Year in Review 2023: Sony Cameras and Lenses

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Year in Review 2023: Sony Cameras and Lenses

One of the most prolific brands in 2023, Sony had an all-star year with numerous camera and lens releases, including several major releases in a variety of categories. Between the major cine announcement of the BURANO, the global shutter-enabled a9 III mirrorless camera, or the long-awaited FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS, Sony had at least one appealing announcement for nearly every photographer and filmmaker.

Cameras

Sony has championed the dedicated vlogging camera for a few years now, even introducing an entire line (the ZV series) to the craft. In 2023, they launched a pair of new ZV cameras—one interchangeable-lens mirrorless model and a fixed-lens compact camera. The ZV-E1 debuted in March and is the first full-frame ZV camera available, essentially taking the video-optimized sensor from the a7S III and placing it inside a content-creator-optimized, sleek body reminiscent of the ZV-E10.

ZV-1 II
ZV-1 II

Released later in May, Sony also introduced the ZV-1 II, a second-gen update to the original ZV1 that revolves around the same pocketable body but with a wider-angle zoom lens, an improved microphone, enhanced touch control, and a recording mode inherited from the ZV-E1 called Cinematic Vlog. Both cameras represent the versatility of this seemingly niche subgenre of development, and it’s great to see the general concept of vlogging and content creation expanded to multiple models.

a6700
a6700

In July, Sony finally revealed the a6700 mirrorless camera, a long-awaited update to the a6600 from 2019. In the four years between updates, Sony managed to add a new 26MP sensor (taken from the FX30), improved autofocus, and more powerful processing for a much more robust-feeling model that sits at the top of the Alpha APS-C lineup. The inclusion of a viewfinder and emphasis on stellar stills performance is what keeps this model on the more photo-leaning end of the Alpha spectrum and separate from the fledgling ZV line.

a7C II
a7C II

Moving up to full-frame, August saw a pair of sneaky, good releases with the a7C II and a7CR. Somehow these two compact cameras flew under the radar, relative to some of Sony’s other releases, but still managed to sneak into our mirrorless cameras of the year list at the number 5 spot. The a7CR in particular stands out for combining the high-resolution 61MP sensor from the a7R V with the portable a7C-series body design that’s ideal for travel and everyday shooting.

a9 III
a9 III

Announced at the end of the year, and taking the top spot in our cameras of the year list, the a9 III is a truly groundbreaking camera, flaunting the first global shutter sensor in a full-frame mirrorless camera. Whether or not this tech—and its ability to eliminate motion distortion, flicker, and support flash sync at all speeds—benefits your own shooting, this is a revolutionary announcement that’s akin to the switch from CCD to CMOS or the transition from SLR to mirrorless.

BURANO 8K Digital Motion Picture Camera
BURANO 8K Digital Motion Picture Camera

Finally, looking at Sony’s fully cine-leaning camera announcement of the year, the BURANO debuted in September as a unique full-frame camera that’s the midway point between the FX-line of agile cameras and the robust VENICE series of professional cinema cameras. This 8.6K model is a more compact B-cam partner to the VENICE lineup, with Fast Hybrid AF, IBIS, and a built-in adjustable ND filter, perfect for solo shooters and smaller team productions.

Lenses

In addition to the stacked camera release lineup of 2023, Sony also launched a quintet of stunning E-mount lenses ranging from a fast telephoto to uniquely wide zooms. The first optic release of the year was the FE 20-70mm f/4 G, a wider standard zoom positioned as a fresh take on the 24-70mm that’s more suitable for content creators who prize a broader field of view. The jump from 24mm to 20mm is wider than what 4mm may seem, and it’s the difference that makes this lens ideal for selfie/solo shooter productions.

FE 20-70mm f/4 G
FE 20-70mm f/4 G

Another lens’s development was announced alongside the 20-70mm, but its official announcement didn’t occur until November: the FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS. Perhaps the most eagerly awaited lens of the year, this fast telephoto is sure to be a popular choice among working sports, event, and even wildlife photographers. It complements Sony’s existing 400mm and 600mm super-telephoto primes, but the 300mm is a more nimble option suitable for indoor subjects and wider-field outdoor subjects, as well as some birding applications.

FE 300mm f/2.8 GM
FE 300mm f/2.8 GM

The other prime lens that debuted this year was the FE 50mm f/1.4 GM, an upgraded normal lens that features upper tier optics associated with G Master lenses and a smaller, more portable design compared to the faster 50mm f/1.2 GM lens. Considering the variety of already available 50mm lenses from Sony, this was a bit of a surprising release, but it is a sweet-spot lens that maintains a high degree of speed and top-notch sharpness without a too-hefty, oversized build.

FE 50mm f/1.4 GM
FE 50mm f/1.4 GM

Moving onto the final two zooms of 2023, Sony introduced second-generation models of two of the standard zooms in its lineup: an FE 70-200mm f/4 Macro G OSS II and an FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II. The 70-200mm is the more unique update of the two, adding close-focusing performance and a 0.5x maximum magnification performance to a lens that’s also associated with sports, fashion, events, and portraiture. This is a well-rounded telephoto zoom and an ideal compact alternative to the f/2.8 version of the same focal length. On the wide-angle front, the new 16-35mm f/2.8 is a standard G Master update with a smaller, lighter design and improved performance that you would expect from a staple ultra-wide zoom. It’s a welcomed update and joins the 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II and 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lenses to bring the entire “holy trinity” up to version II status.

FE 70-200mm f/4 Macro G OSS II
FE 70-200mm f/4 Macro G OSS II

What are your thoughts on Sony’s releases for 2023? Which was your favorite camera or lens? And what are you hoping to see next year from Sony? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.

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