15 May 2019, Max Watts House of Music, Sydney – Sony’s annual display of wares showed, this year, an interesting focus on what some would consider to be a niche market: vlogging. But there was more to be gleaned from Sony Sessions 2019 than just that.
Photography at Sony Sessions 2019
When I was a youngster Sony was all about TVs, then video players and Walkmans. And, of course, the CD player. The Sony CDP-101 was one of the first two players on the market. The other was from format co-developer Philips, and where’s that brand now in the consumer space?
When Sony started selling cameras here, I confess to a prejudice against it. Why would you buy a camera from a TV and audio company? There were plenty of good options from traditional camera businesses. But after innovative, if clunky – remember the Sony Mavica cameras with their floppy disk media? – beginnings, Sony now does imaging at least as well as any other company in the world.
Much of this was because of its alliance with Zeiss in the creation of a fine line of lenses. There are now 49 lenses available for Sony’s interchangeable lens cameras. And much was because of Sony’s development of high quality sensors.
But much of it is because of the electronics and processing that turns the signal from the sensor into an image.
These days, that processing is being continually improved, with new features being added to existing hardware. Which brings us to the Sony a7 III and a 7R III cameras. We reviewed both of these glorious gadgets here and here, respectively. But you can forget about all the amazing stuff we mentioned in our reviews because they’ve been trumped by a feature in their latest firmware update. That new feature allows them to recognise dogs and lock onto their eyes as the focal point. What more could you want?
Naturally, Sony had some puppies there to demonstrate.
That feature is also planned for the top-of-the-range Sony a9.
Eye tracking is useful even when the subject is merely human. Sony had one of its new a6400 cameras on a small camera grip/stand, running in video mode and feeding a TV. We reviewed that camera here the other day. The a6400 is especially good for this role for two reasons. One is that its rear monitor can fold all the way up by 180 degrees, so you can see how you look on the camera’s own screen. You don’t need a TV monitor. The other is something called “real time tracking”, which maintains the focus of the camera on a face, even when its moving. When you become your own vlogging talking-head, the fact that your camera will follow you side to side, up and down, and maintain focus, gives you considerable flexibility.
I must say that the picture quality presented on the Sony (natch!) TV displaying the camera output was easily broadcast quality. These days someone with a $1,700 camera can produce content which looks as good as that from a modern TV studio.
Next to that was a similar setup, but this time using the latest version of Sony’s action cam, the RX0 Mk II. That offers UltraHD recording, high robustness and compactness. And the Mk II adds optical image stabilisation, helping when your blogging is live and on-the-spot, instead of in your home studio.
Someone at the event asked: Why? Why not just use a phone? Sony responded that a big part of the reason was sound quality. It noted that why viewers are often tolerant of weak video quality, but harsh on audio defects.
At Sony Sessions 2019 the company explicitly said that it was targeting vloggers. It has set up a website for them at sony.com.au/vlogwithsony.
At Sony Sessions 2019 the company showed off its latest two higher-end LED/LCD TV ranges. Both are available in 55 inches, 65 inches, 75 inches and 85 inches. Just under $7,000 can purchase the mighty 85-inch KD85X8500G. Stepping up to the more highly specified KD85X9500G adds around $2,600 to that price tag.
They are all, of course, Android TVs. But the layout of the menus looks to have improved in recent times, making them easy to use. Google Voice Assistant is included, so you can tell them what to do or what to search for. The more expensive range has a microphone built into the TV for this purpose.