Sony Alpha 7 IV full frame mirrorless camera review

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Quick verdict

Billed as a “full frame mirrorless camera”, the Sony A7 IV certainly lives up to its potential. Whether it’s high-quality stills, high-quality video shooting or streaming and connectivity, it’s all there. This of course brings a certain level of complexity, so it takes a certain investment of time to understand and take full advantage of all the versatility that Sony has built in. It’s time well spent and the camera pays for that effort with an abundance of functionality befitting its status as the flagship of the A7 series.

+ Advantages

  • Excellent image quality of photos
  • Smooth, high-quality shooting
  • Bionz XR processor
  • Resistance to dust and humidity
  • 5-axis SteadyShot
  • Human, animal or bird AF tracking
  • Low noise
  • Shooting at 10 fps

– The inconvenients

  • Very complex and not always intuitive menus
  • Full manual online only

Sony offers a wide range of interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras in both full frame and APS-C formats. To their credit, new models may exist for a while alongside the older versions they replace, also allowing for a variety of price points and options. The A7 range does not have the highest resolution of the options available, but instead has consistently offered a bias towards movie recording and low noise shooting. The technology is now such that the dividing edges are blurry and we can expect a sufficiently high pixel count (33MP in this case) as well as fast frame rates (10fps) and huge buffers ( up to 800 photos). Add to that a very sophisticated set of video specs, and we have a true mirrorless camera that can meet the needs of a wide range of photographers.

The review sample came with the FE 12-24mm f / 2.8 GM zoom lens, fully reviewed separately, so let’s take this heavyweight duo out into the field and see what they can do.

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Features of the Sony Alpha 7 IV

Sony Alpha 7 IV

The A7 IV is a rugged and impressively designed camera body with dust and moisture resistance, built-in SteadyShot (5-axis, up to 5.5 stops) and a sturdy weight of 658g including SD card and battery. The supplied lens, the Sony FE 12-24mm f / 2.8 GM, fits perfectly and without any rotational movement when mounted. An interesting improvement is that when the lens is removed, the sensor is actually covered rather than being fully exposed.

The camera is slightly larger than the A7R III that we usually use for testing Sony lenses. This is because of the deeper grip, which works well, and the variable-angle rear monitor that allows for a forward view that vloggers will appreciate if they want to film themselves.

Much of the button placement remains similar to previous models, but there are a few important tweaks available. The top panel has gained a rotation dial under the mode dial to select still images, video and S&Q (slow and fast). The exposure compensation dial lost its engraving, gained a lock button in its center, and gained a full range of adjustment from -5 EV to +5 EV. The rear command dial has become a top command dial. There is a new operation switch, marked with a red circle, which starts and stops video recording.

The rear of the camera is no surprise, with the usual control knobs and buttons, with a huge range of customizations possible for each one. This brings us to the menus which are quite complex by necessity, but perhaps not as intuitive as the previous style. This is, of course, a very personal choice and without a doubt, with continued use everything will become more familiar and much easier to use.

Sony Alpha 7 IV

The Quad VGA OLED EVF (1.3cm, type 0.5) has as many as 3,686,400 dots, offers 100% coverage and offers 0.78x magnification with a 50mm lens at infinity . The EVF has truly come of age, offering a superb view, no flicker, fully usable without any trace of eye strain. The only clue as to its electronic nature is that you have to turn it on to use it, unlike an optical viewfinder.

Equally useful is the 7.5cm (3.0-type) TFT touchscreen display with 1,036,800 dots. The menus are crisp and clear. If the touchscreen is not required, it can be disabled.

The measurement has a wide sensitivity range, from -3 EV to +20 EV. The basic ISO values ​​are ISO 100-51,200 and can be extended to ISO 50-204,800. ISO performance is excellent, as mentioned later.

Sony Alpha 7 IV

AF is a hybrid system using phase detection and contrast detection. It operates from -4 EV to +20 EV and performs very well, being sharp, fast and precise. There is an AF illuminator which is effective from 0.3m to 3.0m. AF by eye and face recognition works great, and we now have the option to select Human, Animal or Bird.

Media can be accessed through the usual side panel and this has gained an additional lock switch. The camera accepts SD cards (including UHS-I and UHS-II) and CFexpress type A cards. Some video functions depend on using the highest specification cards, whether SD or CFexpress.

There is no doubt that the A7 IV is a highly specified and highly efficient tool for photographers and videographers.

Main characteristics

  • 33MP Full Frame (35.9mm x 23.9mm) Exmoor R CMOS Sensor
  • Shutter speeds 1 / 8000s to 30s (still images)
  • Shutter speeds 1 / 8000s to 1 / 4s (film)
  • ISO range 100 – 51200 (50 to 204,800 extended)
  • Measuring range EV -3 to EV 20
  • 7.5cm (3.0-type) variable-angle TFT touchscreen with 1,036,800 dots
  • Quad VGA 1.3cm (0.5 type) OLED EVF 3,686,400 dots, 100% field of view, 0.78x magnification with 50mm lens at infinity
  • 4: 2: 2 10-bit 4K, 7K upsampling and UHD video, H.264 and H.265 formats
  • Streaming / webcam capability
  • Bluetooth version 4.1
  • 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz wireless LAN
  • Hybrid AF – phase detection / contrast detection
  • AF EV range -4 to EV 20
  • Support: SD card (UHS-I and UHS-II compatible), CF Express Type A
  • 10 fps, buffer up to 800 photos
  • SteadyShot (5.5 stops)
  • Anti dust
  • 658g with SD card and battery
  • Fully adjustable image profiles
  • Creative Appearance: Standard, Portrait, Muted, Vivid, Vivid + Enhanced Clarity, Moody, Monochrome, Sepia, Custom

Sony Alpha 7 IV handling

Sony Alpha 7 IV

The handling is purely Sony and from a slow start as the cameras morphed from Minolta to Konica Minolta and finally Sony the learning curve and development has been intense, relentless and very, very successful. We now have cutting edge performance, design and handling and with so many alternative models, something for every style of photographer.

The A7 IV was the pinnacle of a development line that sought to cater to those who wanted low noise and the ability to shoot efficiently, as well as the general need for still images. So we may be moving from being pure photographers or videographers to being content creators, a hybrid that needs a hybrid choice of cameras. Everything is in the A7 IV, including a plethora of connection and communication options. With a 33MP sensor, there’s plenty of resolution for photos too.

The only points I would bring up are the menus and the instruction manual. The menu system may be appealing to many, but in my opinion I don’t find it particularly intuitive, although as with everything it improves with use and familiarity and of course once a camera is configured, the process does not need to be repeated. The instruction manual for an undeniably complex option set would be useful in printed form, as the online version may not be the most convenient way to convey information.

However, to be fair, once configured for stills and then configured for video, actual operation is smooth and safe.

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