Sony on Wednesday put the camera industry on notice that it was raising the bar for 4K Ultra HD video recording and ultra-high-megapixel, low-light resolution photography for professionals, consumers and enthusiasts, with three advanced digicams.

Highlighting the trio is the pro-focused Alpha A7R II packing the first 1.0 type stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor. The 42.4-megapixel back-illuminated full-frame (35mm film format size) image sensor produces images with greater resolution, fewer artifacts, affords better low-light sensitivity and produces less image noise, Sony said. The camera’s ISO range is 100 to 25,600, expandable to a high 102,400.

The company also revealed a pair of the first 4K-recording-capable Cyber-shot point-and-shoots in the RX100 IV and the RX10 II.

More on Sony’s high-resolution, 4K cameras after the jump:

The A7R II, which will be available in August for a $3,200 suggested retail price, has the ability to oversample 4K video from the entire area of the large, 42.4MP 35mm-size sensor surface before the camera reduces the information for use as 3840×2160 4K or 1920×1080 HD video. Taking data from this larger area produces sharper videos with fewer artifacts, Sony said.

4K Ultra HD videos also can be recorded in a Super 35mm crop mode. In Super 35mm crop mode, the camera collects information from approximately 1.8x as many pixels as 4K by using full pixel readout without pixel binning and oversamples the information to produce 4K movies with diminished artifacts, like jaggies and moire.

Video files are captured using Sony’s XAVC-S compression codec at 100Mbps in 4K and 50Mbps in 1080p. It will playback 4K at 24fps or 30fps. Lower-resolution capture is also possible in 720p at 120fps.

Also included in the A7RII is a 5-axis in-body image stabilization system with greater fine tuning to accommodate the high-resolution sensor that adjusts for pitch, yaw and rotational shake. This enables clearly focused telephoto shots and video. Stabilization works with Sony’s 12 native full-frame E-mount lenses, A-mount models via an adapter, and even other branded lenses using an adapter, Sony said.

A7R II also adds a new AF system with 399 phase-detection points on the image sensor, which enables a 40 percent faster AF speed improvement, Sony said.

The A7RII includes a 2.36-million-dot XGA OLED electronic viewfinder and built-in Wi-Fi with near field communications (NFC) connectivity.

Sony also unveiled its first two Cyber-shot point-and-shoot cameras capable of 4K video recording (in 24p/30p playback frame rates) in the RX100 IV and RX10 II.

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Both Cyber-shots have also added the ability to capture super slow-motion videos at up to 40x slower action, allowing users to replay brief moments of fast action in high clarity. The slo-mo system offers selections of 960fps, 480fps and 240fps frame rates and among 60p, 30p and 24p playback formats. Users also have the option to use the movie record button as a start trigger to begin recording when the button is pressed or to use an end trigger to record footage up until the movie button is pressed, Sony said.

The end trigger mode lets shooting begin 2 to 4 seconds before the movie button is pressed, in order to capture precise moments of sudden action more accurately, Sony said.

Sony said that two seconds of movie footage shot at 960fps and played back at 24p would run about 80 seconds.

Both cameras also have advanced dual-video recording functionality, allowing the capture of 16.8-megapixel still images during 4K video recording, by pressing the shutter button.

The RX100IV, which will be available in July at a $1,000 suggested retail, is a pocket camera with a 20-megapixel 1-inch stack CMOS sensor, and attached DRAM memory chip for faster processing speeds.

4K videos are recorded in XAVC-S compression at 100Mbps for up to 5 minute clips of continuous video at a time and can capture 16.8-megapixel still images during 4K video recording. 4K Ultra HD video is played back at 24 and 40 fps.

The camera shoots full-resolution still images at up to 16fps and up to a 1/32,000s shutter speed. The RX100 IV is equipped with a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm (35mm equivalent) f/1.8-2.8 lens, and includes a 2.35-million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder.

The Sony RX10 II, which will be available in July at a $1,298 suggested retail, features a 24-200mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss zoom lens, 3-inch 1,228K-dot resolution LCD, new 2.35-million dot XGA OLED viewfinder, and will continuously capture 4K in clips up to 29 minutes at 100Mbps in XAVC-S compression.

Other features include: a BIONZ X image processor; internal UHD 4K video & S-Log2 Gamma; built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity; up to 12,800 ISO light sensitivity; and Super Sonicwave Motor for fast AF.

By Greg Tarr

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