bright daylight, a continuous drive with a top speed of 5 FPS for the A7, and 4 for the A7R. Both of the latter numbers are likely achieved without AF tracking enabled. Both cameras also can record 1080p video at 60p, a nice touch, and there is an option for XLR connectors via an adapter. The NP-FW50 battery, at 1500mAh, might prove to be a bit small to power a camera like this. CIPA rating is just 340 photos. There is also a vertical grip, but wow, it really makes the camera look very odd, kind of like the early Kodak DSLRs and their oversized electronics and battery pack.

While everyone seems to be going bonkers over the concept of having a 35mm-sized sensor in a camera, no one seems to be care that the price is not going to be cheap. US$1700 for the A7, and US$2300 for the A7R. That is almost DSLR pricing for cheaper to make cameras that have less capability. Sony better ramp up the lens selection quick to offset one of the disadvantages of this expensive system.

CK: The price is actually not THAT bad – at least for the A7 it is somewhat similar to the Nikon D600 pricing when it was announced. But like YS said, ultimately it’s a lesser camera than a full DSLR, and I am not talking about the image quality. However great that the high-res EVFs as seen on the NEX6/7, it is still no match for a real optical finder in terms of response time and low-light performance. The advantage of course, is the relative size compared to a full-frame DSLR, so for those looking for a small(ish) full-frame camera, this could be it. Do note that mounting a full-frame lens on this is probably going to negate the size advantage though, and it reminded me of the early days of the NEX cameras having a big lens and a small body.

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