SDK and support for Sony’s Alpha range of full-frame mirrorless cameras

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Sony’s imaging division has launched a new solution for business solution system developers working in sectors such as intelligent transport systems (ITS), security, e-commerce and drones used for mapping or content creation.

The new solution allows organisations to combine the sensitivity, resolution, speed, size, lens lineup and lower-cost of a full-frame mirrorless camera, with the programmability and multi-camera control functions of an industrial module.

Two elements lie at the heart of this new Sony offering. First is an upgraded version of Sony’s full-frame camera software development kit (SDK). This features several significant upgrades, including additions to the application library and support for multi-camera operation.

And, in addition to the SDK, Sony Europe’s imaging division is also announcing a website resource (www.sony.eu/businesssolutions) for its business solution imaging customers, with the aim of better empowering them in the development of imaging applications.

In some cases, direct access to Sony’s engineering resources can be used to create bespoke solutions for the customer or application library.

The solution is for use with Sony’s award-winning Alpha™ range of professional full-frame mirrorless cameras.

Full frame mirrorless cameras have a better lens lineup than their industrial counterparts. They also use a larger (35mm) sensor, which doubles the sensor area versus APS-C cameras[i], and increases the area by more than 7X versus an industrial camera with a 1” sensor[i]. This allows resolutions to be increased without reducing pixel size and sensitivity.

Applications

Sony is initially reaching out to system developers creating imaging technologies for the e-commerce, ITS, drone, security sectors, as well as industries that have similarly needed to make compromises, choosing to use either a high-resolution, high-sensitivity, lightweight camera, or a more controllable industrial camera.

“This new solution is about removing the need to make tradeoffs,” said Yasuo Baba, Director Digital Imaging, Sony Europe BV. “And it is a key part of Sony’s long-term vision. Sony’s Alpha range are the world’s most trusted mirrorless cameras, and this new move helps to back this up with the best software and the best support.

“By doing this we aim to make it easier and quicker for companies in e-commerce, and other B2B sectors, to automate every part of the image creation process.”

Software Development Kit

The upgraded SDK (version 1.03) enables virtually every facet of the camera and lens to be controlled and automated; including the white balance, resolution, image compression, zoom, focus and video triggering.

As part of this upgrade, the SDK gains multi-camera functionality, enabling multiple shots of a subject to be captured from different angles. This could allow companies to control the Sony camera via Ethernet using USB server.

In e-commerce this multi-camera operation allows products to be captured from multiple angles and packshots to be created.

The range of cameras that support the SDK has also increased, including the addition of lighter and more rugged models, which use monocoque constructions, improved moisture resistant[ii] designs and more rugged housings that better protect the unit’s electrical contacts and better absorb the shock from vibration and physical impacts.

Additionally, Sony has increased the operating systems on which the SDK can run, adding macOS, the dominant operating system used in e-commerce photography, in addition to Windows and Linux[iii].

Compatible cameras

Sony is a market leader in mirrorless full-frame (35mm) cameras, with the company’s cameras renowned for their speed, image quality, resolution compactness and wide lens lineup.

The SDK can be used to control several cameras in the Sony Alpha range, including the ILCE-9M2, the ILCE-7RM4 and the ILCE-7SM3. It can also be used with the world’s smallest full-frame camera[iv], the new 509g[v] ILCE-7C. A full list of compatible cameras can be seen here.

These cameras all benefit from Sony’s renowned Exmor R™ and Exmor RS™ CMOS image sensors, which give resolutions from 12 to 61 MP; as well as Sony’s BIONZTM image processing engine; and can be used with over 50 E-mount lenses.

Footnotes

[i] Full frame sensors measured as 36x24mm (864mm2), APS-C sensors measured as 23.6x15.6mm (368.16mm2), 1” sensors measured as 12.8x9.6mm (122.88mm2).

[ii] The Sony Alpha 7C uses a lightweight, high-rigidity magnesium alloy for the camera's top, front and rear covers, and sealing is provided throughout the body to minimise dust and moisture entry. It is not guaranteed to be 100% dust and moisture proof.

[iii] SDK version 1.03 is compatible with macOS 10.14, 10.15; Windows 8.1, 10; Linux 64bit (Arm v8), and 32bit (Arm v7).

[iv] Among full-frame interchangeable-lens digital cameras with optical in-body image stabilization mechanism, as of Sept. 2020. Sony survey

[v] With battery and memory card included

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