When the Sony A7 and A7R were released, some felt they had a few rough edges, were not as fast as other mirrorless cameras and were not well enough supported with lenses to be a success. Other saw the beginning of something very special, myself included. I am pleased to announce that the naysayers were wrong and we were right! Hot on the heels of the A7 and A7R was not only did the A7S, but a gradually increasingly stable of lenses, ranging from the ‘decent’ to the ‘truly spectacular’. Zeiss is now (slowly) moving with the Loxia manual focus lenses, retaining their tradition of absurd product names. Loxia would have been good for a range of photocopiers, I think. Anyway, the point here is that I still think this is just the beginning and facts are slowly emerging to back this up….
We all knew the AF would catch up. We knew the shutter noise could be sorted out (and has on the A7S already) and we knew that lenses could and would follow if the base cameras had potential, and they do; but let’s not forget these are incredible imaging tools right now, assuming you don’t need the things they are not so good at (high speed, ultra responsive, heavy duty pro build). If your needs are image quality, size and bulk related, well… you’re catered for now. However, rather than taking five years like the revamping of the Canon Eos 7D, it looks like Sony will have a new model or two in public hands early next year. Thats…. two to five times quicker than other Canon and Nikon seem to be moving at. Here’s a video in which one of the Sony product managers (responsible for interchangeable lens cameras) comments on what is be around the corner:
From what I have read on various sites (including sonyalpharumors ), it seems that a super-high megapixel body is pretty well guaranteed, as is the inclusion of Sony A6000 quality AF in (some or all of) the next generation. There are hints that there are more than one full-frame body in the wings for next year and I would guess that this means a high MP body (i.e. the next gen A7R) and a faster, lower MP camera. While I would expect both to have electronic first curtain (I doubt Sony wants to step on the clackety-clack vibrating cow pat again), it seems likely that Sony will wish to maintain a highest quality-slower and high quality-fast differentiation. This suits most people I think; however, I am not convinced they will retain three seperate lines in the long term. I could see the A7 and A7S becoming one ‘A8’. There have also been suggestions that they are aiming high up the market and will be pursuing higher end ‘full-pro’ products, which could be interesting.
As an aside, I’ve been watching the A7S with interest, but from my point of view its too expensive if you are not interested in video (as I am not). 12 MP is actually about perfect for gritty, grainy B&W street work if you want to stay old school and avoid excessive resolution dragging your scene screaming into reality. In my opinion for non-videographers, the best selling version would have been 16MP, with perhaps a fraction of a stop of high-ISO sacrificed in the process and priced about 25% lower.
Personally, my ideal ‘standard model’ next gen camera would look something like this:
- 30Mp – R version – no AA filter.
- A6000 AF.
- 6-8 frames per second.
Whatever comes next, at the top of the megapixel count will I will be something in the 50MP range and, right now, only the Sony Zeiss 35mm and 55mm FE lenses can keep up with the 36MP A7R. The 35mm FE can comfortably resolve more on centre at f4-5.6 and the 55mm probably could across the frame actually (its ridiculously high in resolution), but the 35mm will not resolve any more at the edges under most conditions. Its a 24-36MP lens in my view. The 70-200 F4 G is a cracking 24-36 MP lens too. The 24-70 f4 OSS test out at about 30MP on centre and about 10 at the edges and corners at wide settings…. i.e. not remotely in the right galaxy for a 50MP sensor.
One thing that really surprised me in the video was that Mr Honjo said that the most in demand new lens was perceived to be a 300mm f4 telephoto, or similar. For the A7-A7R cameras. Seriously. Really. Excuse the language, but either he is utterly clueless or thousands of sony FE owners are (and judging by those I am communicating with, they are definitely not!). A 300mm f4 will make sense when the AF is genuinely up to DSLR standards (which the next generation won’t be, because the A6000 isn’t now). Right now, 18mm-25mm primes would seem a much smarter priority, especially in light of the number of landscape and scenic photographers ‘all over’ these cameras. For what its worth, I am hoping the new Sony G 28mm f2 is actually of similar quality to the 35mm, or better, and that Sony is trying to place some better more affordable ‘G-series’ primes into their line up to encourage people to buy into the system. Staring at only Sony Zeiss or Zeiss only lenses is seriously daunting for those without deep pockets.
I doubt I will be in the market for a next generation body myself, because the current ones serve my purposes so well, but you never know. FWIW, I had a play with 50MP Pentax 645Z files and found them a bit of a let down considering the quality of my A7R files. Don’t get me wrong they were noticeably ‘better’, when the lens was singing, but in many cases the best lenses on the A7R seemed to be performing a little better than the less good lenses on the 645Z and I’d bet that print for print, up on the wall, there wouldn’t be much between them. Comparatively, the A7R is tiny and just do the maths on a 645Z with a reasonable line up of primes, never mind the Hasselblad and Phase One rigs.
Yup, the A7 and A7R remain amazing and its only going to get better…..