New Things Seen – New Things Learned

New Things Seen – New Things Learned

I like to go to the camera events at CE when there is something new in the offing and the local representatives have a worked up a slide show and sample to introduce it. There is nearly always something to eat and drink and equally, there is nearly always something new to learn.

Wednesday night was no exception. Sheryl Maugher is now working for the Sony people and she brought along the full-frame Sony Alpha 7s III camera*. As well as the factory slide show she was able to list all the new features of the camera.

The surprising thing was that, though it is certainly suitable for still photography, the Sony concept is much broader and envisages this camera being used for some high-end video work. The first clue to this was when she said it has 12.1 megapixels on the sensor.

12.1? In a day when other cameras are being pressed upon us with 45+ megapixels? And this on a full-frame 24 x 36 sensor? By the people who make sensors for everyone else?  With a new Bionz XR processor? What gives?

What gives is a camera that can shoot at up to 409,600 ISO. In 4K. That’s not a typo.

Nor is the assertion that there is a 15-stop dynamic range, 10-bit depth, or 120p frame rate.  Add on hybrid AF and touch tracking and you have a video machine that far surpasses what went before.

I was lost when the bit rate specs and the S-log  information came up on the screen but I could get back into it when Sheryl mentioned the image stabilisation with gimbal-like performance.  And I was sort of cynically amused when the Sony presentation mentioned that they are working to overcome the heat-up effect of using the digital sensors for video capture by spreading the heat to different parts of the camera.

My own design suggestion for this is to put a metal plate on the back of prospective video cameras and attach it to the sensor. Then balance a cheese sandwich on it and by the time filming is done it’s grilled and the camera person can have lunch. Simple, but do you think you can get the design departments to listen…?

Okay – after the specs presentation we were able to see some of the results that Brett obtained with the sample camera. A trooper and a professional, he was given very little preparation time for this, but bravely took advantage of the fire-twirler enthusiasts at Hyde Park one night. Getting burned in the line of duty is one thing but doing it for art is another.

Fortunately he got some magnificent video shots of the performers and the results on the screen seem to fully bear out the design brief of the Sony bureau. I gather the features of the camera also make the post-production somewhat easier than before, but you’d have to ask Brett  – a professional videographer – about that.

I was finally impressed by the fact that Sony advertise this camera as being able to take advantage of one lens mount- one that serves both their APS-C cameras as well as the 24 x 36 version.

After all the changes in mount seen with this as well as other companies, it is refreshing to see an intention to standardise. The company factories and in particular the warehouse staff must be quietly cheering.

  • A plea to the Sony branding mavens: give us something that can be typed directly from a standard computer keyboard without needing a special procedure or reversion to the Greek alphabet to accomplish. ” A ” works as good as the Greek alpha symbol…
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