Sony A7R IV Review Conclusion

Packed with a high-res 61-megapixel full-frame image sensor, the Sony A7R Mark IV is, without a doubt, a beast of a camera -- the highest resolution full-frame camera currently on the market. Its high-res sensor makes it a prime candidate for landscapes, portraiture, and other types of photographic pursuits that often require lots of detail.

But there's much more to the story with the 4th-generation version of Sony's high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera. With fast burst shooting at full-resolution, top-notch high ISO performance, swift AF with excellent coverage across almost the entire sensor, Real-Time Eye AF tracking, 4Kp30 video, powerful in-body image stabilization and more, the Sony A7R Mark IV is way more versatile that one might think from specs alone.

Yes, the Sony A7R IV is undoubtedly a high-end camera, with a high-end price tag to match, but it's an extremely versatile, feature-rich camera. Much more well-rounded than its predecessors, and much more than just a stills camera for shooting high-res photos.

So let's dive in to see how the Sony A7R IV performed in our testing!

Design, Build Quality & Ergonomics

Essentially, the Sony A7R Mark IV looks and feels very similar to the previous model, offering the same basic design and control layout. There have been some pleasant improvements and changes, however. A number of the buttons and the joystick control are slightly larger, making them easier to press. The touchscreen's responsiveness is noticeably better as well, though you still can't navigate menus or operate the on-screen Function Menu by touch. It's really only for touch control of the AF point, for better or worse.

The Sony A7R IV (top) vs. A7R III (bottom)

The EVF gets a nice upgrade, too, with a higher-resolution screen, making the already-excellent EVF we had in the A7R III even better. The electronic viewfinder is bright with a large, sharp screen and a very fast, practically-lag-free display. Overall, an excellent EVF experience.

Perhaps the most notable design change on the camera centers on the handgrip. In the hand, the A7R IV feels much more substantial. The handgrip is fuller, deeper and offers more comfortable contouring. The grip still isn't as big as that of a full-size DSLR, but the A7R IV is much easier to hold comfortably than on previous Sony mirrorless cameras. That said, depending on how large your hands are or how wide your lens is, your fingers might be a bit cramped when gripping the camera, due to its relatively compact size.

Cramped finger syndrome: Depending on how you hold the camera, or how wide the diameter of the lens is, your fingers can potentially become jammed up against the barrel of the lens.

All in all, Sony's managed to improve the handling and ergonomics of the camera, with larger controls and a fuller handgrip, all without drastically increasing the size and weight of the camera. It's not exactly the same physical dimensions as prior models, of course, but the A7R IV remains very compact for a full-frame camera. And like its predecessor, the Mark IV maintains a very high standard of build quality; the camera feels robust and sturdy in the hand and features a weather-resistant design.

Image Quality

Given Sony's fantastic track record for excellent image quality from their full-frame mirrorless cameras, it's no surprise that the A7R IV follows suit with flying colors. The new 61MP sensor captures wonderfully sharp images, with lots of fine detail, particularly at lower ISOs. The lack of an optical low-pass filter really lets you capture photos with a gorgeous amount of detail. Though as with most cameras that lack an OLPF, you run a higher risk of moiré and aliasing artifacts.

When it comes to high ISO performance, the A7R IV does very well here, too, despite the high-resolution sensor. Overall noise levels are very well controlled, with in-camera noise reduction doing a pleasing job of retaining detail while removing egregious noise.

FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G: 600mm, f/6.3, 1/640s, ISO 5000

The 61MP sensor offers outstanding image resolution, but if you require more megapixels, the A7R IV's updated Pixel-Shift Multi-Shot mode offers an outrageous 240-megapixel resolution potential. Potential is a key word here, as this Pixel-Shift high-res mode can be quite tricky to use. Like most high-res modes from other manufacturers, the Pixel-Shift mode here captures multiple frames in quick success (16 for the 240MP option), moving the sensor ever-so-slightly, and compositing all the data into a final image. As such, the multi-shot mode turns out to be quite limiting; the camera and subject matter need to be absolutely still. Any subject movement will show up with noticeable compositing errors and artifacts. The Pixel-Shift Multi-Shot mode is primarily usable for things like architecture, product photography and archival purposes.

Of course, sheer image resolution and pixel-peeping isn't the end-all-be-all of image quality. Colors are rich and vibrant without coming across as overly saturated, and skin tones look pleasing and natural. Dynamic range has long been one of Sony's strong suits, and the A7R IV excels here, as well. Even with just JPEGs, we see lots of detail in both highlight and shadow areas in well-exposed images. And RAW files offer a lot of flexibility for tonal and exposure adjustments.

FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM: 70mm, f/3.2, 1/2500s, ISO 100, -0.7EV

Video

When it comes to video, the Sony A7R IV is still primarily a photo-centric camera. Nevertheless, it can capture excellent quality video and has a healthy selection of advanced video specs, including 4K UHD video at up to 30p & Full HD at up to 120p. There's also S-log3 support with 14-stops of dynamic range and Hybrid Log Gamma support, too. And the new real-time Eye AF works in video, which is awesome.

As with stills mode, the A7R IV has a "Super 35mm" aka APS-C crop mode, and it works for video, too. In full-frame mode, the A7R IV can shoot 4K video using the full width of the sensor. When you switch to Super 35 mode, the camera captures 6K footage and downsamples it to 4K, utilizing full pixel readout without pixel binning or line skipping.

For the most part, the A7R IV feels exceedingly capable for video shooting, despite the 61MP sensor framing it squarely as a high-res stills camera. However, there's still no 4K 60p option, though no Sony camera currently offers that either. And the camera is missing 4:2:2 10-bit recording (but it does 8-bit 422 out via HDMI). For all but the most demanding and high-end video productions or for those videographers requiring high-res and high frame rate capture options, the A7R IV is a solid video-shooting camera.

FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G: 600mm, f/6.3, 1/800s, ISO 5000

Autofocus & Performance

Besides image quality, the A7R IV is also a surprisingly nimble, responsive camera in most regards. Start-up time is quick, autofocus is blazingly fast, continuous AF works wonderfully, and despite the high-resolution, the camera can fire off bursts of full-res images at up to 10fps. It's a surprisingly versatile camera, more so than its predecessor.

Now, if you shoot a lot of sports or action, the A7R IV is still probably not the best option, though it can certainly work for these subjects. The A9 offers faster burst rates and better performance overall, while the A7 III offers similar continuous shooting performance but more manageable file sizes. With the A7R IV, the 61MP images are pretty hefty. Surprisingly, they don’t negatively affect the burst rates that much. However, using uncompressed raw drops the maximum continuous shooting rate down to about 7fps

Buffer depth here is more limited than with the A7 III, even with JPEGs. Uncompressed RAW and JPEGs definitely fill up the buffer quickly. And clearing times, despite the dual UHS-II cards slots, is fairly sluggish overall, especially with JPEG enabled.

As mentioned, the autofocus is fantastic. The A7R IV is, somehow, even better than the Mark III, offering faster performance, more AF points and more sophisticated subject tracking features. In testing, we found the A7R IV's AF system was fast, accurate, and did very well at tracking moving subjects. Eye AF also worked very well and is an excellent feature for portraiture, especially when using fast lenses and super-shallow depth-of-field. And the addition of Eye AF for animals is quite neat and also works well from our testing experience.

FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM: 70mm, f/2.8, 1/800s, ISO 100

Summary

All in all, the Sony A7R IV is a thoroughly impressive camera, capturing images with fantastic detail, colors and dynamic range. And the high ISO performance is excellent, even with such a high-res sensor. It's a camera that's way more versatile that one might think given its image resolution, offering super-fast AF and quick burst speeds for all but the most challenging sports and action scenarios.

With 61MP, the image files are cumbersome and consume a lot of storage quickly, and the resolution is likely way more than what most people need. But if you need lots of fine detail or cropping potential, the 61MP files come in handy! At around $3500 body-only, the A7R IV certainly isn't cheap, either. However, given all that it offers, it's hard not to recommend the A7R IV if you have the cash and truly want or need that deep image resolution.

Pricey but powerful, the Sony A7R IV, without a doubt, gets the nod as a Dave's Pick.

 

Pros & Cons

  • Fantastic image quality from 61MP sensor
  • Very good high ISO performance & dynamic range
  • Very low shutter lag
  • Excellent real-world AF performance with very good subject tracking
  • Real-time Eye AF works very well
  • Can autofocus in very low light
  • Class-leading burst speed up to 10 fps
  • Generous buffer depths
  • Can shoot best quality JPEGs with RAW
  • 14-bit uncompressed RAW supported in continuous mode and with e-shutter
  • Very good 5-axis in-body image stabilization
  • 4K video at 30p with full pixel readout
  • Hybrid Log-Gamma and S-Log3 included
  • Full HD video up to 120p
  • Pixel-Shift resolution mode (but see Con)
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots
  • Large higher-res EVF
  • Improved touchscreen LCD responsiveness
  • 500K-cyle low vibration shutter mechanism
  • Menus can be accessed while buffer is clearing
  • Excellent external controls with lots of customization
  • Improved handgrip & larger buttons
  • Excellent battery life
  • USB-C (USB 3.1 Gen 1) port with in-camera charging
  • Multi Interface Shoe now supports new digital audio interface
  • Flash sync terminal
  • Max continuous shooting drops to ~7fps with uncompressed raw
  • Buffer clearing can still be slow even with fast UHS-II cards
  • Sluggish power-up compared to DSLRs
  • Still no lossless compressed RAW option
  • Pixel Shift Multi-Shooting requires processing on the computer for final image
  • Pixel Shift mode requires absolutely static subjects, otherwise composite images display motion artifacts
  • Still no 4K/60p framerate
  • Menu system still feels confusing
  • Dust- and moisture-sealing not as robust as some competing cameras
  • Small body size can feel unbalanced with larger, telephoto lenses, but battery grip or grip extension is available
  • No built-in intervalometer & no PlayMemories support to add this and other features
  • Tilt-only LCD isn't as versatile as a tilt/swivel type
  • No built-in flash


Buy the Sony A7R IV



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