May 17, 2021: Cameras mean different things to different people: for preserving a precious memory, pursuing a career or a passion, telling a story, or simply building engagement with a hyper-connected user base on Instagram.
It is for the manufacturers to understand these diverse needs and innovate to add more purpose, making a camera a companion that shares the same mindset, understands the challenges of the journey, and guides on the trickier stretches.
For generations of photographers, Sony has been that constant companion. Offering the latest imaging technologies that address evolving needs, in the age of data and the cloud, Sony's image sensors are helping meet high-speed and high-accuracy demands, thanks to better coordination between machines as well as between man and machine.
Sony's intelligent vision sensors can analyse images within the device, unlike conventional sensors that first send the image data to the cloud, which then processes it. For example, from a picture of five mobile handsets of different brands, Sony image sensor technology can identify individual phone brands, extract the required text data from the raw image and send it to the cloud, instead of copying the whole image. This relevant data would be a fraction of the image data. Extracting only the necessary data can reduce data transmission latency and power consumption of the camera and address privacy concerns when using cloud services. The reduced data usage of these image sensors will also help lower the power consumption of the cloud server.
Such technology has a number of uses in cameras for every need – from vlogging to professional, personal to industrial. Let's see how image sensors are revolutionising Sony's product line-up:
Sony Vlogging Cameras: Vloggers are always on the move and often hit upon new and interesting things. But the cost of constantly readjusting focus could be missing a potentially memorable shot. The intelligent sensors within Sony's specially designed vlogging cameras automatically readjust the focus. The Sony ZV-1 features a 1.0-type stacked Exmor RS® CMOS image sensor with DRAM chip and 24-70mm F1.8-2.8 ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar T* large-aperture lens sensor that allows quick and smooth focus transitions between the subject's face and the object in front of the lens. A new Face Priority auto-exposure (AE) function ensures the subject's face is depicted at an ideal brightness in any environment. It is well equipped to produce clear, excellent audio quality, with reliable and versatile audio options and a standard 3.5mm mic jack (3.5mm) and Multi Interface Shoe™ (MI shoe) makes it easy to connect a wide range of external microphones. The sensor also prevents distortions due to excess movement and the wide LED panel gives the vlogger a good view of what has been captured on the go.
Sony Mirrorless Cameras: Mirrorless cameras have revolutionised photography. Closer to mobile cameras, they are relatively lighter and easier to control than DSLRs with viewfinders, which means there are more opportunities to “point and shoot”. Challenging light conditions or sudden weather changes, outdoor or indoor settings – they can be overcome through fast focusing and a wider dynamic range to create a beautiful image. This allows processing without the flash that, as the popular opinion goes, ruins the images.
The secret again lies with image sensors. The Alpha 7S III from Sony has a 35mm full-frame 12.1MP (approx., effective) back-illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor. It utilises a variety of advanced light-gathering techniques to ensure high-sensitivity with low noise, allowing users to shoot in low-light situations without needing large-scale lighting setups. To complement the new sensor, the Alpha 7S III also includes a new BIONZ XR™ image processing engine that provides up to eight time more processing power, minimises processing latency, reduces rolling shutter up to three times, and enables many of the hallmark still and imaging features of the camera.
The photographer might also need to adjust according to outdoor and indoor settings. Fast focusing and a wider dynamic range can overcome that. This allows processing without the flash that often ruins the images or leaves key details missing. With Alpha 7S III, colours and textures of foliage, human skin, and more are ideally and consistently reproduced without dependence on light sources. Gradation rendering has also been refined for better looking skin tones and highlight roll-off in portraits.
Sony Cinema Line Cameras: Films are a powerful tool of storytelling, often combining an ensemble cast and rich visuals. The stories are told through characters and places that require full-frame creativity, the need to adjust the image quality according to different lighting conditions. This needs an image processor that has a high sensitivity, allowing more detailed inspection of subjects and the ambience, and that keeps the noise low.
Sony Cinema Line includes FX3 and FX6 cameras.
The FX6 camera leverages technology from VENICE and marries it with the best of Sony's innovative Alpha mirrorless camera technology. This makes it ideal for a broad range of filmmakers and content creators who have to shoot in low and very low-light conditions for shooting in low and very low light conditions. It also includes a BIONZ XR™ image processing engine, first used in the new Sony Alpha 7S III camera, providing up to four times faster processing performance compared to the FS5 II.
Sony Alpha's AF features, FX6 offers Fast Hybrid AF by combining 627-point focal plane phase-detection AF with advanced Face Detection and Real-time Eye AF in high frame rates with continuous AF, allowing camera operators to effortlessly and precisely track fast-moving subjects in slow motion without losing focus. Earlier this year, the compact FX6 camera officially joined other Sony cameras on Netflix's list of primary cameras allowed in its productions. While this was a recognition of its versatility, its small and lightweight design makes it suitable for tackling all kinds of projects: from high-end music videos, to weddings and travel videos among others.
FX3, another professional camera suitable for all lighting conditions, comes with industry-leading autofocus capabilities, 5-axis in-body image stabilization with Active mode, handheld shooting design and advanced heat dissipation for extended recording times. All this is combined in a compact, lightweight body that provides the performance and mobility to meet the growing demands of today's content creators. The built-in image sensor technology helps achieve high processing speeds and outstanding image quality.
Sony Professional Cameras:
VENICE has become a first choice for digital movie production, and the FX9 has an outstanding track record in documentary production.
A 36 x 24-mm full-frame image sensor designed specifically for high end cinematography in VENICE can capture in almost any format, including full 18 mm-height Super35 anamorphic and spherical and full-frame 24 mm-height anamorphic and spherical. With VENICE, Sony is giving users the option to customize their camera by only enabling the features as needed, according to individual production requirements.
The FX9, too, is customised for on-the-go shooting. It's available in the 4k (4k Super 35) and 6k (6k full frame) variants. Both create immersive images with a wide-angle look and shallower depth of field provided by their respective full-frame sensors in combination with quick and slow motion. The FX9 also offers a Quality priority setting that maximizes full HD image quality using full-frame 6K scan mode or Super 35 4K scan mode with advanced oversampling technology.
As always, Sony continues to be a meaningful partner for the future and keeps cultivating new applications and markets for image sensors.