by Fabian Chaundy | 21st April 2017
The attractively-named Sony NPA-MQZ1K is probably everything you’ve been looking for in those third-party power solutions for your Sony Alpha camera, all smooshed together into one nifty — if a bit pricey — little product. So, what exactly does it do? Sony NPA-MQZ1K – Quad Battery Charger This new battery adapter from Sony is first and foremost a quad-unit battery charger for the teeny-weeny NP-FW50 batteries we have come to know and love in cameras such as the Sony A7S II or Sony A6500. It is also compatible with the newer, higher-capacity Z-series batteries just announced alongside the Sony A9, and claims to be able to charge four of them in 8 hours. I think it’s safe to say that Sony shooters have been frustrated with the laughable performance of the NP-FW50s of around one hour of video use, meaning that many looked at purchasing extra batteries and multi-unit chargers, often from third-party manufacturers. This alone makes an official product from Sony with this kind of functionality not just necessary but also overdue. But its $400 price tag means it better be more than just a charger… Unlimited Power for your Sony Alpha Like the battery charger included with the FS5 or FS7, the Sony NPA-MQZ1K goes from charger to direct power supply for the camera with just the flick of a switch. The unit supplies constant power to the camera via a tethered dummy battery, which means you will have to remove the battery compartment cover to leave place for the cable. It also means you can’t charge your batteries simultaneously, but hey… at least you’ve still got that single charger that came with your camera lying around, right? There have been other dummy battery options available from third-party manufacturers, though I suspect many have decided against going down this route due to multiple forums reporting fried cameras as a result of faulty adapters. This official solution from Sony may make a lot of shooters revisit the dummy battery option, especially those in need of an unmanned B-Cam with unlimited recording time via an external recorder, such as event shooters. In addition, the Sony NPA-MQZ1K can also power up to 2 USB devices. You can use the on-board switches to choose how to route the DC power. Power… On the Go. If you thought the Sony NPA-MQZ1K would tether you to a wall outlet, think again. You can remove the battery protector, cover two of the battery bays with the included lids, and turn the battery adapter into a portable two-battery power pack. Sony NPA-MQZ1K in portable mode Sure, it may not seem as elegant a solution as a battery grip, and you’re right… if you’re a photographer. The Sony NPA-MQZ1K features six standard 1/4-20 threads to mount the unit to your rig, making it much more suitable for video shooters since battery grips are incompatible with most fitted camera cages. The Sony NPA-MQZ1K is available for pre-order from B&H for $400. It may sound a bit steep, but it does include two of the new NP-FZ100 batteries too, so yay! Is the Sony NPA-MQZ1K the holy grail of power for the Sony Alpha series? More importantly, does it sound like the right solution for YOU? Let us know in the comments below!Read more
by Olaf von Voss | 19th April 2017
And there it is! Just a few days ahead of this year’s NAB, Sony finally dropped the A-Bomb. Let’s have a brief look at the fresh-from-the-oven Sony Alpha a9! -see update below- The brand new Sony Alpha a9 mirrorless camera. Sony Alpha a9 There is so much new technology packed inside this new camera. Let’s break it down real quick before digging into the individual features: World’s First full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, 24.2 MP resolution 4K (3840×2160) Video at up to 30p Full HD at up to 120p Blackout-Free Continuous Shooting at up to 20fps for up to 241 RAW/ 362 JPEG images Silent, Vibration-free shooting at speeds up to 1/32,000 sec 693 point focal plane phase detection AF points with 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second Extensive professional features including Ethernet port for file transfer, Dual SD card slots and extended battery life 5-Axis in-body image stabilization with a 5.0 step shutter speed advantage At the heart of the Sony Alpha a9, a freshly-developed 35mm full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ CMOS sensor is what does the hard work. This kind of sensor is, as of today, a world-first, and it packs tremendous horsepower which simply wasn’t possible before. Along this new sensor, the camera sports an upgraded BIONZ X processing engine and front-end LSI that maximizes overall performance. It is capable of things like high-speed, blackout-free continuous shooting at up to 20fps, 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second or a maximum shutter speed of up to 1/32,000 second, for example. In terms of focusing, Sony has developed an AF system that features 693 phase detection AF points which cover approximately 93% of the frame. According to Sony, the system achieves approximately 25% faster performance when compared with the α7R II. Double Battery Life, Double Memory You might think all this will drain those tiny Sony batteries quite fast. Well, that’s right, and that’s why Sony has developed a new Z battery with approximately 2.2x the capacity of W batteries, as well as dual SD media card slots, including one that supports UHS-II cards. The Sony a9 features an all-new, high-resolution, high-luminance Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder with approximately 3,686k dots. The new optical design includes a double-sided aspherical element, which helps it achieve 0.78x magnification. The luminance is 2x higher than the XGA OLED Tru-Finder from the a7R II, and you can even set the frame rate manually from 60fps to 120fps. The LCD screen on the back can be touch-controlled and tilted. The 5-axis image stabilization system has been improved, too. With a simple half press of the shutter button, you can see the effect of the image stabilization in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen, allowing framing and focus to be accurately checked and continually monitored. For enhanced customization, a “My Menu” feature is available, allowing up to 30 menu items to be registered for instant recall when needed. The camera is also capable of taking uncompressed 14-bit Raw still images, which is quite impressive in a camera this compact! Video Features The Sony Alpha a9 offers 4K (3840×2160) video recording across the full width of the full-frame image sensor at up to 30p. When shooting in this format, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 6K of information, oversampling it to produce high quality 4K footage. Recording is also available in the popular Super 35mm size. Additionally, the camera can record Full HD at 120 fps at up to 100 Mbps, which allows footage to be reviewed and eventually edited into 4x or 5x slow motion video files in Full HD resolution with AF tracking. Conclusion What a powerhouse! Now I’m really thrilled to be heading over to NAB in Las Vegas in order to get some hands-on time with this wolf in sheep’s clothing. The camera is not quite ready for shipping just yet, but you can enter your email address over at B&H in order to get notified. Credit where credit is due: The fine folks over at sonyalpharumors were the first reporting on this, have a look at their site! Update Thanks for your vivid contribution in the comments! I think it’s time for a little update in order to clarify the target market of this camera. As you have mentioned in the comments the Alpha a9 seems to be a very photographic orianteted camera and that’s totaly true! It’s not the perfect camera for filmmakers, the Sony FS5 is far more capable in that area. As matters stand the Alpha a9 doesn’t feature S-Log curves, LUTs or picture profiles and it doesn’t do things like 60p or 4:2:2 10bit, either. I think for us filmmakers this Alpha a9 is more a proof of concept. A full frame pocket-seized camera with a stacked sensor? Never heard that before. High speed readout times due to that stacked sensor design which eventually could eliminate rolling shutter? Never heard that before, either. For now, all of this is only available in stills mode but who knows, it’s likely that this technology trickles into other, more video orientated cameras. Once Sony unlocks these features for video mode, some other cameras will look very outdated very quickly, including some of Sony’s own lineup. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.Read more
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