The Latest Evolution in Resolution: The Sony a7R V10/26/2022
The future has arrived with Sony’s latest iteration of the R-series: the a7R V. This high-resolution mirrorless standard adds the power and intelligence of an evolved image processor, a 4-axis multi-angle LCD monitor, 8K video recording, and a laundry list of internal and external upgrades appealing to photo and video shooters alike.
With integrated AI-assisted autofocusing capable of real-time recognition of subjects ranging from humans to insects, eight stops of image stabilization, dual CFexpress slots, and a 9.44 mil dot EVF, there is no shortage of reasons to love this new camera. A devout fan of its predecessor, I tried the a7R V in the studio and on location to see how it compared.
AI Under the Hood
Headlining the new release is a BIONZ XR processor endowed with what Sony calls “Artificial Intelligence.” While the camera didn’t sprout legs and take photos for me, I did notice improved speed and accuracy locking onto human and bird eyes when using the 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II and 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS lenses. For human subjects, the camera can focus on bodies, heads, and eyes using a “human pose estimation” algorithm. Per Sony, the new camera boasts a 60% improvement in Eye AF performance over the a7R IV. It rarely missed when I used it. Beyond people, there are dedicated modes for animal, bird, animal/bird, insect, car/train, and airplane subjects. When photographing a heron, its AF worked as smoothly as it did with my human model.
The a7R V’s real-time tracking leans on 693-point high density phase detection AF that covers 79% of full-frame and 100% of APS-C capture. If, like me, you are afraid of AI taking better photos than you, full-time DMF lets you switch seamlessly from AF to manual focusing at any time. However, as much of a neurotic advocate of manual focusing as I am, I found myself kicking back and letting the AF do its thing nearly the entire time I spent with the a7R V. I have no regrets. Even when shooting in an all-black environment lit by strobes, it locked onto my model’s eyes for nearly every single shot.
R is Still for Resolution
The a7R V keeps the 61MP sensor that made the a7R IV a pixel-peeper’s dream. It has a native ISO range of 100-32,000—expandable to 102,400—which is the highest resolution at low sensitivity in a Sony camera to date. Fifteen stops of dynamic range secure smooth tonal gradations in nearly any lighting environment. Still life and product photographers will appreciate the addition of focus bracketing capabilities to accompany the hard-drive-devouring Pixel Shift Multi-Shooting mode from its previous model.
For action junkies, the a7R V is capable of shooting 10 fps mechanical bursts of up to 583 compressed raw files or more than 1,000 jpegs. When I tested this feature, the camera gracefully rattled off shots, content to fill a memory card without breaking a sweat. Speaking of raw files, you have more types to choose from with the a7R V: uncompressed raw, lossless compression raw, or compressed raw. Be kind to your storage media when working with such massive files.
Free the Screen
The body of the a7R V has much in common with its predecessor but with one major upgrade: a 4-axis, multi-angle 3.2" LCD screen with 2.095 m-dot resolution and touch capabilities. I found myself using this feature far more than expected. Whether shooting down from a ladder or up from the ground, it is hard to deny the benefits that this articulation brings when trying to capture unconventional angles. For those recording video, it also provides the invaluable ability to watch oneself on camera in real time. By pushing away from the camera body, you are granted full access to the side ports when rotating the screen.
The menu system of the a7R IV has been updated to the format of Sony’s more recent models. An improved 9.44 m-dot QXGA EVF with 120 fps refresh rate provides sharp, bright, and seamless viewing during capture.
Up top, an S&Q (Slow and Quick) dial setting has been added to capture time lapses or slow motion easily. Overall, the layout of the a7R V should feel familiar in the hands of Sony mirrorless veterans. S/L dials are customizable and the C1 button and Record buttons have been swapped. The two SDXC slots of the a7R IV are now complemented by a pair of CFexpress Type A slots for when you need to maximize processing power, whether shooting bursts or recording video footage at high resolutions.
8K Video and 4K Live-Streaming
While the R-series has historically been thought of in still-image terms, its latest iteration has significantly beefed-up video capabilities. Most notably, it can record up to 8K at 24/25 fps with full AF and AE support. Full-frame 4K recording provides a full sensor readout with no cropping, up to 30 fps, while 4K/60 and 8K capture results in a 1.2x crop. The a7R V can capture 8K footage up to 10-bit 4:2:0 and 4K 10-bit 4:2:2. XAVC-HS is available for 8K and 4K recording in addition to HD. For subjects demanding a high frame rate, it can record up to 120 fps at 1080p.
As noted above for still images, AI-assisted tracking keeps a wide range of subjects in focus when recording. In terms of color, the a7R V offers S-Log3, S-Cinetone, and HLG and HDR recording. Finally, updated 5-axis body optical image stabilization and improved camera-lens communication provide up to eight stops of stability for handheld capture with Sony’s OSS lenses.
The a7R V brings the R-series’ connectivity options into the future. First, it can act as a UVC webcam for content creators streaming in 4K up to 15p. For workflows that demand lightning-fast turnaround, FTP file transfer via 2x2 MIMO can transfer 3.5x more data than the a9 II. Additionally, files can be transferred via wireless LAN, wired LAN (via adapter), or USB-C.
The a7R V builds on the strengths of its predecessor in nearly every aspect of its design. While its features and capabilities have been substantially expanded, it did not feel foreign in the hands of a photographer accustomed to the a7R IV. Be sure to see it in action in the video above.
Join Sony Artisan of Imagery Caroline Jensen, as well as B&H's Derek Fahsbender and Kevin G. Rickert, who will discuss the new Sony a7RV in a livestream.
What do you think of the latest entry in Sony’s R-series? Does it have the features you are seeking?