Last Updated on 06/23/2020 by Mark Beckenbach
Noises about an affordable Full Frame Sony a5 are getting louder: here’s what we’d like to see.
How does a sub $1,000 Full Frame camera from Sony sound to you? Does it sound like the camera of your dreams? If so, you might be interested to hear that Sony might be getting ready to announce such a camera within the next two weeks. Finally, something to get excited about, right? We’re sure most people would love to see what a camera like this would look like, as Sony will be dipping their toes into waters Canon has had to itself almost exclusively for years, and we’re sure Canon is looking over its shoulder. What could a potential Sony a5 look like, though? Will it have enough about it to take on the affordable Canon EOS RP? After the break, we will talk about what we would like to see in such a camera. Join us; it will be enlightening.
According to a recent post on Mirrorless Rumors, Sony is getting ready to launch a new Full Frame camera priced less than $1,000. There are absolutely no details yet about such a camera to go around, but the thought of another entry-level full-frame camera that would go head to head with the Canon EOS RP is xciting. Just what would a camera like this from Sony look like? Will it have a smaller a7 style body? Perhaps a slightly larger Rangefinder-style a6xxx body? Will it have an EVF? IBIS? Ah, the mind wanders. Let’s break it down a little bit and see what we can come up with for $1,000.
Table of Contents
The Sony A5 Guessing Game
Canon got a lot of things right with the EOS RP, and we think Sony will try to mimic many things from it. This will be no bad thing. We had nothing but praise for the RP when we reviewed it, and Sony knows they will have a tough time matching what Canon has achieved with their little Full Frame camera that could. So, without further ado, here’s what we’re thinking.
Expect a DSLR Style Body
We think Sony will try and make the Sony a5 as professional as possible, meaning it will be a smaller, DSLR style body with a nice, deep grip. The Sony a5 will have an ergonomically pleasing body, which will allow photographers to easily use the Sony a5 with Sony’s larger Full Frame lenses. The last thing you would want to have is an unwieldy, front-heavy camera with large lenses attached. The a5 will likely find a happy place between the size of the a7 III and the a6600.
The EVF and LCD
Don’t hold your breath when it comes to the EVF and LCD. The EVF will likely be a low-quality affair. Given that the EVF in the A7 III is only 2.36 million dots, don’t be surprised if Sony springs for the same lower resolution (1.44 million dots) EVF found in the a6100. Is the EVF terrible? It’s not the best, but it gets the job done, and will likely be adequate for those who buy an entry-level Sony a5. The story will be the same for the LCD too. These two components are pricey, so cost-cutting measures will surely take place here, but that’s okay. As long as they don’t omit the EVF altogether, things will be fine. Don’t expect tilting abilities, or things to better on the touchscreen front either.
We may well see a brand new sensor for the Sony a5. If Sony has somehow found a way to create a full-frame sensor that massively undercuts the production price of their current 24mp sensor in the A7 III, then they will be set. The biggest question, of course, will be how many megapixels will the sensor have? This is an interesting thing, seeing that the Canon EOS RP sports a 26.2MP sensor and the Sony a7 III has a 24.2MP sensor. I think we will see something around the 20MP mark.
A 20-megapixel sensor will provide more than enough resolution for most photographers, and it will fall nicely in line with the sensor supposedly being used in the upcoming Canon R6. What do you mean, back it up? No, really, you don’t need more than 20mp unless you’re doing high-end product photography, high-end fashion, or fine art. And if you are, you’re not going to be looking at the Sony a5 anyway, so 20MP will be just fine.
The Autofocus System
We know full well Sony will also use their secret autofocus sauce in whatever the a5 will be, and quite honestly, there will likely be no match for it in this price category. Look, the Sony a6100 can run rings around most cameras out there (it can, trust me), and it costs just $598. I would expect to see the same performance from Sony’s sub $1,000 Full-Frame camera too. Eye AF, Animal Eye AF, and blazing fast speed in general will all be present. Sony has prided itself on the progress it has made with autofocus, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them say it’s ‘ the world’s fastest focusing Full Frame camera.’
The Rest of the Specs
I would almost guarantee that the Sony a5 will not have IBIS. IBIS is expensive, and, to keep cost down, in-body image stabilization just will not be present. Perhaps we will all be surprised, but I doubt it. Hopefully, Sony has been working hard on creating new batteries that will give the a5 unmatched battery life. And please, for the love of all things, let’s hope there is at least one UHS-II SD card slot. I understand that UHS-1 card slots are likely pennies cheaper to use, but what’s the point of having a camera that will probably shoot at 10 frames a second if the buffer fills up instantly? Put an end to this nonsense Sony, please.
Personally, I would like to see a max shutter of 1/8000, but it will likely be held back to 1/4000 sec like most ‘entry-level’ cameras, and I am sure there will be a bevy of 8-bit 4K video modes for the videographers who need them as well. As for weather sealing, I hope there will be some. The Canon RP is weather-sealed at this price point, and to many photographers it will be deal-breaker if the Sony a5 isn’t protected against Mother Nature.
I think we will be looking at a $998 camera that:
- Has a smaller body, but ergonomically pleasing DSLR style body with some weather-sealing
- Comes packed with a Full-Frame 20MP sensor
- Has a fully fleshed-out version of Sony’s AF system
- Has good but not great EVF and LCD units
- Features a UHS-II card slot, has a max shutter speed of 1/4000, and that has better battery life than the a6xxx series of cameras
- No IBIS
At the end of the day, cameras like this are all about that Full-Frame sensor. Canon has been doing this for years with the EOS 6D line, and more recently with the EOS RP. Strip out the fluff, get a full-frame sensor in the hands of the masses, and then let those photographers grow with the system. That has always been the plan with Canon, and it has always worked. I have lost count of the number of photographers who started with an inexpensive Full-Frame Canon 6D, who then later moved on to the 5D III and the 5D IV.
Sony, with the upcoming Sony a5 (if it’s even real), will be hoping to achieve the same success as Canon. With the feature set above, the Sony a5 will honestly wipe the floor with the EOS RP thanks to the AF system alone. Given that there are dozens of more affordable lenses for Sony’s E Mount from the likes of Tamron, Sigma, Rokinon, and many others, the Sony a5 will drive one long nail into the coffin of the RP.
What do you think about the potential for a sub $1,000 Full Frame camera from Sony? What do you think it will look like? Let us know in the comment section below.