Sony a7 IV: Advancing the All-Around Full-Frame Camera

Sony’s latest full-frame mirrorless camera, the Alpha a7 IV, seeks to redefine what it means to be an all-around full-frame mirrorless camera. Inheriting a BIONZ XR image processor and AI-based AF from Sony’s Alpha 1 flagship camera while unveiling an all-new 33MP Exmor R image sensor, the a7 IV promises to be an attractive mid-tier entry into Sony’s full-frame mirrorless system. With special attention paid to advancing photo and video functionality, the a7 should appeal to hybrid creators looking for a camera capable of bridging the still-video divide with ease. Alongside the new camera, Sony has announced two new flashes: the HVL-F46RM and HVL-F60RM II wireless radio flashes.   

Alpha a7 IV
Alpha a7 IV

The a7 IV is built around a 33MP Exmor R back-illuminated CMOS sensor, which provides an instant boost in resolution over Sony’s existing entry-level full-frame cameras. Pushing the a7 IV further into new territory for what Sony describes as a “basic” camera is the inclusion of a BIONZ XR image processing engine, Sony’s most advanced to date and the same used by the Alpha 1 and a7S III cameras. Together, they provide 15 stops of dynamic range for accurate color rendering for still and video capture. Ready for nearly any lighting environment, the a7 IV has a native ISO range of 100-51200 which can be expanded to 50-204800 when shooting stills or 100-102400 when shooting video.

The benefits of the a7 IV’s top-tier processor become especially impressive when considering the AF capabilities of this camera. Real-time Tracking locks on and keeps pace with fast-moving subjects, thanks to Sony’s latest subject recognition algorithm, which uses color, pattern, and subject distance to process spatial information at lightning-fast speeds. Sticking true to the all-around appeal of this camera, Real-time Eye-AF for humans, animals, and birds are all included to help lock focus across subject types. The a7 IV even quickly re-detects a subject’s eye after it has left and returned to the camera’s frame. Matching the Alpha 1’s 759 phase-detection AF points, the a7 IV boasts 94% image-area coverage to keep subjects in focus regardless of where they are in the scene.

In low-light environments, autofocusing remains reliable down to EV-4 when using AF-S mode. Equally helpful when working in low light or shooting handheld is its 5-axis in-body image stabilization, which provides 5.5 steps of correction to keep image capture sharp. For scenarios that require absolute precision, AF Assist allows autofocusing to get you in range before letting you tweak focus manually to nail the exact plane of focus your image requires.

Complementing the a7 IV’s advanced autofocusing is the Focus Map function, which allows you to pre-visualize depth of field and select the correct aperture to keep subjects in the focal plane of your lens. In-focus areas are displayed normally, while objects behind the plane of focus are displayed with a blue tint and objects in front of the plane of focus are displayed with a red tint. Another unique focusing function is Focus Breathing Compensation, which smoothes focus transitions to maintain a consistent field of view and composition when racking focus during recording.

The a7 IV is capable of shooting bursts of images at up to 10 fps while using AF/AE tracking in either manual or electronic shutter modes. Two memory card slots provide expanded capture and backup options. Both slots accept UHS-II SDXC/SDHC cards; one slot also accepts CFexpress Type A cards. When paired with a CFexpress Type A card, the a7 IV’s buffer sits at a near-unbelievable 828 uncompressed raw files or the entire memory card capacity for all other file formats. Keeping with the theme of elevated performance, the a7 IV features a 3.68m-dot QVGA OLED viewfinder (1.6x the resolution of the a7 III’s EVF) for crisp and clear pre-imaging. Its refresh rate can be boosted from 60 fps to 120 fps when recording fast-moving subjects. Also, its 3.0" 1.03m-dot touchscreen LCD features a side-opening vari-angle design that’s great when working from high, low, or front-facing angles.

In terms of video, internal 4K 60p recording is possible at 10-bit 4:2:2. To combat overheating, a graphite material has been incorporated into the image-stabilization unit, allowing continuous recording for more than an hour. S-Cinetone, adopted from Sony’s professional cine cameras allows you to achieve colors akin to the Sony FX9 or FX6 cameras quickly. Creative Looks are also available for quick application, cutting down on time in post. Embracing its identity as a hybrid photo-video camera, the a7 has incorporated a Still/Movie/S&Q dial to change quickly between shooting modes, and a total of 169 functions are assignable over 18 custom keys to further streamline use.   

HVL-F60RM II (Left) and the HVL-F46RM (Right)
HVL-F60RM II (left) and the HVL-F46RM (right)

Accompanying Sony’s latest mirrorless camera are two new wireless radio flashes: the HVL-F60RM II and the HVL-F46RM. The output of each flash can be linked to the face detection and WB settings of compatible cameras to simplify operation and speed up workflow. Full on-camera control is also possible when using select cameras so you can set up your light wherever you need it and control it from your camera. For capturing motion, the HVL-F46RM can produce up to 60 consecutive flashes at 10 fps or 320 flashes with a 2 second recycle time while the HVL-F60RM II can produce up to 200 consecutive flashes at 10 fps or 240 flashes with a 1.7-second recycle time.

 

What do you make of Sony’s latest mirrorless camera and flashes? Do you plan to add any or all of them to your collection? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below!

67 Comments

Would this ideally be a good color match with the A7III camera? I plan to use the IV as a main camera and the III as a B camera. 

Yes the A7 IV would be a good color match for the A7 III.

Thank you for sharing. Do you know when this camera will be in the store for customers to take a look and try?

Unfortunately, we're uncertain as to when the A7 IV will be on display at our NYC Superstore. As soon as it is available to demo, we will mark that accordingly on the item page. 

Can I use A7Siii's cage on A7IV?

Being that the design between the two cameras is slightly different, it is unlikely that a cage specifically for the A7 S III will fit the A7 IV perfectly

Can this camera accept XQD memory cards?

Nope not at all.

Unfortunately, the A7 IV is limited to CF Express Type A and SD cards only. 

Sigma makes a 18-50mm APS-C lens for e-mount.  Could something like that possibly be used as a video only lens to exclusively shoot with the cropped 4k 60 mode?   The widest full frame lens I own is the GM 24mm.  I'd loose too much using that in Crop mode. 

While I am no video shooter, it's my understanding that 4k 60 recording on this system is done so in S35 crop, which, in theory is the same or similar to APS-C.  In theory, this should be fine and shouldn't have a major vignette.  You might consider one of Sony's 12-24mm lenses as well as, regardless, you'll achieve the results you're after.

Hi Harold - 

The Sigma 18-50mm. should serve you well.
 

Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 DC DN Contemporary Lens for Sony E  - B&H # SI185028DCEM  

Key Features

  • E-Mount Lens/APS-C Format
  • 27-75mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • Minimum Focusing Distance: 4.8"
  • Three Aspherical Elements
  • Special Low Dispersion Element
  • Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm
  • Dust- and Splash-Proof Design

It seems that a 33 Megapixel sensor for a new high end camera falls short. It could be that processing that much data creates heat problems that may not be solved. The 6 FPS for raw seems to lend credence to that design issue. I was hoping to buy the Alpha A7RIV follow on but I expected a better all round camera.  It appears some of the attention to video reduced the still photography viability.

I would disagree.

First, this isn't a high end camera. It's a basic-grade pro camera that can also be used by advanced consumers. This resolution is perfect for both event photographers and advanced hobbyists.

Personally, this is precisely the sensor I was hoping for as a full time wedding pro who also shoots a fair amount of studio. I already shoot with A7r IV's because of the better ergonomics and AF, but the size of the raw files, while good for studio work and the occasional commercial need, is unnecessary and cumbersome for weddings and events.

My wife, who is my wedding business partner, has shot A7 III's for a couple of years now and while there's nothing wrong with it, she prefers the better grip, joystick and AF of the IV. This will undoubtedly be a very welcome camera for her and I imagine virtually any Sony-shooting wedding photographer for the next few years. 

The video improvements will be welcome as well for any hybrid shooters, as the A7 III was adequate, but hardly an all-in-one. This seems to close that gap for those who don't need a strictly-video camera.

While it may fall short of the highest expectations some may have had, that sensor, housed in the better body, is to me the precise sweet spot.

Thank you Joseph for correcting Robert. A high end camera at $2500.00. There is NOT one review that states the a7 IV is a high end camera. One example on a Sony a7 IV review --– A Pretty Advanced “Entry-Level” Mirrorless Camera.

It definitely won't fall short for the vast majority of users.  I own the R4 and I welcome what this camera offers...smaller file size, quick switch from stills to video that holds settings for each, better grip, and an additional top dial as an alternative to that nasty rear wheel. It's a very good design for a general camera, for most of us anyway.

Thanks for your comments, Stephen W. We do like to hear from our readers and take all your opinions into consideration. We hope you have a great experience with this new camera!

With the A7 III only clocking in at 24.2 mpx, the A7 IV should be an extremely welcome upgrade where most are concerned.  It's intended to battle the likes of the Canon R6 and Nikon Z6II, and it seems like, spec-wise, it shall do so swimmingly.  For me, I'm running an A1, and this camera will be an excellent backup, especially serving as a go-to for things like studio photography and the like. 

If you're looking for a high-end camera, Robert, consider the A7R IV or the A1 in place of the A7 IV.  The resolution of those sensors may be more what you're after.  I imagine the successor to the A7R IV, likely coming in 2022 barring further chip shortage issues, will retain it's current 61mpx sensor and offer things like CF Express support and even better autofocus capability than it does now, though there are rumored specs out there that are much more exciting.  

 Anybody know, will this new camera  work with the batteries, handgrip and frame mounts I own for my A7III?

My guess would be that it would not, as the A7r IV and A9 II changed design (bigger grip, slightly different dimensions) enough to render the grips of the former models unusable. My questions is whether the grips from the rIV or the 9II will work.

I believe the batteries are the same as the A7III, no knowledge about the rest of your question.

The A7 IV uses the NP-FZ100 batteries and the Sony VG-C4EM Vertical Grip, both which are used with the A1, a7R IV, a7S III, and a9 II. With this battery grip, it would accept any plates that are specific to it. 

https://bhpho.to/3dLZ2oo

I have watch and read just about everything I need to know in this Alpha A7 IV. 

No one has ever covered or talk about "Time Lapse"..??

Currently, In my opinion, this is the best and an all around Hybrid camera for the money. Goodbye .. Canon R6..!!

Yes, the Sony Alpha a7 IV Mirrorless Digital Camera has the ability to capture time-lapse videos.  The Sony Alpha a7 IV Mirrorless Digital Camera has a dedicated Still/Movie/S&Q dial.  When the camera is set to the S&Q mode (which stands for Slow-Motion/Quick-Motion), you would be able to to shoot both slow-motion videos as well as time-lapse videos.

Small incremental improvement. Image quality and DR about the same. Better AF and a flippy screen. I own the A7III and sticking with it until A7RV. I will put my money to expand my lens lineup and wait til 2022 hoping for an A7R release. 

Can it shoot 10FPS with uncompressed RAW?

You'll get about 6 FPS that way.  It only does 10 in compressed raw.

10 FPS is only capable when shooting compressed RAW files. 

Even with CFExpresss?

Yes, unfortunately the same would apply when using CFExpress Type A cards. 

I was disappointed to see it only shoots 10 fps for a mirrorless camera.  My Nikon D500 does that.  Is there any way to make it faster, maybe with electronic shutter or something?

Unfortunately, the A7 IV is limited to 10 FPS. Sony suggests the A1 for a much faster continuous shooting rate of 30 FPS.

Waiting for the A7RV but would like to see a comparison difference between this and the A7RIV

I own the a7R4, and although I love it, it's overkill for most situations.  The A74 has some really attractive benefits that make it more interesting as an all-rounder:  smaller file size, quick switch from stills to video, additional top dial, flip screen, better video quality etc...

Thank you for suggesting a comparison article, Leonard B. We intend to do some more comparisons of certain models in the near future and will keep these two in mind. 

Heart if you Pre-Ordered at 11:59am EDT.

Will the A7 IV have the gyro in it to be able to stabilize video in Catalyst Browse like the A7S III?

Yes, the A7 IV would have gyro stabilization and would store metadata for the gyro which can be edited later. 

Does the A7IV have weatherproofing?

Sony has stated that the A7 IV does have dust and moisture resistance. 

I keep hearing for two years about an RX10 M5 coming out soon, but it hasn't happened yet. Any word on this?

Unfortunately, Sony hasn't shared any info on the release of new RX10 series camera just yet. As soon as they do, we will mention it via the B&H E-Mail Newsletter. If you haven't subscribed to the newsletter yet, you may do so at the bottom of the B&H homepage. 

did you get this question about the flash yet?

Buffer speed when switching from stills to video?

Hi Darryl - 

SONY has not disclosed this specification.

Any inkling on when B&H will ship their first units?

At this time, we do not have a solid ship date. However, that will be updated on the item page as we receive more information. Thank you for your patience. 

I have been looking at getting an A7R IV, but am now wondering about the A7 IV. What does the latter have that the former does not other than higher resolution?

Many of the differences with the A7 IV are video-centric. Some examples of those features are Breathing Compensation which helps keep a consistent angle of view even with changes in the focus, a full size HDMI port, and the addition of the new XAVC-HS video format which offers double the image quality but in the same file size as XAVC-S. 

I could see some color science improvements as well, very similar to A1. 

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