When it announced the a7 III in February 2018, Sony set the bar alarmingly high. What does it have in store for 2019?
With Canon and Nikon finally snapping at its heels when it comes to full frame mirrorless (and Panasonic soon to follow suit), what is the Japanese electronics giant planning for the new year?
The a7S III Will Not Have 4K at 480 FPS
Following on from the a7R III and the a7 III, the a7S III is almost certainly not far off. The rumor mills suffered a brief bout of hysteria recently when leaked data regarding a new sensor suggested 4K at 480 fps, but the truth will be markedly more realistic. Discussion continues as to whether Sony will bless its fans with 4K 60 fps, 6k 30 fps with a crop, and, all importantly, that flip-out screen. Video shooters who love numbers will be expecting 4:2:0 8-bit internal and 4:2:2 10-bit external, with improvements to the ISO. Expect an announcement before June.
12 New Lenses But You Have to Guess What They Are
Making the switch to Sony has been made relatively painless through the possibility of adapting glass, a measure that has compensated for Sony’s small number of lenses when compared to the likes of other leading manufacturers. Sony has been playing catch-up, however, and 2019 sees the promise of 12 new lenses which, as TechRadar observes, would bring its range of dedicated mirrorless lenses to 60. What we don't know, however, is what these 12 lenses will be, and the recently announced FE 24mm f/1.4 GM means that this figure might now be 11.
a6700? a7000? Whatever It's Called, It's Causing Arguments
Rumors and fake news abound regarding Sony’s high-end APS-C camera that is believed to be in the pipeline. Some seem to call it the a6700 (logical, given that it will be a successor to the a6000, a6300 and a6500), while others are going with a7000, perhaps in the belief that it will be more in line with the a7 range, albeit with a cropped sensor. Spurious specifications were posted by some rumor websites and denounced by others, with some speculating that the announcement has been delayed after Fujifilm launched the impressive X-T3. Sony engineers might well be now back in the labs trying to squeeze more performance into the a7000 before it is finally announced in 2019.
Fans are hoping for 26 or 32 megapixels, the same NP-FZ100 battery found in the a7 III, 4K at 60 fps with no crop, and 10 or 12 frames per second with no blackout. If Sony can couple a flip-out screen with the improved in-body stabilization offered by the smaller sensor, they might be onto a winner.
The a7R IV? Already? Seriously?
As TheNewCamera.com points out, Sony would be sticking to its own timeline if it were to announce the successor to the a7R III in 2019 given the intervals between its predecessors. With that said, details are non-existent and 2020 probably seems more likely.
Will the a9 II Take On the Canon 1D X Mk III and the Nikon D6?
No doubt the new flagship Sony monster will be a real threat to Canon and Nikon's heavyweight sports shooters, but much of the chat revolves around its video capability. There's talk of 8K, especially following on from the details of Sony's forthcoming 60 megapixel sensor that circulated a few months ago. However, grabbing 8K's worth of information is a different kettle of fish to being able to process it, though of course cynics would point out that overheating has never been something that Sony has been too worried about in the past. Cue endless arguments about whether 8K is even necessary given the output of most viewing devices, and for anyone shooting at such high resolutions, do they need that ability in a hybrid body that doubles as a beastly sports and wildlife stills camera?
For me, this will be the most intriguing as it's unclear what a new version of the a9 could possibly offer over the new iteration of the a7 R, whatever that might bring.
Finally a Successor to the a5100?
Whatever emerges regarding the a7000, its baby brother, the alleged a5200/5300/5500 (guess the name again) is also subject to intense rumor-mongering. Sony isn't giving much away, but the a5100 was released in 2014 and an update to this compact APS-C camera is long overdue. The a5100 was a tiny body but with an E mount, making it a good choice as a backup body or as a solid vlogging option thanks to its flip-out screen. If Sony can build on this portable format and incorporate some stabilization with a decent video resolution (and even Eye AF), it might be an appealing prospect for budget-conscious hybrid shooters or anyone wanting a compact option that fits an existing collection of lenses.
Animal Eye Autofocus
Perhaps the least exciting for the vast majority of us is the prospect of Eye AF that locks onto animals. Sony didn't have a huge amount to announce at Photokina 2018, but this at least gave the press something to write about.
What Would You Like to See?
Sony's innovation over the last couple of years has transformed professional cameras, pushing boundaries with its mirrorless bodies, especially with its full-frame offerings. The challenge this year is for Sony to continue to generate the same level of progression now that the competition is starting to catch up, and arguably pushing ahead on some fronts. Let us know in the comments what you expect to see from Sony and how the other manufacturers will be keeping it in check.