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50+MP camera from Sony coming within the next few months?


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I'm rather curious about this rumour:




I am unsure why the conclusion of it is that there will be a higher 50+MP resolution camera coming. The reason is that 2016 is an Olympic year. If Sony increases sensor size, it will slow their cameras down even more, making them even less suitable for sport reportage. Sony need to be seen having Olympic events documented on their cameras rather than being forgotten about until the Olympic games are over due to the release of the Canon 1DX Mark II as well as by the Nikon D4S.


The other issue is that a +50MP camera will have more MPs than cameras using the Sony 44x33mm 51.6MP medium format sensor used on the Pentax 645Z, Hasselblad H5D 200ms, and Phase One IQ250. Sales of these MFD models would plummet if a +50MP full frame sensor camera were made available—doubly so if in addition to having a much higher resolution it were a more advanced generation of sensor design featuring BSI etc. It would risk greatly offending Sony sensor's MFD clients, who would rightly be outraged that they weren't offered a 75-100MP 44x33mm BSI MFD sensor upgrade beforehand, and at a reasonable price. It would be like giving Olympus a 24MP MFT sensor well ahead of the release of a 24MP APS-C sensor to their APS-C sensor buying clients. If Sony's MFD clients were publically stabbed in the back like this, all of Sony sensor's clients would start to get nervous about who is going to be next, and start to ask themselves if they want to renew contracts in the future.


Admittedly, the MFD market is so small that Sony can probably afford to screw them over like this, but this emerging market segment can only be expected to grow as MFD sensors increasingly drop in price. Sony would be foolish not to look after an emerging market that could be the source of significant revenue in the future. Also Pentax is a buyer of Sony sensors in varying formats, and not just MFD sensors for their 645 series. In any case, even if Sony sell smaller volumes of their MFD sensors, they make up for this with higher profit margins, meaning that they probably still cannot afford to dump their MFD sensor buying clients like this.


The conclusion is that, rather than releasing slow higher resolution models, it is more likely that Sony will address the speed of mirrorless cameras by coming up with a much faster Olympic year professional a9 model, one fast enough to compete with the 1DX and 4DS. It would be a way of demonstrating that mirrorless systems have "come of age" in an Olympic year. And, a slow medium format camera substitute for studio and landscape photographers would be the last thing you would release as a Olympic games year professional flagship model. It is also a truism to say that Sony need to seriously go after their immediate competitors in Canon and Nikon rather than barking up the wrong tree by going off on a tangent attempting to challenge the niche medium format market. 


However, even limiting resolution in favour of speed, that still leaves plenty of room for trying to compete with the Canon 5Ds on the IQ front. There is far more to IQ than resolution in brute megapixels. Nor does an increase in resolution from 42MP to around 56MP constitute a meaningful increase in resolution. For that you would need an increase up to around 70-80MP, which instantly rules it out for Olympic sports reportage. There are other important factors that go into IQ such as signal-noise ratio (and along with it ISO speed) and dynamic range. That means that the expression "higher IQ" mustn't automatically be assumed as indicating more and more megapixels. That said, since I am a studio and landscape photographer I would greatly prefer a higher resolution MFD substitute to an Olympic reportage 1DX/4DS substitute. Sadly, I fear there are multiple reason to think it would be wishful thinking on my behalf that such a slow high-res model would appear at the start of an Olympic year. 

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Next, the question of whether there will be a high-end FF A mount DSLR coming is an interesting one. It isn't totally implausible in an Olympic year. It would mean that Sony have conceded defeat when it comes to developing an Olympic year mirrorless sports reportage MILC model, and have decided that the only way they can get a look in on the Olympic sports reportage front would be a DSLR model. That is a brutally pragmatic solution that isn't too far fetched. However, I consider it more plausible that they would want the 2016 Olympic year to be the year where mirrorless comes of age as a true DSLR substitute and would have been investing the appropriate R&D funding towards developing a fast reportage Olympic year professional sports and action model.


Only time will tell.

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