I Hope the Sony a5 Is Astonishing, But I Don’t Want One

The Sony a5 sounds like one of the most exciting new cameras to come from Sony in a while if it’s real.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned about Sony and cameras, it’s that the Sony a5 will probably be a flawed attempt at greatness. The camera has been reported to be in the works and may be an entry-level, full-frame camera. The Sony a5 would enter a market already teeming with full-frame camera options. However, the Sony a5 is reported to be something more akin to a rangefinder. For those of us who’ve been in the photo world for years, liken it to a Mamiya 6. For everyone else, think of a rangefinder with a grip and autofocus. Sony has undoubtedly come a long way in the past decade, and there are high hopes for its future. But the Sony a5 is a camera I probably won’t want despite it sounding like almost everything I’ve been asking for.

The Sony a5 will likely be akin to every other camera line they’ve made. The first version is substantial and disruptive, but ultimately flawed. Their second lineup brings solid innovations, but if you bought into the first version, then you don’t need the second one. The third version will be everything most photographers will want. And the fourth version will be a significant upgrade in some areas, but Sony won’t make the changes photographers really ask for. With Sony specifically, there are things that I really, really want.

We’ve discussed the Sony a5 on our weekly show: Pro Camera Reviews. Catch that segment on our YouTube channel.

Let’s start off with the apps from PlayMemories that they got rid of. You’ve probably heard this a million times, so I’ll cut to the chase. I want all the features they stole from us (the consumers that helped them get to the position they’re in right now). Multiple exposure mode, touchless shutter, the feature closest to the Olympus Live Composite mode, etc. I want all of it. Much of that is built into other cameras as standard features. So give it back.

Beyond this, I’d like features that I think should be standard on all cameras at this point:

  • Dual card slots
  • USB C
  • Weather sealing
  • Larger touchscreens
  • Larger and better EVFs

Further, I think Sony should give this series a brand new sensor. I don’t think it should be like their 24MP, 47MP, etc. options. But why not a variant of the 36MP sensor that was in cameras for so long? Or why not go back to the 16MP sensor that was around but give it the latest processors for high ISO shooting?

Knowing Sony for over a decade, their intent with the Sony a5 will be to get it as small as possible for the entry-level crowd. That’s awesome; I commend that idea. Getting more folks to carry small cameras they actually want to bring with them is critical here. But, I hope they don’t treat the idea of rangefinder-style cameras like the red-headed stepchild they don’t care about. Rangefinder-style cameras are fantastic: much of history has been documented with them. Other companies have paid rangefinder-style cameras their due diligence, such as Panasonic, Leica, and Fujifilm. But Sony has always kept theirs to the axxxx lineup.

Meanwhile, I think a rangefinder camera in the style of the a9 could be a killer option for wedding photographers, working photojournalists, documentary shooters, etc. Lots of photographers will want a grip, so give them a grip. Some of us who shoot with Leica and Fujifilm, on the other hand, don’t care for grips. And this is an approach from Sony that I have no idea about.

I hope that, if it’s real, the Sony a5 does well for the company. But I also hope that it gets quick refreshes to continue improving it.