Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sony Alpha ILCE-A7R V
Resolution: 61.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(35.7mm x 23.8mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 32,000
Extended ISO: 50 - 102,400
Shutter: 1/8000 - 30 sec
Dimensions: 5.1 x 3.8 x 3.1 in.
(129 x 96 x 78 mm)
Weight: 23.5 oz (665 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $3,900
Availability: 12/2022
Manufacturer: Sony

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61.00
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Front side of Sony A7R V digital camera        

Sony A7R V Preview

Sony's newest high-res Alpha camera features massive processing power and new AI autofocus

by Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 10/26/2022

The Sony A7R IV became an instant hit when it launched in 2019. The star of the show was a brand-new 61-megapixel full-frame backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor, a marked improvement over the 42MP sensor in the Sony A7R III. The A7R IV also included major improvements to autofocus features and performance, a higher-res EVF and overall improved usability.

The newly announced Sony A7R V offers many of these same improvements over its predecessor, albeit without a new image sensor. Yes, the A7R V includes the same 61MP image sensor as its predecessor, but the "same" sensor is paired with a new processing engine and a dedicated AI processor to deliver major gains in terms of autofocus performance. There are other important improvements that we'll discuss, but the highlight, billboard feature of the A7R V is the separate AI processing unit. Its dividends promise to be massive.

Sony A7R V key features and specifications

  • 61MP back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor
  • Native ISO range is 100 to 32,000, expandable up to 102,400
  • Bionz XR image processing engine
  • Dedicated AI Processing Unit
  • Subject recognition technology powered by dedicated AI unit
  • Real-time tracking
  • 693-point hybrid autofocus system that covers 79% of the image area (93% vertical and 86% horizontal)
  • Up to 10 frames per second burst shooting with full AF/AE (mechanical shutter)
  • Up to 7 fps with the electronic shutter
  • 4-axis multi-angle 3.2-type LCD
  • 9.44M dot EVF with 0.9x magnification and 120fps at full resolution
  • Two CFexpress Type A card slots (also accept UHS-II SD cards)
  • 8K video at up to 24p/25p using full pixel readout (1.2x crop)
  • 4K 60p video
  • Super35 4K video with 6.2K oversampling
  • New main menu design with improved usability
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and SuperSpeed USB (10Gbps)
  • $3,900 USD body only ($5,300 CAD)
  • Available in mid-December

Sony A7R V body and handling

As is the case with many new Sony cameras, it's not immediately obvious that you're looking at a new camera at all. Sure, there's a new model name on the camera, but otherwise, it's not a major design revision. With that said, there are some very important differences to the camera's design that help improve performance and usability.

Starting with performance, the A7R IV included dual UHS-II SD card slots. While good at the time, storage technology has evolved rapidly. Keeping pace with recent Sony cameras, the A7R V includes a pair of CFexpress Type A card slots, which also accept UHS-II SD cards. When using CFexpress cards, performance, especially buffer clearing times, will be significantly better. The A7R V has big files to process, so the faster your card, the better.

Concerning usability, there are three big changes. The A7R V employs a four-way tilting touchscreen. People asked for a tilting screen, and they got it with the A7R IV. But then people wanted a three-axis display, one that could be tilted when shooting in orientation. Sony did one better and went with a four-axis mechanism, meaning you can also pull the screen out from the back of the camera. This allows users to utilize the tilting screen even when there are cables plugged into the camera, like an HDMI cable. The screen is a 3.2-type with 2,095K dots. It displays DCI-P3 color gamut.

The new display is paired with a redesigned menu. You can swipe up from the bottom of the touchscreen to access a customizable quick menu. The new touch menu is borrowed from the FX-30 cinema camera. When the A7R IV was released, we complained about Sony's menus. However, since then, Sony has released cameras like A7S III and A7 IV with all-new menus that are much better. The A7R V follows suit, sporting a new menu that should be much better.

The A7R V includes a new EVF, offering a major upgrade over the A7R IV. The A7R IV's EVF has 5.76M dots and 0.78x magnification. Plus, it has a 60fps refresh rate. The A7R V's EVF has 9.44M dots, 0.9x magnification, and 120fps refresh rate at full resolution.

The camera also offers significant control customizability. Dials can be assigned to control numerous functions. Plus, there are 18 buttons on the camera that are assignable to 169 different functions.

Imaging: Same image sensor, but some important improvements

t its core, the Sony A7R V promises similar imaging performance to its predecessor. However, that isn't to say there aren't some changes or improvements. The more powerful processor, paired with the AI unit, delivers 20% better AE performance, per Sony, and better automatic white balance. The camera sports visible light and infrared sensors on its front plate to aid with metering. Plus, Deep Learning technology is at play. We'll need to test the performance in the real world. Still, it stands to reason that if the camera meters exposure and white balance more accurately, the image quality will be better straight from the camera. While you can easily tweak white balance with raw image files, not everyone wants to deal with that, and some photographers are under a time crunch. The better the image looks out of the camera, the better, no matter the user.

The 61MP image sensor is Sony's highest resolution sensor and has maintained that position since the A7R IV launched. There's no other full-frame camera that delivers more megapixels. The sensor also offers "15 stops of dynamic range," which is right at the top of the pile.

There's also a completely updated in-body image stabilization system, which may not seem like a strictly "imaging" feature, but it gives rise to one of the A7R V's key features, pixel-shift multi-shot. The camera shoots 16 consecutive images, shifting half a pixel each time. The camera records 963MP of data, which is then composited using Imaging Edge software on desktop to produce a 240.8MP final image. Not only is that significantly more detail than a single 61MP file, each pixel records red, green and blue information, so color accuracy and tonality is better. The AI also aids in eliminating minor problem areas, such as moving leaves or even people in the distance. This means the feature should be much more useful for landscape photographers.

Autofocus and performance

While the camera's dedicated AI processing unit affects imaging performance, its primary importance is for autofocus. The A7R IV offered face and eye detect autofocus for humans, and eye-detect AF for some mammals and birds. The A7R V ups the game by adding human pose estimation, head and body tracking for animals, additional animal detection (like insects), and subject detection for vehicles like cars, trains and planes.

In a presentation, Sony told us that the A7R V can detect a person's eye even when only 3% of the eye's surface area is visible, which is extremely impressive. While we must try it for ourselves, the performance, especially the predictive AI technology, looked outstanding in a demo. Sony's eye and face-detect has long been among the best in the industry. It stands to reason that AI will only improve what's already very good. Subject detection, in particular, should be significantly more accurate across a wider range of subjects.

The autofocus system is hybrid, meaning it uses phase-detect AF and contrast-detect AF. The 693-point AF system covers 93% of the vertical image area and 86% of the horizontal image area. When shooting in APS-C, the entire image area is covered by AF points.

As for performance, the A7R V isn't built for speed. Its sensor isn't stacked, and image files are huge, so the camera can't shoot at speeds like the A9 II or A1. Instead, the A7R V tops out at 10 frames per second with its mechanical shutter. Interestingly, it shoots slower with the electronic shutter, capped at 7 fps. To ensure the best buffer clearing performance, you should use a CFexpress Type A card. The buffer can handle up to 583 compressed raw images.

For sports shooters, while the A7R V might not be the optimal choice, it still packs impressive features like anti-flicker shooting and high-frequency flicker-free shooting with a variable shutter. This is important when photographing subjects in front of LED signage, like at a sports venue.

Video

The A7R V includes many sophisticated video features and specs, including 16-bit RAW output at 4K/60p. The camera promises 14+ stops of dynamic range and includes S-Cinetone, S-Log 3 and 10-bit 4:2:2 HLG. Other video features include AF assist, breathing compensation, focus map, focus peaking, flexible exposure mode, shot marks, aspect markers, digital audio interface, and more.

If you need more resolution, there's also 8K video at 24/25p. If you instead require more speed than 4K offers, the camera includes Sony's Slow and Quick (S&Q) video modes.

Summary

While the most interesting features of the A7R V will require hands-on time to evaluate, there's a lot to like about the camera already. The new EVF and tilting display seem like obvious, surefire improvements as far as usability goes. The AI-powered autofocus should be amazing, but time will tell. While it's somewhat disappointing not to see a new image sensor, that's due more to a desire for sparkly new sensors rather than an indictment of the A7R IV's image sensor. Image quality will continue to be excellent. With better bells and whistles elsewhere, the A7R V is poised to be Sony's best high-resolution camera.

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