Chip prices keeps Sony from launching new models a rumors says, but why I wonder?

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lattesweden
lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 4,651
Chip prices keeps Sony from launching new models a rumors says, but why I wonder?

Ok, so this is a so called "wild" rumor from SAR. But lets pretend it is real.

Then my question is: what would make it better for Sony to wait with the launch of new bodys and instead sell the older ones? Wouldn't higher chip prices also affect those?

Here is the quote from SAR: "I was told that the finalisation of the A7IV got postponed again due to current chip prices. As a result it’s expected the A7IV won’t be released in 2021. Some niche versions / variations of current camera models could be released instead in 2021."

Source: https://www.sonyalpharumors.com/wild-rumors-roundup-a7iv-new-videocamera-macro-gm-lens/

The so called variations the above text talks about I read as more of the "a" versions with slightly improved components like the recent A7RIIIa and IVa, so maybe an A7IIIa etc.

Anyway, to summarize: why would it be better for Sony to keep producing the older bodys than launch new ones, what in such a move could be better from a chip cost perspective?

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/Anders
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https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65121520
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65130731

Magnar W
Magnar W Veteran Member • Posts: 6,119
This is Internet
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Welcome to the web, crowded with specialists ... 😎

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someguy50 Regular Member • Posts: 409
Re: Chip prices keeps Sony from launching new models a rumors says, but why I wonder?
4

Spitballing...Current chips already have existing purchasing/manufacturing agreements. The foundry is unable to take on additional capacity (new orders).

Also...Current chips could have a really nice yield due to their maturity.

Example:

  • wafer for current cameras can turn out 200 dies, 95% yield. 190 cameras get their chip.
  • New immature chip could be slightly bigger, worse yield because it's new and not yet fully refined. 185 dies, 87% yield. 160 cameras get their chip.

If Sony wants 10,000 cameras, the first one needs 53 wafers. The second needs 63.

lattesweden
OP lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 4,651
Re: Chip prices keeps Sony from launching new models a rumors says, but why I wonder?

someguy50 wrote:

Spitballing...Current chips already have existing purchasing/manufacturing agreements. The foundry is unable to take on additional capacity (new orders).

Also...Current chips could have a really nice yield due to their maturity.

Example:

  • wafer for current cameras can turn out 200 dies, 95% yield. 190 cameras get their chip.
  • New immature chip could be slightly bigger, worse yield because it's new and not yet fully refined. 185 dies, 87% yield. 160 cameras get their chip.

If Sony wants 10,000 cameras, the first one needs 53 wafers. The second needs 63.

Yes, thanks, I didn't think of those two variables but you can very well be correct that current chips goes under a current contract with a fixed price that can't be changed by the chipmaker and also regarding the possibility of a worse yield on newer chips.

Next question is then: Does Sony do the "a" versions, the A7RIIIa and A7RIVa, and possibly if the rumor is correct, other similar small updated versions of other bodys due to component shortage or due to something else?

-- hide signature --

Best regards
/Anders
----------------------------------------------------
Mirrorless, mirrorless on the wall, say which is the best camera of them all?
When I put my camera in Manual mode, why don't I get any instructions?
Some images:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65325637
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64169208
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64221482
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65120847
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65121520
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65130731

AlephNull Veteran Member • Posts: 3,016
Re: Chip prices keeps Sony from launching new models a rumors says, but why I wonder?
1

lattesweden wrote:

someguy50 wrote:

Spitballing...Current chips already have existing purchasing/manufacturing agreements. The foundry is unable to take on additional capacity (new orders).

Also...Current chips could have a really nice yield due to their maturity.

Example:

  • wafer for current cameras can turn out 200 dies, 95% yield. 190 cameras get their chip.
  • New immature chip could be slightly bigger, worse yield because it's new and not yet fully refined. 185 dies, 87% yield. 160 cameras get their chip.

If Sony wants 10,000 cameras, the first one needs 53 wafers. The second needs 63.

Yes, thanks, I didn't think of those two variables but you can very well be correct that current chips goes under a current contract with a fixed price that can't be changed by the chipmaker and also regarding the possibility of a worse yield on newer chips.

Next question is then: Does Sony do the "a" versions, the A7RIIIa and A7RIVa, and possibly if the rumor is correct, other similar small updated versions of other bodys due to component shortage or due to something else?

No one on here knows the exact reasons why Sony released the 'a' versions - it's just speculation. Anyone who does know will be locked down by confidentiality agreements.

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newdom Regular Member • Posts: 281
Re: Chip prices keeps Sony from launching new models a rumors says, but why I wonder?
1

lattesweden wrote:

Ok, so this is a so called "wild" rumor from SAR. But lets pretend it is real.

Then my question is: what would make it better for Sony to wait with the launch of new bodys and instead sell the older ones? Wouldn't higher chip prices also affect those?

Here is the quote from SAR: "I was told that the finalisation of the A7IV got postponed again due to current chip prices. As a result it’s expected the A7IV won’t be released in 2021. Some niche versions / variations of current camera models could be released instead in 2021."

Source: https://www.sonyalpharumors.com/wild-rumors-roundup-a7iv-new-videocamera-macro-gm-lens/

The so called variations the above text talks about I read as more of the "a" versions with slightly improved components like the recent A7RIIIa and IVa, so maybe an A7IIIa etc.

Anyway, to summarize: why would it be better for Sony to keep producing the older bodys than launch new ones, what in such a move could be better from a chip cost perspective?

SAR = amusing fiction most of the time.  I suspect most of their stories are totally made up, based on educated/wild guesses.  This is a no brainer guess, all tech companies around the world are suffering from chip shortages.

Sony have their own Fabs, and design/produce their own sensors for themselves and others, so they are less constrained in that respect.  Although they will have fab/chip contracts to meet themselves, if they are restrained by chip shortages it will mostly likely be third party components.  Newer third-party chips they will likely want to use in a cutting edge product will have wide demand from all numbers of other companies and are in shortage, so the price will be high.  Older chips are usually fabbed in the millions so will be cheap and more available (although under demand pressure themselves), but are less suitable for a cutting edge product.  And it's not just chips, but connectors, screens, battery components etc etc.  They will likely make up a significant portion of the BoM which will push the overall price of the product up (or the margin down) and make it less competitive.

So as they already have a full and successful lineup of MILCs which are selling well, they have less incentive to release new versions.  Those waiting for an A7iv have plenty of other options in the A7c (which is almost like a A7iv-light), A9ii, A7Riv.  Sony can wait until the cost of 3rd party components comes down and the BoM gets under control, then release their new models, which might well be already finished and waiting to go.

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Tristimulus Veteran Member • Posts: 8,320
Re: Chip prices keeps Sony from launching new models a rumors says, but why I wonder?
2

AlephNull wrote:

lattesweden wrote:

someguy50 wrote:

Spitballing...Current chips already have existing purchasing/manufacturing agreements. The foundry is unable to take on additional capacity (new orders).

Also...Current chips could have a really nice yield due to their maturity.

Example:

  • wafer for current cameras can turn out 200 dies, 95% yield. 190 cameras get their chip.
  • New immature chip could be slightly bigger, worse yield because it's new and not yet fully refined. 185 dies, 87% yield. 160 cameras get their chip.

If Sony wants 10,000 cameras, the first one needs 53 wafers. The second needs 63.

Yes, thanks, I didn't think of those two variables but you can very well be correct that current chips goes under a current contract with a fixed price that can't be changed by the chipmaker and also regarding the possibility of a worse yield on newer chips.

Anyway - the new image sensors require new tech and are produced in limited numbers. Image sensors like the A1 image sensor is about high risk and high return. Very profitable if successful, if not, well...

Next question is then: Does Sony do the "a" versions, the A7RIIIa and A7RIVa, and possibly if the rumor is correct, other similar small updated versions of other bodys due to component shortage or due to something else?

No one on here knows the exact reasons why Sony released the 'a' versions - it's just speculation. Anyone who does know will be locked down by confidentiality agreements.

From a marketing perspective the Sony long term strategy makes perfect sense.

Segmentation increase the likelyhood that customers select a Sony in favor of another brand - there is a Sony available in every price segment so why not just get a Sony.

At the same time there is long term return (no need to waste resources developing new lower priced models to attract that target group).

Look at the new cameras released by Sony. New tech and high prices. Perfectly targeting the tech geeks who are willing to pay. Others get the same tech later at a lower price.

The A7c seems more like a test to see how the market reacts, exactly as the original A7. If the concept succeeds then high tech high price versions will appear. Wait and see... 

dan_darkroom Contributing Member • Posts: 521
Chip prices don't really matter....
5

Chip prices don't really matter, issue is you can't get them. Maybe next year...

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Entropy512 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,252
Not prices
3

None of the rumors have said anything about prices.

It's simple supply shortage, with a few small exceptions (scalpers), many semiconductors simply cannot be obtained at any price unless you already had a contract for N units.

As others have said, Sony does have their own fabs for some semiconductors, but plenty of components are likely not sourced by Sony. For example, I don't think Sony has their own in-house BMS/battery charge controller design, it's likely off the shelf.

All DRAM and flash memory is from third parties. The A7R2 had, in addition to the BIONZ, a Fujitsu Cortex-M3 - and Cortex-M parts from pretty much any manufacturer have become notorious for severe shortages lately. The wifi module is a third party off the shelf product too.

https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Sony+a7R+II+Teardown/45597

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lattesweden
OP lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 4,651
Re: Not prices

Entropy512 wrote:

None of the rumors have said anything about prices.

The rumor I quoted and linked (though classified as wild) in the OP does talk about chip prices but it is the first one I have seen that does that and it was the whole reason I asked about it since it got me curios.

It's simple supply shortage, with a few small exceptions (scalpers), many semiconductors simply cannot be obtained at any price unless you already had a contract for N units.

As others have said, Sony does have their own fabs for some semiconductors, but plenty of components are likely not sourced by Sony. For example, I don't think Sony has their own in-house BMS/battery charge controller design, it's likely off the shelf.

All DRAM and flash memory is from third parties. The A7R2 had, in addition to the BIONZ, a Fujitsu Cortex-M3 - and Cortex-M parts from pretty much any manufacturer have become notorious for severe shortages lately. The wifi module is a third party off the shelf product too.

https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Sony+a7R+II+Teardown/45597

Thanks, interesting. It seems the A7RII is disappearing from several markets as are the other first and second generation bodys. The only one that seems to still be unaffected and kept listed is the A7II (one can guess to have a budget option maybe). Do you think the trend to remove the older bodys from sales also is an effect of the chip shortage or something else?

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Best regards
/Anders
----------------------------------------------------
Mirrorless, mirrorless on the wall, say which is the best camera of them all?
When I put my camera in Manual mode, why don't I get any instructions?
Some images:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65325637
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64169208
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64221482
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65120847
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65121520
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65130731

lattesweden
OP lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 4,651
Re: Chip prices don't really matter....

dan_darkroom wrote:

Chip prices don't really matter, issue is you can't get them. Maybe next year...

So what does Sony (and others) do in the meantime?

We can still buy several models, how come they are still on sale? Old stock and after that it will be empty on the shelves?

Also if Sony (and others) can't get new models out due to chip shortage issues, why don't they spend time to improve firmware and other surrounding software to compete and improve the products they can sell that way?

-- hide signature --

Best regards
/Anders
----------------------------------------------------
Mirrorless, mirrorless on the wall, say which is the best camera of them all?
When I put my camera in Manual mode, why don't I get any instructions?
Some images:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65325637
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64169208
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64221482
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65120847
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65121520
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65130731

Entropy512 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,252
Re: Not prices

lattesweden wrote:

Entropy512 wrote:

None of the rumors have said anything about prices.

The rumor I quoted and linked (though classified as wild) in the OP does talk about chip prices but it is the first one I have seen that does that and it was the whole reason I asked about it since it got me curios.

It's simple supply shortage, with a few small exceptions (scalpers), many semiconductors simply cannot be obtained at any price unless you already had a contract for N units.

As others have said, Sony does have their own fabs for some semiconductors, but plenty of components are likely not sourced by Sony. For example, I don't think Sony has their own in-house BMS/battery charge controller design, it's likely off the shelf.

All DRAM and flash memory is from third parties. The A7R2 had, in addition to the BIONZ, a Fujitsu Cortex-M3 - and Cortex-M parts from pretty much any manufacturer have become notorious for severe shortages lately. The wifi module is a third party off the shelf product too.

https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Sony+a7R+II+Teardown/45597

Thanks, interesting. It seems the A7RII is disappearing from several markets as are the other first and second generation bodys. The only one that seems to still be unaffected and kept listed is the A7II (one can guess to have a budget option maybe). Do you think the trend to remove the older bodys from sales also is an effect of the chip shortage or something else?

Probably that is part of it.  I suspect some lesser modules that don't change performance specs often (wifi chips, power management etc) get shared across multiple generations and if one of those is constrained, the allottment goes to more profitable products.

Also while the BIONZ is a Sony design, it may be that they have outsource manufacturing for it.  (Their sensors are clearly manufactured in-house, it's less clear for BIONZ.  For example I'm not sure if Sony manufactures the PS5 SoC despite it being co-designed with AMD...)

I just happened to include the R2 link because of the fact that I don't think ifixit has done an R3 or R4 teardown.

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dan_darkroom Contributing Member • Posts: 521
Re: Chip prices don't really matter....

lattesweden wrote:

dan_darkroom wrote:

Chip prices don't really matter, issue is you can't get them. Maybe next year...

So what does Sony (and others) do in the meantime?

The camera market is such a small potato, it really does not matter. Won't effect all products. In the meantime you have car manufacturers that have to shut down because of shortages. That gives you an idea how serious the situation is.

We can still buy several models, how come they are still on sale? Old stock and after that it will be empty on the shelves?

There will be less new stock around with fewer supply. I recall some press releases about delay because of supply issues. It will effect hot items first.

Also if Sony (and others) can't get new models out due to chip shortage issues, why don't they spend time to improve firmware and other surrounding software to compete and improve the products they can sell that way?

As you know as a Sony user, Sony pretty much gives a duck. It's take it or leave it. And anyway, the people that produce are not the same as the people the people that design. It's impossible to shift those resources. It's not, put your screwdriver down, and do some C++ programming now

BTW, it's not all ICs, it all depends on exact type, if there is an alternative, a workaround etc.

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dan_darkroom Contributing Member • Posts: 521
Re: Not prices
1

It's simple supply shortage, with a few small exceptions (scalpers),

Not scalpers, brokers. A scalper will buy and sell higher. A broker, well, just brokers stock that he thinks is somewhere. They rarely have their own stock.

From a broker you typically can get only a small quantity, and then you need to test them, which can be very complex. There is lots, really, LOTS, of fraud going on here. It's a highly risky business.

Since a broker pretty much never has stock it's pay first upfront, then hope you get them, then hope it can work. This said, their are brokers that do their own testing.

I avoid brokers by all means. Seen too many counterfeit parts. It's good when they are bad, but very bad when they are somehow work and then die in the field. And too much fraud going on, you pay, and they close down a few weeks later.

Hundreds of Component Buyers Scammed by Fraudulent Websites

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lattesweden
OP lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 4,651
Re: Chip prices don't really matter....

dan_darkroom wrote:

lattesweden wrote:

dan_darkroom wrote:

Chip prices don't really matter, issue is you can't get them. Maybe next year...

So what does Sony (and others) do in the meantime?

The camera market is such a small potato, it really does not matter. Won't effect all products. In the meantime you have car manufacturers that have to shut down because of shortages. That gives you an idea how serious the situation is.

Here is another good article: https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/devices/how-and-when-the-chip-shortage-will-end-in-4-charts

We can still buy several models, how come they are still on sale? Old stock and after that it will be empty on the shelves?

There will be less new stock around with fewer supply. I recall some press releases about delay because of supply issues. It will effect hot items first.

Also if Sony (and others) can't get new models out due to chip shortage issues, why don't they spend time to improve firmware and other surrounding software to compete and improve the products they can sell that way?

As you know as a Sony user, Sony pretty much gives a duck. It's take it or leave it. And anyway, the people that produce are not the same as the people the people that design. It's impossible to shift those resources. It's not, put your screwdriver down, and do some C++ programming now

The assembly workers are in many cases not even near the development department in Japan. Sony builds a lot of the gear outside of Japan like in Thailand for instance.

But programmers can be hired. And if there is a shortage on them, one have to pay more.

What I meant with the question is if they can't get the new stuff out why don't they put money (like hiring more coders) to improve their existing products with improved software to gain new functions and by that make them more attractive on the market?

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Best regards
/Anders
----------------------------------------------------
Mirrorless, mirrorless on the wall, say which is the best camera of them all?
When I put my camera in Manual mode, why don't I get any instructions?
Some images:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65325637
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64169208
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64221482
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65120847
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65121520
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65130731

newdom Regular Member • Posts: 281
Re: Not prices

dan_darkroom wrote:

It's simple supply shortage, with a few small exceptions (scalpers),

Price is supply/demand elastic, reduction in supply equals increase in price.  Base prices may or may not change (and almost certainly will), but volume/loyalty discounts will likely dry up.  Sony cameras are such low volume that a single volume unit of a 3rd party component will probably allow them to them build sufficient stock to launch their product.  Most of the 3rd party components in the cameras aren't likely to be low yield cutting edge components - more likely standard off the shelf high volume chips like arm cpu, wifi, nfc, bluetooth, displays, ribbon cables, interface connectors.  There are lots of equivalent suppliers for these components and product manufacturers/integrators often change these components silently within the same model as availability changes.  It's only when you have an incompatible change like the newer LCDs that they need to let the user know (ie A7Riiia, A7Riva).

Not scalpers, brokers. A scalper will buy and sell higher. A broker, well, just brokers stock that he thinks is somewhere. They rarely have their own stock.

From a broker you typically can get only a small quantity, and then you need to test them, which can be very complex. There is lots, really, LOTS, of fraud going on here. It's a highly risky business.

Since a broker pretty much never has stock it's pay first upfront, then hope you get them, then hope it can work. This said, their are brokers that do their own testing.

I avoid brokers by all means. Seen too many counterfeit parts. It's good when they are bad, but very bad when they are somehow work and then die in the field. And too much fraud going on, you pay, and they close down a few weeks later.

Hundreds of Component Buyers Scammed by Fraudulent Websites

This isn't relevant to Sony.  Sony will almost certainly deal direct with OEMs or 1st tier trade suppliers, no matter the relatively small volume involved, and will likely have long standing reciprocal relationships.

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dan_darkroom Contributing Member • Posts: 521
Re: Not prices

newdom wrote:

dan_darkroom wrote:

It's simple supply shortage, with a few small exceptions (scalpers),

Price is supply/demand elastic, reduction in supply equals increase in price. Base prices may or may not change (and almost certainly will), but volume/loyalty discounts will likely dry up.

This is when any price goes.

Hundreds of Component Buyers Scammed by Fraudulent Websites

This isn't relevant to Sony. Sony will almost certainly deal direct with OEMs or 1st tier trade suppliers, no matter the relatively small volume involved, and will likely have long standing reciprocal relationships.

It goes like that:

Hi, I am Sony, I want 1000 IC XYZ.

Noted, we will let you know.

When Ford, Peugeot, BMW, VW have to stop production you think a niche products in an unimportant industry will get better support? Well, not.

They are forced like many others to look around. I doubt they will fall for scams, more likely is that they will not find anything.

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dan_darkroom Contributing Member • Posts: 521
Re: Chip prices don't really matter....

lattesweden wrote:

What I meant with the question is if they can't get the new stuff out why don't they put money (like hiring more coders) to improve their existing products with improved software to gain new functions and by that make them more attractive on the market?

I too wish Sony would think like that. Or maybe spend some time and listen to users.

Honestly, I don't care if they can produce or not. I have a camera and I can use it. I guess all here a good camera already. It's the perfect time to look into the GAZ problem.

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lattesweden
OP lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 4,651
Re: Chip prices don't really matter....

dan_darkroom wrote:

lattesweden wrote:

What I meant with the question is if they can't get the new stuff out why don't they put money (like hiring more coders) to improve their existing products with improved software to gain new functions and by that make them more attractive on the market?

I too wish Sony would think like that. Or maybe spend some time and listen to users.

Honestly, I don't care if they can produce or not. I have a camera and I can use it. I guess all here a good camera already. It's the perfect time to look into the GAZ problem.

I agree that it isn't like we can't take any pictures. We have plenty of gear to choose from. And that is the thing, "to choose from". That means it doesn't have to be from Sony.

What drew me into Sony was the sensors. First an RX100 and later an A7RII. Both revolutionary products at their time and it was the sensor that did it. The RX100 was the first compact that got reviews that it could compete with system camera image quality and the A7RII was the worlds first BSI FF sensor. It is still at a shared 7th place at DXOmark of the best FF sensors ever made with 98 points vs the very best at 100.

A good sensor with good DR, low noise and good color and black and white gradients opens up a whole range of possibilities in photography.

The second thing that Sony did right was in 2017 when the A9 came, it contained the worlds first stacked FF sensor which enabled the fantastic autofocus. And it doesn't matter how sharp a lens is if it isn't in focus. This was the point when I went fully to Sony.

And third, Sony has always strived to make light gear that one takes along and don't leave at home since there it doesn't make any images at all.

At the time no one could compete on these areas.

In the early days, Sonys lenses was okey enough but not on Canons top level. Over the years the have improved a lot in this area. They had a period when they launched the first GM lenses and they where all rather heavy and that was a worrisome direction, but then something happened and they started to make both light and fantastic world class lenses.

When it comes to bodys Sony has never made them really good from an operations perspective. I shot m4/3 before and they are in many cases superior bodys to use. Not in all areas, Sony does do some things really good. Their biggest problem area is software. They where on the roll with the Playmemories apps but it is like the burned themselves and are afraid of invest there again.

And in the meantime Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Leica and Sigma launches more and more lenses and body options leveling out the lead Sony have had. And still they don't seem to ramp up their software functions development. We know that they can, the Xperia camera apps are looking rather nice, so surely they can lift the bodys and supporting software to better levels as well if they went for it.

There is a thread here at DPR that asks about what one would like in new functions, on the link is my answer, sadly the list has gotten longer and not shorter over the years: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65342236

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Best regards
/Anders
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Mirrorless, mirrorless on the wall, say which is the best camera of them all?
When I put my camera in Manual mode, why don't I get any instructions?
Some images:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65325637
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64169208
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64221482
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65120847
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65121520
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65130731

SafariBob
SafariBob Senior Member • Posts: 2,430
Re: Chip prices keeps Sony from launching new models a rumors says, but why I wonder?
1

Chips are made in batches, not continuously (unless it’s an extremely high volume product, like smartphone sensors or  soc’s). Hence they will have inventory for a lot of things. New models also drive new demand, so they may want to defer the demand. But most likely, sar is just wrong, it was never a 100% rumor anyway.

 SafariBob's gear list:SafariBob's gear list
Sony RX1 Sony a7R II Sony a7R IV Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Sony FE 35mm F2.8 +3 more
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