SONY INTRODUCES THE NEW A7 IV CAMERA

Hands-on with the Sony a7 IV

In a world where the Reflex camera seems to be just too much for the photographer, the manufactures keep introducing new model cameras that make it irresistible. Cameras that start thinking for you, now with sharper sensors, and it seems that everyone can get excited about new products.

Back when we reviewed the Sony a7 III in 2018, it changed our perception of what a ‘basic’ full-frame mirrorless camera model was capable of. With solid image quality, auto-focus, video features and battery life, it was truly a jack-of-all trades that we thought would be a great fit for all kinds of photographers. But at the time, its only real competitors from other brands were DSLRs: whereas today, the all-new a7 IV finds itself in a very different landscape.

Sony obviously knows this, and compared to its predecessor, the a7 IV has been redesigned, refined, and updated in just about every way. So let’s take a tour of this new ‘basic’ model from Sony, and see if the updates are enough to tempt you to upgrade (or, perhaps, even switch systems).

Where do we start? How about the sensor? The A7 IV’s new 33MP sensor is hardly headline news by today’s mirrorless camera standards, but it’s a big step up from the 24.2MP of the A7 III and A7C, and it puts a bit of distance between the A7 IV and powerhouse APS-C cameras like the Fujifilm X-T4.

Unlike the A7 III before it, which had a tilting screen, the Sony A7 IV has a flip-out vari-angle display. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Perhaps the most spectacular advance, however, is the least obvious. The A7 III brought 10fps continuous shooting and an above-average buffer capacity for a general-purpose camera – but the A7 IV’s buffer capacity is just extraordinary. The combination of the new sensor, BIONZ XR processor and CFexpress Type A storage, give the A7 IV an essentially unlimited buffer capacity. It does have a limit – 828 consecutive uncompressed raw+JPEGs – but effectively this camera can keep going until the card fills up, the battery runs out or everyone else has gone home…

The autofocus has benefited from Sony’s continued technical development, with faster re-focusing (no more ‘hunting’ when the subject hasn’t moved) and two new features for video: AF Assist for quick manual focus interventions to make the camera’s AF swap subjects, and a Focus Map mode which shows a blue overlay for subjects ‘behind’ the depth of field limits and a red overlay for subjects in front. It’s also the first Sony to offer human, animal and bird eye AF for video.

The Sony A7 IV has twin UHS-II SD card slots, but the top slot can also take the latest CFexpress Type A cards (not shown here) which are needed to exploit the full range of this camera’s video and burst shooting capabilities. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

The Sony A7 IV is clearly part of the Sony A7 family, but with the chunky handling and bigger grip of the A7S III. The top plate looks relatively uncluttered for such a sophisticated camera, with no controls at all to the left of the viewfinder housing. 

The Sony A7 IV is an “entry level” camera, and notice how well they keep the dials and controls easy to understand and not a lot of extra stuff to confuse the basic photographer, who just wants to take great pictures.

The vari-angle LCD screen is another big step forward from the A7 IV, which only has a tilting screen – but what’s made Sony so mean with its LCD screens? Even the A7 IV has to make do with a 3-inch screen with just 1.04m dots, where rival cameras have bigger 3.2-inch screens and/or twice the resolution.

This 3inch screen is so easy to use, in any direction. If you were doing your own video with this camera, see how nice this would be to see the image of the video on the screen of the camera. Great idea!

From our brief testing session, the still image quality looks superb. Quite apart from the outright resolution, the A7 IV produced excellent color rendition in its JPEGs. Sony says its color rendition is improved over that of the A7 III, and while these things are hard to measure scientifically, the A7 IV’s JPEGs do look very good indeed.

Thanks to Sony for setting up a rather lovely ‘wedding’ at Fulham Palace in London, just so that we could test the A7 IV. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

From our brief testing session, the still image quality looks superb. Quite apart from the outright resolution, the A7 IV produced excellent color rendition in its JPEGs. Sony says its color rendition is improved over that of the A7 III, and while these things are hard to measure scientifically, the A7 IV’s JPEGs do look very good indeed.

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Much of the above article is compliments of ”Digital camera world”

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