What’s the Future of the Sony A7x Series? An Exclusive Interview at Sony HQ

My resent business trip to Japan was full of pleasant surprises. First,  I was able to conduct and publish one of the first Sony FS5 reviews and footage, then, I was invited to Sony’s HQ and among other activities, had a chance to make a quick interview with Iwatsuki-san who is a senior manager for product planning at Sony industry consumer electronics. 

Sony interview 4-2

The talk with Iwatsuki-san was mainly about Sony’s a7xII camera line and lenses. If I can draw any conclusions from that talk, it will be about Sony recognizing some of the obstacles related to their current models like overheating and menu structure to name a few. On the other hand I came out of this meeting feeling that Sony carefully listens to a customer’s voice and as a leading manufacturer, they are committed to develop and improve their a7x line even further.

By the way in the above interview, I deliberately avoided some of the repeatedly asked questions like “why does the a7x cameras can not record 4:2:2 10 bit internally?” as I truly can’t see Sony implementing specs like those in their s7x line anytime soon.    

For those who chooses to watch parts of the interview, here is a breakdown of the questions I’ve asked and where to find them on the video :

  • Where is the DSLR market heading to? (00:12)
  • How does Sony see the mirrorless camera market? (01:14)
  • Do you see a need for small, lightweight lenses? (03:09)
  • Does Sony recognize the need for faster lenses? (04:39)
  • When will Sony be implementing HDR technology on a7x cameras? (05:09)
  • Can you see further improvements for low light capabilities? (05:28)
  • Which camera would you consider better suited for video recoding, the a7SII or a7RII? (06:32)
  • What is Sony’s recommendation for choosing the right Picture Profile? (08:29)
  • What are the most significant improvements in noise reduction between the original a7S and the a7SII? (09:37)
  • Any comment regarding overheating issues concerning the new a7RII and the a7SII? (10:30)
  • Why can the REC function not be assigned to the shutter release button? (11:37)
  • Why do you get a blank EVF and screen when connecting an external recorder? (12:20)

Much more could have been asked but my slot ended with a promise to meet again in the near future. If you have any relevant question to ask the Sony team, please do in the comments below. I can guarantee that they are looking at what you will be writing.

Watch it on Vimeo

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Bernhard pusch December 12, 2015

will there be a anamorphic mod like the gh4 offers?

Art Sanchez Reply
Art Sanchez December 12, 2015

What kind of HDR technology is Iwatsiki-San talking about?: 1-The new HDR display technology ratated with the rec2020 color space or 2- the in-camera HDR dual exposure capture?

Reuben Evans Reply
Reuben Evans December 12, 2015

Great interview.

Pedro Erthal December 12, 2015

Sony should make it possible to turn off the fly-by-wire on their lenses. Can’t that be done with a firmware update?

Matthew Carmody Reply
Matthew Carmody December 12, 2015

Full points to Sony for being honest about problems and the need to fix them. Also hats off for not being too scared to put functions on the camera that it might not be ready to handle without overheating etc. If they didn’t put 4K in, everybody would be complaining about it like they do with Canon and its inability to do anything even slightly interesting for a few years now.

Eric Darling December 12, 2015

Half a point. It’s easier to be honest about problems when you remain slow and measured, and sometimes even vague. I see your point about Canon, especially in relation to Sony. They have two different methodologies for making stuff, which in end, might not be such a bad thing.

 Rex Romero Reply
Rex Romero December 12, 2015

Did he just use “badass”? haha i like this guy.

Joshua Carballo Reply
Joshua Carballo December 12, 2015

Evangeline Palting prob good things to consider, overheating, external monitor connectivity issues etc.

 Markus Edelmann Reply
Markus Edelmann December 12, 2015

on what is the interview shot? FS5? FS7? A7x? just curious.. the banding in the background is quite severe

 Freddy Kikiwi Reply
Freddy Kikiwi December 12, 2015

Internally ???? This is not a problem for me.
BUT !!!! “Why does the a7x cameras can not record 4:2:2 10 bit EXTERNALY ???…” :-(

Eric Darling December 12, 2015

Because Sony needs to protect the rest of their huge product line up the ladder.

Erik Hardesty December 15, 2015

I couldn’t agree more with you why would someone pay the price of a F7S with 10 bit if they can just buy a a7s ii its pretty much the same camera besides the 10 bit 4.2.2

bla farm December 12, 2015

Thank you for a very informative review. And a big thank you to Iwatsuki-san for participating.

Not sure I remember hearing Iwatsuki-san actually discussing the Menu issue, as mentioned in the article. But that could just be me.

As both an A7S and A7SII owner, I would suggest the following potential topics for a future interview:

– A more logical layout to Menu structure
– Or, a user-customizable Menu structure
– Not being able to turn-off LCD backlight (unnecessary energy loss)
– LCD Monitor “Sunny Weather” setting turning-off when shooting
– The defeatism of including Slog3 on an 8-bit camera (banding)
– Improving the SD Storage Bus Speed for higher bitrate files
– Offering an higher internal XAVC-S bitrate option (>100Mbs)
– Offering an H.265 codec option
– Offering a RAW video format option
– Allowing the user to import a display LUT
– Offering RGB Histogram display
– Offering Waveform display
– Allowing for internal 422 recording
– Allowing for external HDMI 422 output
– Not deactivating the LCD when a HDMI device is connected
– Including XAVC-S in the Sony Plugin for Avid Media Composer
– And yes, HDR is the future — and we want it in acquisition tools

Thank you.

Gavin McGregor Reply
Gavin McGregor December 13, 2015

Turn off fly by wire manual focus. So we can have normal focus throws.

bla farm December 13, 2015

Agreed. I neglected to include the very important Fly-by-Wire lens issue in my list. This feature is a very significant problem for many users — and one of the principle reasons why Sony lens are not held in high esteem.

I recognize that it is unlikely to eliminate Fly-by-Wire functionality from the current lens offerings.

However, Sony should at least provide users with the option for a totally linear behavior of the encoder. As it stands, the encoder is not linear — and that represents a big problem, and much frustration, for Sony lens owners.

bla farm December 13, 2015

One more item:

It is simple fact that Sony has not been providing users of the A7X series cameras with firmware updates that offer material improvements.

And the often-told joke is that you can get updated firmware — if you buy the next generation camera body. This needs to change.

Sony needs to listen to, and respond to, customer feedback — and issue firmware updates that provide improvements to those customers who bought the products — not just those who will buy the next product.

I know that Sony wants to drive sales of new products — but Sony must respect those who invested in the platform by issuing firmware improvements.

 Tommi Kivimäki Reply
Tommi Kivimäki December 13, 2015

It was great to hear how Sony plans to develop the A7x cameras further and how they are listening customers. Thanks for the interview Johnnie and Iwatsuki-san.

My biggest issues is the way how the focusing works in non-linear fashion making focus pulls impossible. Otherwise I really like the 55mm f1.8 and 24-70mm f4 lenses. Great image quality and buttery smooth focus and zoom rings.

Caleb Rasak Reply
Caleb Rasak December 14, 2015

I enjoy the images out Sony’s mirrorless line up very much. But I really cant stand using the cameras. They’re just too small in the hand and too lightweight. I dont see why so many filmmakers like smaller cameras. I enjoy a properly balanced camera on my shoulder rather than hand holding a small camera. And for stills I still prefer a full fledged DLSR. It fits in my hand and can get really banged up without issues.

I just want Sony to put some of the technology used in their A series systems in a more professional video camera solution. I think they are bridging the gap well but I dont find it necessary as a videographer.

Johnnie Behiri December 14, 2015

Hi Caleb

We are very different here. The a7xII fits perfectly on my (small) hands.

I love the idea of having a small “camera brain” and enlarge it when need up to a shoulder mount kit.



Joachim Richter Reply
Joachim Richter December 14, 2015

The advantage of a small and lightweight camera is that it allows to get easily balanced by a gimbal like the Came-tv Single. Using a gimbal system like the Ronin for heavier cameras is not very comfortable. I prefer a small camera with a gimbal rather than a big camera with a rig on the shoulder.

 Ash Tailor Reply
Ash Tailor December 16, 2015

Thank you for this question – Why do you get a blank EVF and screen when connecting an external recorder? (12:20)

There are a number of small things like that, that really stop the usability of the camera. Not to mention – Why does the grid disappear when you connect an hdmi monitor?

 Dave Steph Taylor Reply
Dave Steph Taylor December 16, 2015

What about us APS-C owners.

Johnnie Behiri December 17, 2015

Hi Dave.

Not sure I understand your question.

Ed Hecht December 18, 2015

He’s probably referring to the A6000 and future APS-C releases by SOny. He probably would have wanted you to touch on that. Maybe on your “near future visit” as you mentioned above.

 Derek Hakkim Reply
Derek Hakkim December 17, 2015

Did Iwatiki-san have any mention of updating the menu system within their existing models? I saw no mention of menus witin the video

Johnnie Behiri December 17, 2015

Hi Derek.

I can assure you that the Sony menu structure was discussed separately and extensively with other members of the a7x team.



 Egons Upītis Reply
Egons Upītis December 19, 2015

Absolutely empty interview, mostly stating the obvious and repeating himself a couple of times. I cannot believe anyone would call this “informative”.

Johnnie Behiri December 27, 2015

Move on!

Happy holiday season.


eduardo munoz December 21, 2015

Really nice interview Johnnie!
Did you guys talk about the 120fps 2x crop factor?
For my main work (actions sports), being able to have wide full frame HD with that quality will be amazing!!
Now I have to find an weird option to get wide angles with a full frame look,
example: use an tokina/sigma 10mm or 11mm (APSC not destined to full frame)
in order to cheat the 120fps 2x crop factor and still get the wider angle posible
Kind of tricky but it works
I guess Sony wold be able to change the 120fps 2x crop factor with software updates if they want.
If not to a full frame, at least something least than a 2x crop
Am I right?
thanks for your help and time again!

Johnnie Behiri December 27, 2015

Hi Eduardo.

I guess you are referring to the a7SII. If you are, crop is not possible with this camera.



 Devin Pickering Reply
Devin Pickering December 21, 2015

If sony is concerned about losing money on their higher end line by granting internal 10bit 422, I wish they could compromise by providing something like panasonic has – a type of extension unit that would enable SDI, 422, 10 bit 4k output. It could at least enable the a7s to be used as a real cinema camera, without the loss in color fidelity and banding issues for slog3.

 Will Drey Reply
Will Drey January 3, 2016

Will sony give us 422 no more 8 bit in the MK III?

Nicola Verdi March 12, 2016

Dear Sony and Iwatsuki-san,

Thank you for the nice Interview.
You have now a great opportunity to raise the profit and give even more users “stimulation” to change the system. I own a ALEXA, Red Dragon (soon 8k upgrade) and Sony’s A7RII and A7SII.
I hope you really understand what you created with this 2 great cameras. (size and mobility)

This is my list and suggestions for you:

– External 422 10biit (12bit in the future) recording.
Since this future is clear for “Advanced” users why you don’t offer a paid firmware update? I pay $2k for it!

– able to turn-off LCD.
– RAW video format option
– user customizable Menu structure

– offer a A7XPro with a “global shutter” and external HDMI 422/ 444 output. Just look what Blackmagic is doing with the really bad sensor and learn from it. You could easy rule the market.
(start to understand your strength.)