The phenomenal video features of the Canon EOS R5 are mind-blowing, so how can the soon-to-be-announced Sony a7S III possibly compete? The answer might be simple: shoot 4K 60p — or even 4K 30p — without overheating.
The R5 is yet to fall under proper scrutiny and be tested in the field by filmmakers who want to make the most of these incredible specifications making it hard to know just how good this camera is, despite the insane features. One major revelation has come to light, however: according to details unveiled on EOSHD, there will be some serious limitations when it comes to cranking up the video resolution.
Unearthed from among information supplied by Canon to one of its suppliers, there is a recording time limit of 20 minutes for those wishing to shoot in 8K due to overheating. 4K doesn’t fare much better: 4K 30p oversampled is restricted to 30 minutes, and if you want to shoot 4K 60p without a crop, you get up to 35 minutes (although that will mean shooting for 29 minutes and 59 seconds before hitting record again for another 5 minutes and 1 second). All of the chat suggests that if you want to shoot 4K without melting anything, you’ll need to shoot lineskipped 4K, and as Tony and Chelsea Northrup pointed out, the lack of actual reviews means that it might soon emerge that the rolling shutter is terrible.
The R5 has no mechanism to cool it down and both 8K and 4K place a lot of demands on the processor, producing a lot heat that threatens the integrity of the camera if it’s allowed to go beyond a certain level. In addition, Canon is sticking with the 29 minute 59-second record limit that’s a result of some odd taxes imposed on cinema cameras in Europe.
So where does this place the long-awaited Sony a7S III? Expected sometime in the next month (we assume), details are scant and Sony seems to have done a good job of keeping a lid on the specifications. That said, Sony Alpha Rumors is reporting something that should be of interest to filmmakers: there will be no recording time limits — neither as a result of overheating nor for tax purposes.
“But that’s ok,” you might think, “if overheating is a problem, maybe the R6 is a better option.” Unfortunately, it seems that the smaller sensor in the R6 doesn’t mitigate the heat problems and the 4K modes will be subject to very similar limitations:
While Canon is grabbing the headlines with the R5 and R6, Sony will steal some of them back with a7S III if it has found a means of overcoming the build up of heat that arises due to shooting such high resolution video in such a small unit. As mentioned in the video above, for shooters who are documenting a live event, sure, they might not need to shoot continuously for more than 20 or 30 minutes, but over the course of an hour, you might be filming intermittently, still building up heat, and the camera will not necessarily cool down sufficiently, especially if it’s in your hands between shots. The possibility that the camera suddenly decides that it’s too hot is not a pleasant prospect.
As a result, we might not see the exodus from Sony back to Canon that many are predicting, and this makes me even more intrigued to find out what Sony is planning. Is a 12-megapixel camera still viable in 2020? Will it shoot 4K 120p internally? Will Sony be aggressive with the pricing in order to make it more appealing than the R6? As usual, leave your thought in the comments below.