In a surprise announcement so ninja-like that it may as well have worn a hood and tabi boots, Sony has dropped two new camera models: the Sony A7R IIIa and Sony A7R IVa. However, these do not appear to be 'official' new models set to replace the existing ones.
The "a" suffix on most camera names typically denotes a modified astrophotography body. In this case, however, the Sony A7R IIIa and Sony A7R IVa seem to be new product codes indicating slightly upspecced versions of the high-resolution Sony A7R III and Sony A7R IV.
• Read more: Highest resolution cameras
The all-important megapixel counts of both cameras remains unchanged, so the A7R IIIa retains the same 42.4MP image sensor as the base model while the A7R IVa keeps the 61MP of its 'predecessor'.
Nor are there any apparent changes made to ISO performance, continuous shooting speed, video recording options or any other core features. Instead, the upgraded specifications seem to relate entirely to the physical construction of the two cameras.
According to Sony Alpha Rumors, the revamped specs amount to the following:
• LCD screen resolution has increased from 1.44 million dots to 2,359,296 dots
• The Sony logo under LCD monitor has been removed
• Both cameras now support USB 3.2
• There are also small changes in their battery life
Regarding the battery life, it seems that the increased resolution of the LCD screens has reduced performance slightly when using the monitor; the Sony A7R IIIa delivers 640 shots compared to 650 on the A7R III, while the Sony A7R IVa achieves 660 shots instead of the 670 on the A7R IV.
It seems like a curious time to tinker with these bodies, especially with the A7R III having been released back in 2017, but we certainly welcome the addition of better screens and improved USB support.
Was it an act of altruism, or simply Sony facing a parts shortage and having to use different components? We're inclined to think that it's the latter. Either way, with these 'new' bodies seeming to covertly replace the old ones, it might become very tricky to pick up the right model unless retailers are very specific in their listings.