camera features in 2017
As we wait in anticipation for Sony's third iteration of the A7 line (likely Q2 2017), it is timely to assess the current state of technology and what benchmark we should set for new cameras in 2017.
Apart from Canon, 4K has filtered down to even entry level models like Lumix GX850. However from a usability perspective, current generation of 4K capable cameras impose penalty in terms of crop sensor readout and recording time. Perhaps Canon is justified in limiting 4K to just the Cinema line. This however will not stop Sony and Panasonic from implementing 4K in all their 2017 models.
Minimally, all cameras in 2017 will deliver 1080 50/60p. GH5 can do 180fps in full HD and 60p in 4K.
Sony A7s II happily does 120fps at 1080 without breaking a sweat and 4K at 25/30fps.
Is it fair to expect A7s III to deliver 50/60fps 4K like the GH5?
It will be quite a feat given that the disparity in their sensor size.
Lumix sets the benchmark with 4K at 10 bit 4:2:2 for their GH5 and even generously bestows the same codec to their FZ2000.
A7sII uses sensor cropping to deliver 4K 8bit 422.
Shooters who are not thrilled about A7sII's 2.2X crop factor in 4K, will wish for a full sensor 4K implementation this year. But this means Sony has to invent a more powerful engine first. As a consolation, Sony will likely have no problems offering 10bit 422 4K in their RX10 mark IV. (If they want to)
Here's where the M43 platform starts to show their weakness. Flagships like the EM1 mark 2 and GH5 are still using contrast based AF. (EM1 can only use Phase detect AF with adapted legacy Oly 43 lenses)
This puts a huge constraint on usability. Most professionals will still turn off the Autofocus during rack focus situations if they can't accept the hunting nature of contrast detect AF. Only way to use contrast AF in video is if you
focus first then record and also forget about tracking.
Fortunately, Sony and Canon uses phase detect AF which theoretically can eliminate focus hunting. By increasing the number of focus points and implementing touchscreen, reliable AF in video mode is becoming a reality.
A6500 and any Dual Pixel AF Canon DSLR or mirrorless will deliver pretty reliable focus tracking.
What remains to be seen, is whether Sony will implement touchscreen on their 3rd gen A7 lineup as they did with the A6500.
As for the RX10 range, it is almost a given that the RX10 mark IV will inherit the new phase detect AF capabilities of the RX100 mark V. But again, usability depends on in the implementation of a touchscreen or at least a responsive joystick and unfortunately, the RX100 mark V still doesn't have either.
Three issues are at play here : overheating, taxation and cannibalisation.
Heat-wise, smaller sensor cameras trumps bigger ones. GH5 and FZ2500 can record 4K 50fps without time limit. Ditto Canon XC15 at 30fps. 4K from super35 sensors will require fans hence larger bodies and price tags. So don't expect unlimited 4K recording from mirrorless any time soon.
Optimistically, we can expect Sony to remove their 30 minutes limit on 4K recording in the RX10 mark IV , given that there is are no new Sony camcorders at all at CES 2017.
A stretched goal for Sony is unlimited 1080p recording for their A7 III lineup.
Are these just my wishful thinking or are they plain economic sense?
What useful features do you want to see in cameras this year?