United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, 7 September 2015 – Canon Europe, a leader in imaging solutions, today announces that its parent company, Canon Inc., is developing an APS-H-size (approx. 29.2 x 20.2 mm) CMOS sensor incorporating approximately 250 million pixels (19,580 x 12,600 pixels), the world’s highest number of pixels for a CMOS sensor smaller than the size of a 35 mm full-frame sensor.
When installed in a camera, the newly developed sensor was able to capture images enabling the distinguishing of lettering on the side of an airplane flying at a distance of approximately 18 km from the shooting location
Well, this is great for the Guinness Book of Records, but you need to put it in context. Sony’s little HX60 – like many other 1/2.3 inch sensor compacts offering 20 megapixel resolution – records 705,000 pixels per square millimetre, 840 pixels per linear millimetre. And where Canon shows a 35mm f/1.4 lens on their prototype camera, the wee Sony goes to 129mm…
The new Canon sensor records about 450,000 pixels per square millimetre, or 670 pixels per linear millimetre. It’s actually just a little bit higher in resolution than the Sony one-inch sensor used in the Cyber-Shot DSC RX10 and RX100 series (414,000 pixels per square millimetre).
In theory, given the same lens and the ability to aim the camera, a pocket Sony Cyber-shot with backside illuminated CMOS 20.2 megapixel 1/2.3″ sensor can distinguish the lettering on that airplane (or if you’re in Britain, aircraft or aeroplane…) from 22.5 kilometres – and if the Sony G zoom on that HX60 is sharp enough, make that 82km. Unless of course Canon was actually testing with a 600mm f/4 attached. Saying what focal length of lens is used gets rather important when chucking around statistic-examples like this.
It is very easy to use facts and figures without reference or benchmarks for comparison.
This is no reason to rain on Canon’s parade, as the video achievement is a major one. Here’s the rest of their tech info, and the important bit is in the last paragraph – Big Brother is droning you… and across that city square, he’ll be able to recognise your eyes and put a bullet in your head with surgical precision.
With CMOS sensors, increases in pixel counts result in increased signal volume, which can cause such problems as signal delays and slight discrepancies in timing. The new Canon-developed CMOS sensor, however, despite its exceptionally high pixel count, achieves an ultra-high signal readout speed of 1.25 billion pixels per second, made possible through such advancements as circuit miniaturisation and enhanced signal-processing technology. Accordingly, the sensor enables the capture of ultra-high-pixel-count video at a speed of five frames per second. Additionally, despite the exceptionally high pixel count, Canon applied its sensor technologies cultivated over many years to realise an architecture adapted for miniaturised pixels that delivers high-sensitivity, low-noise imaging performance.
Video footage captured by the camera outfitted with the approximately 250-megapixel CMOS sensor achieved a level of resolution that was approximately 125 times that of Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) video and approximately 30 times that of 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) video. The exceptionally high definition made possible by the sensor lets users crop and magnify video images without sacrificing image resolution and clarity.
Canon is considering the application of this technology in specialised surveillance and crime prevention tools, ultra-high-resolution measuring instruments and other industrial equipment, and the field of visual expression.
Actually, I see a better use. With the camera set up to cover an entire playing field, licenced from Sony the latest ‘Ball-AF’ ball recognition technology will keep focus on the ball and Minolta’s auto zoom framing patent will compose the crop. TV crews will no longer be needed and Rupert Murdoch will be able to install a full system in every stadium!
The new Sony A7R II is the camera I’ve been waiting for, which everyone has predicted, and which seems to tick every box without having a huge price label on its own. I find the $3,200 (UK coinfirmed £2,600) matches its stated specifications well. Others may disagree, but they’re probably influenced by the price collapse of the original A7R, now occasionally found for under £1k.
Even so, at $3,200 the A7R II commands a $1,500 premium over the A7 II and much of that must be what you pay the new sensor – which does not seem to be licensed or sold to any other brand. Not even to Nikon, yet. The A7S remains the most expensive model despite the minimal 12 megapixel capture and lack of in-body stabilisation (SS in Sony terms, or IBIS generically).
On Monday June 15th I flew to London to have a look at the A7R II and the new RX10 II (£1,200) and RX100 IV (£850). This was a bit like a motoring journalist going to a car launch and being told, you can sit in the seat, waggle the gearstick but don’t start the engine as no photography was allowed with any of the demonstraton cameras. I was surprised to find it was a European conference, as this normally means journalists from across the Channel have a facility trip to be present, and that seems very extravagant just to look at cameras which can not be tried out. I wish I lived in France not Scotland – it might not have cost me almost £300 to be there, eight miles from Heathrow (but an eight miles which might as well be a fifty Scots miles!).
Don’t expect to get one on June 17th, as B&H’s information and too many bloggers have repeated. We are told by B&H it won’t arrive until August even though pre-orders open on June 17th in the USA. It may be later arriving in some regions. Demand is going to be so high that if you want one, you’ll need to crash into that queue…
In brief, the A7R II consists of an A7 II body with a new 42.4 megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, same Bionz X processor allowing 5fps at full resolution, new 399-point Phase Detection AF on the sensor covering most of the field (up from 117 points), a similar EVF with improved eyepiece giving a genuinely impressive 0.78X instead of 0.71X virtual magnification, the same rearRGBW bright LCD, plus silent shutter and HD 4K movie functions improving on the offering of the A7S. The new shutter mechanism is claimed to have a 500,000 actuation life expectancy which puts it ahead of almost every pro DSLR yet made. The back of the camera body is magnesium, where it’s solid composite plastic in the A7II. And it has, unlike the A7R, five-axis sensor stabilisation which talks to Sony OSS lenses for the best blend of anti-shake methods ever devised.
The new EVF size, to the eye – compared with the old (A7II, A7R, A7) 0.71X view below (A7R, Sigma 12-24mm at 12mm, Canon EF fit, on Commlite EF-FE adaptor).
You will read in the specifications and promo blurb that it has a new LCD double the brightness, new tough body and strengthened mount, new shutter release and controls but all these ‘improvements’ are listed by Sony over the A7R and already existed in the A7 II. Instead of making comparisons with the A7 II – which this is really a development from – Sony has listed many advances made relative to the A7R. It is not an A7R II. It’s really an A7 II R.
The eyepiece surround is much improved, wider and softer still than the A7II which in turn is softer on specs then the earlier models. Eyepoint and position flexibility both improve and there are no unsharp zones at all even if you shift your eye around.
It’s important to understand that many of the improvements already exist in the A7 II partly as a result of criticisms of the original A7R made by objective reviewers, not Sony artisans or staff or sponsored bloggers. You don’t owe this camera to the success of its predecessors or the daily Facebook sermons of awestruck evangelists – you owe its features to corrections made to the shortcomings of the models so far. And to those who have had no vested interest (other than ownership) persuading them to weaken critical appraisal. The further improvements in the A7R II are either extremely technical – serious core improvements in the sensor and focusing – or minor refinements and carries-over from the A7II.
42.4 versus 36 point anything
If you really think 42.4 megapixels is going to take you to realms far beyond your 36 megapixel sensor, think again. It is the same step up as from 18 megapixels to 21 megapixels, a move Canon made without absolutely transforming the images created, or about the same as from 10mp to 12mp. There’s one big difference – it does not make the jump to any larger common print or repro size. Remember going from 6 to 8? That was from sub-full-page to a decent full page resolution, for US or A-size documents at a touch under 300dpi. 24 megapixels took us to a really sharp A2, 36 megapixels takes us to a acceptable A1, and all that 42 does is to make a slightly better A1 but not 300dpi.
Above you can see the actual, real size difference (in proportion) between a 36 megapixel shot and a 42 megapixel shot. If you click on the bigger version, it will take you to my pBase page with a full A7R II sized version of this A7R shot. Zeiss? No – a 45 year old Asahi Pentax Super-Multi-Coated Macro Takumar 50mm f/4, used at f/11, and a 30 second exposure at ISO 50 lit using the ICE Light 2 moved round the subject in horseshoe shaped path for 15 seconds, laid flat, and then moved under the perspex for the remaining 15.
In practical terms, it’s 7980 x 5320 pixels (or very close – Sony has been extremely coy about releasing full specifications, even at the conference I could not find this out) versus 7360 x 4912 for the A7R. In perspective, make a big print from the A7R and it’s 24.5 inches long at optimum resolution; use the A7R II and you get one inch extra each end on the long side, 2/3rds of a inch extra top and bottom. The A7R makes a 16.3 x 24.5 inch print to perfection; the A7R II makes a 17.7 x 26.6 inch print.
Anything smaller than A4 printed, it’s got no great advantage over the 12 megapixel A7S – but you are getting close to enabling a 2X crop (one quarter of the frame) to look as good as the A7S full frame. Sony showed A3 prints. They could, honestly, all have been shot on the Sony A100 from 2006 and no-one would have been any the wiser. One enlarged section was the only real test of the camera. I’m sure the model’s dermatologist loves it.
Where it does count most is when using crop frame mode. In APS-C crop mode, the A7R II file is large enough for a 300dpi double page fine art magazine spread, just under 18 megapixels. I’d say that where 42.4mp is not a critical size, 18mp actually is. You can get away with 16, and for Nikon, Panasonic, and Olympus this had been an important baseline. Cropped frame FF from Sony now rises above that baseline instead of sitting just below it.
What I’d like to see would be 1:1, 4:3, 5:4 ratios implemented with the EVF and LCD screens cropped to match – and ideally the raw files reduced in size the same way. A square 1:1 would be 28 megapixels and that crop allows so many APS-C lenses (like the Zeiss Touit 12mm) to be used without vignetting or limits of coverage distortion issues. The example above is from the A7R and it’s a square crop 24 x 24mm from a frame taken with the 10-18mm f/4 Sony OSS, at 11mm; the lens would have allowed a 4:5 crop equally well.
Important edit: just read another ‘Sony artisan’ blog post asking the (redundant) question as to whether Sony lenses will be up to this new resolution. Anyone who owns an A6000, NEX-7, or A77 is already shooting at well above this resolution (full frame will need to match the Canon 5DS 50 megapixels to beat them). The resolution of the A7R II is slightly lower than that of the base level entry A3000. Don’t panic. Plenty of old legacy lenses will match it well, let alone any new Sony FE and A-mount designs.
I checked out the 20mm f/2.8 SEL lens with the new version 2 wide and fisheye black converters on full frame at the Sony event. Really, this lens comes so close to doing a good full frame and the converters even leave much of the area intact for a much bigger crop than APS-C.
And that’s all without removing rear baffles or doctoring the built-in lens hoods of the converters!
When we get a chance to use the camera, the following points will be of interest:
Has the mount been upgraded again? It still has only four attachment screws, compared to Fujfilm X system’s six screws (and the A-mount uses six too). My two camera bodies and two changes of mount on the A7R, to Tough E mount and then 2nd generation Tough E mount, all produce unpredictable degrees of slop, smoothness or jam-on tightness from various adaptors showing that no matter what, tolerances are broad. Comment: can’t tell from changing lenses at the event, it feels much the same as the A7 II.
Has the Memory position, 1 and 2 on the mode dial, been improved to remember MORE of the important settings – notable, Setting Effect ON and OFF, for saving a studio flash preset mode with the EVF/LCD setting effect disabled? Answer: No.
Is the hot shoe part of the Multi Function Accessory Shoe hampered by paint, or tolerances in fit, or does it readily accept all standard ISO hot shoe simple flash devices and triggers? Looks clear.
Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM on Focus EF-FE adaptor (also works perfectly with Commlite) on A7R. The 40mm f/2.8, and Sigma 12-24mm in EF mount work well on my A7R with these two sub-Metabones price adaptors. At the press event we found the 85mm just didn’t focus at all with any adaptor on any of the pre-production A7R II bodies, but the 40mm was fine.
Will the promised ability to use PD-on-sensor AF with Canon and other lenses rely on Metabones as the only adaptor, or is it generic? The microlenses on a backside illuminated sensor have a large effective aperture than traditional design, and this means the PD-lenses (a special variant of the microlenses used on sensel pairs) will be similarly improved. This may make some difference, but it’s actually the focus motor control via lens to body data communication which will enable fast and sure operation with Sony SSM on LA-EA3, Canon USM on EF-adaptor, and so on. Remember, this does not make screw drive or SAM, or micromotor Canon AF pre-USM lenses, function any better. It will only apply to ultrasonic, piezo, linear motor and similar finely controllable AF mechanisms with close to zero play and accurate (8 contacts, not 5) distance and ‘state’ reporting. Note, too, that Sony’s revised lenses (SSM II) are not just optical and weatherproofing reworks – the new SSM is designed to work with contrast detection, as found on the A7R, much better.
Comment: we found that the Canon 85mm f/1.8 USMdidn’t work on any adaptor on the A7R II, while the 40mm f/2.8 activated the PDAF points and focused very rapidly, and a 24mm f/2.8 USMf/2.8 focused fast – and that various different demo A7R II bodies responded differently and one malfunctioned a lot of the time even with Metabones. Sony said this was known and the final retail stock should at least work OK with Metabones IV and probable firmware updates, but other cheaper adaptors will not be tested.
The new camera’s mode dial has a central lock button, and a slightly lighter click action without risk of being turned by mistake. We’d had liked to have seen a lock on the +/- EV compensation dial too, but this just has slightly strengthened clicks.
The same small battery has been used yet again despite the II body design having what looks like enough room for a full sized Alpha battery (see below – carefully positioned batteries with A7 II body). Let’s hope for upgraded batteries from Sony.
Please, Sony, you provided a GPS pinout in the new shoe – you have never rolled out a GPS module or firmware. It’s three years now and no news. Hell, I nearly bought a brand new boxed A99 at Dixons Heathrow Terminal 2 shop for £1075 inc VAT maanger’s special, I miss GPS so much!
Please let the Lens Data entered into the menu for SS of manual lenses, without data communication, be embedded into EXIF so if I enter 50mm, my files say so. And ideally, please make it possible to enter the focused distance (this would improve stabilisation) and the aperture in use (just to complete the EXIF data).
Sony pointed out that the latest version of the lens correction App will record the focal length and aperture as you enter them, in EXIF. It has its own SS on/off setting and automatically recognises whatever focal length you have entered. You can name and recall each different lens, and if for example you normally use your 24mm f/3.5 Samyang shift lens at f/16 for architecture, you can enter f/16 as the lens’s aperture and that will be corrected embedded in your EXIF. But to get this you must run the app, not just shoot with a manually set focal length for SS.
Please change the Memory 1 and 2 registers to save and recall ALL the camera settings and not just those in the first bank of the menu system (but see the vital point above about Setting Effect On/Off). Until I test the camera, no more to say – but Sony does not usually keep quiet about changes, and has not mentioned this aspect.
The existing rear screen – the II design, left, improves on the original A7R but this is still a basic, amateur level screen to be working with and a fully articulated design would be better.
Though you’ve missed the boat with this camera, the crudely hinged and angled rear screen needs to be replaced with a fully articulated screen that can be reversed to the camera for protection and to prevent distracting light when working in the dark.
Out of the loop
I’ve been out of reviewing new Sony gear for some time, as it has not proved possible to get hold of it early enough or for long enough to give any meaningful assessment which Joe Photographer anywhere in the world couldn’t appear to do themselves. For six or seven years I have bought and sold new Alpha gear to fill the gaps between the occasional availability of review kit, but recently that has become so expensive it exceeds any margins available from the three magazines I publish, or any fees I can obtain from other media. Like politicians, people who write about gear either need an independent mind or independent means – without one of these, you’re always in someone’s corporate pocket or feeding from crumbs under the main table.
The result, as we see all the time, is that many early users or reviewers of Sony kit are no longer all that independent and much of the first wave of information now comes through the channel of ‘artisans’ (as it does with ‘ambassadors’ for all makes). And we see plenty of others who are clearly of independent means, whose main purpose in life is to be the first to post pictures taken with new item X regardless of the cost.
So maybe I don’t need to push to get hold of an A7R II for the too-short two week period of any review loan, after a six month wait while other consumer-orientated magazines and blogs take priority – or indeed rush to buy one.
But… like the RX10 which I use all the time… like the A6000 kit which is co affordable and compact it’s essential… like the RX100 MkIII which goes where even the RX10 is not welcome… like my A7 II with stabilisation which has transformed a box of assorted lenses into a solid outfit… this one’s possibly something to buy because I actually need it and will use it.
I may not even cosy anything as it will make both the A7R and A7II redundant, because it does both jobs and also covers the A7S I did manage to borrow but never bought. And it does more.
So, thinking whether or not to bother with this upgrade is a bit irrelevant. Even if it was still ‘just’ 36mp the other improvements would mean it still replaced the need for a handful of A7 models, all in one.
My one doubt is that the A7R II may be beaten in practical terms by the RX10 II. Please note that so many incorrect snippets of info have gone around about the ‘stacked’ sensor design, I thought it referred to RGB stacking. It does not, the sensor is a conventional Bayer pattern, and what is stacked is the electronic substructure. This does not affect the top side of the sensor and the performance in image quality should be similar to the existing models. What it does is greatly speed data transfer and enables over 1000 (lower resolution) frames per second to be clocked through from photon received to movie frame recorded.
The RX10 and 100 new versions offer ridiculous levels of high speed slow motion capture, clean 4K video and other technical benefits which come with a very small chance of dust on sensor, unlike the A7R II which is almost guaranteed to be a dust devil. Why do I say that? Because a backside illuminated sensor renders dust on its cover glass even more sharply than a conventional one! We know the RX models are not dustproof and if you are unlucky enough to get a spot on the sensor it’s a service visit to get it removed, but in my experience with five or them so far I have never had a single dust spot.
So what? Just retouch? Not when making movies! Admittedly most movie makers will open up the lenses to max or only a stop down on these 1″ sensor cameras, and would open up lenses just the same on the A7R II and never see dust even if it was there. But what about the time you want that ‘American take’ – f/22 at 20mm? Traditionally they were taken in dusty settings for the spaghetti westerns!
All I can say is that the RX10 has come very close indeed to removing the need for any other camera and it’s been a pleasure to work with the raw files. The RX10 MkII might be so much better that I forget about DSLRs or mirrorless systems and just get on with capturing great images. Or then again…
Sony’s successor to the Alpha 77 improves all-round performance in line with the enhanced 24 megapixel sensor also found in the new A6000 E-mount camera. Key points are that the AF array now covers most of the image area (this is a mixed blessing as Canon 7D owners quickly found out, having active AF points near the image edge can produce some very unwanted results unless detailed control is offered of the AF behaviour – we shall find out when we test the camera); that the high ISO performance is 20% better, meaning the new A77 II should be as good as the original NEX-7 in this respect; and the entire rig is much faster though we would guess it also demands very fast SD or MSProDuo cards.
We are currently in touch with Sony to determine whether GPS has been omitted from this body, as the launch specification makes no mention of it, and if so, whether Sony is anywhere nearer releasing the separate GPS module originally planned for the Multi-Function Accessory Shoe (another key upgrade present in the revised camera). Update: there is no GPS in the camera and Sony doesn’t seem to know what we are talking about.
Full audio level control, something we have pressed for as a firmware upgrade for the original A77, is now provided. It’s also got the fashionable but almost useless WiFi/NFC functions (almost useless in a camera which can shoot 60 continuous JPEGs at 12 fps or produce 24 megapixel raw files). If you really want to upload your latest selfie, shoot the damn thing on your smartphone, says the man whose A7R is kept in Airplane Mode because that way you at least get a decent battery life… Sony only has this one photo in the Europe media library right now (but if you click it you get the full sized file).
Slightly tongue in cheek, as WiFi can indeed be enormously useful for remote viewing and control – but that all depends on how the connectivity works and will remain to be seen. It’s a bit heavy for a drone copter but great for a 20 metre sky pole if it’s got the right functions.
What follows is the Sony press release and specification table.
New A-mount camera with world’s highest phase-detection AF point count – 79 points with 15 cross points
Translucent Mirror Technology delivers ultra-fast, intelligent AF tracking and up to 12 fps burst of up to 60 full-resolution frames
24.3 megapixel Exmor™ CMOS image sensor delivers wide ISO 100-25600 sensitivity range
XGA OLED Tru-Finder™ and 3-way tiltable LCD
Tough magnesium body with dust- and moisture-resistant seals
BIONZ X™ processor for pro-quality images and Full HD 50p video
NFC/Wi-Fi for One-touch sharing and remote control by mobile
From dynamic sports to the sudden flutter of a startled bird: the new α77 II stays locked right on target, frame after crisply-focused frame.
Building on the heritage of Sony’s much-loved original α77 and α700, the α77 II gives advanced amateurs a string of exciting enhancements in a tough, weather-resistant body that’s up to any challenge.
Image quality is boosted while sensitivity is increased by approximately 20% compared to the α77 for flawless, exquisitely-detailed stills and Full HD video, even in low light. Non-stop continuous burst shooting stamina is enhanced and there is a clutch of pro-friendly new video functions for movie makers.
Best of all, the α77 II rips up the rule book with an advanced phase detection autofocus system. With approximately 2x wider coverage area than the previous α77 model, it outpaces the AF capabilities of many professional cameras.
New-generation 79 point phase detection AF system
For the first time ever, the α77 II features no less than 79 autofocus detection points, including 15 cross points within most frequently-used central area of the sensor. This aids super-accurate focusing, even with horizontally-striped subjects that confuse many other cameras.
There’s also a dedicated F2.8 AF point placed horizontally in the centre of the sensor. This centrally-mounted sensor supports apertures up to F2.8, ensuring maximum AF precision when using large-aperture lenses. The AF system also performs well in low light, accurately locking onto subjects in scenes with illumination levels as low as EV-2 (ISO100), where even the human eye can struggle to discern fine detail.
Vast amounts of metering data from all 79 focus points are processed by a brand new AF algorithm that’s been fine-tuned in extensive field tests. This predicts the subject’s next movement, combining AF metering data together with data on the subject’s position. AF precision is further improved when Lock-on AF is used, recognising the subject from its colour as well as its position in the frame.
Whether you’re framing through the viewfinder or on screen in Live View mode, Sony’s unique Translucent Mirror Technology maintains razor-sharp tracking focus on your subject, whether you’re capturing stills or Full HD movies. This powerful new system is less likely to be distracted by other objects – like a rogue balloon moving across your shot at a football match. It performs brilliantly in low-light conditions, capturing crisply-focused images of moving subjects on moonlit nights.
There’s a suite of sophisticated new AF functions that make the most of the new 79-point system. Expanded Flexible Spot mode maintains focus even if the selected AF point loses track of the subject, activating eight surrounding AF points that recognize the subject. In combination with AF-C AF mode, this dramatically increases performance with moving subject.
Lock-on AF mode lets users select one of four AF area modes (Wide, Zone, Flexible Spot or Expanded Flexible Spot). Once its target is acquired, the camera keeps tracking as long as the shutter button remains half-pressed. As the subject moves or framing changes, the camera automatically selects the most appropriate AF point from the 79 available. When subject movement is too fast for the new Expanded Flexible Spot mode alone, it’s combined with Lock-on AF for class-leading tracking performance.
For even greater control, the degree of subject-tracking duration can be fine-tuned in five steps (when shooting still images in AF-C mode). With subjects whose movement is predictable, a low setting reduces the risk of the camera focusing on another object suddenly entering the area around the subject. High settings deliver more responsive focusing – ideal when you’re rapidly shooting different subjects at different distances, such as wildlife. AF Tracking Duration can also be selected between High, Medium and Low during Full HD movie shooting.
Other new features include an Eye AF function that precisely detects and focuses on the subject’s eyes when photographing people. AF Range Control allows AF to be limited to a specified range, with five AF Tracking Duration settings to optimally match the subject’s motion. There’s a Balanced Emphasis mode that complements the release and focus priority modes by providing the ideal balance between focus and release timing. Users can manually select the most appropriate mode to shoot the situation and their precise creative objectives.
Shoot a continuous burst of 60 full-resolution frames at up to 12 fps
Continuous shooting stamina outpaces many professional cameras, too. The α77 II can capture a non-stop burst of up to 60 full-resolution JPEG images at a maximum continuous shooting speed of approximately 12 frames per second (in Continuous Advance Priority AE mode).
24.3 megapixel Exmor™ CMOS image sensor with improved sensitivity
A showcase for Sony’s world-leading expertise in imaging sensing technology, the 24.3 megapixel Exmor™ CMOS image sensor features the same gapless on-chip lens structure as used in the acclaimed α7R and α6000. Thanks to an array of latest-generation imaging innovations, it now offers 20% greater sensitivity than its predecessor that offers the same pixel count. Together with flawless image detail, low-noise performance is assured across a wide sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 25600.
The high-resolution sensor is partnered by the same evolved BIONZ X image processor featured in the α7 and α7R. Around three times faster than Sony’s previous BIONZ engine and optimised for the α77 II, it employs detail reproduction, diffraction-reducing and area-specific noise reduction technologies that contribute to amazing image definition, rich colours and textures with stills and Full HD video.
See things your way with OLED Tru-Finder and 3-way tilting LCD
Framing and focusing is a pleasure through the clear, bright XGA OLED Tru-Finder™ with 236,000 dot resolution. With three times higher[i] contrast and resolving power, it faithfully displays exactly what’s in the final image, letting you accurately judge the effects of adjusting focus, exposure and other settings before firing the shutter. A wide viewing angle and high eye-point are complemented by a newly-expanded choice of brightness settings, plus colour temperature adjustment for even more comfortable, accurate composition.
As featured on the full-frame α99, the α77 II also features a detail-packed 3.0-type (7.5 cm) Xtra Fine LCD that moves three ways for near-limitless creative flexibility. Easily shoot from high or low angles, in portrait or landscape orientation, handheld or with a tripod. WhiteMagic technology significantly improves screen visibility, even outdoors in direct sunshine.
You’re always in control with expanded custom functions
Evolved from the original α77, separate control dials in front of the grip and behind it allow intuitive, fumble-free adjustment of camera settings without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. Lavish customisation options now allow a total of 51 functions to be assigned to 11 buttons.
Up to three frequently used groups of shooting mode and other settings can be stored in memory and recalled easily via the mode dial. In addition, an exposure mode dial lock function has been inherited from the a99 to prevent accidental mode changes.
Tough enough for serious enthusiasts
The tough, light magnesium body of the α77 II is engineered to withstand the demands of serious enthusiasts in search of that perfect shot. Positive, comfortable handling is enhanced by the large, contoured grip. Dust- and moisture-resistant seals around main buttons and controls are complemented by double-layered protection around all openings including media slot and terminals. In addition, the camera’s durable shutter unit is rated for 150,000 activations.
Pro-style movie shooting with continuous AF
The a77 II can record Full HD 60p and 24p movies using the AVCHD 2.0 format. As with still shooting, Translucent Mirror Technology enables full-time phase-detection AF, ensuring accurate focus tracking with fast-moving subjects while you’re capturing video.
A number of advanced features appeal directly to serious moviemakers, including three-level AF tracking sensitivity adjustment, a pro-style Zebra function and audio level metering. There’s also the addition of a clean HDMI output that allows viewing on an external monitor and recording without compression to an external storage device.
One-touch wireless connection and smartphone remote control
On-board Wi-Fi allows one-touch connection for easy shot sharing with your Xperia™, NFC-compatible Android smartphones, tablets and VAIO. A single touch also activates Smart Remote Control, linking the camera to your mobile phone enabling you to fire the shutter from a distance.
Lenses and accessories
Covering focal lengths from wide angle to telephoto, a family of 32 A-mount lenses offers an extensive choice of creative tools for visual expression.
The line-up includes glassware to fulfil just about every artistic need, from high-performance G Lens™ and ZEISS® models that deliver world-class quality to the unique Sony STF (Smooth Trans Focus) lens that produces extraordinarily smooth background bokeh. Premium G Lens models feature precision aspherical lenses, ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass, an advanced Nano AR Coating and other advanced Sony optical technologies that contribute to high resolution while also enabling beautiful bokeh effects.
ZEISS® lenses are jointly developed by Sony and ZEISS, a name that is well known to discerning photographers worldwide, making full use innovative and ground-breaking optical technologies. Superb contrast and high resolution that extend right to the edge of the frame are highly famous hallmarks of the ZEISS brand.
The optional VG-C77AM grip enhances camera operability by offering remarkable holding and operational ease during vertical shooting.
α Library app
Sony has also today released a new “α Library” application for tablets which includes two types of content. “α Lens catalog” showcases the entire line up of α lenses and provides key information and specifications about which lenses are best suited to different types of photography. The bi-annual “α Magazine” showcases the boundless fun of photography. The new α Library is available for download on Google Play and the iOS App Store from today.
The α77 II A-mount interchangeable lens digital camera from Sony is available to pre-order now from www.sony.co.uk. It’s on general sale in Europe from Summer 2014.
α77 II technical specifications
Interchangeable lens digital camera with built-in flash
Sony A-mount lenses, operation with Minolta/Konica Minolta lenses confirmed
APS-C type (23.5 x 15.6mm), “Exmor” CMOS sensor with primary colour filters offering approx. 24.3 effective megapixels
No. of pixels (effective)
Approx. 24.3 megapixels
BIONZ X™ image processor
Image Quality Modes
RAW / RAW & JPEG / JPEG Extra fine / JPEG Fine / JPEG Standard
TTL Phase-detection AF
79 points (15 points cross type) with centre F2.8 sensor
Still Image: ISO100 – 25600 (1/3 EV step), (ISO numbers up from ISO50 can be set as expanded ISO range.)AUTO: ISO 100-25600, selectable lower limit and upper limitMovie: ISO100 – 12800 equivalent (1/3 EV step)AUTO ISO 100-12800 equivalent, selectable lower limit and upper limit
The long-rumoured Alpha 3000 was announced earlier in August but placed under a n embargo until August 27th. At the same time, the Press was given an insight into new smartphone related products (also widely rumoured) but again, not allowed to print anything officially.
The A3000 is a DSLR-like body with an electronic 1.44MP viewfinder in a prism-style top bulge, but the body is much slimmer at the lens mount and built to the smallest Alpha form factor as the 3 series indicates (smaller than the A57). Indeed, it’s not so different from the relationship of the very first Alpha 3000 series cameras back at the end of the 1980s. The mount is a regular NEX E-mount and the camera lacks any form of Phase Detection AF, depending on Contrast Detection matched to both existing (18-55mm SEL, etc) and new E-mount lenses. The rear screen is a 230KP fixed type.
Along with this first Alpha E-mount body, Sony announced three new E-mount lenses – a 50mm f/1.8 E OSS (£249) in black, CZ Vario-Tessar T* SEL 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS (£800) and a Sony SEL Power Zoom 18-105mm f/4 G OSS (£500, and also destined to be matched to the next generation of NEX camcorders, with its friendly left hand operated PZ switch and quiet, controllable action). There may also be another power zoom, probably 16-50mm f/2.8 or a similar short wide aperture range, maybe even the 10-18mm in a power zoom housing. The reason these new lenses are made with constant apertures has nothing to do with the ‘Canon f/4 L’ obsession; it’s entirely to do with video work, to enable zooming without brightness change. The power zoom function is also there for video.
Caveat: the 18-105mm has a close focus of 45cm at 18mm, 95cm at 105mm. This indicates that the lens is not a true zoom but a varifocal. Varifocals are not of much use for zooming during a take in video, which goes against the constant aperture and power zoom features. So either the lens has an automatic compensation system which can refocus intelligently during power zoom, or a physical limiter on focus travel (unlikely – what would happen if you focused on 45cm at 18mm, then zoomed to 105mm?). The 16-70mm focuses to 35cm over its zoom range, and is actually capable of close-ups with better than double the image scale (less than a quarter of the frame enlarged) relative to the best the 18-105mm can offer, at 0.23X.
The relatively high level specification of the 16-70mm ZA does not necessarily indicate that there is a higher level of Alpha E-mount body on the way quite yet; at 20.1 megapixels (the same size sensor as the Alpha 58, with some improvements) the performance in terms of imaging may be optimal for a while. photokina 2014 should be when any professional body appears. But this is no way professional – it’s a mere £370 kit with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 E OSS, ISO range 100-16000, full HD video, A58-like viewfinder and general performance. You’ll see it in the shops before the end of September.
Much has been made of Sony’s relationship with Olympus and the possible inclusion of OM-style 5-axis sensor stabilisation in E-mount bodies. Though the A3000 seems to have SteadyShot Inside (not confirmed by our man at the press conference, and not one of the features shown on the swingtags of the first cameras photographed by others) Carl Zeiss, traditionally wary of stabilised lens design, would not be issuing the 16-70mm with OSS unless fixed sensors were going to around in NEX and Alpha E-mount bodies for some time.
Whatever type of in-body stabilisation it has, the A3000 with SS looks like a good companion for existing un-stabilised lenses such as the Sigma 60mm, 30mm and 19mm f/2.8 designs or specialities like the Voigtlander Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95. However, I’m writing this prior to the big release of information this morning. Despite many statements that the camera does have IBIS, I see no rock-solid evidence that it does and I’m very aware that Sony staff if asked whether it has stabilisation could well say ‘yes’ on the basis of the OSS present in the kit 18-55mm lens. So, I treat this information with caution. It would not be the first time an expected feature has not materialised. Check the Sony site if you are reading soon after 5am GMT, I’ll amend this article later in the day.
In the meantime, we know that Sony has been increasingly close to Sigma (a company which also works with Zeiss) and that some ideas may be shared between the two companies. One of the most important ideas promises to end the way your camera system choice locks you in to one company’s products. Sigma has taken the first visible step with its mount switching service. Future Sigma DSLR lenses can be returned to the workshop and their entire rear mount changed, at a cost, to another mount. So you will be able to own your 300-800mm (2014 version…) and if you switch from Canon to Nikon, the lens can switch with you. Now that many regular lenses cost £1000 or more and Sigma’s quality is so highly regarded (35mm f/1.4, MFT and E-mount lenses, DP series) it will make sense to keep the glass for longer. The new USB-interfaced lens calibration kit will also enable such lenses to be user tuned to work with their new host bodies.
The second idea is the switch to E-mount for more products by Sony. There is already a full frame E-mount Sony, the NEX VG-900E, and it’s actually a 24 megapixel still camera shooting raw, as well as a high-end full frame camcorder. It just gets very little attention because it does not look like an SLR or a NEX. This camera has adaptors for other systems of full-frame DSLR lens, as well as a specialised full-frame version of the Alpha mount plain adaptor (LA-EA3 without APS-C internal baffles found in the LA-EA1). However, third party makers have not yet gone the distance. Prime lenses from Samyang and Carl Zeiss are the main E-mount full frame offerings, made for video.
With the Alpha 3000 we see the introduction of an idea I sketched out for film cameras in the 1970s based on discovering the Contarex with its interchangeable 35mm backs. My concept was a camera body with a shutter unit, and a mechanical linkage for slot-in modules including a rangefinder mount, an SLR mirror-box with prism, and a pro mirror-box with interchangeable finders, plus several further front components to switch between Pentax, Minolta, Nikon, Canon and other lenses. Alpa came close to managing this with their very slim bodies and mount adaptors, plus a combination of optical direct finder and prism.
Sony’s future, like Sigma’s, lies in crossing all boundaries. The eventual full-frame, E-mount DSLR-style camera may well have the rumoured 36-50 megapixel sensor, 4K electronic viewfinder, and five-axis sensor stabilisation. It will also have an Alpha lens adaptor and firmware lens recognition good enough to let SSM and SAM in-lens focus motor lenses function adequately with on-sensor focusing. But what it will also have, for certain, is a range of adaptors for other mounts including Canon EF and Nikon G with translated control of AF and aperture (exactly what Sigma has now built in to the front ends of its ‘switchable mount’ new lens series). These will likely be third party products, but Sony has already shown (in 2010, at photokina and other shows) that it has no difficulty welcoming makers such as Metabones and Novoflex on board as co-operative vendors.
What’s more, in theory there will room to build a phase-detect mirror system (SLT) into some adaptors and even to add a focus drive motor. With the right chipset to translate the protocols from body to lenses, or to mechanical functions in the adaptor, almost any lens ever made for any SLR or rangefinder from the last century of miniature camera development will find a home on Alpha E-mount bodies.
Then you will have the ‘DSLR-CSC’ hybrid to end all – the body which can be sold with a Nikon mount, or a Canon mount, or an A-mount – or use its highly optimised future full-frame E-mount optics. To some degree the NEX has already done this but the real impact of the 18mm thick body, compatible with full frame lenses, has yet to be seen.
Caveat – if a full frame model does use sensor stabilisation, mechanical obstructions could mean that a crop factor of somewhere around 1.2X was needed. Sony already has pixel-shifting electronic stabilisation for video, not stills, and this also needs a crop factor to work. It would be easy to imagine the full-frame NEX accepting this limitation, and providing electronic stabilisation on-sensor only, removing moving parts and improving precision/calibration.
The NEX-5T has the same forward flippable rear screen mechanism as the 5R, one of the advanced over the earlier 5 and 5N designs.
The NEX-5T is the successor to the NEX-5R (5n, 5 etc), available as a black or white body. The 16.1 MP APS-C CMOS sensor NEX-5T will sell for around £600 and adds Near Field Connectivity technology to WiFi. Fifteen of Sony’s PlayMemories ‘apps’ are now available. Features include Hybrid AF (CD-PD on sensor), 180° tilting LCD, and maximum sensitivity of ISO 25600.
Most Japanese camera companies have divisions, groups, and teams right down to the very last individual product. Even a single lens design may have its own small team, from R&D and design down to final assembly. What we are seeing happen in Sony right now is the result of complex competition and collaboration between several teams.
Take, for example, the new Sony 300mm f/2.8 G SSM II. You might assume this lens was mainly an Alpha division product from the former Minolta heritage, but in fact it’s been redesigned to work better with NEX and also with both consumer and professional HD video cameras from APS-C through Super-35 to full frame 35mm.
SLT/SLR system users gain with improvements like Nano AR coating (similar to new coatings introduced by Sigma, Nikon, Pentax and Canon), better MF control, and a better degree of weathersealing. It’s the complete update of the SSM motor (is it SSM II, or entire lens version II?) which provides compatibility with on-sensor PDAF and enhances CDAF, to offer the prospect of object-tracking AF during video. At £6,700 UK it needs to show major benefits to compete in the still field, but may have a market all to itself when fitted to the new NEX-VG900E full frame video camera.
It’s easy to think – ‘the first ever full frame video cam!’ but that is not the case. The Canon 5D MkII established the DSLR form as an acceptable professional video camera, and in the last three years a vast industry of shooting rigs, grips, follow focus devices, monitor screens and accessories has grown up all based on turning this video-unfriendly camera into something movie and TV crews are comfortable with.
Sony has implemented the sought-after 24 frames per second rate in all the new models just announced, not going for the European excuse of 25fps being close enough. This is to allow a so-called cinematic look, despite the fact that the movie industry has been trying to get away from 24fps just the same way as it threw off the shackles of 16 or 18fps many years before. Users want it, so they have at last provided it.
From the very start of reviewing HD capable cameras, we have emphasised the issues with audio – the *absolute* not optional need for audio fixed or adjustable manual gain control. I’ve done this for years in printed magazines. So has any other writer who ever had to use a camera with auto gain and nothing else. First Nikon (basic) then Canon (full control) and now Sony show they listened, if slowly and relunctantly, to something their own audio engineers would have told them was vital not a luxury.
End result – Sony enters the mainstream for HD video shooting with the Alpha and NEX systems.
The same technologies, in terms of sensor use and implementation of optical advances linked to Phase-Detection On Sensor (which I’ll call PDOS), now apply across the entire range of Sony digital imaging products from Handycam, through Cyber-Shot, through NEX, to Alpha. The Cyber-shot range is only missing an APS-C model.
What is particularly interesting is that this divided path is a parallel path now and not a divergent one. There’s no question of one straight and narrow path leading to heaven, one broad and easy road to hell, and winding ferny way to faery. Instead we get a four-lane highway joining Sony present to Sony future, with every option to change lane if you want to overtake.
Legacy and inheritance planning
Sony acquired a lot of old Minolta tech as a dowry in the 206 marriage to the Alpha system. Now having invested that legacy they have to make sure it still has value for future generations.
And example of what this really means can be found in the PDOS restrictions of the A99. The AF-D mode won’t work with some lenses, yet. For example – the 16mm f/2.8 fisheye, the 20mm f/2.8, the 16-35mm CZ f/2.8 zoom, any Konica Minolta zoom, any old Minolta AF system lens, the 35mm f/1.4, the 85mm f/1.4 CZ and G, the 135mm f/1.8 CZ and f/2.8 STF, the 200mm f/4 Apo G Macro, the 24-105mm D, any macro lens, the 400mm f/4.5, 600mm f/4, 200mm f/2.8 or the 300mm f/2.8 G SSM (pre-II). It is not even flagged as working with the 30mm f/2.8 SAM macro, 35mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8 or the 24mm f/2 Carl Zeiss SSM ZA. Or the 70-300mm G SSM, let alone the basic 75-300mm SAL.
It will only work with the 24-70mm f/2.8 CZ, the 28-75mm f/2.8 SAM, the 50mm f/1.4 current design, the 70-200mm f/2.8 SSM, the new 300mm f/2.8 G SSM II, 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM and the new 500mm f/4 G SSM. Sony’s firmware requires that the user enter the focusing range involved. This is put forward as an advantage – making the system less likely to focus on a fence instead of the view through it – but in fact it’s an integral part of PDOS. Each of the 102 focus points spread across the sensor* is not a single pixel-pair, it’s a cluster of several pixel pairs tightly grouped. There may be the minimum of three differently pitched PDOS points per location, or perhaps more, to cope with the wide range of exit pupil conditions encountered when using Alpha-mount lenes.
For any one lens, the camera will need to know the broad focus range involved (hopefully the main PDAF array will normally provide this), the aperture at which focusing is taking place, and some further information about how the zoom or lens design influences the exit ray cone. From this, it will select the correct PDOS configuration and I think that for some lenses only a central zone will be active.
Sony states that firmware updates will add further lenses, but this technology only requires some relatively simple information based on the optical design. If they could have added more lenses from the start, they would have. Watch this space, because it may remain more of an empty space than you hope for.
* Sony imply that the PDOS area is large – actually it’s about 13mm square, within the APS-C zone, and does not extend towards the ends of the full frame much further than the cluster of regular PDAF points. These seem to be the same module as the A77, giving the A99 an AF ‘zone’ much smaller relative to its frame.
Zones and maps
The Alpha 99 also introduces something which almost has to happen if any of the above is going to work at all. Anti-aliasing filters do not have an even effect on sensors, especially full frame with wider angle lenses where the rear nodal point of the lens is relatively close. Geometry means that light passes through them at more of an angle towards the edges and corners, and there is therefore more distance between AA filter and sensor surface. With an AA filter having a single value diffraction-created diffusion of the image-forming light (aka blurring), the effect gets stronger as you move away from the centre (axis).
Since most lenses are also sharper in the centre and typical sensor microlenses are not ‘tuned’ from centre to edge, the overall result is to emphasise fall-off from centre to edge. Secondary results include a dramatic tendency for bright sources imaged in the extreme corners to have a strong, directional, surrounding glare. This is boosted by internal multiple reflection between the sensor surface and the inner face of the AA filter, especially if the incident rays are at 40° or less to the focal plane (where on-axis rays are described as being at 90°).
The best solution to this is the classic one – what Olympus called telecentric lens design, where you do your best to project the image on to the sensor from a relatively distant position keeping all rays, centre to edge, as close to 90° as possible. But that calls for new lens designs and also restricts the optical formulae, tending to produce much larger heavier lenses. It’s very practical on one-inch or smaller sensors, OK on MicroFourThirds, feasible for NEX but not much an option for a full-frame coverage.
So, Sony has introduced an AA filter which they describe as ‘multi-segment lo-pass’. It’s not one strength across the entire frame, but divided or graded to optimise performance towards the corners. At the same time, they have introduced a similar zoning to noise reduction, which we assume to mean the NR applies to the raw output before a raw file is saved. Combined with the usual sensor mapping, and lens profile based vignetting compensation, the overall effect of these refinements should be to:
Even out the apparent resolution and image acutance across the frame
Reduce the mapped peripheral gain effect, under which images appear to be noisier at the edges unless natural vignetting is allowed to be present
Remove artefacts such as corner streaking or softening, and fringes or flare from light sources towards the extremes
No doubt this is also combined with the detailed ‘repair’ function used to deal with PDOS. More on this later, as there’s an implication that the PDOS on the A99 is not the same as that on the NEX-5R or NEX-6, and may use a second layer of pixels leaving all 24.3 megapixels of the imaging layer untouched.
The area-specific NR is probably essential to achieve the high ISO range at 14-bit conversion, though it’s not unusual for cameras at this level which claim 14-bit conversion to have a variable true bit depth depending on ISO, image style and exposure conditions. We can assume that 14-bit will only be fully utilised under ideal conditions at ISO 100.
Exactly how Sony has managed to adjust AA values in ‘segments’ without visible transitions, we’ll have to find out. The same goes for NR.
The missing NEX-9
There is one camera absent from the September 12th launch – the 24 megapixel full frame NEX-9. The appearance of the HD video Handycam, NEX-VG900E, indicates that the model name for the full frame 24 megapixel NEX will be NEX-9. Images of the VG900 show it using an Alpha via the standard LA-EA2 adaptor, and we can be sure that this and not a special range of E-mount full frame lenses (almost pointless) will be how the NEX-9 takes A-mount glass.
In the meantime, the NEX-6 appears to be perfectly pitched in price, but see my comment below about GPS.
The missing GPS
While the A99 has GPS, we’re still left with no NEX model yet featuring GPS despite these being the ideal travel and walking companion. Nor is there a current SLT model with 16 megapixels and GPS, as the Alpha 55 replacement doesn’t have it and the ‘baby’ A77, the A65, is a 24 megapixel again. The Cyber-shot RX100 and RX1 models also don’t have GPS. Whether or not the new hot shoe will allow an add-on GPS remains to be seen.
The new 50mm f/1.4 SSM Carl Zeiss T* Planar
Whatever you think of Minolta glass, or new Sony glass, the Carl Zeiss name on a lens is a huge draw. Reactions to the otherwise rather pedestrian DSC-RX1 prove this. People will put up with being back in 1972 – the era of cameras like the Minolta Hi-Matics with fixed 40mm f/1.7 and similar Gauss design lenses of very high quality – if only it means getting rid of poor quality digital images. There was a time when you couldn’t sell a 50mm standard lens with a camera, and there was a time before that when every system was judged initially on the quality of its 50mm choices. We may be returning to that way of thinking.
Edit – at the 2006 launch of the Alpha 100, a 50mm f/1.4 CZ was briefly shown in Paul Genge’s presentation to UK/English language journalists. I did not report on this as none of the literature confirmed what we saw on the Powerpoint screen. I believe this lens has been planned for six years.
The new HVL-F60AM flash with rather weak video light and new hot shoe might seem an annoying departure, but remember, the A99 has no built-in flash and thus can not control wireless remotes without a commander. No HVL-F20AM style mini flash has been previewed, so the F60AM is the only commander. But your old flash will work fine off-camera controlled by your new one.
Parked on the hard shoulder
So, having looked at the four way road map for Sony, I must confess that I’m pulling into a rest area for a while. I did not sell my Alpha 900 or Alpha 77, and I’m glad I didn’t. Nor did I sell my 24mm f/2 even though it has been little used for a few months. It has been waiting for a 36 megapixel full-framer, which makes a 24mm a much better all-round lens because of the croppable image size.
I’m not one of those photographers obsessed by bokeh or the need to throw parts of my picture into extreme defocus. At 24 megapixels, APS-C is already seriously short of depth of field even at optimum apertures like f/9. I’m more likely to spend my money on a Samyang 24mm f/3.5 full frame tilt-shift lens to use with both the A900 and A77 than to invest in an A99. I have no use for a revised 300mm f/2.8, especially on full frame where it seems to me now to be a very conservative focal length, and though I’m sure a 50mm CZ will be wonderful I have no complaints about my Minolta-design Sony 50mm f/1.4. I do shoot video, but rarely in conditions which demand that I use full frame, and if Sony don’t put manual audio control into older models via a firmware fix, I’ll just buy a Canon 600D.
The price of the Alpha 99 is not as bad as people suggest, with UK stories launching it at £2082+VAT, or $3200. But I’ve got a very good quality pure still camera in the Alpha 900, with effectively noise-free imaging from ISO 100 to 320, excellent battery life and exactly the same maximum image size offered by the 99.
I think I’m in the market for the NEX-6 body but I do not care in the slightest about the WiFi aspect, or the downloadable apps. If the new remote control can actually trigger and end video shooting with the A77, NEX-5n (etc) I’ll definitely buy one. The RX1 is not for me either – had it been fitted with a 17mm, 20mm or even a conservative 24mm then it would have followed in the footsteps of the great wide-angle cameras I have worked with over the years from the Brooks Veriwide through the Plaubel 55W to Hasselblad SWC and Fujfilm G645SW. I would not even mind a separate optical finder for that, much; I was used to it!
Things we forget
The industry has put a huge effort into autofocus solutions ideal for interchangeable lenses and zooms, and apparently set aside the idea of external AF modules for good. With a fixed lens like the RX1, an AF module not working through the camera lens itself is a practical idea and could be far faster. We have also forgotten about those twin-lens compacts, with a switch to go from 35mm to 65mm (or whatever). Small sensor sizes, new lens design and ideas could make that concept work again.
The story of development for all types of camera is not over as there are old ideas to be revisited, and new ideas yet to come.
Compatible with full-frame A-mount lenses via supplied adaptor (also compatible with growing range of E-mount lenses)
Full HD 50p/25p/24p progressive movie recording
Extensive manual controls and ‘seesaw’ zoom lever
Quad Capsule Spatial Array Microphone for high-quality stereo and 5.1ch sound
High contrast XGA OLED Tru-Finder
7.5 cm (3.0”) XtraFine touch panel LCD
Video makers can embrace the limitless expressive power of full-frame imaging with the new Handycam® NEX-VG900E E-mount interchangeable lens Full HD camcorder from Sony.
It’s joined by the Handycam® NEX-VG30E that builds on the success of the NEX-VG20E, sharing the same APS-C image sensor as its predecessor while adding several enhancements.
Offering supreme imaging quality and generous creative options, it’s the first Handycam® with a 35mm sensor to fully exploit the artistic potential of interchangeable lenses by Sony and Carl Zeiss.
With a resolution of 24.3 effective megapixels, the Sony-developed Exmor CMOS sensor inside the NEX-VG900E is around 40 times larger than the equivalent in ordinary consumer camcorders. It’s also more than twice the size of the APS-C sized sensor found in other interchangeable lens Handycam® models.
As well as permitting beautiful ‘bokeh’ (defocus) effects with the growing range of α lenses, its high sensitivity assures extremely clear, low-noise images. The large sensor size assures effortless reproduction of the finest tonal gradations, helping the most demanding cinematographer fully realise their creative vision.
The sensor also allows the NEX-VG900E to shoot full-frame 24.0 effective megapixel still photos, with all the quality you’d expect from a pro-class DSLR camera. Still images can be shot in RAW format for total post-processing freedom.
Beautiful, film-like results can be achieved by shooting video in 25p/24p progressive mode, with Cinema Tone Gamma™ and Cinema Tone Colour™ offering precise control over cinematic colour grading effects. AVCHD version 2.0 standard 50p recording is additionally supported, maximising the range of creative options for movie-makers to explore. Even greater flexibility is provided by a choice of new Picture Effect modes, enabling easy creation of artistic ‘in-camera’ treatments whether you’re shooting HD video or stills.
Video shooting is further enhanced by a ‘seesaw’ lever that allows smooth, polished electronic zoom control. The lever adjusts optical zoom when using compatible E-mount lenses that feature built-in zoom drive. The lever controls electronic zoom when using the camcorder with fixed focal lenses for impressive creative results.
As an extra refinement, the NEX-VG900E switches automatically from full-frame operation to APS-C mode when an E-mount or A-mount DT lens is attached. This allows users to get the most out of their collection of DT lenses that are optimised for cameras with a smaller APS-C image sensor.
The camcorder also comes supplied with the LA-EA3 adaptor that lets photographers use full-frame A-mount DSLR lenses at their designated focal length.
There’s a generous palette of control options and manual settings to satisfy the demanding video enthusiast. Aperture priority, shutter speed priority or manual exposure, are all selectable and white balance can be adjusted manually to suit the demands of any scene. Iris, shutter speed, and gain adjustments can be easily made via logically-positioned direct access keys. Accurate manual focusing is assisted by the camcorder’s pro-style display peaking function, complemented by a one-touch focus magnification button on the top of the grip.
Serious videographers will welcome the detail-packed XGA OLED Tru-Finder that offers high-contrast image monitoring with superbly natural colour rendition. Complementing the Tru-Finder, there’s an adjustable XtraFine touch-panel LCD monitor, with Sony’s unique technology for high contrast images with rich, deep blacks.
High-quality audio is a crucial part of the HD video experience with the NEX-VG900E. A unique Quad Capsule Spatial Array Microphone features four omnidirectional capsules that can be switched for stereo or 5.1ch surround recording. Recording levels are adjustable, with accurate visual confirmation provided by an audio level meter on the LCD display. There’s also a headphone jack for direct monitoring of sounds being recorded.
The new Multi Interface Shoe provides compatibility with accessories including the optional XLR-K1M adaptor kit that adds a high-quality mono shotgun mic and pro-standard XLR connections.
Sharing many of the pro-oriented enhancements of the NEX-VG900E, the Handycam® NEX-VG30E succeeds the acclaimed NEX-VG20E. With a resolution of 16.1 effective megapixels, the new camcorder’s Exmor™ APS HD CMOS sensor assures outstanding image quality with the range of interchangeable E-mount lenses.
Like the NEX-VG900E, it’s possible to shoot smooth, cinematic Full HD video footage at either 50p, 25p or 24p (progressive) frame rates, supported by a palette of artistic Picture Effect modes.
The NEX-VG30E also features the same XGA OLED Tru-Finder, comprehensive manual controls and ‘seesaw’ style zoom lever as the NEX-VG900E.
The NEX-VG30EH comes supplied as a kit with the new E PZ (Power Zoom) 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS (Optical SteadyShot) lens that provides a versatile range from wide angle to telephoto. Offering smooth, quiet AF operation and Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation, the lens also features an additional ‘seesaw’ lever on the barrel for smooth, professional-style zoom control with adjustable speeds.
The Handycam® NEX-VG900E and NEX-VG30E camcorders from Sony are available in the UK from November and December respectively.
The first thing that is likely to strike you about Sony’s one-inch sensor Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is size. It’s tiny, slightly smaller in body than the Nikon 1 series interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras using an identical size 2.7X factor, one-inch or 13.2 x 8.8mm sensor.
This just a fraction over half the area of a standard APS-C sensor, and where Nikon has chosen to have 10 megapixels of active imaging plus others unused or devoted to phase-detect focus on the silicon, Sony has opted for 20 megapixels.
At first this seems excessive, until the performance of other new smaller sensor cameras is considered. The Fuji X-10, for example, has a 12 megapixel sensor measuring 8.8 x 6.6mm and achieves a respectable balance of sharpness and noise-levels. The RX100 has a slightly lower pixel density. Compared to the Canon G12 it’s four times the sensor size and twice the sensel size.
The 1.0 type sensor also gives just that little bit more creative control over depth of field. With the usual third to two-thirds inch standard sensors in pocketable compacts, the lens must be used wide open at any given focal length to provide a degree of differential focus. To avoid sharpness loss, most such cameras can not be stopped down to settings like f/11 and sometimes have a choice between two apertures only, wide open and something moderate like f/8.
The Fuji X10 zoom only stops down to f/11 but offers a full continuous range of settings. So does the RX100, its 10.4-37.1mm lens ranging from f/1.8 to f/4.9 wide open but limited to f/11 minimum regardless of zoom setting. Since even f/11 can produce some diffraction-limit related softening, its performance around f/5.6 is critical. This would be the setting I would choose for routine Aperture-priority shooting.
At such a setting, the low ISO quality of the RX100 can be exploited. Unlike any of the Sony NEX models, the little RX100 has been given user control of maximum and minimum Auto ISO limits. The full auto range is from 125 to 6400. Manually set ISO can be extended downwards to either 80 or 100 (but these settings just overexpose the image and compensate in conversion). The camera seems to have been developed as well as manufactured in Japan, and the firmware and menu system resembles the mainstream Alpha DSLR/SLT camera line rather than the mirrorless NEX. Editor’s note: having sold my original RX100 I bought another, the second although made at the same date, is made in China. It seems either better or no worse.
The shutter is speeded to 1/2000th which is not a very fast high speed for a camera capable of 10 frames a second action bursts (or 2.5fps normal continuous shooting). The longest exposure possible is 30 seconds. By whatever means, aperture or shutter, Sony allow control to within 1/3rd EV step and compensation to ±3EV, but AE Bracketing is limited to three frames at either ±0.3 or ±0.6EV.
Control over settings is handled by a single top mode dial, a shutter release with power zoom lever to the front, a rear Control Wheel with four cardinal point click functions, four further surrounding buttons, and a Control Ring set round the lens bezel. This can be silent or make click sounds to mark setting changes but lacks physical resistance or detents. It doubles as a fine focus ring when the camera is set to manual focus, aided by focus peaking and on-screen magnification. Its action is very smooth indeed, and it can be operated easily by a single finger from either hand.
Real photo – the film and lens are entirely hidden behind the RX100 but imaged by its close focus ability at 10.4mm
Considering the 101 x 58mm footprint of the body, everything is designed efficiently to allow a 3 inch rear screen using 1.2k dots and an additional white-light augmenting RGB to improve sunny day use. It’s not a touch screen, nor is it articulated or hinged. But you will touch it, for sure… a cloth to wipe off your thumbprints is an essential accessory. It appears to be glass, but may just be a hard coated plastic layer, something with which Sony has a bad history.
Actual size next to a CF card, which this camera of course does not use – it takes SD or Memory Stick Pro Duo.
The new small battery type NP-BX1 allows 330 shots – better than many high pixel count consumer DSLRs and mirrorless models now – and can only be charged in the camera itself, via any USB 5v source and the supplied Micro USB connector cable. This is not a standard Mini USB, just as the Micro HDMI (cable not supplied) is not a commonly found fitting.
Against the disadvantage of in-camera charging you can set in-car charging, laptop or phone supply charging, and the camera’s ability to run without a battery installed when connected to its supplied AC charger. Both third party lith-ion cells and third party external chargers can be found on eBay. Anything which offers a standard, powered USB connection can charge the RX100.
The British charger is an old warhorse. The US charger is a neat monobloc transformer half this size with folding AC mains pins. This kludge is bigger and heavier than the camera…
A full charge takes 155 minutes using the charger with its high level USB-power output, but may take longer through a PC USB port or devices providing minimal USB power. You can leave it plugged in to USB all the time as the charge cycle is cut off when an orange charging light in the on/off switch extinguishes. When the camera is switched on to connect to the computer as Mass Storage (etc), this light turns green. It is possible to use the RX100 without the battery installed, connected to the charger.
In the box, you get no software, only an instruction manual which covers the bare bones. It seems to be assumed that what Sony call the best ‘professional’s compact’ ever will be bought by experienced digital camera users. Nearly all the functions on the RX100 from sweep panorama to HDR and noise reducing multishot modes are found on other cameras, and the location and nomenclature of all functions is at least familiar. Download links are given for a PDF identical to the bare manual, or a web-page based version with colour illustrations which is far better but can’t be downloaded.
A wrist strap is supplied, along with two neat cord and leatherette toggles to attach a regular camera neckstrap, as the body has two almost microscopic strap lugs. Nothing other than the very fine cords of Sony’s strap or strapholders would be likely to fit.
The body is solidly made and all access doors seal well, but it’s not resistant to anything wet, dusty or involving hard surfaces and heights. The lens’s rear glass is located very close to the sensor, and zooming appears to move only the middle and front groups. This should make it dust-free for life. Time will tell, and if any dust ever does get on the sensor, it will need a factory repair. But it looks to be designed so that will never happen.
For the professional user, the big appeal of this camera is its invisibility. Only 36mm thick with the lens collapsed, it’s just a fraction fatter and smaller than an iPhone, and with focusing down to under two inches there’s hardly anything it can’t capture. Users may criticise the 28-100mm equivalent focal length range, preferring 24mm if possible, but the focal length of the zoom is stated after allowing for some strong in-camera distortion corrections at the wide end.
To achieve a 28mm field of view (73°) for an in-camera JPEG, the corrections must deal with a very high level of barrel distortion. The raw file is uncorrected, and shows a diagonal field of view closer to that of a 24mm (85°). This may explain why Sony’s own information has claimed both 24mm and 28mm as the widest angle, when the stated focal length and sensor size clearly equate to 28mm. My measurements from the two image versions below indicate that if the correct equivalent is 28mm, the uncorrected diagonal angle is equivalent to a 24.8mm. Either way the RX100 should not be criticised if you could be happy with a new Canon EOS M – 1.6X sensor, 18-55mm lens, that’s a 28.8mm widest limit before applying Adobe Lens Profile corrections which will probably reduce the true angle to a 31mm.
And that of course applies to almost all wide angle lenses except the Sony NEX E 16mm f/2.8, which has pincushion not barrel distortion and therefore does not lose any of its diagonal angle (for that is how lens angles are measured) when corrected. There is an inbuilt profile for the latest ACR and Lightroom, but unlike other Adobe Lens Profiles, you can not adjust or turn off the disortion control. Apply the profile does not move any pixels, it simply corrects vignetting and CA. These programs are reading metadata in the raw file to apply the geometric correction automatically and you can’t disable it. To see the full field of view of the lens at its 10.4mm focal length, you must use a processor like Iridient Raw Developer (Mac only) which ignores the instructions.
Above: in-camera fully corrected JPEG at 10.4mm, and uncorrected raw conversion (by Iridient Raw Developer) showing full view angle of the lens before removing the high level of barrel distortion. Just move your cursor over the image to see the change. Adobe programs prevent the removal of the camera’s automatic correction – you can’t get to the ‘wide’ version.
When shooting video in 16:9 format with stabilisation set to Standard (optical) or Off, the lens range is trimmed to 29-105mm equivalent, and the image is cropped only slightly on pressing the Movie button. If you set Active stabilisation for video, optical stabilisation is replaced by pixel shift electronic stabilisation on the sensor. The crop is to 0.87X of the normal video field (measured here), meaning that the effective focal length range for Active video is 33-120mm. This 0.87X factor is exactly the same as the NEX-7 video crop factor.
The RX100 can be concealed in your hand and when used, with no eye-level viewfinder and composition on the rear screen instead, you look like any cameraphone user or tourist. In fact you are capturing what could be a highly detailed 20 megapixel image suitable for double page magazine or newspaper repro.
This is, of course, also a camera which won’t get you thrown out of sports stadiums or concert venues despite its ability to capture 50/60p HD1080 video with good quality stereo sound, and to capture full resolution JPEG still frames during video (17 or 24Mbps, not 28Mbps) without interruption. Writing the JPEG takes some time, parallel to video writing, and a faster SDHC or MS Pro Duo card is recommended. It can record AVCHD-2 format movies at up to 28 megabits per second, with AF during video and a good degree of setting control including manual exposure. It can not capture raw still files during filming. There is a faint click sound only during the video.
As for the quality of results, the lens may be letting the sensor down slightly; although very high in resolution even wide open, corners can lose detail because the focus plane is far from flat. Bright lights or overexposed details can produce a visible flare or glow, it’s possible to get purple fringes. Against this you must set pixel-crisp sharpness wide open, at any focal length, in many shots.
The exposure over-ride is excellent, and the screen really gives an exact view of what you are doing. Here, minus 2 stops was needed. This is at ISO 125, 1/25th at f/5.0 at 17mm (45mm equivalent) focal length. The original file has perfect detail corner to corner – every leaf sharp.
At the best – ISO 80 to 125, stopped down just one full step from full aperture – the RX100 can match or better the typical output of a 21 megapixel full frame DSLR with 24-105mm lens. At the worst it’s better than any smaller sensor compact, especially if the 10 megapixel JPEG shooting option is chosen or the file size is reduced to match a typical 12-16 megapixel 2/3rds inch sensor image.
One of my first tests, wide open at f/4.9 at 37.1mm and auto set to ISO 500, in camera JPEG. Just lovely colour and tone, perfect WB, perfect auto exposure. An early fallen leaf.
High ISO results are encouraging – using ISO 800 or 1600 should be no barrier to large clean reproductions, 3200 and 6400 remain clean in good light with detailed subjects but show coarse mottled grain in defocused areas with low light. Multishot modes are similar to NEX and can greatly improve results, but for my tests I stuck to raw files (though all the examples shown here are from in-camera JPEG) and single shot modes. Also, with f/1.8 apparently as sharp as most lenses well stopped down and having plenty of depth of field, I have tended to use low ISO settings in conditions where I’d set my Alpha 77 to ISO 800.
This shot was taken at 1/100th at f/1.8 at ISO 125, just because with this camera you CAN – no need for high ISO when you have f/1.8 at 10.4mm. But how about lens quality, how about depth of field? Take a look – all clips from the in-camera JPEG:
You can see the tendency to flare around light sources, and remember – this is an optically corrected image. Look at this in raw, and the purple fringes on those lights are the most colourful thing in the shot. This is from the middle of the frame.
Here’s the extreme right hand up to the very edge. Remember, it’s a 28mm f/1.8 equivalent.
Here’s the left hand, further away, a little bit in from the edge to catch the best detailed target.
And here is the bit you expect to be awful, more distant trees against the sky. Not bad for f/1.8?
Active video stabilisation is pixel-shift electronic, still stabilisation and standard video are in-lens optical. Both work well and the electronic variety is particularly good at dealing with small movements of your hand when holding such a small device for filming. Video quality is a match for any HD1080 DSLR, with a true 50p or 60p (USA) frame rate. The RX100 also has full user control over ISO, shutter speed, aperture and manual focus during video; the shutter-release zoom lever provides a smooth slow fixed speed zoom during filming. Beyond the 3.6X optical range, further digital zooming drops sharpness and can not be recommended. The point where digital takes over is well defined by a pause in zoom travel but you can not disable digital zoom to 14X maximum.
ISO 3200, 1/30th at f/1.8, 10.4mm, very low yellow pub light.
100% clip of in-camera 3200 JPEG – maybe a bit rough, but not bad at all…
White balance is generally well optimised, exposure is less predictable in difficult conditions. The multi-zone metering and focusing settings can produce unexpected results, spot and single point choices may not do any better as they will favour just the targeted tone. Access to +/- compensation is rapid. It can be assigned to the ring round the lens. This control ring is smooth in action and works well for adjusting exposure while viewing the rear screen.
Faults or flaws
The uncorrected image has fairly strong CA, which in defocused zones (especially that critical phase between sharp and truly out of focus) can create purple fringes on a large scale. The camera software turns these into white glow. Slightly defocused detail, especially if brightly lit beyond the clipping range of the sensor, can produce unpleasant bright fringes which are impossible to remove. Very bright areas even when well focused tend to flare into their surroundings.
I don’t really want to show what the fully lit bits of lichen at minimum focus look like – the highlights flare a fair amount.
Dynamic range is good, but not exceptional. Highlights clip readily, and recovery in either Raw Developer or IDC v4 did not pull in missing detail, it just darkened the value of a sharply clipped high bit. Though ISO 80 and 100 provide finer grain, they are less use than ISO 125 or 200 in contrasty light or with flash, as they clip more. Highlight colour recovery and use of DRO can produce some very odd effects. Editor’s note: since this original review, ACR/LR has been updated to process the raw files, and this is one reason I’ve bought an RX100 for the second time. I can now tames some of the lens and dynamic range issues very effectively.
At minimum focus, the aberrations get worse and overall sharpness is reduced, especially around the wide angle and two or three inches working distance with the lens wide open. It is easy enough to get know the lens, and its substantial sweet spot (almost anything not close-up, not contrasty or with patches of extreme overexposure). Having said that, you can also obtain stunning close ups at 10.4mm:
Click on this, and you can download the full size (probably crunched a bit from Level 10 JPEG by WordPress) image file. You will see a world of detail to amaze you and some fascinating aberrations and artefacts as well – perfect in a way, imperfect no doubt, but a wonderful thing to be able to do with a camera so small you can get it down into the a subject like grass. f/11, 10.4mm, hand-held, 1/40th at ISO 125, ACR processing.
High ISO JPEGs look clean in good light with hard detail. They look very mottled and mushy in darker softly focus areas of smooth tone. You may want to avoid using 3200 or 6400, but remember – the lens is f/1.8 to f/4.9, covering a range which is typically represented by an f/3.5 to f/5.6. At the wider to middle end, there is a two-stop advantage fading to a third-stop at the tele setting. If you stick to the wide angle end, you can use ISO 800 with as much success as 3200 would achieve in a DSLR, and pretty well the same depth of field too.
Design – the most annoying single thing is the pop-up flash which sits exactly where you are likely to hold the camera body at the left hand end. You will just have to learn not to hold it that way! That’s a penalty paid for such a small body. The tripod bush is also off centre to the lens. This only matters for specialised multi shot assembly or macro stepping.
Does it work?
Yes! The RX100 is actually a great little companion camera, and after getting it, I stopped using my NEX-5n kit for casual everyday snaps. The RX100 lives in my wallet beltpack or a carefully emptied and cleaned-out pocket, wrapped in a microfibre cloth. I may shoot a few pix or a video clip, and every day, I just connect the camera to my iMac and use iMovie to Archive the entire media contents. This copies all movies and also all stills. I then format the card before the next use, and the camera is always fully charged when I pick it up off the desk.
My best pictures are every bit as a good as a typical NEX-5n with 18-55mm shot, my worst results are better than most consumer pocket cameras and no worse than the worst NEX shots. You can take bad pictures with any camera! My videos are as good as any of the NEX or Alpha models so far, and streets ahead of Canon, even including Canon DSLRs used by professionals. I would give the Nikon D800 videos the edge over RX100, and NEX-7 or Alpha 77 videos equal status. All are far more detailed and crisp than Canon’s HD1080, yet that is now a bit of an industry standard. I predict that the RX100 will gain a bit of a cult following for video making. Its movie setting on the mode dial allows user-set aperture and shutter speed, full control once you add manual focus.
Suggestions that it may supplant NEX are groundless. You can fit wonderful glass on NEX, and get 24 megapixels to the highest standard. You can’t fit wonderful glass on the RX100 and the zoom it comes with, Carl Zeiss or not, has clearly visible distortion and aberration issues that depend on firmware or software for correction.
Is it worth the money?
Maybe. I think the RX100 has been overpriced by around £100 in the UK but I see that many retailers are already dropping the price by that amount. Around £400-450 seems a fair price, the official £550-580 is high. Update: we sold our (Japan, June 2012) RX100 for £400 in August 2012. A replacement (China, July 2012) was found as new for £385, eBay used, in February 2013. New prices are now more of less where we suggested they should be, mid £400s UK, cheaper USA.
The UK’s top camera and lens hire company, hireacamera.com, has invested in a whole new stock of Sony Alpha and NEX gear right up to the 500mm G – their A77s come with 16-50mm SSMs… here, Guy Thatcher explains their enthusiasm for Sony, filmed at the PhotoVision Roadshow in Edinburgh on Tuesday March 27th.
It’s a 1080p HD video shot on the NEX-7 by David Kilpatrick with no accessories apart from the Tamron 18-200mm DiIII VC zoom, which at one point displays a preference for focusing on the better lit, more contrasty background.
Yesterday we received two SanDisk 30MB/s 16GB SDHC cards from Amazon UK – £15.99 each, a couple of pounds more than regular Class 10 cards like the Transcends we normally use on all current Alpha and NEX models. You must have faster than 15MB/s for cameras such as the A55, A580 or NEX-5n not because of video issues, or even because you want to shoot raw bursts – you need it to be sure that shooting sweep panoramas or 3D panoramas will not a) fail b) corrupt your card and lock you out of shooting in the process.
This is what happened to us when using a SanDisk Ultra 15MB/s card which had been fine for all other work. Fortunately we had a spare card, the corrupted card was removed and its file contents recovered using SanDisk’s free program.
The SanDisk 30MB/s card labelled for ‘HD video’ is of course not limited to video and is ideal for any similar use which includes sweep pans, multishot noise reduction, HDR and 12fps bursts (etc). It is labelled slightly differently:
At £15.99 in the offer linked to here (click the image of card or this link) it’s a very good value fast reliable card from a premium maker. Admittedly, we are now seeing the Transcend brand falling to £12-13 for Class 10 which despite their info saying Class 6 or faster (etc) is the minimum you should aim for with Alpha and NEX current generation models. SEE COMMENTS – Amazon changed this offer a couple of days later to the less desirable 20MB/s but there was still a good price on 32GB 30MB/s.
We ordered two of the 16GBs and what actually arrived the next day was a pair of these:
These cards – 300X, 45MB/s, UHS-1 Class 10 – are not listed for sale under the Extreme branding but can be found as the last generation of Extreme Pro, priced at £43.50. Clearly SanDisk is repositioning the prices and labelling of the card range. So, we were apparently sent the latest version of something they’ve still got on sale for £43.50 but we paid £15.99.
It gets more interesting as the real speed demon – the 95MB/s 16GB Extreme Pro which was selling for £80 or so recently – has dropped in price to be BELOW the price of the 45MB/s version which is now marked as having a ‘newer’ version. You can buy the 95MB/s card for only £38.10. We’ve ordered and received one of these, no errors or substitutions.
There is no guarantee that if you order the bargain HD Video 30MB/s card you will get the same switched product as we did with a March 18th order, delivered March 20th, UK. Even if you don’t it is a great price for a card which should guarantee the correct operation of NEX-7, Alpha 77, Alpha 65. The 95MB/s version is one of the fastest SD cards yet made, and will go beyond correct operation to ensure the fastest clearing of the camera’s buffer, fastest image playback or review, and the highest number of consecutive shots when shooting continuous sequences.
Disclaimer: Amazon prices can change on a daily basis, and Amazon USA or other regions may differ.