Sony just unveiled the long-awaited update to what must be one of their most popular cameras ever, the A7 series. The Sony A7 IV release date may have felt long-overdue, but today, looking at the features, it seems worth the wait!
This camera is $2,499, though, (not $1,999) so, is it the right camera for you? Let’s check out the features and specifications, and then I’ll give my initial reaction/opinion.
After a decade of 20-24 megapixels being the go-to resolution for digital camera sensors in this entry-level full-frame price range, Sony has stepped things up with the A7 IV, offering a brand-new 33-megapixel sensor. Hopefully, this means it boasts extremely sharp, detailed 4K video, (it will be over-sampled from “7K” video at 30p!) in addition to the modest-but-decent boost in stills resolution. Sony claims that the sensor can pull off 15 stops of dynamic range, which would indeed put it on par with the best sensors on the market today.
Speaking of sensors and video specs, one of the more exciting numbers we are finally seeing from Sony at the sub-$3K price point is, of course, 4K video with 60 FPS! While 4K60p video has become more common on other brand cameras with smaller sensors, it still isn’t totally ubiquitous among full-frame cameras, so this should make the A7 IV a little more attractive to videographers/cinematographers who are unable to fork out $3,5K for the Sony A7S III, which offers an impressive 4K120p, of course.
Having said that, it is ironic that I heard so much talk about the Nikon Z6 II’s APSC (Super 35) crop for 4K60p; the Sony A7IV also has the same limitation/drawback.
Sony A7 IV: New Features, Same Ergonomics, Same Menus?
Speaking of the Sony A7S III, anyone who has ever held it or the Sony A7R IV will be familiar with the ergonomics of the Sony A7 IV; they are virtually identical, with a few interesting changes. This is a good thing, because the latest version of their grip and control layout is their best yet! (I’m excited to see if/how I enjoy re-programming what was previously the dedicated EV-comp dial…)
The A7 IV also adopts Sony’s newest menu layout, which I have had mixed feelings about, to be honest. It is a huge improvement, in many ways, but it will also take any existing Sony user a lot of getting used to, and I highly recommend spending literal hours with the menu interface before doing any professional or other critical work with the new Sony menus!
All in all, whether you’re a photo or video shooter, whether you do high-speed action, portraits and weddings, editorial/fashion, or traditional landscape photography, …the Sony A7 IV looks like it will be setting the bar for all of its competitors.
Sony A7 IV Specifications
- SENSOR: 33-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor (full-frame, 23.8×35.6mm)
- LENS MOUNT: Sony E-mount (FE full-frame)
- STILL IMAGES: 33 megapixels, (lossless, compressed, 7008×4672)
- VIDEO: 4K30p, (oversampled from 7K full-frame) 4K60p (Super-35 APSC crop)
10-bit 4:2:2, H.265, S-Cinetone, S-Log3
- ISO: 100-51200 (Extends to ISO 50-204800)
- AUTOFOCUS: Hybrid contrast & phase-detect, 759-point, face, eye, animal, & action sports subjects tracking modes, Real-Time AF tracking mode
- SHOOTING SPEED (FPS): 10 FPS raw (compressed) / ~5 FPS raw (lossless)
- SHUTTER SPEEDS: 30 sec to1/8000 sec, 1/250 sec flash sync
- STABILIZATION: Yes, 5-axis, up to 5.5 stops
- VIEWFINDER: 3.69M dot OLED electronic viewfinder, 120 FPS refresh rate
- LCD: 3-inch TFT LCD touchscreen, 1M dot
- CONNECTIVITY: USB-C/PD, Bluetooth LE (full-time)
- STORAGE: Dual slots, 1 SD UHS-II, 1 CFe A/UHS-II
- BATTERY: Sony NP-FZ100
- BODY CONSTRUCTION: Metal alloy, weather-sealed
- SIZE: 129 x 97 x 81 mm (5.08 x 3.82 x 3.19in )
- WEIGHT: 699 g (1.54 lb / 24.66 oz)
- PRICE: $2,498 (B&H), $2,698 w/28-70mm kit lens (B&H)
Sony A7 IV Press Release
Sony Electronics’ Alpha 7 IV Goes Beyond ‘Basic’ with 33-Megapixel Full-frame Image Sensor and Outstanding Photo and Video Operability
San Diego, CA – October 21, 2021 – Sony Electronics Inc. today announced three new additions to its imaging line-up: the Alpha 7 IV interchangeable-lens camera (model ILCE-7M4) with a newly developed 33-megapixel (approx.,effective) full-frame image sensor, as well as two new flashes – the HVL-F60RM2 and HVL-F46RM.
The Alpha 7 IV takes “basic” to the next level for full-frame cameras with excellent image quality and performance, redefining the lofty standards set by the acclaimed Alpha 7 III. The new model features many of Sony’s most advanced imaging technologies, including the latest BIONZ XR™ processing engine and advanced AF (autofocus) capabilities from the flagship Alpha 1 combined with streamlined operability and enhanced reliability for photos and movies, making it the perfect all-around camera for today’s imaging enthusiasts and professionals. The Alpha 7 IV also boasts a 33MP (approx., effective) image resolution, rich movie expression and various features to support the growing demand for remote communication, bringing new meaning to what a “basic” camera can accomplish.
“Since its introduction over three years ago, the Alpha 7 III has made tremendous impact in our industry, completely redefining the expectations for what can be accomplished with a ‘basic’, or entry-level full-frame camera,” said Yang Cheng, Vice President, Imaging Solutions, Sony Electronics Inc. “Now, it’s time to break through all existing boundaries again. The Alpha 7 IV brings together the best of Sony imaging technologies in both photo and video to deliver a high-end experience to a wider range of customers. This gives today’s creators a new level of freedom to capture, create and share in ways that they’ve never been able to before, no matter the situation in which they find themselves.”
Alpha 7 IV: Innovation Never Ends
The new Alpha 7 IV is an exceptional hybrid camera packed with outstanding still image quality and evolved video technology with advanced autofocus, enhanced operability and improved workflow capability. The model was developed with the environment in mind by using Sony’s original recycled plastic SORPLAS™ for the camera body and packaging with recyclable[i] materials and less plastic.
Outstanding Image Quality
Thanks to a newly developed 33MP (approx., effective) full-frame back-illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor, superior image quality and Wide ISO sensitivity range expandable to ISO 50 – 204,800 is achieved. The high resolution enables the Alpha 7 IV to express smooth gradation, fine details and textures of the subject while reducing noise, and its 15-stop dynamic range allows a wide expressive range while Creative Look settings can help create original looks effortlessly for both stills and video.
Next-Level AF performance
The latest BIONZ XR™ processing engine is the same that is used in Sony’s flagship Alpha 1, delivering high-speed AF, uninterrupted continuous shooting up to 10fps[ii] with AF/AE tracking and a large buffer for a prolonged shooting experience. The Alpha 7 IV tracks subjects with tenacious Real-time Tracking and 759 phase-detection AF points in a high-density focal plane phase-detection AF system that covers approximately 94% of the image area. Additionally, for the first time, Real-time Eye AF can now track birds’ and animals’ eye for both still images and movies, in addition to humans. The Alpha 7 IV also has face and eye detection accuracy for humans that is improved by approximately 30% compared to the Alpha 7 III.
Evolved Movie Technology
The Alpha 7 IV inherits technology taken from real-world movie production, including the S-Cinetone™ picture profile adopted from Sony’s highly regarded Cinema Line cameras. This delivers a rich, cinematic look that has become popularized by a broad range of cinematographers and filmmakers who are shooting on Sony. High quality movie is achieved with 4K 60p recording in Super 35mm mode and up to 4K 30p recording with 7K oversampling is available in full-frame mode. The new camera also features 10-bit depth 4:2:2 color sampling to enable natural gradation, XAVC S-I™ intra-frame encoding for more efficient editing workflows and XAVC HS™ H.265 long-GOP for doubled compression efficiency.
To meet the growing need for precise autofocus performance when shooting videos, unique AF features are achieved when using the Alpha 7 IV with a Sony E-mount lens, including AF Assist[iii] that supports focus transitions when using AF, and Focus Map that visualizes depth of field. For the first time in the Alpha series, the new camera features Breathing Compensation[iv] to combat focus breathing and maintain a consistent angle of view throughout focus changes and can be switched on or off.
Advanced Operability as a Genuine Hybrid Model
The Alpha 7 IV is a hybrid still and video camera with outstanding operability and reliability that easily allows the user to switch from photo to video and back at their convenience. New to Sony’s lineup of Alpha cameras is a dual-layer mode dial, with a lower layer for selecting Still/Movie/S&Q and a top layer for Auto/P/A/S/M and MR (Memory Recall), enabling users to quickly select and switch between the dedicated settings. It also has 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization for a 5.5-step[v] shutter speed advantage, an improved grip for greater comfort, and a CFexpress Type A compatible media slot to support media with faster writing and clearance. Additionally, the 3.68 million-dot (approx.) OLED Quad-VGA viewfinder is 1.6 times the resolution of the Alpha 7 III viewfinder, benefiting users with an upgraded live-view image quality that minimizes false color and increases resolution.
Videographers can record 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 video continuously for more than an hour thanks to the camera’s heat-dissipating structure. Optical ‘Active Mode’[vi] image stabilization further stabilizes movie shooting. They can also benefit from the 3-inch (3.0-type) 1.03 million-dot (approx.) side-opening vari-angle touch-panel rear LCD monitor, top-panel REC button and high-capacity Z-series battery.
The Alpha 7 IV body is built with magnesium alloy to achieve a robustness while minimizing its weight. In addition, the redesigned structure and lens lock button contribute to enhanced dust and moisture resistance[vii].
Enhanced Workflow Capabilities
By offering a variety of connectivity options, the Alpha 7 IV enables on-the-spot streaming and sharing of high-quality content to meet the growing need for remote communication in real-time without sacrificing excellent image and sound quality. The connection between the camera and Imaging EdgeMobile™ application[viii] is simplified via Bluetooth, and fast data transfer is possible by 5GHz/2.4.GHz Wi-Fi.
The camera also has a new feature called “Shot Mark” to enable easy access to the marked scenes in a video clip, within camera and on Sony’s Catalyst Browse/Prepare applications.[ix]
Moreover, the camera has a range of new features to support live streaming and remote communication without needing dedicated software. UVC (USB Video Class) and UAC (USB Audio Class) turn the Alpha 7 IV into a high-performance live streaming camera when connected to a computer or smartphone[x]. High image quality such as 4K 15p and 1080 FHD 60p deliver realistic video for remote sharing and the Alpha 7 IV’s digital audio interface can be paired with a range of mics and accessories to deliver high quality sound.
Finally, Sony plans to offer a new cloud service next year, “AI Video Editing Studio”, for automated editing with AI technology. To allow creators to focus on more creative tasks, “AI Video Editing Studio” automatically performs initial editing in the cloud, using AI technology. Sony will continue to strive to offer a wide variety of imaging experiences and services through the active integration and advancement of cameras, cloud and AI.
Designed with the Environment in Mind
In line with Sony’s environmental efforts based on the “Road to Zero” initiative, environment was an important factor in the development of the Alpha 7 IV’s design, production and packaging. The camera uses recycled plastic, SORPLAS™, which does not depend on non-renewable resources and is produced at the sites by using renewable energy such as solar power generation. The product packaging also adopts recyclable plastic-reduced materials.
HVL-F60RM2 and HVL-F46RM: Powerful Flashes to Evolve Alpha Lighting System
The HVL-F60RM2 with GN 60 and 20-200mm[xi] coverage and HVL-F46RM with GN 46 and 24-105mmxi are powerful wireless flashes to offer precise control, enhanced high-speed and intuitive operability. They are designed to meet the needs of both professional and advanced content creators when shooting with a Sony Alpha camera, including the Alpha 7 IV, to offer the ultimate Alpha Lighting System by the detailed communication between cameras and external flash.
Both flashes have upgraded continuous shooting flash performance, up to 200 consecutive flashes at 10 frames per second[xii] for the HVL-F60RM2 and 60 times for the HVL-F46RM. The optimized flash algorithm ensures both flashes are overheat-resistant, and a set of four Ni-MH (Nickel-metal hydride) batteries can power up to 240 flashes with a 1.7 second recycle time for the HVL-F60RM2 and up to 320 flashes with a 2.0 second recycle time for the HVL-F46RM[xiii].
When used in combination with an Alpha camera, they allow users to experience the unique communication and system benefits of the Alpha Lighting System that sets a new standard for mirrorless camera lighting systems. For example, with the Alpha 7 IV, P-TTL flash control metering for every frame in Mid, and Hi continuous mode has become possible in addition to Lo continuous mode. The flash release time lag is also shortened to capture momentary facial expressions and movements of the subject.
With the Alpha 1, the HVL-F60RM2 achieves a phenomenal up to 20fps of continuous shooting[xiv] and approximately 20 flashes per second can be produced for more than 10 seconds with the external flash battery adapter FA-EBA1 (sold separately). When the Alpha 1 is used with Sony’s flashes, including HVL-F60RM2 and HVL-F46RM, users can sync up to 1/400 second shutter speed to expand expressive capabilities when shooting in full-frame mode. In addition, with the silent electronic shutter of the camera, silent flash shooting is possible when absolute silence is required.
Other system benefits of HVL-F60RM2 and HVL-F46RM with an Alpha camera include:
- Flash parameters controlled directly from the menu of a compatible camera[xv]
- Flash control linked to camera face detectionxv
- Automatic correction of white balance based on the color temperature information from the flash
Both flashes also feature improved robustness and operability. The Multi Interface shoe with Sony’s unique metal shoe foot with rugged side frame significantly increases strength and reliability. Shoe sealing helps the flashes to be more dust and moisture resistant[xvi]. The HVL-F60RM2’s original rotating head mechanism, “Quick Shift Bounce,” that enables flexible positioning and optimum lighting control has also been improved to prevent unintended change in the bounce angle.
They support wireless radio communication and can control up to 15 flashes and/or receiver units in 5 groups via wireless radio communication for enhanced lighting control versatility.
Visual Story is now Supported on Android
“Visual Story” is a mobile application for professional event photographers and video creators to enable immediate and automatic delivery of photos and movies[xvii] to their clients after an event through gallery creation, utilize AI (artificial intelligence) assistance for easy image selection, upload assets online and more. While the Visual Story app is already available to iOS users, Android user can now also take advantage of the benefits Visual Story provides to professional photographers and videographers.
When using the Alpha 7 IV, “Shot Mark” is also supported by Visual Story on iOS Version 2.1.
- Visual Story on iOS is available to download for free HERE
- Visual Story on Android is available to download for free HERE
Pricing and Availability
The new Alpha 7 IV will be available in December 2021 for approximately $2,500.00 USD and $3,200.00 CAD. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America. The PCK-LG2 Screen Protect Glass Sheet accessory for the Alpha 7 IV will be available at the same time.
A kit version with Sony’s FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS zoom lens will also be available for approximately $2,700.00 USD and $3,400.00 CAD.
The new HVL-F46RM will be available in November 2021 for approximately $400.00 USD and $550.00 CAD. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.
The new HVL-F60RM2 will be available in November 2021 for approximately $550.00 USD and $750.00 CAD. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.
Exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new Alpha 7 IV and Sony’s other imaging products can be found at www.alphauniverse.com, a site created to educate and inspire all fans and customers of Sony α – Alpha brand.
Opinion: Why Did The Sony A7 IV Release Date Take So Long To Arrive?
Since the first Sony A7 and Sony A7R back in 2013, the rapid-fire pace of Sony’s camera release dates has definitely slowed down a little.
Why did it take a little bit longer for the A7 IV to arrive? To be brutally honest, it’s because early Sony cameras were just not that good. They were a “foot in the door”, and they needed to be replaced ASAP.
However, to be equally honest and fair, Sony’s recent offerings have become more robust, sturdy, and less critical in terms of needing to overcome obstacles such as terrible battery life or marginal autofocus reliability.
In other words, the Sony A7 III is a really good camera! When the A7 III came out, I stopped recommending the A7 II, period, no matter how affordable it got.
Having said that, as a wedding and portrait photographer myself, I will still be upgrading from the A7 III to the A7 IV, for what will be (to me) the biggest leap forward, autofocus tracking and low-light reliability.
Sony A7 IV (Armchair) Review
The A7 IV is an impressive camera, indeed. However, the competition is getting stronger! Now, in late 2021, we have a fair number of other full-frame mirrorless cameras to choose from, and, depending on the type of imagery you’re creating, the decision might not be so easy.
Okay, honestly, if this camera were priced at $1,999, the decision process would be a lot easier. I’m a little surprised that Sony “added” $500 to the price tag, considering how good some of the other sub-$2K options are.
If you have already bought into Sony’s E-mount, you’ll probably want to stick with it; Sony’s is by far the largest lineup of native full-frame mirrorless lenses. (That is, whether you count name-brand only, or the absolute landslide of third-party Sony E-mount lenses that has become available in recent years!)
However, the decision isn’t so easy for anyone who is buying their first full-frame mirrorless system, or is already invested in another mount such as Canon or Nikon, or last but not least, anyone who is currently a Sony user, but is actually curious about whether “the grass is greener” elsewhere.
I will, of course, reserve any official judgment until after I have done an extensive, in-depth review of the Sony A7 IV, but until then, here are my thoughts based on the spec sheet alone:
Panasonic’s full-frame mirrorless bodies, as well as the Sigma fp pair, really do offer an attractive alternative for serious video shooters. Whether you want raw 4K video (on the Sigma fp’s) or you just want a rock-solid all-around camera system with impressive video specs, the L-mount system does give Sony a run for its money in every regard, save maybe autofocus reliability. I will have to closely compare the Sony A7 IV against the Panasonic S5 and Panasonic S1 when I get a chance.
Canon’s RF mount, and specifically the Canon EOS R6, present an interesting alternative, too. For $2499, you get a “baby flagship” camera, with only 20 megapixels but a blazing-fast shooting speed of 20 FPS, 4K60p video, and sensor-based stabilization (IBIS) that works in conjunction with lens-based stabilization (IS). As an all-around photo+video camera for anyone who does a lot of action sports or wildlife, the EOS R6 is definitely attractive, although Canon’s RF lens lineup is just now continuing to grow in the direction of super-telephoto, of course.
Nikon’s Z mount is an incredible value, offering the most affordable current-generation option on the market, the Nikon Z5, with a highly competitive spec sheet for anyone who does mostly photography and not as much video, currently for a mere $1,300. Nikon’s ~$2K option, the Nikon Z6 II, offers an impressive photography camera, with video specs that have a couple of caveats. (4K60p video is recorded in crop mode like the A7 IV, and furthermore, 10-bit recording is only available to an external recorder)
What’s the verdict? As impressive as the Sony A7 IV is, I honestly think that it’s not the game-changer of a camera that the A7 III was, and the competition is definitely good enough to at least be considered.
All in all, if you’ve been waiting for the Sony A7 IV, you’re probably not at all disappointed by this announcement. It is exactly what many of us were hoping it would be, and more! If any of the upgrades stand out to you, then the camera will be available
Having said that, Sony’s existing lineup, and the competition, is also quite impressive. Unless you’re doing professional work, and/or if you really love having tons of customizable buttons and dials at your disposal, the Sony A7C is already an impressive, budget-friendly camera. The Sony A7S III, on the other hand, offers truly incredible video specs, too, while the Sony A7R IV offers nearly double the resolution.
I will be creating a full Sony A7 IV review soon, but until then, I do believe we have the new best all-around full-frame mirrorless camera, indeed!
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