Sony builds some of the world's best camera technology -- so good that even competitors like Apple and Nikon buy their sensors. Now, Sony's cramming some never-before-seen, next-generation guts into three of its hottest cameras. The new A7R II, RX10 II, and RX100 IV are promising unheard of levels of performance.
From the outside, they may not look all that different from its excellent predecessors, but the new $US3200 Sony A7R II sounds like a beast for low-light photography and videography. Sony's says it's created the first full-frame backside illuminated sensor, a 42.4 megapixel monster with a native ISO range of 100-25600 (expandable to 102400), a ridiculous 399 phase detection autofocus points (plus 25 contrast AF points for full frame coverage) and the 5-axis stabilisation system that wowed us on the A7 Mark II.
In other words, Sony's promising this camera will basically see in the dark, lock onto targets like a guided missile, and keep them in sharp focus till you're done shooting. Oh, and it will shoot 4K video using the entire full-frame sensor, rather than cropping or skipping lines. That should mean fewer jaggies. (Sony says that's a first, too.) Plus a redesigned grip, shutter button, a silent shooting mode, and an upgraded OLED viewfinder with a wider field of view -- and a optional 5-inch 1080p monitor you can mount right on the hotshoe while you're shooting video.
Where does that all leave Sony's $US2500 A7S, the previous full-frame video champ? Not certain. The A7R II will hit shelves in August.
But let's talk about Sony's other two new cameras, the new RX10 and RX100. The high-end compact and high-end superzoom also share a crazy new sensor -- a stacked CMOS chip that shoves the circuitry and some high-speed memory right up against the sensor for way faster performance. Sony says the image data comes out 5 times faster, and it lets even the pocketable new RX100 Mark IV boast some fancy features: like 40x super slow motion video capture (1080p at 960fps), 16fps continous shooting, and an incredibly fast electronic shutter speed of 1/32000 second.
For comparison, the awesome RX100 Mark III topped out at just 1/2000 and Sony had to add a (much appreciated) neutral density filter to make it useful in bright light. Now, capturing shots in blinding conditions shouldn't be a problem. (Sony says it can shoot wide open at up to EV19.) The pop-out electronic viewfinder should also help with that, and both the RX10 and RX100 still have the built-in ND filter.
There's also 4K video, again without cropping or skipping lines. It uses all the pixels on the sensor. Plus faster autofocus, and new dust and moisture resistance on the RX10.
The major differences between the RX10 II and RX100 IV are in the lenses, controls, and price points, of course. The RX10 has a 24-200mm (8.3x) f/2.8 superzoom and lots of tactile controls, while the RX100 is obviously still a pocket cam with a 24-70mm (2.9x) f/1.8-2.8 for more up-close-and-personal shooting. You'll pay a pretty penny for the pocketable upgrade: where the RX100 Mark III started at $US800, the new Mark IV will cost $US1000. The RX10 II stays at $US1300.
Both cameras will be available this July.