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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Sony A7R V Review -- Now Shooting!

by Jeremy Gray
Preview originally posted: 10/26/2022

Updates:
11/22/2022: First Shots added
12/05/2022: Gallery Images added
12/21/2022: Hands-on Review added, Gallery updated

Click here to jump to our in-depth Sony A7R V Overview

Sony A7R V Hands-on Review

Sony's new high-res flagship camera packs some impressive new features, but is it worth the upgrade?

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 12/21/2022

Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS lens at 30mm, F11, 5s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

The long-awaited Sony A7R V is finally here, and it's great. It uses the same 61MP sensor as its predecessor but includes a more processing power, a dedicated AI processing unit, new autofocus system, new IBIS and much more. There's so much to like about the A7R V, and it remains one of the best cameras on the market. However, does it offer enough to warrant upgrading from the A7R IV? Read on to find out.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 318mm, F11, 1/125s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

Sony A7R V key features and specifications

Parenthetical comparisons reference the Sony A7R IV

  • Full-frame Alpha series mirrorless camera
  • Same 61MP back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor as the A7R IV
  • Native ISO range is 100-32,000, expandable to 50-102,400
  • Dual Bionz XR image processing engines (IMPROVED)
  • Dedicated AI Processing Unit (NEW)
  • AI-powered subject recognition technology with real-time tracking (NEW)
  • 693-point hybrid autofocus system that covers 93% vertical and 86% horizontal of the image area (IMPROVED)
  • AF sensitivity down to -4 EV (IMPROVED)
  • Continuous shooting at up 10 frames per second with full AF/AE (mechanical shutter)
  • Continuous shooting at up to 7 fps with electronic shutter
  • 4-axis multi-angle 3.2-type LCD (NEW)
  • 9.44M-dot EVF with 0.9x magnification (NEW)
  • 5-axis image stabilization system that promises up to 8 stops of correction thanks to new gyro sensors and better processing (IMPROVED)
  • Lossless compressed raw shooting options for smaller files (NEW)
  • Better controls (IMPROVED)
  • Revised menus (IMPROVED)
  • Multi-shot high-resolution Pixel Shift shooting with AI-powered motion correction (IMPROVED)
  • Focus bracketing (NEW)
  • 8K/24p video, HLG, 4K/60p and more (NEW)
  • Accepts CFexpress Type A cards for improved performance (NEW)
  • Faster connectivity options with 2.2 MIMI Wi-Fi and USB 3.2 Gen 2 (IMPROVED)
  • $3,900 (body only)
Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 433mm, F11, 1/50s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

Sony A7R V body and design: Mostly similar, but a new rear display and EVF deliver big improvements

At first glance, the A7R V looks a lot like the A7R IV. And that's mostly true. However, some differences, both big and small, result in a significantly better user experience.

Starting with small changes. The A7R V now has a collar switch underneath the mode dial that lets the user quickly swap between still images, video and S/Q video modes. Overall, I like the addition. It's easy to swap between the modes. I also found that it was a bit too easy to accidentally switch the modes while rotating the mode dial above the switch. The old exposure compensation dial is now a blank control dial. It can be used for exposure compensation, but it can be customized for other tasks, too. I like using it for exposure compensation, but the more choices for users, the better.

The A7R IV had a video record button to the left of the AF-ON button on the back. The button is still there on the A7R V, but it's now the C1 function button, while the dedicated record button sits atop the camera, near the shutter release. I think that's a good change. Basically, the old C1 and record buttons switched places.

Now, onto the big changes. The A7R V gets a new 4-way tilting touchscreen. It's also larger (3.2 inches versus 3.0 inches) and has a higher resolution (2,095K dots versus 1,440K dots). A brief aside, Sony also released a second A7R IV model, the A7R IVA. It featured minor improvements, including a higher-res 3.0-inch display. That camera features a 2,359K dot display, which is a higher resolution than the A7R V's larger display. I prefer the additional screen real estate, but it's still worth mentioning. The tilting design is much different on this new camera. You can pull the display out from the back of the body and then swing it out to swivel it side to side or up and down, so you can use the tilting display when shooting in portrait or landscape orientations. The display works well, delivering a sharp, vivid picture across all shooting conditions, even in bright light.

Sony has also updated the camera's EVF, borrowing the same EVF featured in the A1. The EVF is a large OLED panel with 0.9x magnification and a whopping 9.44M dots. It's extremely sharp. The A7R IV's 5.76M-dot panel looks relatively old-fashioned in comparison. The A7R V's EVF is just that good. However, despite its overall excellence, it comes with some drawbacks. There's no 240fps refresh option, something the A1 offers. The 120fps option comes with a reduction in resolution. Further, when using the "High" quality option, there is a visible reduction in detail as the camera focuses. I stuck with "High," but the difference in resolution when tracking moving subjects was occasionally noticeable. Tradeoffs.

If you've used the A1 or A7 IV, you know Sony's much-maligned menus have recently undergone a much-needed facelift. The A7R V benefits from that important work, featuring much better menus than the A7R IV. The menus look better, are easier to navigate, and feature improved touch functionality. I know that some users still bemoan Sony's menu system, but I like the A7R V's menu system. There's also an interesting on-screen menu option accessible by pressing the DISP button ('up' on the large rear control dial). This view shows key camera settings, an electronic level and a live histogram, all of which are navigable using the touchscreen. I found this less useful for my workflow, but it's still a nice inclusion.

This is as good a place as any to point out the A7R V's new CFexpress Type A slots, which exist alongside the dual UHS-II SD slots that were available on the A7R IV. CFexpress Type A cards promise better performance concerning buffer depths, buffer clearing and transfer speeds. However, they're also expensive. A Sony 160GB CFexpress Type A card is currently on sale for $360, down from $400. That's not cheap. The cards are also slower than high-end CFexpress Type B cards.

Overall, the Sony A7R V includes numerous usability improvements over its predecessor, especially regarding the EVF and the rear display. I have no major complaints. I do have some minor ones, however. There's wasted space to the left of the EVF on top of the camera. It's just a blank panel. Having an additional button or two or another dial up there would be nice. I like that you can now use CFexpress Type A cards – I just wish Sony would put CFexpress Type B slots in its cameras. The cards, while larger, offer better performance.

Minor quibbles aside, the Sony A7R V is a pleasant camera to use. The camera has an intelligent control layout, a large comfortable front grip, and an improved menu system. Sony has continually refined its cameras over the years, and the A7R V benefits from the groundwork laid by its predecessors to deliver the best overall user experience of any of Sony's high-res "R" cameras yet.

Image quality: Same sensor, same incredible imaging performance

Leading up to the A7R V, I read some pretty wild rumors online, some suggesting that the A7R V would employ a new, higher-resolution image sensor. Ultimately, the rumors, as they often do, missed the mark. However, that doesn't mean the A7R V's image sensor is bad, even if it isn't brand new. Quite the opposite. The 61-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS image sensor is still the highest-resolution full-frame sensor by a sizable margin.

Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS lens at 42mm, F16, 3.2s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

Alongside the same great resolution as the A7R IV, the A7R V also delivers similarly excellent dynamic range, tonality and color performance. Concerning dynamic range, the A7R V tops out at around 11.7 EV of dynamic range, per Photons to Photos. This is just about the same as the A7R IV. The Canon EOS R5 is rated about 0.1 EV higher, and the Nikon Z7 II is roughly 0.1 EV lower at its base native ISO of 64. To put it simply, they're all excellent at their respective lowest native ISO settings, including the new A7R V.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens at 70mm, F5, 1/80s, ISO 400.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

Color rendering is a mix of objective and subjective analysis. It's also the result of some processing, and at least when viewing a .jpg file or an unprocessed raw image, the result of white balance. Let's start with white balance. I use automatic white balance almost exclusively. I don't like needing to deal with constantly tweaking the white balance setting as lighting conditions change, and since I always shoot raw, I'm not concerned with white balance settings. I can change the white balance after the fact with no cost to image quality. With that said, the A7R V's AWB performance is improved thanks to visible light and infrared sensors on the front of the camera, plus Deep Learning technology. AI also aids AE, which Sony says is 20% better. I can't speak to precise performance gains, but I can confidently say that the camera metered both white balance and exposure well in nearly every situation. AWB and AE mistakes were few and far between.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6-3 G OSS lens at 391mm, F6.3, 1/250s, ISO 12,800.
The high ISO performance here is pretty darn good, but I'm even more impressed that the camera did a great job with the exposure and white balance given that it's a black and white cat in the shade of a green tree. The image is nothing special, but it's a situation that often trips a camera up. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

Returning to colors, the A7R V, like its predecessor, produces vibrant colors that are saturated but not excessively. I like how the A7R V and other Sony cameras handle most colors. However, I personally prefer Canon's handling of skin tones and Nikon's presentation of the greens and blues common in landscape photography. Fortunately, when shooting raw, I can process colors however I want. As for straight-out-of-the-camera JPEG images, the files look quite good.

Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS lens at 105mm, F4, 1/25s, ISO 100.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.
 
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens at 39mm, F5.6, 1/40s, ISO 1250.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

The A7R V produces extremely sharp images at low ISO settings, but what about high ISOs? Performance dips, as expected, at higher ISO speeds but remains quite strong. The detail is pretty good even at ISO speeds as high as 12,800. The image is grainy, but it is still sharp. If you want to reduce the grain, easy, you can apply noise reduction. This comes at the cost of sharpness, of course, but with a careful noise-reduction processing technique, you can retain a lot of sharpness while reducing the most distracting noise.

Foreground image: Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS lens at 30mm, F6.3, 30s, ISO 6400. Background image: F5, 6s, ISO 12,800.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. This is a focus stack of two images. Click for the full-size image. Click here for one of the original raw files.
 
Foreground image: Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS lens at 35mm, F5.6, 30s, ISO 1600. Middle ground image: F5.6, 30s, ISO 1600. Background and sky image: F5.6, 10s, ISO 5,000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. This is a focus stack of three images. Click for the full-size image. Click here for one of the original raw files.

When viewing JPEG images with default noise reduction, high ISO images look a bit too processed, in my opinion. I like to shoot at default noise reduction for reviews, but if I were using the A7R V for personal use, I'd probably reduce the default noise reduction. I prefer additional detail even if it results in more noise.

Speaking of processing raw images, which is how you get the most from a camera like the A7R V, the camera's files are extremely flexible during editing. You can recover a lot of highlight data and detail from the shadows. While doing this will add some noise to your image, that's a small price to pay for expanding the dynamic range of your photos. In the two images below, I left a lot of extra shadow detail on the table, since I didn't want the image to appear flat. You could do a lot more than I did during processing.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 303mm, F6.3, 1/250s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.
 
Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS lens at 24mm, F13, 1/10s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

Overall, there's not much to say about the A7R V that couldn't be said about the A7R IV. While that might disappoint photographers who hoped for a more tangible update in terms of the image sensor and image quality, it shouldn't be too tough to swallow given that the A7R V produces among the best image quality of any full-frame camera. The high-resolution performance is second to none.

Pixel-Shift multi-shot

The Sony A7R V also includes a pixel-shift multi-shot mode, like the A7R IV, but this time with AI assistance to help with movement reduction between shots. You can shoot 4 or 16 images, with 16 providing the best detail. The final composite uses 963MP of data to create a 240.8MP final image.

It's a neat feature, but not without its drawbacks. You need a tripod, which isn't always possible. Even with AI, you won't want to photograph heavily moving subjects, but moving leaves in the wind should be less of an issue. You also must process the composite on your computer rather than in-camera.

This is the bigger problem, as far as I'm concerned, because it disrupts my workflow. You must use Sony Imaging Edge Desktop (free) to perform the composite, and that's not an app I'd otherwise use to process my images. The processing is quite intensive and takes a few minutes, even on my M1 Max-powered MacBook Pro. The camera doesn't mark the pixel-shift files – although you can easily find them if you shoot raw+JPEG since only raw files will be recorded using the pixel-shift modes. They're labeled as sequential images in Imaging Edge Desktop, although only when you're viewing the image, they aren't marked in the filmstrip at the bottom of the window.

As for image quality, is the hassle worth it? I don't think so, at least not most of the time. However, when you compare the two images at 61MP, the composite is slightly sharper. When viewing them at their full resolution at 100%, I don't think the 241MP image looks especially detailed or sharp, but it is certainly very crisp when downsized.

Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS lens at 44mm, F14, 0.8s, ISO 100.
100% crop from the original raw image file. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.
 
Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS lens at 44mm, F14, 0.8s, ISO 100.
100% crop from the full-size 241MP pixel-shift image.
 
Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS lens at 44mm, F14, 0.8s, ISO 100.
100% crop from the resized 61MP pixel-shift image.

I shot a couple of other stacked images. You can download the original raw files if you want to process and stack them yourself by clicking here. Beware, it's a large .zip file.

My conclusion is that while a pixel-shift high-res composite image can deliver enhanced sharpness in the right situation, it also comes with a fair bit of hassle – at least until you get into a nice workflow – and some compositing artifacts. It's a case-by-case basis situation, as far as I'm concerned. I think the A7R V delivers such great images without the pixel-shift mode that I'm hard-pressed to think of many situations when I'd want to use it. However, if you want to use it, I can recommend a few things to help you. Use a very sturdy tripod. Use the camera's self-timer or some remote release to reduce camera shake on the initial capture. Only employ the mode in scenes with little movement. Some localized movement is okay, as it can be handled by the AI processing in the A7R V, but if most of the frame is moving, you won't take full advantage of the mode. Finally, capture black frames on either end of the sequence. That'll help you easily spot the sequence files so you can rename them or put them in their own folder on your computer.

Autofocus and performance: AI to the rescue?

One of the biggest new features of the A7R V is its new autofocus system. The A7R V ushers in a new era for Sony, thanks to the dedicated AI processing unit and deep learning technology. The A7R V uses advanced, highly-trained artificial intelligence to perform subject detection, recognition and tracking, including for a variety of subjects, such as humans, non-human animals (animal, bird and insects), cars, bikes and planes.

As for human subject detection, the A7R V promises better eye tracking, face tracking and body tracking from a wider range of angles. In the short video below, you can see the A7R V tracking a person's eyes, even at side profile angles and when walking in front of the camera. The performance is quite impressive. The camera also locks onto the eye's surface, not the eyelashes.

Sony A7R V's autofocus in action
Download original video (356MB .mp4 file)

Admittedly, I was much more interested in the AI-powered animal subject recognition and detection, as I enjoy wildlife photography. Birds are an especially challenging subject, as small birds rarely fill the full-frame image area and are fast-moving.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 594mm, F6.3, 1/500s, ISO 10,000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

The A7R V excelled in most situations. While there were occasional instances when the camera didn't seem to recognize a bird in the frame, especially in dim, low-contrast settings, it did a great job in good light. It did well most of the time in bad light, too, but the AF point was practically glued to the subject in bright light, even when photographing fast-moving gulls in the air.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 600mm, F6.3, 1/2500s, ISO 400.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

As for mammals, the A7R V performed well, too. Consider the deer image below. This was shot in a very cluttered environment, and the deer blends in with the background, but the A7R V still did a nice job identifying the subject and achieving focus – and this was in a low-light environment.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 600mm, F6.3, 1/500s, ISO 4000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

I've shot using Bird AF in the Sony A1 and A7 IV quite a bit, and I think that the A7R V's new AI-powered autofocus system performs better than both of those, at least in terms of accuracy. The A1 felt faster to me, but that might be partly due to just how fast the A1 is overall. When using the A7R V, watching the AF point follow a moving subject in the viewfinder in what seems like practically real-time is amazing.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 400mm, F6.3, 1/4000s, ISO 640.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

The A7R V adds many more animals, thanks to the AI chip, and is better able to decipher a wider range of already supported animals (like cats, dogs and birds). The camera also better tracks subjects when the eyes aren't in view or are too small in the frame to track accurately. There's a level of body, head and eye tracking that is more precise and fine-grained depending upon the situation. Long story short, Sony claims that the AF system is more sophisticated and accurate, and that proved true during my hands-on experience.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 230mm, F5.6, 1/4000s, ISO 1000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

The subject detection modes are one aspect of the A7R V's user experience that could be clearer. Human is straightforward, but for non-human animals, there's animal, which has a logo of a cat, bird, and insect. Plus an animal + bird option. Firstly, birds and insects are animals, so the name is weird. Aside from that, what's the difference between the separate animal and bird options and the combo animal + bird subject setting? Sony's user guide is of no help, as it just repeats what it says in the menu, animal focuses on animals, birds on birds and animal + birds on animals and, you guessed it, birds. And no, the camera can't automatically identify its subject like the Nikon Z9 and new Canon R6 Mark II, much to my chagrin.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 600mm, F6.3, 1/500, ISO 3200.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

You can fine-tune each subject independently in the camera's menus if you want. You can make it such that the A7R V only uses bird subject recognition when the head or eye is visible, for example, rather than the eye, head and full body. You can also adjust tracking sensitivity and range for each subject independently. It's getting into the weeds for most users, but having that level of control is great. You can, of course, prioritize left or right eyes for human subjects, but not non-human animals.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 397mm, F6.3, 1/4000s, ISO 640.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

Beyond the dedicated AI processor and excellent subject detection, the AF system has some other new bells and whistles. There are more autofocus points (693 versus 567) and different autofocus area coverage. There's less coverage vertically (93% instead of roughly 99%) but better horizontal coverage (86%, up from 74%). That's a worthwhile tradeoff, as far as I'm concerned. I'd like complete coverage across the entire area, but what we get is still excellent.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens at 70mm, F2.8, 1/80s, ISO 8,000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

As for performance, the camera isn't super fast. The sensor isn't stacked, so the camera is limited a bit in terms of readout speed, and burst shooting performance suffers as a result. The camera shoots at up to 10 frames per second using its mechanical shutter and 7 fps using the electronic shutter. I'd recommend sticking to mechanical when possible. The sensor just isn't as quick as the one in the A1 or A9 II, so you're going to run into rolling shutter artifacts in certain situations.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 600mm, F6.3, 1/2500s, ISO 200.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

So, the camera isn't especially fast, but the addition of CFexpress Type A slots aids buffer performance. I don't have a CFexpress Type A card, so I can't specifically test the improvements. However, trusted colleagues in the industry report buffer depths that are more than 10x better (greater than 500 versus less than 50 images). You can also use the new lossless compressed raw image setting for even better buffer performance at a minimal (often nonexistent) cost to image quality. That's a significant difference, and if you intend to do much burst shooting, a CFexpress Type A card is likely worth the rather hefty price.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens at 70mm, F5.6, 1/20s, ISO 400.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

The A7R V also uses a new in-body image stabilization system with new gyro sensors and improved processing power. The 5-axis IBIS system promises up to 8 steps of compensation, about 2.5 steps higher than the A7R IV. As is always the case with IBIS testing, individual situations can vary widely. That said, the A7R V's IBIS system worked very well during my testing, and I achieved the results I expected.

Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS lens at 600mm, F6.3, 1/4000s, ISO 400.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

The camera also includes a new focus bracketing option. I didn't personally employ it, but it's easy to locate in the menu and offers some impressive features. You go to the drive mode menu, like you would if you wanted to use a self-timer or shoot high-speed bursts, and then scroll down to the new Bracket – Focus option. You can customize the step width and the number of images you want the camera to shoot (up to 299). It's a great addition for those who frequently employ focus stacking techniques for macro, product or landscape photography. Stacking isn't available in the camera, so you'll need to use the software on your computer to create the final focus stack.

Sony A7R V Hands-on Review Summary

Another great camera from Sony, although not the leap some might have expected

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens at 60mm, F5.6, 1/60s, ISO 1600.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

What I like most about the Sony A7R V:

  • Great design
  • Useful, large rear display
  • One of the best EVFs available
  • Excellent sharpness
  • Very good dynamic range
  • Pretty good high ISO performance
  • AWB and AE are better and are very reliable
  • Impressive autofocus system and performance
  • AI-powered subject recognition is very good in most situations
  • New and improved IBIS works well
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens at 70mm, F11, 0.6s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

What I like less:

  • Menu system is good overall, but some areas, like the subject recognition menu, are vague
  • Pixel-shift shooting mode is nice, but its utility is limited by the need to use desktop software
  • The inclusion of CFexpress Type A card slots is great, but the cards are expensive
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens at 47mm, F18, 1/8s, ISO 1250.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

What I dislike:

  • The A7R V isn't the revolutionary jump we saw from the A7R III to the A7R IV
  • New AF system is held back a bit by the A7R V's relatively modest 10fps shooting speed and so-so buffer performance (at least on UHS-II SD cards)

The "dislike" list above is a bit nitpicky, and that's because the Sony A7R V is an amazing camera. I thoroughly enjoyed using it; the camera can capture images with excellent detail, color and dynamic range. The new autofocus system is very good, delivering reliable speed and accuracy in various situations. It's hard to ask for much more than that from a high-resolution full-frame camera.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens at 46mm, F13, 2.5s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

Of course, I am tempted to ask for slightly more. For example, I would have liked to see a sensor with better readout speed to let the AI AF system strut its stuff. The autofocus system is impressive, but I can't help but wonder what it could do when paired with a fast, stacked image sensor. The impressive subject recognition technology feels handcuffed by the A7R V's modest shooting speeds. I also don't find the A7R V to compel A7R IV users to upgrade like the A7R IV did to A7R III owners. There's not that huge step forward I expected.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens at 70mm, F2.8, 1/100s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

However, if I stop knocking the A7R V for what it isn't and instead focus on what it is, then it's clear to see that it's an excellent camera. The Sony A7R V is not quite the versatile do-it-all beast that the Sony A1 is, but it's a lot more useful across a wider range of situations than its predecessor.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM lens at 252mm, F10, 1/60s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the raw file.

What's next? During this hands-on experience, I focused on still photography. The Sony A7R V has some impressive new video features, which we'll tackle in a future review section. Unfortunately, there wasn't time to do everything. Stay tuned.

 

• • •

 

Sony A7R V Preview

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

by Jeremy Gray
Published: 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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