Hands-on with the new Sony A7 Mark IV: New sensor, better AF, better video - An Alpha 1 for the rest of us?
posted Thursday, October 21, 2021 at 9:00 AM EST
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Sony A7 IV Hands-on Review, Part 1
• First Shots • Gallery Images •
It's been quite a while since we've seen an update to Sony's wildly-popular "basic" A7-series full-frame mirrorless camera, with the last version, the A7 III, debuting back in 2018. While that's not as large of a gap between models like we saw with the A7S III, there's been a lot of new features and new technology seen in Sony's other cameras in the intervening years, and many people were beginning to wonder and speculate about what a follow-up to the A7 Mark III would look like.
Well, the wait is over! The Sony A7 Mark IV is here! At first glance, the A7 IV looks very similar to its predecessor. No surprises there, as all of Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras share a similar design language. However, the Sony A7 IV gets a thorough makeover both inside and out, with an updated design that takes after the Alpha 1 and A7S III cameras, while also gaining an all-new imaging pipeline, vastly improved autofocusing system, better video features and improved connectivity, just to name a few new features.
The "entry-level" A7-series models have always been about versatility, with a feature set and price point that address a wide range of users, and that trend continues with the A7 Mark IV. The camera feature a higher-resolution 33MP full-frame sensor, updated 759-point hybrid AF with real-time tracking and Eye AF, more video options -- including 4K 60p -- and a vari-angle LCD, as well as faster memory card support, easier live-streaming capabilities and faster wireless connectivity for easy sharing and mobile content production.
We were fortunate to get an early hands-on look at the new Sony A7 Mark IV, and wow, there is a lot of camera here -- and a lot to get excited about! As we saw with the A1 and A7S III, the ergonomics of the A7 IV have been subtly but pleasingly improved with a deeper, more comfortable grip and larger, easier to operate buttons and dials. For video shooters, the two-way tilting LCD screen as been swapped for a fully articulating screen. The camera also gains support for super-fast CFexpress Type A memory cards (though only in one slot).
Under the hood, the A7 IV uses an all-new 33-megapixel full-frame Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter, making the Mark IV the highest resolution base A7-series camera to date -- finally pushing this camera line past the 24MP sensors used in previous models. Paired with the new sensor is Sony's latest BIONZ XR image processor, the same chip powering the flagship Alpha 1, giving the camera updated image quality, an expansive ISO range up to ISO 204,800, the ability to shoot both JPEG or HEIF 10bit images and more.
In terms of autofocus and performance, the A7 IV shares many of the same features and specs as the flagship A1, including using essentially the same impressive AF system. The A7 IV features a high-speed Fast Hybrid AF system with 759 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection areas. Phase-detect AF covers about 92% of the sensor area, and the AF system includes Real-time Tracking AF with human, animal and bird Eye-AF tracking -- a big step up from the Lock-On tracking AF tech in the A7 III. Sheer burst speed is where the A7 IV differs noticeably compared to the A1, however, with the maximum burst topping out again at just 10fps. However, the buffer depth is impressive, with Sony claiming around 828 frames with uncompressed RAW+JPEG when using a CFexpress card.
As mentioned, we've gone hands-on with the new Sony A7 IV, albeit with it running a very early pre-production version of the firmware. In addition to an initial Hands-on Review, we also have our classic First Shots series of lab sample images and, of course, a selection of real-world Gallery Images. (Keep in mind, however, that due to the pre-production firmware, final image quality and performance may not be representative of final production models.)
Head on over to our Sony A7 IV Review to get an initial look at design, ergonomics and how the camera performs in the field as well as browse our lab sample images! Be sure to stay tuned as there is more to come with our overall Sony A7 IV review.