Sony's next mirrorless camera launches could be significantly delayed by the chip shortage, according to speculation about the rumored Sony A7R V and Sony A9 III.
The reliable Sony Alpha Rumors says it's received "rumors from solid sources" that Sony is "going to focus on lens announcements during the first half of 2022", with the upcoming 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II and 85mm f/1.2 GM tipped to be among those launches.
But Sony's next mirrorless cameras, expected to be the Sony A7R V and Sony A9 III, apparently won't arrive "until the second half of the year", with "most new cameras announced in autumn 2022". According to Sony Alpha Rumors, "this strategy has been forced by the fact that the chip shortage is going to endure during 2022, with things expected to improve only by very late 2022".
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The rumors aren't entirely unexpected, given recent events. Last week Sony temporarily suspended orders for the Sony ZV-E10, a camera that's only been on sale for a matter of months since it was announced in July. Sony said this was specifically "due to the effects of global semiconductor shortages".
This followed an announcement in November that Sony was also suspending production and sales of several lower-end cameras, including the Sony A6400, Sony A6100 and older full-frame Sony A7 II camera. According to a Japanese analyst quoted in Nikkei Asia, the problem isn't the scarcity of semi-conductors, but also that "power supply ICs, audio codecs and various other components show signs of shortage".
None of this bodes too well for camera launches next year. Following the recent launch of the Sony A7 IV, the two most likely new arrivals for Sony are indeed successors to the Sony A7R IV (its high-resolution full-frame camera) and the Sony A9 II (its speedy pro sports camera).
But while Sony has shown that it's prepared to sacrifice lower-end models with smaller APS-C sensors before its newer full-frame models, it does seem likely that the Sony A7R V and Sony A9 III – if they are indeed next in line for lift-off – might see their launches pushed back while the chip shortage hopefully resolves itself in the first half of 2022.
Analysis: A year to upgrade skills rather than cameras
There is growing evidence that the global chip shortage, along with other aggravating factors, has grown worse for the camera industry in the second half of 2021 – and this will inevitably have knock-on effects for launches in 2022.
In mid-2021, camera brands like Nikon and Canon were still suggesting that stock shortages and delays were due to demand exceeding supply, an excuse that conveniently brightened the halo of launches like the Nikon Zfc and Canon EOS R5.
But more recently, even the stoical Canon referred to the "impact of global parts supply" when it made the incredible statement that "it may take more than half a year to deliver" new order of its Canon EOS R3. The latest CIPA figures for October also show that camera shipments are a way off from recovering.
This backdrop means it's far from surprising to hear that the rumored Sony A7R V and Sony A9 III might not arrive until the second half of 2022. If Sony does indeed have an A9 III in the works, then it'd likely want it to be in the hands of pro photographers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off on November 21.
But the lessons of this year are that no launches are set in stone. This means a smart move for photographers is simply to expect any new arrivals to be a bonus, and to focus on extracting more from their existing gear in 2022.
Firmware updates, which could conceivably bring some of the Sony A7 IV's new features to existing models like the A7R IV and A9 II, shouldn't be too hindered by the chip shortages. And with Sony's G Master lens launches showing no sign of slowing, there's likely to be plenty for Sony camera fans to get excited about next year – even if upgrading to a new body might be tougher than usual.
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Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.