Back in August 2016 I gave a retrospective of my 5 years as a Sony photography equipment shooter. Well it’s about six months later and I guess it’s time to update my opinion and look ahead.
Since then, Sony has not issued another full frame e-mount camera. In fact, the last full frame e-mount announced was the A7S II back in September 2015. As a sort of qualifier, I will note that a full frame A mount camera (Sony A-99 II) was launched in late 2016. This launch combined with the damage to Sony’s factory in April 2016 probably explain this slower release schedule. During this time, Sony released a couple of APS-C e-mount cameras that exhibited many interesting improvements in auto-focus ability and other important features. In addition, Sony has announced an impressive number of very good full frame lenses for the e-mount. So, taking all these mitigating circumstances into consideration you could completely excuse Sony for this slower schedule.
Well, maybe you could but I can’t! As a certified Sony fanatic, I excuse nothing. I consider that Sony owes me the impossible each and every day! Okay, rant over.
Basically, we are still at about the same point of Sony mirrorless evolution as we were back then. Granted, the APS-C cameras claim to have improved moving subject auto-focus greatly. And more powerful processing chips have been added to the A-99 II. But until Sony provides a full-frame that matches the auto-focus of the top end Canon and Nikon cameras from even 5 years ago I don’t think Sony can declare themselves a legitimate option for professional photographers.
In fact, lately it sounds like some of the other mirrorless manufacturers (Fuji and Panasonic) have really solved the auto-focus issues for mirrorless. Now granted these are not full-frame cameras but it highlights the defect of the A7 cameras in this department. On top of this I saw an article on a popular rumor site that stated that Sony lost quite a bit of sales ground to its competitors this last year. Taking this all together it sounds like Sony needs to play some catch up to be seen as a competitor for Canon and Nikon.
Sounds sort of bad. Well actually, I think Sony has learned that they need to stop churning out cameras with only minor improvements. I think they are preparing to launch a significant upgrade to the A7 line. Whether they will launch this series simultaneously with an A9 (professional model) is unclear. From the perspective of maximizing overall sales I think releasing the A9 later would make sense. But to get this high-end product out quickly into the market place I rather think launching the A9 at the same time is much more exciting. Plus, assuming that an A9 would be greatly more expensive I don’t see that these cameras would interfere with each other’s sales.
So what insider knowledge do I possess that allows me to predict the imminent release of these new cameras? None!
I’m going strictly on gut feeling that Sony knows they have to bust out a really compelling camera (or cameras) now to stay relevant and profitable. So, there you have it. I am putting my incredible reputation as a soothsayer on the line and predicting that Sony will announce a ground-breaking full-frame mirrorless camera in 2017. It will have professional level auto-focus and all the other required characteristics (dual memory cards, good battery life, weatherproof construction) that a professional camera requires.
If I’m wrong may I be forced to take no other photos but selfies with smartphones for a year!