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Photography News

Sony Announces Development of New Radio Wireless Flash System

By Matthew Saville on March 7th 2016

Believe it or not, these days I feel like I’m running into fewer people whose camera-shopping train of thought goes like this: Hey, so are you considering mirrorless yet? I’m really thinking about it.”

Indeed, what I’m encountering NOW is a full-blown epidemic of: Hey, so why  HAVEN’T you haven’t switched to Sony yet? I can’t believe you’re still shooting with that big ol’ DSLR!”

Well, one of the big issues that serious portrait and wedding photographers would mention has always been the lack of flash support. Well, today, live from WPPI in Las Vegas, we get a glimpse at the Sony FE / E mount’s next big step: Native radio wireless flash control!

 

Sony Wireless Flash System - Image

Sony Announces Development of New Wireless Lighting Control System – AVAILABLE SUMMER 2016 

PRESS RELEASE: LAS VEGAS, Mar. 7, 2016 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today announced plans to release a new wireless lighting control system to meet the growing demands of professional Sony photographers.

Designed for compatibility with their Alpha interchangeable cameras and external flash units, the new lighting system will include the FA-WRC1M wireless radio commander as well as the FA-WRR1 wireless radio receiver.  A prototype of the new system will be on display in Sony’s booth at WPPI 2016.

Sony Radio Wireless System 03

 

With a maximum range of 30m (approx. 98 feet), the new radio controlled system will allow for an extremely flexible wireless flash shooting experience with exceptional performance in all types of shooting conditions. In total, the system can control a maximum of 15 separate flash units in up to 5 groups of flashes. While using the system, photographers have the ability to control the exposure of connected flash units either manually or automatically depending on preference.   Additionally, the new lighting control system will be capable of flash sync speeds of up to 1/250th of a second with high-speed sync (HSS) available as well.

The new Wireless Lighting Control system will be available this summer at authorized retailers throughout the US and Canadian markets.  Pricing and detailed specifications will be released at a later date.

Sony Radio Wireless System 06 copy

PRESS RELEASE: Sony Announces New HX80 Compact Camera with 30x Zoom and Electronic Viewfinder

Along with the radio wireless excitement at WPPI, Sony has also announced a new compact camera today, the DSC-HX80. It’s even smaller than the Sony RX100 series, (since it has a smaller sensor) yet it packs a 30x 24-720mm lens and an electronic viewfinder into a $350 price tag.

Sony Hi-Zoom HX80 Specs:

  • Available in April for about $350
  • Premium 30x ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* optical zoom lens with 60x “Clear Image” digital zoom capability
  • Built-in pop-up OLED Tru-Finder EVF w/ high contrast and vivid colors
  • 18.2 MP Exmor R CMOS sensor and BIONZ X processor ensure the finest capture details for still images and Full HD videos in all lighting conditions
  • Optical SteadyShot with 5-axis image stabilization minimizes effects of camera shake
  • 921k dot, 3.0 type LCD screen that tilts a full 180 degrees
  • Full HD movie shooting capabilities including high-speed XAVC S format at 50 Mbps
  • Built-in ‘pop up’ flash for low-light shooting support
  • Compatible with Wi-Fi / NFC for seamless wireless transfer of content and with select Sony PlayMemories™ Camera apps

DSC-HX800_EVF

SONY’S TO-DO LIST IS GETTING SHORTER

All in all, I must say that it continues to appear that Sony is going full speed toward many of its goals, (though not all) while Canon and Nikon are still just barely taking their operations out of autopilot and getting back to the helm.

Even if you manage to take off the rose-colored glasses of the mirrorless hype, Sony’s system is still packed with advanced features that make more and more categories of photographers raise an eyebrow, or even start Craigslisting some of their DSLR gear.

[REWIND: LEARN OFF CAMERA FLASH WITH LIGHTING 201]

At SLR Lounge, since we’re big on portraiture and wireless lighting, we’ll definitely be looking forward to trying out this radio wireless flash setup as soon as it becomes available!

What do you think? Might wireless flash functionality be the one thing left that’s holding you back from a full system switch? Or do you have other priorities? (Or, did you already switch?)

Source: Sony

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Konrad Sarnowski

    I’m amazed this happens so late in general (not only for mirrorless) – Nikon is giving radio flashes soon too, but why all those big brands couldn’t do it years before? I was using Yongnuo radio TTL triggers years ago – why wasn’t there any native option?… And as a Fuji user I’m ashamed that their’ announced speedlight will use “middleage” optical wireless commmunication :/…

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    • Matthew Saville

      I believe it has to do with the radio frequency issues and the FCC or something. Getting into radio from a legal standpoint was just something that camera companies decided to avoid as long as possible, because it was probably cost-prohibitive. This, I suspect, is why Canon was the first to do it natively – they’re the biggest company. I do hope that Nikon and Sony aren’t far behind, but personally, I’m probably just going to stick with my Yongnuo gear and just hope that they keep increasing the quality of their stuff…

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  2. Paul Nguyen

    They’re still missing perhaps the most useful speedlight feature for me, which is the IR assist beam. This allows me to focus in literal blackness.

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  3. Dave Haynie

    A system camera is always about the system. It’s good that Sony’s thinking in those terms. It’s not rocket science: Nikon and Canon publish “how to” guides a couple of times a year. Given that Sony seems most interested, among the mirrorless folks, in going head-to-head with Nikon and Canon, rather than as a “hey, buy this system too” alternative, they have many gaps. I think many in the media are too happy to see One Cool New Thing and pronounce a winner, without actually doing the math on the whole system.

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  4. adam sanford

    For flashes/triggers, Sony can go third party and ‘get by’. It’s not ideal, but it will work.
    .
    But Sony still lacks a full stable of native (non-adaptored) f/1.4 primes and f/2.8 zooms and a truly pro *handling* body (better ergonomics, more customizable knobs/buttons/etc., a menu system overhaul, etc.). I think that should be their highest priority.

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    • Matthew Saville

      True, but here’s the thing: Sony is going for broke with their pro flagship gear. Both of their f/1.4 primes and f/2.8 zooms, thus far, are pricey and heavy, because they’re insanely sharp and generally perfect, almost. This might not be very popular, in the face of Sigma’s super affordable f/1.4 Art lenses. But then again Sony has the Batis line; personally that would be more my style. In fact I could switch to Sony right now, since I hate most f/2.8 zooms and f/1.4 primes; I could “jump ship” right now and get a Batis 25 + 85, plus the 55 1.8, and maybe the 70-200 f/4 and 16-35 f/4.

      To me that’d be all I need. Because half the reason of jumping to mirrorless for me is weight savings. I know, however, that this is less and less of a selling point for serious pros who are ready to lug around anything if it means insanely gorgeous bokeh and very fast apertures, etc.

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    • adam sanford

      You touched on it Matthew — Sony wants the pros to migrate, and you don’t do that with f/2 primes and f/4 zooms. As much as today’s great sensors let you crank the ISO (i.e. “f/4 is the new f/2.8” was once written up on this site), there is no ability to similarly crank up the bokeh, so in FF, you have to go big or go home it would appear.
      .
      I still believe there is room for a compact + light FF mirrorless setup, but there’s simply more business/money to be made by ‘going big’ and going punch for punch size/features/performance-wise with the two epic SLR franchises.
      .
      Sony’s A7 + lens + flash ambitions seem to be a very logical priority-based list that is systematically killing off all the reasons *not* to switch to Sony. Whether it works or not, we shall see.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Also, IMO FF itself is a “cranking up” of the bokeh. An f/4 full-frame telephoto lens, done right, has gorgeous bokeh. In 90% of shooting conditions, the composition and framing will matter far more than the aperture, when comparing a fast 70-200 or a “slow” 70-200. Same goes for an f/1.8 or f/2 prime, versus f/1.4. F/1.4 used to only be necessary on full-frame so that you could stop down to f/2 or f/2.8 and get decent sharpness. Then folks seemed to make it a trend that shooting wide open on EVERYTHING was popular, and so now we have super-sharp f/1.4 primes when really, f/2 will do the trick just fine if the optics are developed right. IMO the Batis 85 1.8 epitomizes this very well. It’s a killer lens that would allow me to never want for something even more shallow.

      But, trends are trends, and so yeah, we’re gonna see more big honkin’ f/2.8 zooms and f/1.4 primes. Me, personally, I’m not as much of a bokeh addict, so I’m happy with f/2 and f/4 on full-frame. I’ll rely on other aspects of imagery (lighting, composition) to make my images awesome.

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    • adam sanford

      I blame the nifty fifty on a basic FF rig (even film). The first time you get that wow / pop / draw / magic, it becomes a basic expectation for future gear.
      .
      I don’t have ‘the sickness’ per se — I only own one f/1.4 lens — but the thought that FF isolation is so much better that I’ll likely never return to a smaller sensor.

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    • adam sanford

      Also, as much as I appreciate all the sensor / tech developments, where the hell are the weight-savings improvements?
      .
      One would think a light but rugged carbon fiber body design would shed weight and eliminated pro body wifi/gps/wireless triggering problems we’ve always needed external workarounds for.

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    • Matthew Saville

      I’ve been saying this for a while now; if you want to save serious weight, the sensor size has got to be the first to go. There’s nothing more advantageous than dropping a sensor size or two.

      Of the following, only TWO may be in your favor at once:

      Sensor Size
      Lens Aperture
      Camera Weight
      Camera Price

      I’m actually working on an article along these lines, stay tuned…

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    • adam sanford

      Sensor drives everything else, I do agree. But a small f/2.8 prime on a CF body with a FF sensor *could* be very small and light.

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  5. Kevin Cucci

    This looks promising, now they need to get to work on battery life. Almost ready for the big time, but at this point, giving up my Canon kit just isn’t happening yet.

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  6. Steven Muncy

    I think you are precisely correct about Sony (and other mirrorless) needing a full system, including flash, to make the big jump. No matter how good it is, I’m not going to bring an additional system when my DSLR already provides the functions I need. If Yongnuo can provide sub $200 flashes with HSS and wireless triggers, then the technology can’t be a barrier. Sony just moved to my seriously considering column. Thanks for the updates.

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