In terms of specs, the Sony a7 III is probably the best all round Full-Frame mirrorless or DSLR camera today.
When mirrorless cameras became mainstream by about 2014 or so, I observed two kinds of photographers who moved over to this system from other brands’ DSLRs. Those who weren’t too worried about sensor size, and loved film emulations switched to the Fuji X Series. Others who stood firm about a larger sensor requirement moved to the Sony offerings. Many DSLR users of Nikon and Canon who got tired of waiting for them to bring out competing models, eventually moved to one of the aforementioned mirrorless brands. Even Olympus managed to win over older photographers who got tired of lugging around heavy DSLRs and lenses.
What could Sony bring to the a7 IV to extend their lead at the top of the mirrorless sales charts?
In 2013, the photography world stood up and took notice when Sony introduced the a7 and a7R. These were the first mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras with a Full-Frame sensor in them. With the launch of the RX1R in 2012, Sony proved that small mirrorless bodies could house more than just APS-C and m43 sensors in them. It took nearly 5 years for – Canon and Nikon – to finally introduce their first models in the Full-Frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens segment. Sony’s R&D and production teams were so quick that by then they had already brought out two iterations of the a7 and a7R. In addition, there are two iterations of the a7s models. Then there is the flagship A9 and A1 series. Now a report from Sony Alpha Rumors states that the Sony a7 IV could be released in September 2021. While the report doesn’t say anything about the possible specs of this model, here’s a list of specs that Sony could introduce to indefinitely stay at the top of the global mirrorless camera sales list
A Massive Upgrade or a Minor One?
Positioned between the a7s series (a champion of low light) and the ultra high-resolution a7R series, the a7 and its 2 iterations were a balanced middle ground for those who wanted to get their first Full-Frame mirrorless camera. With these improvements over the existing a7 III, the release of the IV iteration could see Sony’s sales skyrocketing by the end of 2021
- All 3 models of the Sony a7 have so far had a 24 megapixel sensor. I’m hopeful that this could increase to 30 or 32 MP in the upcoming model; with continued use of its Exmor backlit sensor technology.
- IBIS enhancements to go beyond the current 5.0 step shutter speed abilities
- 4K video at 60 fps (at least), without any crop. Or maybe just surprise us with 120 fps (again, without crop please).
- Full HD video at 240 fps. We all love watching slow-mo videos
- Significant improvements in the already class-leading Eye AF and Animal Eye AF tracking speeds
- 12-15 fps continuous shooting (12 with the mechanical shutter and up to 15 on the electronic shutter). This could even go up to 20 if the a9iii comes out with a faster frame rate
- Imagine being able to manually set a shutter speed for your exposure using the menu system. I’d like for the Sony a7 IV to provide this feature when it comes to long exposure photography. Let’s move the lower limit of 30 seconds out of the way and let photographers be able to set custom values for exposures
- Improved viewfinder resolution (at least 3.6 million dots)
- A fully articulating LCD. Even if the a7 IV won’t be marketed as a vlogging camera, there’s no reason cameras today shouldn’t have this feature as a standard
- Support for the latest Bluetooth v5.2; I wonder if this could help pair headphones to the camera (for audio monitoring during video recording). Wouldn’t need a 3rd party Bluetooth transmitter on your camera then
- Can they do better than the existing 693 phase-detect and 425 contrast-detect AF points? As a shooter who likes single point AF shooting, I am not a fan of too many focus points, but it seems like brands are using this as a bragging right these days, similar to the megapixels wars.
- Better video specs should certainly be accompanied by a newer, longer-lasting battery
- The new menu UX of the a7s III. Often complained about by Sony users, the existing menu system of the a7 series needs a complete overhaul
Blow us Away, Sony
With every mirrorless camera release over the last 8 years, Sony has set the pace for other brands to follow. Any time a competing brand comes close, Sony launches a new model that pretty much wipes out the competition for a while. While we haven’t heard of any features announcements from Sony about the a7 IV, when it does come by I am certain that some jaw-droppers will be on that list.