Expect the Sony a7s III to have the best sensor of the Alpha series to date.
DPreview has confirmed rumors through an exclusive interview with Kenji Tanaka of Sony about the highly-anticipated a7s II successor. The article mentions "everything is new" and the camera "will be coming later this summer."
When asked, Tanaka said, "We’ve received many requests, especially from professional video content creators, and I can confirm that a successor to the a7S II will be coming later this summer. Right now we’re focused on the launch of the new camera, and it will be a complete redesign of the whole system, including the image sensor. Everything is new. We hope it will meet and exceed the expectations and requests of our customers. I’m very confident that our new model will meet their demands."
Tanaka also goes on to say features, including 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 recording, are in the pipeline. Sony is considering RAW as well. "We’re aware that there is a certain amount of demand for RAW video. As you know, our customers include a lot of professionals, so we’re working hard to be able to deliver RAW data capture to these people."
Another interesting quote is the reclassification of the 'S'. Tanaka says, it "originally stood for ‘sensitivity’ but now I think it should stand for ‘supreme’ in terms of image quality, and expression. It comes from having really big pixels. I think that many professionals and high-end users will enjoy the new camera."
So, its possible multi-year delay is due to a new sensor design. If Tanaka is suggesting the camera will have "really big pixels," the sensor is most likely a complete overhaul and not something found on the a9 II.
There are many things that affect the quality of the image. Just because a camera has a high megapixel count or records at a high resolution doesn't mean it produces better images than one with a lower count. Pixels capture light. That light is turned into data and eventually becomes the image. The data captured is either good data or noise. Larger pixels tend to capture more good data than smaller pixels. If Sony is aiming for bigger pixels, then this is good news for filmmakers, especially for those shooting in low light conditions.
Pixel pitch is another area Sony is possibly considering. Pixel pitch refers to the density of pixels on a sensor and is usually measured in microns. The Sony a7s II has around 5.97 microns while the RED's Helium 8K S35 sensor packs in 3.65 microns. Generally, the higher the pixel density, (the lower number) the better the image. But that's not always true as it all depends on the sensor design. While some may point out the aperture of a lens is the most important factor when collecting light and not the sensor size or pixels size, generally, a larger sensor with densely packed pixels is going to perform better on modern cameras. Is this where Sony is possibly headed?
When Sony introduced the PXW-FX9, it combined features of the VENICE and the Alpha series. Is Sony looking to do the same for the a7s III? Why not? The research is there. The FX9 has a full-frame 6K sensor that oversamples to produce 4K DCI. Why wouldn't Sony take advantage of its existing Cine Alta series and start incorporating it into the Alpha universe? It seems logical especially if the company wants to continue to market the Alpha cameras as a viable B- or C-camera to its cinema line. But only time will tell.
What features do you think the a7s III will have? Let us know in the comments below.