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Sony A9 III and new RX100 compact rumored to be close to double launch

Sony A9 II / RX100 VII
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony is preparing a launch for a new flagship Sony A9 III mirrorless camera, along with a new RX100 compact, in early 2021, according to new rumors.

Sony Alpha Rumors, which has a good track record of predicting Sony camera launches, claims the new A9 III (which could also be called A9s) could even arrive as soon the CES 2021 tech trade show, which will be an all-digital experience this year and runs from January 11-14.

The rumors follow a discovery by the ever-reliable Nokishita that two new Sony cameras have just been passed for FCC certification, a process that usually precedes an imminent launch.

And, according to Sony Alpha Rumors, "a trusted source told me that those cameras are likely the new A9 model, coming in very early 2021, and a new RX compact". Apparently, the long-awaited Sony A7 IV, the successor to the classic Sony A7 III all-rounder, "will follow after those cameras have been released".

Realistically, most photographers will more excited about the A7 IV, and perhaps a successor to the Sony RX100 VII, than a professional sports camera like the A9 series. After all, the A9 II launched for $4,500 / £4,800 / AU$7,299, which is pretty hard to justify for any non-professional snapper.

That said, the A9 series models are an exciting showcase for what's possible when camera tech is pushed to the limit, and can preview features – such as Real-time Eye AF for 4K video – that might filter down to cameras most of us can actually afford.

Sony A9 II

The rumored Sony A9 III is expected to have a similar EVF and design to the A9 II (above). (Image credit: Sony)

Sports star

So what exactly can we expect from the Sony A9 III (or Sony A9s)? According to the Sony Alpha Rumors source, it will move up to a 50MP full-frame sensor, and crank up its video powers too, with 8K/30p video.

The latter will apparently be an 'infant' 8K mode, though, with limitations on what you can record internally, suggesting that there will be restrictions on bit depth or sub-sampling without an external recorder. The A9 II is a similar size to the Sony A7S III, which doesn't record 8K video, so there are inevitable physical limitations on that front.

Still, the Sony A9 II is predominantly a sports camera, and it's likely an A9 III would have an similar ethos, given that the rest of its specs (including the electronic viewfinder and autofocus) are rumored to be similar. It's also expected to be pricier than its predecessor, at around $5,000 (around £3,700 or AU$6,750).

Far less is known about the new Sony RX100 compact camera, which will apparently be launched at a similar time, but this could potentially be an RX100 VIII to follow the current Mark VII. 

Despite compact camera sales being largely decimated by smartphones in recent years, the RX100 series models have continued to justify their existence by shoehorning high-end features – including the latest autofocus and 20fps burst shooting – into a tiny camera. 

The Sony ZV-1 has adopted the same concept for video, topping our guide to the best YouTube camera in the process, but we just hope that, unlike that camera, the RX100 VII's successor finally includes the touchscreen menu system we saw introduced on the Sony A7S III.

Mark Wilson

Mark is the Cameras Editor at TechRadar. 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.