Sony raises the bar…… again!!

In typical Sony fashion, the company announced three new cameras today and again showed Canikon (Canon and Nikon) that they are not content with being in the third place in the camera industry. Unlike Canikon that have been guilty of releasing model after model with little changes or innovations (I’m talking about you Canan Rebel and Nikon D5xxx/7xxx series), Sony has been pushing the envelope of technology and innovation with each release.

Even though the cameras that were announced today are followups of previous camares, they have significant enough upgrades to justify a new release. Amoung the cameras announced there were two 1″ sensor cameras and one high resolution full frame camera. These include:

– Sony RX10 II

This is the follow up of well received bridge camera that had 1″ sensor coupled with Carl Zeiss 24-200mm f/2.8 Lens (in 35mm terms). Even though RX10 II still features a 1″ sensor but the technology is completely different. RX10 II features world’s first “stacked” processor with built-in memory which enables up to 40x super slow motion and up to 1/32000 super-high-speed shutter.

Other than the stacked sensor and Carl Zeiss 24-200mm f2.8 lens, another headline feature of this camera is the ability to record high quality 4K video internally. This was one of the features that RX10’s closest competitor Panasonic FZ1000 had over the previous RX10 but now with it’s inclusion, it is definitely on top of my travel/brdige camera recommendation. On the outside, RX10 II is almost identical to the previous model.

Sony RX10 II is expected to be available in July for $1300. Complete information can be found on Sony RX10 II product page.

Sony RX10 II

Sony RX10 II

– Sony RX100 IV

Sony RX100 IV is the followup of their highly successful and my person favorite point and shoot RX100 series. RX100 IV features same sensor as the RX10 II which enables it have super fast shutter speed of 1/32000 sec. and blazingly fast continous shooting up to 16 fps. It is also the first RX100 to record 4K video but the video clip is restricted to 5 minutes only (most likely due to heat concerns). On the outside the RX100 IV is identical to RX100 III.

RX100 IV will be the most expensive camera in the series at a whopping $948, when it is released in July. More information about RX100 IV can be found on Sony RX100 IV product page. Thought it has some good improvements, I do not think that they are enough for me to justify replacing my RX100 III that I love.

Sony RX100 IV

Sony RX100 IV

– Sony a7r II

Last but not the least the announcement that everybody was patiently waiting for, the Sony A7r II. For months there have been countless rumors about what the highly anticiapted follow up of Sony’s high resolution full frame model A7 will include and most of them have come true. Even though Sony did an excellent job on keeping this camra a complete secret with absolutly no leaks but based on updates that Sony did with Sony A7 II people had a long “wishlist” of what A7r II should includes and surprisingly Sony has delieved beyond that.

Some of the highlight features of Sony A7r II are below.

  • 42.4 megapixel BSI sensor
    • World’s first (Sony seems be be really good at doing this 🙂 ) Back-Side Illuminated Full frame sensor.
  • 5-axis inbody stabilization
    • Similar stabilization that was introduced in Sony A7 II. This makes every lens that is attached to the camera stabiized, even the legacy primes and zooms.
  • Silent shutter mode
    • One of the biggest issue that people had with the original A7r was the extremly loud shutter which not only made shooting in quiet locations (like church or ceremonies) difficult but also introduced shutter shock that resulted in loss of sharpness in pictures. With the silent shutter mode, the camera will only use electronic shutter making it completely silent.
  •  399 Phase-Detect AF Points & 5 fps Burst
    • The second most complained about issue with the A7r was the AF speed. Unlike the A7 that has both CDAF (Contrast Decect Auto Focus) and PDAF (Phase Detect Auto Focus), A7r only featured CDAF (Contrast Detect Auto Focus) and even that wasn’t up to modern standards but with the release of A7r II, Sony has completely addressed that issue with 399 PDAF points (along with 25-point CDAF).
  • PDAF with A-Mount and Third party lenses
    • One of the features that I’m most excited about is the A7r II capability to use PDAF with Sony’s A-mount lenses as this opens a whole lot of lens options for this camera. Previously, you can still use A-mount lenses with A7 series cameras with the help of Sony LE-EA4 adapter but the adapter had it’s own AF motor so it by passed the one in camera. As a result the AF was decent but nothing spectacular and my I had a very bad experience trying to use it for moving subjects.
    • Even more spectacular feature of this camera is the ability to autofocus with third party lenses. Here is a direct quote from DPRreview site who were at the launch event of A7r II.
      “At the press launch in New York we even got a glimpse of the a7R II autofocusing Canon EF lenses using a Metabones electronic adapter. Focus appeared to be on par with OVF focus on a native Canon body, and the AF experience itself didn’t appear to be limited simply because you’re using a third party lens (full coverage and tracking are available).” If the AF really works as they say it does then it is a very bad news for Canon, not only we’ll be seeing a lot of cancelled preorders for their upcoming 50 megapixel monster 5DS R but also a lot of people jumping ship and moving to Sony.
  • ISO up to 102,400
    • On paper it looks highly impressive but I’ll wait for the reviews to see if it acutally works or if it is just marketing.
  • Native 4K recording
    • Even though Sony A7s was the first full frame mirrorless to offer 4K recording, it required a separate recorder to capture 4K video but now with Sony A7r II, 4k videos can be recorded to the memory card without the need of any external recorder. On top of that the best feature is that the camera can utilized the 399 PDAF points during video recording as well to ensure fast subject tracking.

Sony A7r II is expected to ship in August with a eye watering price of $3200 but if you consider all the technology that Sony as crammed into it, it is definitely a bargain. For me, even though it is more expansive then I can ever dream about spending on a camera but it is probably the closest to a “perfect” camera I have dreamt about.

More information about Sony A7r II can be found on the product page.

Sony A7R II

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