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 Introduces a Trio of New Lenses Under the Premium “G-Master” Series

Sony G-Master Lenses and Teleconverters
Sony G-Master Lenses and Teleconverters

Along with the a6300, Sony has unveiled a new range of flagship lenses which they dubbed the G-Master series. The first three lenses under this series are: The 24-70mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.4 and 70-200mm f/2.8. These sit above their previous high-end G series lenses, and therefore also command a premium price. Along with the lenses are two new teleconverters (1.4x and 2.0x) to go with the 70-200mm f/2.8.

Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM
Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM
Sony 85mm f/1.4GM
Sony 85mm f/1.4GM
Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM
Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM
Sony 2x Teleconveter
Sony 2x Teleconveter
Sony 1.4x Teleconveter
Sony 1.4x Teleconveter
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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 RX1R II—High-end 42MP Full-frame Compact With World’s First Optical Variable Low Pass Filter

Sony RX1R II
Sony RX1R II

Sony has released a Mark II version of the RX1R, a high-end full-frame compact camera released 2 years ago.

This new edition features what Sony’s claim to be the world’s first camera with a optical variable low-pass filter which can be set to off, standard or high. This lets you choose between having a very sharp image, with the increased risk of moiré, or having slightly reduced sharpness with better moiré control. You can even bracket your shots with the optical low-pass filter in different settings!

Here’s a video describing how it works.

The sensor is now 42MP,  compared to the 24MP from the first RX1R, with an ISO range of between 100-25,600, expandable to 50-102,400. It has also been improved to transmit data 3.5x faster than the original RX1R.

The lens is a fixed 35mm f/2 Zeiss Sonnar T*, featuring a macro shift ring for close focussing up to 14cm. A 9-blade aperture ensures a smooth bokeh while the in-lens shutter allows you to sync with your flash at up to 1/2,000s.

Sony has also implemented the pop-up EVF first seen on the RX100 III, but with an increased resolution of 2.4M dots. A 3″ swivelling LCD with 1.2M dots adorns the back of the camera. It can be tilted up 109 and down 41º.

Sony RX1R II Rear LCD
Sony RX1R II Rear LCD

For the AF side of things, the RX1R II has a 399 phase-detect AF points covering 45% of the frame, alongside 25 CDAF points. Sony claims that this is 30% faster than the original (which was rather slow.)

Unfortunately, all these goodness does not come cheap. Like the original RX1R, this is a premium, high-end product. At a cost of US$3,300, it costs more than the A7RII. Granted, the latter doesn’t come with a lens, but US$3,300 is still fairly expensive for a compact camera, though no more than that German brand. It’ll be available from November 2015.

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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 a Big Deal: The 42 Megapixel A7R II

ILCE-7RM2_wFE35F14Z_right

42 was the answer to life and the universe and everything, and it looks like it might be the answer to a lot of photographers, videographers and even small-scale filmmakers. The A7R II is a bigger upgrade over the A7R than the A7 II over the A7 was.

First up is the new sensor: While 42 megapixels really is not that big an increase over 36, this is an all-new sensor that back-side illuminated. If it represents an improvement over the already excellent 36 megapixel sensor, it will be a worthy upgrade. Continue reading Sony Announces a Big Deal: The 42 Megapixel A7R II

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Sony Announces 4K Capable RX100 IV and RX10 II

RX100M4_Right
The next set of cameras from Sony are the RX100 IV and RX10 II, successors to the line of their popular 1″ sensor cameras. The two cameras are mostly identical to their predecessors, with the upgrades coming in the EVF for the RX100 IV, which now uses the XGA resolution found in so many popular cameras, and a new 1″ 20 megapixel sensor for both cameras, which uses a stacked design.

The stacked design is basically a refinement of the back-side illuminated sensor, and further separates the light detecting section from the electronic circuitry, further boosting the light capturing area. The new sensor also has some new tricks, namely in insane read speeds, which allows for 4K video at full sensor readout without pixel binning, up to 960 FPS video (albeit in very reduced resolution), 1/32000 second electronic shutter speeds, and 14 FPS shooting rate for the RX100 IV, and 16 FPS for the RX10 II. Another odd difference is in 4K shooting times: The RX10 II can go up to 30 minutes, but the RX100 IV is limited to just five minutes. Five?

Like the A7R II, all good things come with a price bump: The RX100 IV will now cost US$950, and the RX10 II US$1300. Both cameras will be available next month in July. Picture of the RX10 II after the break. Continue reading Sony Announces 4K Capable RX100 IV and RX10 II

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Whirlwind Tour of CES 2015

I had some time off from my official duties for my company at the CES 2015 at Las Vegas earlier this week and did a whirlwind tour of the Central Hall, where most of the major camera makers are. This is a quick write-up of what I saw.

Nikon

Nikon recently released their new DSLR – the D5500 and the new AF-S 300mm f/4G PF ED VR, so I decided to drop by Nikon’s booth to try them out.

Nikon D5500 with AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II
Nikon D5500 with AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

The D5500 is a small upgrade from the previous D5300, and like the D750, it features a monocoque body design with a deeper hand grip. The deeper grip feels nicer in the hands compared to the D5300 which we reviewed earlier.

In our D5300 review, we were disappointed that the screen is not touch-enabled. With the D5500, Nikon has finally added a touch screen. Other than allowing you to change settings with a touch, you can also touch to focus/shoot, swipe through playback images or pinch to zoom, much like you would on a smart phone.

Performance-wise, it felt pretty much similar to the older D5300. Unfortunately, as it’s a pre-production unit, I wasn’t allowed to collect sample images on my own SD card.

Nikon D810 with AF-S 300mm f/4G PF ED VR
Nikon D810 with AF-S 300mm f/4G PF ED VR

This is the lens that YS is particularly excited about. I am amazed at how small and light it is. At 755g, it’s half the weight of the previous version of the 300mm f/4! Again, as it was a pre-production unit, I was unable to get sample images through the lens.

YSSQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE – it’s so tiny! Definitely can’t wait to try it out.

Nikon's Bulletime Setup
Nikon’s Bullet-time Setup

CK: One of the fun things at Nikon’s booth is a 360º bullet-time setup. There’s a long queue of people waiting to be captured Matrix-style by 48 Nikon D750s.

Over at the Nikon School Theatre, small flash guru Joe McNally was giving a presentation on, what else, using the Nikon Speedlights! A model was also on location for McNally’s demos.

Joe McNally and Model On Stage
Joe McNally and Model On Stage

Continue reading Whirlwind Tour of CES 2015

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Sony’s A7II Features Five-axis Stabilisation

Sony A7II FrontSony’s announcement of the A7II was not a complete surprise to me; the aggressive discounts which were quite widely advertised for the A7 recently gave the impressions that something was up.

Now that the camera specifications are quite well-known, I guess the big upgrade that everyone is talking about is the 5-axis stabilisation. While reports have Sony saying that this is not Olympus’s technology, I can’t believe that they did not have some help from them. If it performs as well as the E-M1’s, it should be very effective for many uses, including videos. Expect an A7SII soon? One can hope! Continue reading Sony’s A7II Features Five-axis Stabilisation

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