I am going to have to be quite hard on Sony in this article, but it comes from a place of love.
In an interview with DPReview, Kenji Tanaka, Vice President and Senior General Manager of Sony’s Business Unit 1, Digital Imaging Group *deep breath* had a few things to say that interested me, but most of them not in a good way.
In a period of renewed competition, fierce rivalry in mirrorless, Sony had a bare Photokina. As bare as a German sauna.
Now the company suggests we should NOT expect an A7S III any time soon.
“Our a7S II customers want to create many things, and to meet their demands we are thinking about creating a successor model. But the next model should of course be more than they expect. So we’re planning a future S model right now, but it will take time… They want 4K/60p, 4:2:2 10-bit, and of course more battery power, increased AF accuracy – many things!”
Aren’t we demanding!
There’s an elephant in the room Tanaka san. We can get all of these things right now from your competitors.
“We are thinking about creating it” is quite far from shipping, isn’t it?! Cameras take 2-3 years to develop. The next NAB is 6 months away.
Unless this has been lost in translation, the A7S III is going to be a minimum of 2 years away. That gives a LOT of time to rivals like Panasonic, who will now have a head start with 4K/60p on the S1R and possibly 10bit as well.
In the same interview, Tanaka san says he don’t care about the competition. I am a customer and I DO care about the competition and please stop asking US to design your camera for you. YOU are the camera manufacturer with a team of talented designers! YOU should be coming up with the inspiration.
By the time you have asked the customer what they want, it’s old data. Sony should have thought about creating the A7S III straight after the release of the A7S II and after 3 years of development with an innovative new ergonomic design (and electronic ND from the FS5) it should have been ready to go NOW as a cutting edge hybrid 4K camera. Sony would have had $4k from me.
In the interview Sony hint at 8K/30p in the future, which I can tell you is something I have zero interest in.
“Memory card performance is related to image processing speed. Right now, processing speed is slower than SD UHS-II, so using SD is OK. But in the future, for example in any camera with 8K/30p video, SD won’t be enough.”
I am 100% all for the fast write speeds of XQD because they enable raw video and higher frame rates. I have no use for compressed 8K at 30p. This is the point where video resolution becomes a pure marketing ploy.
At the moment, the competition has got a jump on Sony with 4K/60p and internal 10bit recording but specs of course are NOT the whole story! Leica, Canon, Panasonic, Fujifilm and Nikon are doing the ergonomic side far better. Sony’s cameras do not have a personality. How enjoyable a camera is to shoot with is not determined by technical capability alone. There’s such a thing as character inherent in every artistic tool you can think of from a camera to a pen. The moment Sony understand this and apply it to the market like Apple do to smartphones – that’s the moment of enlightenment for them.
Sony shooters ready for a change might find a lot of what they need in a certain Fuji camera, which was unthinkable at the time the A7S II was released. In 2015 Fujifilm with the X-T1 were dead-last in video quality, usability and features. Now they are getting things SERIOUSLY right with the X-T3 and X-H1.
Canon seem to have gained a somewhat mid-range foothold in the mirrorless market with the EOS R, but it will be the higher-end model that truly answers the call of video shooters. This remains a hovering threat to Sony as well, because we know how many Canon customers there are out there and how loyal they are.
Nikon have got to the point where the XQD card equipped Z7 surpasses Sony on a technical level using their own technology and manufacturing facilities. It supplants Sony’s best specced stills camera on the market not just for stills but for video quality as well.
Blackmagic is pushing once again into the affordable cinema camera market with the Pocket 4K, after taking a trip down Pro’s Only Road with the URSA. If Sony wait another 2 years to bring out an A7S III there might not be many A7S III customers left.
Sony went to a lot of effort to cement a position in the mirrorless video market. DON’T drop the ball now!!