A few of the CameraPro team were able to test run the new Sony Alpha a7 IV. As the newer model to the Sony Alpha a7 III which was released in 2018, we were expecting some top-notch enhancements and weren’t disappointed.
The body of the Sony a7 IV is the same ergonomic design as the Sony a7S III and feels great in the hands while shooting. What really sets this full-frame mirrorless beast apart though, is its brand new sensor and AF capabilities. We found the tracking features superb and maintaining focus on traditionally challenging targets much easier.
Another bonus is that it sports the same menu system as the a7S III/Alpha 1 which is easy to customise. Another new feature that improves usability from the a7 III is the ability to control the menu with the touch screen. We found these adjustments a welcome change.
The a7 IV from Sony is targeted at advanced amateurs to professionals who are hybrid shooters of photos and movies. Its predecessor was already regarded as a great option for photographers spanning these levels. However, some of the new features on the a7 IV mean that this model will also be revered by serious bloggers or professionals alike.
Sit tight while we delve into the details of the Sony a7 IV.
Top-notch System Upgrade
As the heart of every digital camera, image sensors usually top the importance list when deciding on a new camera. The fact that the new Sony a7 IV has been loaded with a newly-developed 33MP full-frame sensor is a welcome addition making it high-end for a camera of this level.
It also comes fitted with the latest generation Bionz XR processor which is the same as in the flagship Sony a1, which is a bonus for the price.
Image Credit: Phill Joshua
Image Credit: Jacob Pace
Kudos on the Autofocus
As one of the main attributes every photographer looks for in a camera, the Sony a7 IV has really nailed AF here. For starters, the camera comes with real-time eye AF for humans, animals, and birds, allowing you to lock on the subject’s eye. It’s the first Sony full-frame camera to have real-time eye AF to track birds. Previously, only human and animal eye AF were available. Bird mode is surely going to entice nature photographers.
As if this isn’t enough, the a7 IV provides a generous 4D focus with up to 759 phase-detection AF points for stills, covering approximately 94% of the sensor. You will be able to lock on and track your targets with incredible accuracy. We all know how important speed is when refocusing and no doubt photographers will be grateful this has cut the time needed to refocus by around 30%.
The a7 IV also boasts powerful real-time tracking to keep chasing your targets in real-time at high speed. It does this using a newly developed advanced algorithm.
Image Credit: Jacob Pace
Image Credit: Phill Joshua
Advanced Image Quality & Features
The Sony a7 IV has made some important leaps beyond its predecessor when it comes to image quality. We found it excellent in low light thanks to the new processor/sensor combination that helps reduce noise even though it keeps the same native ISO range of 100-51200 as the a7 III. The burst buffer has been vastly increased to more than 800 with JPEG and RAW (up from 182 JPEG in its predecessor).
The 5.5 stops of stabilisation will be greatly appreciated by anyone shooting handheld. The 5.5 step shutter speed advantage means that the giro will help counteract shaky hands during the most difficult shooting circumstances. This technology has also been included in video stabilisation with optical Active Mode, which slightly crops but keeps 4k resolution minimising the need for always carrying a gimbal or stabiliser.
Another important spec to call out is the 3.68 million dot resolution EVF. This is a decent step up from the a7 III’s 2.36 million. The LCD has also been given a side hinge allowing for full vari angle same as the a7S III, with a shooting speed of 10 fps, meaning you will be able to easily capture sequences.
Boosted Movie Capability
As a mid-tier level camera, it is one of the best hybrid options out there. Sony has made some pretty serious advancements to this model which will no doubt have professionals and hobbyists excited.
It comes with S-Cinetone™ shooting mode so you can add a pre-filter to capture a cinema-style look while filming. It also offers Creative Look in movie mode to give you different parameters to choose from.
The 10bit 4:2:2 colour sampling has a massive colour gamut and a notably larger range than what was built into the a7 III (8bit / 4:2:0). You’ll find it offers a smoother colour gradation and a more vibrant depth of colour. With approximately 15-stops of dynamic range from shadow to highlight the outcome is more tonality.
Video allows for 4k up at 60fps or with 7K oversampling you can shoot at 30fps. This camera will also let you record without binning so you don’t lose any details.
A key concern for most videographers is overheating. That won’t be a problem here as the new heat sink means you can record for over one hour without experiencing overheating, even at 4K 60p 10 Bit 4:2:2. This can be a real issue for many cameras when recording movies for this long at this quality.
Premium Functionality with the Photographer in Mind
The a7 IV comes with a tonne of appealing features that should please photographers across the board. Perhaps the most exciting development over its predecessor is the 3.0 Type vari-angle fully articulating LCD screen. This makes it a breeze when going for low and hard-to-reach angles. You can also swing the screen around so it acts as a monitor if you’re recording yourself.
It comes with a dual card slot (CFE-Type A/UHS II + UHS II). This means the first slot can take a Sony CF Express card or SD card and the second accepts an SD card only. The slots can act as two memory cards for different images or the second can be backup by saving the same image on both cards in case one malfunctions. This makes it great for extra memory or extra security for those all-important days like sports finals or weddings.
The camera has an HDMI Type-A which is good for output, e.g. if you use external monitors. It will make life easier for you as no adaptors are needed. It also accepts USB-PD or USB-C charging so you can charge the camera directly, making it great when you’re on the go and travelling between shoots.
If you’re worried whether all of the extras have meant a heavier camera...barely. It weighs 658 grams including the battery and memory card so is still lightweight and only 8 grams heavier than the a7 III.
The Imaging Edge Mobile app is great for uploading on the go or to preview shots on a slideshow. You can connect by Bluetooth and transfer data via Wi-Fi or high-speed LAN connection. You can also take a photo using controls on your phone (when connected to the app) so the camera can stay positioned just so while you’re shooting from a distance, which is particularly useful for wildlife photography.
Another new feature we like is that the a7 IV can close the shutter when the power is turned off. This protects the image sensor while you’re changing lenses or packing your gear up. Thankfully Sony has kept the same FZ100 battery as the a7 III which is great news if you’re upgrading because you will have backups.
Our team who got to test the Sony Alpha a7 IV thoroughly enjoyed using it. As you can see from the photos, the camera performs brilliantly across a variety of situations. The focus makes tracking and locking on to subjects a breeze, including decent accuracy in low light. Improved ISO performance, increased dynamic range, the Sony a1 processor and the new 33mp BSI sensor help make this a quality step up from the a7 III. Touchscreen access to the menu system will make navigation much easier for anyone new to the Sony system and shooting from any angle simple with a vari angle LCD screen.
The camera feels solid in the hands and is great to shoot with. While the frames per second could be a touch faster and uncropped 4k 60p would be nice (has 1.5x crop), you can’t knock the camera for the range it sits in. We think the a7 IV will appeal to many photographers and most likely be Sony’s best selling camera of the year.
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