We now know that the Sony a7R III and a7 III have sorted out many of the major complaints with mirrorless cameras, such as battery life, overheating, and autofocus, but there are still so many more features that we didn’t get. What does the next generation of Sony mirrorless cameras have in store for us?
I’m excited, you’re excited, we’re all excited about the just-announced Sony a7 III. It joins the a7R III in making a groundbreaking generation of mirrorless cameras. These cameras certainly earned their praise by squaring up to the drawbacks of mirrorless and tackling them head on.
Taking a step back, however, this isn’t the perfect camera. There are features that have been strongly requested for years that still haven’t made their way to the Sony a7 series. These are things that could have been included in the third generation of a7 cameras — things that are technologically possible today (and some that were possible yesterday). Here’s my list of what could, and should, be coming to the Sony a7 IV.
In-Camera Time-Lapse and the Return of PlayMemories Apps
The Sony a7R III and a7 III are great cameras for video work. One thing that they are missing though that other brands offer is the ability to shoot in-camera time-lapses. The strange thing is that the a7 series used to be able to through a PlayMemories app. However, Sony removed PlayMemories from their latest cameras and hasn’t replaced the missing features with anything.
Two UHS-II Slots
This one may be outdated by the time the a7 IV rolls out, but it is forever a strange decision to offer two SD card slots in the a7R III and a7 III, but support for UHS-II in only one of them. Other brands seem to have no problem keeping up with the times and offering two UHS-II slots, or one UHS-II and one XQD, or even two XQD.
Unlocked Touchscreen Capability
The touchscreen has arrived to the a7. It can be used to set focus points and flip through photos in playback. Sony has gone through all the trouble to get to this point, why not take it all the way and unlock the touchscreen for use everywhere in the camera’s software? The menu wasn’t designed for touch you say? Well…
Revamped Menu System
If this were a numbered list, this would probably hit somewhere near the top spot. For years I’ve heard Sony users complain about the endlessly long and confusing menu system. Sony took that complaint and gave us colored tabs and a My Menu slot for customized options. What’s coming next has got to be a complete redesign of the menu system, and hopefully with touchscreen in mind this time.
Articulating LCD Screen
As I said before, these latest a7 cameras are great for video and would be absolutely killer with the inclusion of an LCD screen that can be flipped and rotated so that it can be seen while in front of the lens.
Personally, I think there is a fairly good chance we'll see this come to the a7S III. We’ve seen the sweeping improvements to the third-generation a7 and a7R cameras, and the a7S III really needs to bring it in order to clearly stand out. This is one of those stand-out video-centric features.
Improved Weather Sealing
As previously reported by Lens Rentals, the a7R III still has issues when it comes to weather sealing despite Sony saying they beefed it up. The problem area with that camera in particular is the bottom, and it will be interesting to see if any changes were made for the a7 III once it’s cracked open. Seeing as how the bodies appear identical, I’d bet they unfortunately share the same weak point.
The a9 Focus Mode and Drive Mode Dial
People love the look of Fujifilm mirrorless cameras, myself included. They have character. Part of this is the physical dials on the top of the camera that are both nostalgic and highly useful. The Sony a9 brought an extra stacked dial to the left of the EVF that controls the focusing mode and the drive mode. I would love to see this make its way to the a7 IV series.
4:3, 1:1 Aspect Ratios
With Sony’s uber-expensive compact camera, the RX1R II, one can set the image aspect ratio. This feature would be far more useful in a7 bodies where photographers are actually using them for commercial shoots every day and need their images to fit with the final look on the page.
The Sony a7R III can shoot big and beautiful 42-megapixel raw images, but do we always need that kind of resolution? Even the a7 III’s 24 megapixels can be seen as overkill to some. Having the option to scale down the captured raw file could be helpful for shooting events where full resolution isn’t doing anything but killing hard drive space and slowing transfer times.
This is one of those areas that DSLR shooters have an upper hand. On DSLR cameras, the mirror acts as a shield to the precious sensor behind it. On the a7 mirrorless cameras, the sensor is exposed directly to the outside world once you pop off the lens. Some sort of curtain mechanism that can be activated could make changing out lenses in less than favorable conditions a better experience with less dependency on rocket blowers to clean things up.
This is my humble list of requests for the Sony a7 IV. It appears quite a few of these could probably even be firmware updates for the current generation; however, that kind of feature release rollout hasn’t seemed like Sony’s style in the past. Either way, Sony has taken great strides to get to where they are at today, and the speculation for what’s up next continues.
What are your thoughts? What about electronic neutral density filters, 4K 60p, RGB live view histograms? Add your reasonable feature requests that the a7 series still hasn’t scratched.