This morning, Sony announced the newest camera in their venerable A7 series, the A7 IV. Positioned near the middle of Sony’s camera lineup, the A7 IV tells us a lot about where Sony sees itself – and even the rest of the camera industry – trending over the next few years.
In today’s article, I’ll go through my biggest takeaways from the A7 IV announcement and explain what I think is most significant. First, though, are the camera’s basic specifications.
Sony A7 IV Specifications
- Sensor Resolution: 32.7 MP (7008 × 4672 pixels)
- Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-51,200
- Sensor Type: BSI CMOS
- Sensor Size: 35.6 × 23.8mm full frame sensor
- In-Body Image Stabilization: Yes
- Image Processor: Bionz XR
- Viewfinder: EVF, 100% coverage, 0.78× magnification, 3.69 million dots
- Built-in Flash: No
- Storage Media: One SD (UHS-II) and one CF Express Type A / SD (UHS-II)
- Max Continuous Shooting Speed: 10 FPS (lossless compressed RAW) or 6 FPS (lossy compressed RAW)
- Buffer Capacity: 828 shots when shooting RAW + JPEG (and in other modes, unlimited)
- Electronic Shutter: Yes
- Shutter Speed Range: 1/8000 to 30 seconds
- Focus System: Phase detect with 759 autofocus points
- Video Maximum Resolution: 4K up to 60 FPS, 1080p up to 120 FPS
- LCD Type: 3.0″ touchscreen, fully articulating, 1.04 million dots
- Battery Life: 580 shots (CIPA)
- Weight: 658 grams (1.45 pounds) body only, includes battery and card
- Dimensions, including protruding viewfinder: 131.3 mm x 96.4 mm x 79.8 mm (5.2 × 3.8 × 3.1 inches)
- MSRP, Body Only: $2500 (pre-order here)
Here’s what stands out to me.
1. The new full-frame standard is at least 30 megapixels
For years, midrange (and entry level) full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market have been 24 megapixels almost everywhere you looked. Sony, Nikon, and Panasonic – even Leica – all did it. The only outlier was Canon with the 30.3 megapixel EOS R.
But now Sony joins Canon’s club. The A7 IV is positioned as an everyday sort of camera, not a high-resolution beast like the A7r IV. Which makes its 32.7-megapixel sensor all the more noteworthy.
I think it’s likely that the other manufacturers will soon follow suit. It’s not that 30 or 33 megapixels is a massive jump over 24, but it’s still a jump and a new standard. Nikon and Panasonic won’t want to get left behind. So, be prepared for 30 or 33 to be the new 24.
2. Sony knew its old menu was bad
Not included in the list of baseline specifications, but probably one of the most welcome features on the A7 IV, is that it uses Sony’s newly redesigned menu system. The new layout has been on a couple cameras so far (the Sony A1 and A7s III) and has been very well received. The old menu, not so much.
Photography Life is far from the only photography website to criticize the sprawling menu found on older Sony cameras. But to Sony’s credit, they definitely took note and all but admitted that the old menu system is difficult to use. All new Sony cameras with the Bionz XR processor are slated to have the new menu.
Still, that won’t happen overnight. There’s currently no camera in the A7r lineup, A9 lineup, or A7c lineup with the new menu system. And that means the A7 IV is now the least expensive Sony camera with the new layout. Far more people will use it compared to the A1 or A7s III, and hopefully they’ll experience a bit less frustration in their lives as a result.
3. It’s a good time to be a (budget) videographer
The video features on this camera are pretty amazing – and I feel like that’s a sentence I could say about any mirrorless camera in the $2000+ range that’s been released in the last couple years.
What the A7 IV brings to the table are 4K 60p recording (plus 1080p at 120 fps), full-sensor width oversampled capture at 30p, 10-bit 4:2:2 sampling, S-Log video, and hybrid log HDR. It also has specialized video features like a “focus map” option to show depth of field while filming, and an automatic focus breathing correction that crops the image smoothly as you zoom in and out.
Add that to some of the nice baseline features like a fully articulating LCD and 5.5 stops of in-body image stabilization, and you can see why I’m calling it a good time to be a videographer on a budget.
4. Lossless compressed raw is finally here
This one has been a long time coming. Other than the highest-end A1 camera, Sony has never offered lossless compressed raw files on any of its full-frame cameras. Instead, we could choose between uncompressed raw (and massive files) or lossy compressed raw (and compression artifacts on occasion).
I don’t know why it took Sony so long to add lossless compressed raw to their more standard camera lineup, but I’m glad it’s finally here. The A7 IV indeed has a lossless compressed raw option that will trim a lot of megabytes off a raw file without losing any image quality.
The one restriction is that Sony’s full 10 FPS shooting only works with compressed RAW, while lossless will be restricted to 6 FPS. Sports and wildlife photographers who need high FPS shooting will probably want to set compressed RAW ahead of time, but otherwise, lossless compressed RAW will be perfectly fine.
5. Sony seriously wants to court the sports and wildlife crowd
Probably the biggest holdout group from the DSLR world – other than those who just don’t plan to upgrade their camera any time soon – are people who photograph sports and wildlife. Mirrorless cameras have made great strides in these areas recently, but Sony is really going all-out to try to attract that audience even more.
That’s especially obvious when you look at the A7 IV’s buffer. It’s all but limitless. Sony specifies that you’ll get 828 images on the buffer when you’re shooting RAW + JPEG, and they say the buffer is otherwise “over 1000 frames.” For all practical purposes, the buffer just won’t fill up, at least with a CF Express Type A card.
Sony is also adding better autofocus algorithms borrowed from the A1, along with subject identification and tracking features to focus more easily on tricky subjects. Even the most dedicated DSLR shooters may turn their head at “bird eye tracking AF” found on the A7 IV (along with a few other mirrorless cameras today).
Mirrorless may still take a while to convince pro action photographers that it’s worth a switch, but there’s no doubt where the camera industry is heading. The A7 IV shows that Sony is trying to push things as much as possible in that direction regardless of the level of camera.
6. Prices are trending up
The previous A7 III sold for $2000 upon its announcement, while the A7 IV is starting at $2500. You can put the blame anywhere you want – inflation, supply chain issues, or simply an improvement in features that justify the cost – but Sony clearly isn’t afraid to climb over the magic $1999 mark any more.
I don’t know if this is going to be true across the board. Recall that the Nikon Z7 II actually started at $400 less than the prior generation Z7. But with all the out-of-stock products these days, and the (finally) increasing demand for new cameras again, it’s the most likely bet.
The number of new features on the A7 IV may very well justify the extra price for you, although bear in mind that Sony isn’t discontinuing the prior generation A7 III yet. Rather, it’s still available for $2000 (currently on discount for $1800 for a couple more days) and will function as a more budget-oriented camera for photographers who don’t need the A7 IV’s new features.
I’ll be publishing more articles about the A7 IV over the next couple days, including comparisons with some of its rivals from Nikon and Canon. In the meantime, you can pre-order the Sony A7 IV from the following link, with shipping beginning around December 30, 2021:
And here is Sony’s full press release for the A7 IV announcement:
Sony Electronics’ Alpha 7 IV Goes Beyond ‘Basic’ with 33-Megapixel Full-frame Image Sensor and Outstanding Photo and Video Operability
SAN DIEGO, Oct. 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 recyclablei 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 10fpsii 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 Assistiii 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 Compensationiv 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-stepv 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 resistancevii.
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 Edge Mobile™ applicationviii 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 smartphonex. 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 secondxii 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-F46RMxiii.
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 shootingxiv 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 cameraxv
- 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 resistantxvi. 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 moviesxvii 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.
New content will also be posted directly at the Sony Photo Gallery. For detailed product information, please visit:
A product video on the new Alpha 7 IV can be viewed HERE.
About Sony Electronics Inc.
Sony Electronics is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America and an affiliate of Sony Group Corporation, one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world, with a portfolio that encompasses electronics, music, motion pictures, mobile, gaming, robotics and financial services. Headquartered in San Diego, California, Sony Electronics is a leader in electronics for the consumer and professional markets. Operations include research and development, engineering, sales, marketing, distribution and customer service. Sony Electronics creates products that innovate and inspire generations, such as the award-winning Alpha Interchangeable Lens Cameras and revolutionary high-resolution audio products. Sony is also a leading manufacturer of end-to-end solutions from 4K professional broadcast and A/V equipment to industry leading 4K and 8K Ultra HD TVs. Visit http://www.sony.com/news for more information.
i This product packaging is recyclable only in the communities that have appropriate recycling programs.
ii Up to 10 fps in continuous “Hi+” mode, or up to 8 fps in continuous “Hi” mode. Continuous shooting speed may vary depending on shooting conditions. Sony tests.
iii Not available when using the SELP1650, SEL18200LE or A-mount lenses.
iv Angle of view and image quality may change slightly when this feature is turned ON. Breathing compensation is not available for unsupported lenses, 120/100p movie recording, S&Q recording at 120/100p, or stills. For the supported lens, please check here.
v CIPA standards. Pitch/yaw shake only. Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA lens. Long exposure NR off. Still-image mode.
vi Slight image crop in Active Mode. “Standard” setting recommended for focal lengths of 200mm or longer. Active mode not available when recording at 120 (100) fps.
vii Not guaranteed to be 100% dust and moisture proof.
ix Supported in Catalyst version 2021.1 or later.
x PC or smartphone OS must be compatible with UVC/UAC to use this functionality. Compatibility with PC and smartphones depends on manufacturers’ specifications. A commercially available USB cable and/or terminal adaptor may be used to connect to equipment with a USB Type-C port.
xi 35mm full-frame equivalent.
xii 1/32 flash output level using Ni-MH batteries
xiii When using Ni-MH batteries. Sony tests
xiv Alpha 1 electronic shutter in continuous Hi+ mode. Flash output level manually set to 1/32.
xv Visit Sony support webpage for functional compatibility information.
xvi Not guaranteed to be 100% dust and moisture proof. Dust and moisture resistance will vary also according to the body to which the unit is attached.
xvii Video delivery is only supported on iOS. Download app at Google Play and the App Store. Network services, content, and operating system and software subject to terms and conditions and may be changed, interrupted, or discontinued at any time and may require fees, registration and credit card information.