Gear

What can we expect from the Sony A7S III?

There’s nothing like a big announcement to set the rumour mill into overdrive, and so it proved to be when Panasonic teased some of the top-line video specs for its forthcoming S1H late last month. The video-centric model is expected to arrive later this year, prompting questions about how rivals, primarily Sony and Nikon will respond. Nikon rumours are relatively thin on the ground at the moment, with little more than an 8K model with card slots being suggested, but there is far more speculation on Sony’s A7S III.

In all honesty, it doesn’t take a great deal of crystal ball gazing to know that a new video-focused model must be on the way. The current A7S II, launched in October 2015, is long due an overhaul, so it’s no surprise that multiple sites have posted what they hope/expect to see from the new model. To save you having to trawl the internet, we’ve done the hard work for you, pulling together views from multiple rumour sites. Take a look below to see what the current thinking is and let’s see how close we are when the new model arrives.

Could the A7S III have the same stacked sensor design as the A9?

Sensor and video capabilities

Opinion is split here. Some sites expect Sony to stick with the 12.2-megapixel light catcher currently on board the A7S II, while others expect a resolution increase, possibly with a stacked sensor similar to that found in the A9. It’s safe to say that if the A7S III is going to deliver video resolution at 6K or even 8K, a resolution increase is essential, making 24-megapixel or even 36-megapixels more likely. At the very least, the A7S III is sure to improve on the maximum 4K/30P recording currently on offer from the A7S II and it’s expected that this will jump to DCI 4K at 60P and perhaps even 120P. 10-bit capture is also virtually assured, compared to 8-bit on the current model, as is a lifting of the recording limit currently set to 30 minutes. We’d anticipate the 10-bit recording would be internal and, again, if the sites are to be believed, dual UHS-II compatible card slots will help this process.

Many sites are looking to the A7 III for ideas of what the A7S III will offer

Autofocusing

Sure, many videographers may prefer to focus manually, but Sony are unlikely to let this stop them plugging a more sophisticated AF system into the A7S III. The current A7S II](A7S II certainly lags behind other models in the range with ‘just’ 169 contrast detection AF points. Compare that to the 693 phase detection and 425 contrast detection points on the A7 III and you start to get the idea. The rumour sites generally agree that A7 III level AF is more likely. But more focusing points probably won’t be the only improvements taken from this model. The general consensus seems to be that the rear joystick from the A7 III will also make an appearance on the A7S III, as will an AF-On button for all the back-button autofocusers out there. If that’s the case, we’re sure Sony won’t stop there and would expect to see the Eye AF functionality that now works with continuous AF plumbed in as well.

Expect a rear joystick and an AF-ON button on the A7S III when it arrives

Design

The 2.36 million dots on the A7S II](A7S II’s electronic viewfinder is perfectly adequate, but there’s a general expectation that this will increase, most likely to the 3.69-million dot resolution found in both the A9 and A7 III. It’s also anticipated that the rear touchscreen will see sensitivity improvements and an increase in how much it can move. Finally, the battery life is expected to improve. It needs to. The A7S II is good for just 370 frames, but in the A7 III, Sony has managed to get almost twice that. We’d expect more of the same on the A7S III.

So how long do we have to wait for the A7S III? That’s hard to tell. Depending on where you like to get your rumours from, an announcement could be coming in the next few weeks, although the general view seems to be that it won’t be here until the fourth quarter of 2019. Just in time for Christmas, then!