We are used to see Sony release new cameras at a tremendous pace. Each and every year we have a new camera, The A7II has been released just a year after the A7, same thing with the A7r/ A7rII and A7s/A7sII. The all new A7rII is literally a flagship for Sony as it encompasses all the new technologies Sony has been working on the past few years, especially with the 5 axis stabilization combined with the world premier full frame back-lit sensor. That being said, we’re not going to detail all the great features housed by the A7rII, the A7sII or the entry level A7II. Instead, I’d like to imagine what the A7III would be like. Sony always introduces the A7 then A7r and quickly after the A7s series, hense the next body in that series would be the A7III.
However, it is important to note that the A7II was released in January 2015, a little bit more than a year ago which means that Sony decided to change and slow down its pace in the race to the best mirrorless camera. Is it a good or bad thing, I will let you be the judge of their strategy. But in my opinion, this is a very good thing. First, it will settle down the image of the cameras and they will lose less value with time, making them appear more credible and valuable against CaNikon competitors, and second, it shows that Sony is focusing more on developing the E-mount lenses. Knowing this, we can assume that this system will arrive to a certain maturity by the end of 2016 ( especially as Zeiss declared to iLHP being ready to release 2-3 E-mount lenses in 2016 and 2-3 others in 2017, 5 in total). Considering the success of this system, third party manufacturers will also get more involved and start to produce lenses as well. Sigma, for instance, has been stressed a lot in the past few months by A7 consumers and prosumers to produce their ART series for the E-mount.
But this new strategy will not prevent Sony from innovating again. They literately attacked Canon and Nikon by creating a new market and taking a significant share of the whole DSLR/mirrorless market. Without a doubt, Canon and Nikon will react within a year or two. Sony knows this and is obviously working on the A7II successor that we might be expecting for January 2017 if they want to stay ahead of the game.
What can we expect from an A7III?
This is by no mean what the A7III will be in details, but some sort of forecast based on their latest technologies and what Sony used to do in the past when renewing their camera bodies. It is also based on the fact that Sony has been listening pretty well to their clients to improve and enhance the performances and handling of the A7 series to come up with the A7II series. This article is also meant to start the debate on what it should/ could be and what you guys want. Being myself an A7II shooter, I also listed some things I wish to have as well. I believe we can expect to have many of Sony shooters concerns addressed in this next version.
This mark II series has already been considerably overhauled from its first iteration. The grip is wider, the shutter button has been moved and placed where it should be, the body has been strengthened with magnesium alloy material and the only critics that most people came up with was about its weight being a little bit heavier. I do not think that Sony will change the body, in fact, it should look almost identical, which also means that the weight (599g with battery and memory card) and built quality should remain substantially equal. One of the only change that we should be expecting would be about the dial wheel and some buttons on its back side being a little bit bigger. The wheel might change to either a joystick or just get slightly bigger and with a sturdier click. The shutter button might feature the silent mode.
This time they might improve the resolution but that would be the icing on the cake. I think they will definitely offer a touch screen that everyone if asking for. It should still be only tilting, not moving in every direction even though a mechanism similar to the Nikon D5500 for instance would be a blessing for some situation and would allow to protect the screen by folding it backward toward the body itself. The mechanism from the Sony A77II is a delight to use but could be too bulky to implement in the small A7 series body, and too heavy as well.
The electronic viewfinder
I am hoping for Sony to install the A7rII’s viewfinder in the A7III. The magnification would then reach 0.78x compared to the actual 0.71x. The resolution and refresh rate should remain the same at 2.36M dots, but Sony could surprise us here. Note that even if they were to implement this new magnification in the EVF, the special T* coating has little chance to appear on this future entry level that will be the A7III.
I have no doubt Sony will improve the Auto-focus performances. It should feature almost the same AF system as the A7rII and improve even more the compatibility with 3rd party lenses. Overall, the AF performance should be comparable to the best DSLRs on the market. Or maybe they will implement the so-called 4D Autofocus technology that that has just been announced on the brand new A6300 (Available in March 2016). Please, remember that the A6300 is Sony’s APS-C size sensor flagship camera.
The battery life
This has been an issue from the beginning. I cannot say that it bothers me a lot, I would use no more than 2 batteries at the most per day but if you go on a several day hike without being able to recharge any batteries, it would be good to have better batteries. Many of us have complained about it though. Can they just change the spec or would the battery need to be bigger? I hope not since the grip is not that extendable considering the A7II size factor. Also, some of you would like to see a built-in GPS but this would consume too much battery life. This issue remains a big question, let’s see what Sony will have in store for us!
What about the heart of our beloved camera? Well, I think that the resolution will remain at about 24.3M pixels or very close. The A7 is meant to be a all rounder so they probably prefer not to increase too much the pixel count, especially as this is the full frame entry level. I’m almost certain that Sony will feature a new sensor, but the big question is: Will it feature a back-lit sensor like on the A7rII or just a sensor with improved ISO, color range and dynamic range performances? In order to keep the price point low, Sony will probably try to just improve the performances without using the back-illuminated structure. For instance, a Nikon D810 has pretty impressive performances without using this technology. I believe the A7III will be the first of the series to house a new BIONZ image processor. Faster, it will also allow better noise control. It will also enable a better burst rate. Probably around 7 i/s (currently at 5 i/s). Of course, it will still be 5 axis stabilized but this goes without saying.
To my opinion the A7III will feature the exact same specs as the A7rII regarding the 4K resolution and in-body recording: UHD 30/24p; XAVC S (100/60Mbps) for 4k and 1080 60/30/24p
(50Mbps) XAVC S for HD movie specs. The A7sII will remain the workhorse for videographers anyway.
What will the A7III look like?
- The body should remain subsequently identical
- The dial wheel might be switched to a joystick or just be a little bigger
- The screen should remain the same but become a touch screen
- The EVF might feature the same magnification size as the A7rII‘s (0.78x) but without the T* coating.
- The AF system should be about the same as the A7rII or with the new 4D system
- The battery life remains a big question.
- The Sensor resolution might be the same but with better ISO performance and maybe a back-illuminated structure
- New BIONZ image processor, faster, with better noise control and better burst rate (7 i/s? currently at 5 i/s)
- Silent shutter mode? Likely, yes.
- A GPS is not likely to appear, it would consume too much battery life
Of course, the already very good and exclusive feature that is the 5 axis stabilization is expected to stay there, maybe a little bit improved but I do not think that Sony will work on it much. After having done this listing, it mainly shows that it should be an evolution of the A7II rather than a revolution. It should incorporation a couple of features from the A7rII’s technology. Will this be enough for A7II shooters to upgrade to the A7III? It is up to you Sir Sony to make us want and need to upgrade to a revolutionary camera like the A7rII when it was released! Just saying! 😉
Please remember that this article is by no mean linked to any rumors since for now there are absolutely no rumors. It is based on our experience and knowledge of the consumer and prosumer market and meant to start a debate on what this new camera should be and feature, so please stay polite on the forum below.
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