When reflecting back on the introduction of full-frame mirrorless into the industry, a certain Schopenhauer quote comes to mind:
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
If you'll remember...some were saying mirrorless was a fad that wouldn't catch on, but Sony innovated and forged ahead. Today we're celebrating 10 years since Sony announced the release of the Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R. With those cameras, on October 16, 2013, Sony launched the full-frame mirrorless revolution, and the innovation didn’t stop there. A lot has happened in the last 10 years, as Sony continues to develop new technology and gear based on the feedback and growing needs of creators. Below we take a look at a timeline of some of the highlights throughout the last 10 years of Sony mirrorless.
On this day 10 years ago, Sony announced the first full-frame mirrorless cameras: the Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R. We take a look at some of what's happened since then.
2013 – Sony Alpha 7 & Sony Alpha 7R
Known as the true arrival of the mirrorless system, Sony announces the Sony Alpha 7 and Sony Alpha 7R, the world’s smallest, lightest full-frame mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Highly anticipated by photographers, the two new cameras bring an unmatched combination of creativity, customizability and portability to the scene.
The Sony Alpha 7 makes an exciting entry into the world of full-frame photography, featuring a 24.3 megapixel full-frame Exmor CMOS sensor paired with a new BIONZ X processor. With a fast hybrid AF system, the camera gave photographers speedy, accurate autofocus, and shooting at a continuous 5 frames per second, the Alpha 7 was an exciting new option for those capturing fast action like sports and wildlife.
The “R” in Alpha 7R stands for resolution, and Sony announces this first model, it features a 36.4 megapixel Exmor® CMOS sensor – the highest resolution sensor in the history of Sony’s Alpha line – with no optical low pass filter for added resolving power and increased image detail. The camera also has a new fast intelligent AF technology that delivers blazingly quick, accurate autofocus. The exciting new mirrorless full-frame brings a new level of image quality to the scene.
2014 – Sony Alpha 7S & Sony Alpha 7 II
Around six months after the introduction of the Sony Alpha 7 and Sony Alpha 7R, the Sony Alpha 7S camera joins the full-frame mirrorless camera lineup. While the “R” in Alpha 7R stands for resolution, the “S” in Alpha 7S stands for sensitivity. The Sony Alpha 7S is aimed at those shooting photo or video at high ISOs, and becomes the line known for its exceptional low-light performance.
Later in the year an upgrade to the Sony Alpha 7 also arrives, named the Sony Alpha 7 II. The camera features a Hybrid AF system that is 30% faster and 1.5X better than tracking compared to its predecessor. At the time, it’s the only mirrorless camera to offer in-body image stabilization, and its excellent performance and feature-packed body made it a new favorite for still and video shooters.
2015 – Sony Alpha 7R II & Sony Alpha 7S II
The Sony Alpha 7R II is released as the successor to the Sony Alpha 7R. The camera was the the world’s first to bring a back-illuminated full frame sensor with an increased resolution of 42.4 megapixels. This sensor technology gave shooters better low light capabilities and improved autofocus, and the second-gen camera also had the ability to shoot and record 4K video in multiple formats.
The Sony Alpha 7S II is also announced as the upgrade to the original Sony Alpha 7S full-frame mirrorless lens camera. The camera basically took everything to the next level, with a 12.2 megapixel 35mm full-frame image sensor that delivers stunning image quality in all types of challenging lighting conditions, from the brightest of mornings to the darkest of nights. It becomes the next low light powerhouse in the lineup.
2016 – Sony Alpha 6300, Sony Alpha 6500 & The G Master Brand
Sony continues to expand within the mirrorless camera scene with the announcement of a new APS-C camera, the Alpha 6300. The camera delivered the world’s fastest AF acquisition time and the world’s highest number of AF points on any interchangeable lens camera. It also provided shooters with the ability to shoot and record high resolution 4K video became a popular choice for still and video shooters in a wide range of scenarios.
At the same time, Sony also announces their flagship G Master brand of interchangeable lenses. The announcement featured three different models – the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master, Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master and the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master – and thus the ultimate blend of high resolution and beautiful bokeh was introduced to creators. The new technology in the G Master brand allowed for the production of still image and video content with a level of detail and expression that had never before been possible.
Later in the year, Sony also announces the Sony Alpha 6500 to Sony’s lineup of award-winning mirrorless cameras. At the time the camera features the world’s highest number of AF points on any interchangeable lens camera and shares the same fast AF acquisition time as the Sony Alpha 6300. The camera also came with new touch screen focusing and became a great option for the hybrid APS-C shooter.
2017 – Sony Alpha 9, Sony VENICE & Sony Alpha 7R III
The full-frame mirrorless world gets an exciting new addition with the announcement of the Sony Alpha 9. The camera featured high-speed, blackout-free continuous shooting at up to 20 frames per second and fast autofocus tracking to create an unmatched level of imaging performance. The high-end camera became the new leader in speed, marked for its impressively fast performance and especially standing out for professional sports and wildlife photographers capturing fast action.
Sony also announces the VENICE in this year, the first full-frame sensor high-end digital cinematography camera. With Dual Base ISO and beautifully-rendered colors, the new camera gives cinematographers more creative freedom and expression.
The same year, Sony announces an update to the A7R series with the Sony Alpha 7R III. The new camera serves as an evolutionary leap in image processing power and efficiency, with a 42.4 megapixel sensor and shooting speeds up to 10 frames per second with full autofocus tracking and beautiful 4K video quality. These immense capabilities in such a compact, lightweight body make it an exciting new tool for creators who demand reliability, flexibility and versatility.
2018 – Sony Alpha 7 III
The innovation continues with Sony's announcement of the Alpha 7 III. The camera shared many of the same features of the Sony Alpha 9 and Sony Alpha 7R III, and its 24.2 megapixel sensor came with increased sensitivity, outstanding resolution and an impressive 15 stops of dynamic range. Along with significant advances in autofocus speed and performance, an updated processing system and high-quality 4K video shooting, the incredible tool gave all types of creators – from enthusiast to professional – the ability to capture content in new and different ways than ever before.
2019 – Sony Alpha 6400, Sony Alpha 7R IV, Sony Alpha 6600, Sony Alpha 6100, Sony FX9 & Sony Alpha 9 II
Sony introduces an addition to its E-mount mirrorless camera lineup – the Sony Alpha 6400. Bringing many features over from Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Alpha 6400 introduced the new advanced “Real-time Eye AF” and ”Real-time Tracking” capabilities and boasted the world’s fastest autofocus. With 4K video recording and a tiltable LCD touch screen, the camera became the ultimate tool for many creators ranging from professionals to vloggers.
Sony takes its resolution game up another level with the announcement of the newest “R” series camera – the Sony Alpha 7R IV. The camera boasts an unprecedented high resolution of 61 megapixels and 15 stops of dynamic range, driving mirrorless innovation forward even more. This new level of image quality combined with its high-speed performance in a lightweight, compact body, made it a solid new option for professional photographers, videographers and all other types of creators.
Sony also announces two new APS-C camera bodies, the Alpha 6600 and Alpha 6100, expanding the mirrorless line and giving creators more options for photos and 4K video. Both the Sony Alpha 6600 and Sony Alpha 6100 come with 24.2 megapixel image sensors, 4K video capability, built-in timelapse intervalometers, flip screens and microphone jacks. The Alpha 6600’s features helped to meet the needs of demanding photographers and videographers, and the Alpha 6100 gave creators who want to produce high-quality photos and videos an interchangeable lens camera.
Next Sony announces the new FX9, a 4K camera with a newly-developed full-frame sensor, Dual Base ISO Recording and a fast hybrid auto focus system. The camera incorporates technology from the Sony VENICE digital motion picture camera in a small, mobile body that becomes a standout option for run-and-gun filmmakers.
Sony then extends on the performance of the original Alpha 9 camera with the announcement of the Sony Alpha 9 II. The new camera combines 20 frames per second speed, no viewfinder blackout and AF/AE tracking at 60 calculations per second with enhanced connectivity, new mechanical shutter, improved weather sealing and robust workflow capabilities. The speed-driven camera is marked the perfect tool for sports photographers and photojournalists who are shooting at the highest level.
2020 – Sony Alpha 7S III, Sony Alpha 7C & Sony FX6
Sony announces another update to the Alpha 7S series with the addition of the Sony Alpha 7S III to the full-frame mirrorless lineup. The camera features that classic “S” series sensitivity, and gives creators a user experience and performance level previously unmatched. The camera also includes a complete system redesign and delivers exceptional still and video shooting performance. It becomes the newest high performer for those low-light shooters.
2020 also brought the announcement of the new Sony Alpha 7C. The camera combined Sony’s full-frame image quality, advanced AF capabilities and versatile video shooting functions in a stunningly light and compact design. The camera provides a portable and versatile option for creators without sacrificing the power of full-frame imaging.
Sony also officially announces the FX6 camera as the latest addition to Sony’s Cinema Line. The new camera incorporates Sony’s core technologies of image sensor, processing engine, and autofocus performance. It's also compatible with the wide range of Sony E-mount lenses, giving Sony shooters even more creative flexibility.
2021 – Sony Alpha 1, Sony FX3, Sony Alpha 7 IV & Sony VENICE 2
Sony announces the Alpha 1, a new flagship full-frame mirrorless camera with an unprecedented combination of resolution, speed and video performance. The camera boasts a brand new 50.1-megapixel sensor, up to 120 AF/AE calculations per second, 8K 30p 10-bit 4:2:0 video and much more. The camera is marked as the most technologically advanced, innovative camera that Sony has ever released, and allows creators to capture what they’ve never been able to before.
Sony also announces the new FX3 cinema camera. By combining the best of Sony’s industry-leading digital cinema technology with advanced imaging features from Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras, that coveted cinematic Sony look becomes accessible to more creators. The camera's outstanding image quality and usability makes it an excellent tool for small scale and one-person shooting.
During this year, Sony also announces a new hybrid shooting beast the Alpha 7 IV. The new camera takes the same processing engine and advanced autofocus capabilities from the Alpha 1 and combines those with streamlined operability and enhanced reliability for photos and videos. The new camera model’s features make it the perfect all-around camera for imaging enthusiasts and professionals alike.
Sony also launches the new VENICE 2 Full-frame Digital Motion Picture Camera, building upon the strength of the original VENICE with new features including a compact design, internal recording and the option for two different sensors: the newly developed full-frame 8.6K sensor or the original 6K VENICE sensor.
2022 – Sony Alpha 7R V
Sony adds to the “R” series with the announcement of the Alpha 7R V. The camera combines Sony’s highest resolution image sensor in an Alpha camera with a new AI processing unit dedicated to AI-based image recognition – a first in any Alpha camera – as well as the powerful BIONZ XR™ image processing engine – a first in the “R” full-frame lineup. The combination of the high-resolution sensor and these processors enables new breakthroughs in subject recognition and capture for both still photography and video. A new high-resolution beast is born.
Sony announces the new ZV-E1, an interchangeable lens camera with a high performance 35mm 12MP full-frame image sensor, the latest BIONZ XR image processing engine, a dedicated AI processing unit – giving Sony shooters the ultimate new tool for video creation. Marked as the world’s most compact, lightweight full-frame interchangeable lens camera, the ZV-E1 introduces a new level of mobility and versatility to the vlog camera lineup.
Sony releases a new camera to its APS-C mirrorless lineup – the Alpha 6700. The new camera combines the cutting-edge still image and video capabilities found in the latest full-frame Alpha and Cinema Line series with the compact and lightweight design of the Alpha 6000 series, resulting in Sony’s most advanced APS-C mirrorless camera to date. The camera is a popular option for a diverse array of creators.
Sony also announces the release of two new additions to the Alpha 7C series of compact full-frame interchangeable lens cameras, the Alpha 7C II and Alpha 7CR. The Alpha 7C II comes equipped with a full-frame image sensor that brings approximately 33 megapixels and the latest still image and video functions and performance in a compact and lightweight design. The Alpha 7CR comes with the high-resolution and rich gradation performance of a full-size image sensor with approximately 61 megapixels, the same sensor found in the Alpha 7R V. All of this fits into a compact and lightweight body, bringing high resolution in a smaller package than ever before.
Sony also announces “BURANO" as the newest addition to Sony’s CineAlta family of digital cinema cameras. With a powerful 8.6K full-frame sensor, Burano is the world's first digital cinema camera with a PL-Mount to feature in-body image stabilization. Additionally, when the PL lens mount is removed, the camera can be used with E-mount lenses to support fast hybrid autofocus and subject recognition autofocus, ideal for capturing fast moving subjects.