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 for the A7r/ A7rII and A7s/A7sII. The 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. Until the A9 has been announced on April 19th, 2017. The A9 is clearly a game changer. I know I know, we have been saying this for every single A7 that has been released the past couple years. But the A9 has a different flavor. The high-end professional flavor that was missing in the mirrorless world and that just put an end to the endless debate between DSLRs and mirrorless bodies. It brings the credibility, especially in terms of focusing capabilities, that mirrorless needed the most. That is not all of course but one of the main feature that will definitely kill DSLRs. One can still argue on the size of the body being too small for his/her hand but the fact is that performance wise, the A9 buries its competitors, including the kings Canon 1DX and Nikon D5, and icing on the cake, it is up to $2000 less expensive than its famous competitors. We’re not going to detail all the great features housed by the A9 as there are plenty of reviews out there for that but instead, I’d like to imagine what the A7markIII would be like, now that the new A9 flagship has been announced and shows what Sony has been up to. That tells us a little bit more on the way Sony is taking.
But would it be accurate or fair? As a matter of fact, comparing the A7III that will be the entry level to the A9 that is the high-end pro model could be sort of… inappropriate. But we can expect Sony to introduce some of these new technologies to the newer bodies in order to ensure to stay ahead in the mirrorless run, or even in the Full Frame interchangeable cameras since Sony just took over Nikon in that field recently. In the past, Sony has always introduced the A7 then A7r and quickly after the A7s series, we can reasonably expect the next body to be the A7III.
However, it is important to note that the A7II was released in January 2015, a little bit more than 2 years ago which means that Sony decided to change and slow down its pace in renewing its cameras and instead work on the lenses offer. It is a good and a bad thing some would say, I will let you be the judge. 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 over 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, bringing more credibility to the system. Knowing this, we can assume that this system will reach maturity by the end of 2017 ( especially since Zeiss declared to iLHP being ready to release 2-3 others E-mount lenses in 2017). Considering the success of this system, third party manufacturers will also get more involved and start to make 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. From the latest developments, it sounds like Sigma will soon release some E-mount lenses, which will add up to the already Sony and Zeiss offer as well as Rokinon/Samyang and some others.In total, that is more than 50 lenses that are available for the E-mount system. And the professional G-Master series is growing quickly, introducing the 100-400mm G with the A9 for sports photographers.
Sony will obviously keep innovating. This will not end here. They literately attacked Canon and Nikon by creating a new market and taking a significant share of the whole DSLR/mirrorless market. They’re now targeting their professional market, exactly where no one else could compete, not even close. Without a doubt, Canon and Nikon will react within a year or two, at least they should! Sony knows this and is obviously working on the A7II successor that we might be expecting for January 2018 if they want to stay ahead of the game.
What can we expect from an A7 mark III?
This article is by no mean detailing what the A7III will be, but rather some sort of an attempt to do so 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, and now the A9. 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 and desires addressed in this next version. My goal was also to tackle this topic as many more people will be able to afford the A7III than the A9 or even the future A7rIII. So without any further due, what can we expect?
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 identical, which also means that the weight (600g with battery and memory card) and built quality should remain substantially equal. Yes, the A9 is very slightly different, the grip is a little bit larger, but I do believe that this will remain the exclusivity of the A9 series, for pros only. That doesn’t mean Sony will not introduce some new features, but I think this will be in regards to the ergonomy only. 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, and more A9 like. The wheel might get slightly bigger and with a sturdier click while the AF/MF/AEL switch should be replaced by a joystick. They might add a button or two on the rear panel just like on the A9. However, I do not think the will put the wheel controlling the drive modes that the A9 has on its top left side. Overall, it should feel a little bit tougher than it is today, in order to satisfy adventurers and be more durable. But don’t expect a dual memory card slot, for sure.
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. While I think everyone would welcome a 3.2″ screen instead of the current 3″, unfortunately, I do not think Sony will increase its size. so besides the touch capability, I doubt that there will have more changes to the screen.
The electronic viewfinder
I am hoping for Sony to install the A7rII’s viewfinder in the A7III. The A9 one would be even better but will certainly be the exclusivity of the A9 series. 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 to that of 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 its compatibilities with 3rd party lenses. Overall, the AF performance should be comparable to the best DSLRs on the market, let alone the Canon 1DX and Nikon D5 of course. Or maybe they will implement the 4D Autofocus technology that has been implemented on the A6300 (and now of the newer A6500). Please, remember that the A6500 is Sony’s APS-C size sensor flagship camera. Without any doubt, the A7III’s autofocus performances will be top notch.
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. Can they just change the spec or would the battery need to be bigger? Sony has implemented a bigger battery in the A9 giving it 2.2 times more battery life than on the A7rII (in theory). Since the grip and body should remain the same as the A7II, I believe that the engineers will only offer a battery with slightly better performances in the same compact size, but not to the level of the new A9’s battery, which is a bummer but who knows, as I said, Sony keeps on surprising us. Also, some of you would like to see a built-in GPS but this would consume too much battery life. The A9 does not have the feature, but in regards to the marketing strategy, it might be a good idea in today’s social media world. This topic will remain 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. Please, do not forget that this is the entry level. The A7 is meant to be an all-rounder so they probably prefer not to increase too much the pixel count. I’m pretty certain that Sony will feature a new sensor, but the big question is: Will it feature a back-lit sensor like on the A7rII/A7sII/A9 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 10 to 12 i/s (currently at 5 i/s). Of course, it will still be 5 axis stabilized but this goes without saying. Finally, it should feature the very useful silent shutter mode.
In 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 a little bit bigger with a sturdier click to it.
- A joystick might appear in lieu of the AF/MF/AEL switch.
- 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 Focus system
- The battery life remains a big question but will probably be improved a little bit with the same compact size.
- 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 (10 to 12 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 incorporate a couple of features from the A7rII’s technology and some of the ergonomy from the all new and fantastic A9. 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 or A9 when it was released! Just saying! 😉 This is some exciting time for photography!
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 Sony and the consumer and prosumer market and meant to start a debate on what this new camera should be and feature, so please debate and enjoy the forum below.
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