The Sony Alpha 7R IV breaks the 50MP barrier, but how else does it improve on the sensational Alpha 7R III? Michael Topham investigates
Sony Alpha 7R IV Review: Verdict
The Sony A7R IV is the new master of resolution in the full-frame market. By developing the world’s first 61MP full frame sensor, Sony has taken image quality to new heights – something that has been achieved without making a compromise on speed. The fine detail it resolves in its files is astonishing and so is the performance at high ISO. Then there’s the wide dynamic range, which offers great latitude from its raw files, and the option to switch over to APS-C mode from the touch of a button, which turns it into an accomplished camera for sport, action or wildlife.
It’s great to see Sony addressing some of the comments we made about the A7R III, with its larger handgrip, weather seals and subtle changes to buttons and dials further improving its build and handling. Other advancements such as the improved phase-detection AF coverage, the option to change the focus frame colour, and ability to use Sony’s fabulous Real-time Eye/Animal AF focusing during video recording are all well received.
All of the above is very complimentary, but there are still a few quibbles. The huge raw files have a big affect on storage so you should be prepared for memory cards and external hard drives to fill up quickly. There’s the processing power of your computer to think about too, which needs to be speedy if you’d like to turnaround images fast and avoid frustrating delays during post processing. I’d like to see Sony take a leaf out of Canon’s book and develop a sensible raw compression for its Raw files to help save valuable memory card and disk space without a noticeable impact on image quality.
The excellent electronic viewfinder and effective 5-axis in-body stabilisation are great to have, however it’s a shame they’re not supported by a better screen that allows you to tilt it for low/high portrait shooting. The limited touchscreen control and convoluted menu system that consists of 197 options across six pages, makes settings hard to find in a hurry, especially if you’re new to an A7-series camera. These are two areas we’d like to see Sony improve its high-resolution marvel in the future.
To sum up, the Sony A7R IV is an incredibly powerful mirrorless camera that sets a new benchmark. The resolution will be overkill for many amateurs and enthusiasts, however pros, commercial photographers and those who regularly shoot high-resolution images for stock agencies will be sorely tempted.
To answer my earlier question; Sony has successfully created one of the finest high resolution full-frame mirrorless offerings on the market. It’s not perfect in every way, but is right up there as one of best mirrorless cameras money can buy and has seriously impressed us on test.
The great news for those who can’t justify spending £3500 on the A7R IV is that the cost of the A7R III has plummeted to £2300 – a £1000 saving on its launch price from two years ago. The A7R III remains an extremely capable high resolution mirrorless camera by today’s standards and this already popular model is likely to become even more in demand in the coming months at such a tempting price.