There’s just something about corporate livestreams that underwhelm. Maybe camera companies need to pull a Microsoft E3 and trot Keanu Reeves out on the stage. It’s all breathtaking…
A thirty-minute presentation and we have the Sony a7r IV. If you created a drinking game on how many times the presenter would say ‘what do you think about that,’ your day is officially over. Or you can really handle your alcohol.
Sony calls it a milestone, but it feels more like the megapixel wars have returned. As for features, it feels more like an incremental upgrade due to Canon, Panasonic, and Nikon applying pressure. The headline out of the press event is the 61 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. Hello, stacks of external hard drives.
Let’s get the specs out of the way and compare it to the previous generation.
61 MP BSI CMOS sensor
567 focal-plane phase-detection AF covering 74% of the sensor and 425 contrast AF points
15 stops of dynamic range
10fps continuous shooting with full AF/AE tracking
Buffer lasts approx 7 seconds in full-frame
26.2 MP APS-C crop mode
5.76 million dot OLED EVF
WiFi and USB-C connectivity
4K video with 6K oversampling with no pixel binning
S-Log3 and HDR support
Multi-Interface Shoe with a digital audio interface
Improved Ergonomics and Weather Sealing
The Sony a7r IV is priced at $3500 and ships in September. Alongside the camera were three new accessories. The first is the vertical grip which holds two batteries and improves on the handling of the camera. Next, are two audio accessories; a shotgun microphone which takes advantage of the multi-interface shoe and delivers digital audio over an analog signal.
Sony is hammering home the sensor, calling it medium-format quality in a full-frame body:
“We are continuing to drive innovation, break boundaries and redefine the expectations of digital camera performance,” said Yann Salmon Legagneur, Director of Product Marketing, Digital Imaging, Sony Europe. “The new Alpha 7R IV combines medium format level image quality with high-speed shooting, extremely fast focusing and a long list of upgrades to design, connectivity, and usability. This will allow professional photographers, videographers, and all other types of creators to capture content in ways that were simply not possible before.”
Sony a7r III vs Sony a7r IV
While it feels incremental, there are distinct differences between the two besides the obvious megapixel count. Improved autofocus and coverage area is a definite plus. On the a7r III, the AF had 399 phase-detection points covering 68% of the sensor. The new ergonomic grip is a nice touch. Sony is finally listening. It only took them eight models, but better late than never.
The a7r IV gets a large bump when it comes to the EVF. A 5.76-million dot OLED EVF is a nice leap over the 3.69-million dot OLED EVF found in the a7r III.
Other features remain the same. You still get 10 fps. Pixel shift is on both cameras, though the total megapixel count bumps higher on the a7r IV. IBIS is right there alongside the two card slots. Nice dig at Canon and Nikon during the presentation.
What the new a7r IV accomplishes is a healthy price cut for the a7r III which now retails for $2500. If you want megapixels and are willing to give up the latest features, you have one hell of a value option.
Looking Past the Sony a7r IV
Sony has four camera codes registered and has fired off one with a rather intriguing feature. Eye AF is making its way into video. That’s huge and while we only see if for a few seconds, expect that feature to play an absolutely pivotal role in upcoming Sony releases.
Namely the a7s III. Yeah, we are all wondering about what is fast becoming something of a camera unicorn, but Sony executives are on the record saying it’s on the roadmap. The company will need it thanks to Panasonic’s aggressive moves into full-frame mirrorless cameras.
Overall, it’s a solid upgrade. A milestone? That’s debatable. The sensor is insane, and updates across the board are a welcome addition. Keeping the old price of $3500 is smart and will help move units. Now all eyes turn towards when the a7s III will make an appearance and perhaps the oft-rumored a7000 APS-C camera.