Tellingly aimed at the Canon R5, rather than the Canon 1DX Mark III, SonyAlphaRumors reports that a new A9 variant will bow in the first quarter of 2021 with R5 specs. None of the specs listed on the rumors site appear to exceed those of the R5, aside from assurances that shooting in 8K will not overheat the camera. It does come with a price premium, however, costing roughly $1,500 more.
The new A9 would only worsen the current identity crisis suffered by “pro cameras,” with the old lines of flagship bodies appearing to have lagged behind the mid-market in resolution, and relatedly, the highest bitrate video formats.
The Q1 date range is a new element to the Sony flagship rumors, as other sources have indicated both Sony and Canon have been targeting later in that year for flagship launches, which meshes with the long tradition of releasing the highest-end bodies a few months prior to an Olympics. The current Sony A9 Mark II has not even been in the wild for a year yet, although that release did appear to be a relatively minor upgrade (network capability; ergonomics; and faster mechanical shutter) geared to the Summer Olympics that at the time to be happening in 2020 prior to the effects of the pandemic.