This has meant that Sony has neglected its APS-C range of mirrorless cameras somewhat, which until Sony took the wraps of its new Alpha A6400, the Alpha A6500 was the most recent model to be released back in October 2016.
With Senior General Manager of the Sony's digital imaging business, Kenji Tanaka, quoted as saying in a recent interview (opens in new tab)that its time to start focusing on making APS-C cameras, there's now growing noise that we're likely to see a new flagship APS-C mirrorless camera. It's likely that it will be known as the Sony Alpha A7000.
While there are quite a few fake specs floating around (opens in new tab), we've tried to distill the more reliable A7000 rumors for you in one handy place, as well as using our own tech knowledge we've accumulated after years in the industry to start putting a picture together of how the new Alpha A7000 might look.
Sony Alpha A7000: overview
- Could herald a new line of APS-C Sony cameras
- Sit above the Alpha A6500 in the line-up
- Similar philosophy to Nikon's D5 and D500 DSLRs
While it's natural to think that the forthcoming Alpha A7000 will be a replacement to the rangefinder-style Alpha A6500, it could actually herald a new line of cameras for Sony, sitting above it in the range.
With the arrival of the Alpha A6400, this makes even more sense. In many ways, the Alpha A6400 is a better specified (and cheaper) camera than the A6500, so its starting to look a little out of place in Sony's line-up. If Sony were to bring in a new camera that offered more features and performance than the A6400, it would make sense then to drop the A6500.
Sony Alpha A7000: design
- Design more closely related to Alpha A7 series cameras
- Raised electronic viewfinder
- Improved balance and handling
If Sony are intending the Alpha A7000 to be a baby Alpha A9, then we are likely to see a change in design direction that will move it away from the rangefinder-style design of the Alpha A6500.
According to SonyAlphaRumors.com (opens in new tab), the A7000 is likely to adapt a similar DSLR-style design that's more closely related to the Alpha A7 series, with the electronic viewfinder (EVF) positioned in line with the sensor and lens mount.
You just have to look at the success of Fujifilm's X-T2 and X-T3 to see that this makes sense. Not only will it make the camera handle better with longer lenses, but seem a more attractive proposition for DSLR owners looking to make the swap and might be put off by the proportions of the more compact A6000-series rangefinder-style design.
Sony Alpha A7000: sensor
- It's unlikely that the A7000 will use a 24MP sensor
- Could use Sony's BSI 26MP sensor
- Don't rule out seeing a 32MP sensor in the A7000
The 24MP sensor in the A6500 performs very well, but it's likely that the Alpha A7000 will use an all-new chip. One option is for it to feature an uprated 24MP design, but with Sony now manufacturing a back-illuminated (BSI) 26MP APS-C sensor, this could be a great fit for the new camera.
That might not be enough of a jump for Sony, and it might opt for even more pixels - perhaps the rumored 32MP APS-C sensor (opens in new tab) with the model name IMX510.
Both sensor's could feature a new dual-gain ADC mode, which is said to improve dynamic range by almost two stops. Details on how this mode works are scarce, and it comes at the cost of a 50% reduction in sensor speed, but Fujifilm's X-T3 already features this tech in its Sony-manufactured sensor.
Finally, there's Digital Overlap HDR (DOL-HDR). You can think of this like bracketing, but it sees a minimum time interval of just 1/6000 sec between capturing two frames at different exposures.
Sony Alpha A7000: viewfinder and rear display
- Viewfinder could blackout-free
- Increased in EVF resolution to 3.69m dots
- Rear display to include touchscreen functionality
Rumors at the moment suggest that the electronic viewfinder (EVF) on the A7000 will be blackout-free for continuous shooting, while we'd also expect the resolution of the EVF to be increased from the A6500's 2.36-million dot offering to match the A9's excellent 3.69-million dot EVF.
As for the rear display, it's likely it'll feature a tilting mechanism that we've seen on other Sony Alpha cameras, while we'd expect it to stick with a 3.0-inch display size.
Sony's been a bit slow to implement touchscreen functionality of its cameras, but we'd be surprised if Sony didn't include this on the A7000.
Sony Alpha A7000: performance
- Expect it to feature 5-axis image stabilization
- Capable of burst shooting up to 20fps
- Advanced autofocus system
With Sony's full-frame mirrorless cameras featuring in-body image stabilization, as well as the A6500, we'd expect to see a variation of Sony's excellent 5-axis system in the A7000. This would certainly give it an advantage over Fujifilm's X-T3.
Equipping the A7000 with the latest BIONZ X image processing engine will help it shoot at up to 20fps and matching the Alpha A9, though it's not quite clear if this is relying on the camera's electronic shutter to do this or with a mechanical shutter. Factor in the blackout-free EVF and this could be a great camera for action.
Obviously, a lot of this hinges on how good the autofocus system will be. The A6500 sports a 425-point AF system, but the system in the A7000 could even be more advanced, perhaps even matching the 693-point system of the A9 and A7 III.
With the launch of the A6400, we've seen some new autofocus features, including Real-time Eye AF and Real-time AF Tracking, which both use AI-based subject recognition and we'd be surprised if the Alpha A7000 doesn't support either of these new autofocus features.
4K video is pretty much a given on a Sony camera of this calibre, but the frame rate supported is still unclear - 30p would be a safe bet, but don't discount setting it capable of shooting at 60p, while we'd also expect to see 4K HDR capture as well.
Sony Alpha A7000: release date and price
- Could be announced as early as CES 2019
- Rumors are still at the early stage
- Pricing could be around $1,849 / £1,799
CES has been and gone, so we could see Sony take the wraps off the Alpha A7000 in the run-up to Japan's CP+ imaging show at the end of February.
As for cost, it's likely that'll it cost more than the A6500, which is retailing for about $1,199/£1,199. We can't see it quite hitting the price of the Alpha A7 III (around $1,999/£1,849), but we think it'll be not far off considering the potentially impressive spec of the camera.