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Summary

Highly Recommended awardThe A7 IV may be classified as the entry-level model in Sony’s full-frame lineup, but like its predecessors, will more than satisfy the majority of photographers, videographers and hybrid shooters. The Mark IV boosts the resolution to 33 Megapixels without compromising noise levels, enhances an already excellent autofocus system, improves the menus and controls, increases the viewfinder resolution and sports a more comfortable grip. There’s also support for new flashguns with greater communications via the multi-interface shoe. The top burst speed remains 10fps, but reduces when shooting RAW to 8 or even 6fps depending on compression and there still no focus bracketing or bulb timers. Meanwhile videographers get 10 bit, 4k at 50 or 60p (albeit with a 1.5x crop), a flip screen, active stabilization, gyro data, some cool focus tools, and the ability to record clips longer than 30mins without overheating. It’ll even work as a standard USB webcam. If you want RAW video, uncropped 4k at 60 or even 120p, less skewing, and faster RAW bursts, then you should weigh-up the features of the Canon R6, Lumix S5 and Lumix GH6 to name but three. But while the A7 IV has a handful of annoyances, the pros overwhelmingly add up to an extremely capable camera. In terms of an all-rounder, the A7 IV becomes the one to beat and comes Highly Recommended.

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Sony A7 IV review

Intro

The Sony A7 IV is a mid-range full-frame mirrorless camera with 33 Megapixels, 10fps bursts, 10-bit 4k up to 60p, webcam capabilities and a flip-out screen. Announced in October 2021, the A7 IV arrives three and a half years after the Mark III which changed the market for full-frame cameras. Sony packed everything it could think of at the time into the A7 III, gently ribbing its status as the entry-level model in the series, and priced it aggressively, undercutting rivals. The A7 IV attempts to do the same today, but faces stiff competition, most notably from the Canon EOS R6, so in this video I’ve pitched them head to head, while also including lots of comparisons against the older Mark III for anyone thinking of upgrading.

I’ve made two in-depth videos for you. Part one looks at the design and controls before delving into the camera’s performance for stills photography, while part two is devoted entirely to video features and quality. Please do watch them both for the full story, but if you prefer to read the written highlights, keep scrolling!

First let’s see how the design’s changed. Place the older A7 III on the left next to the new A7 IV on the right and you’ll notice straightaway the new model is a little chunkier all-round, a few mill wider, taller and thicker with a grip that also protrudes a little further too. The slightly larger body is partly to accommodate the side-hinged screen and improved heat management, but also makes it more comfortable to hold, especially the grip which has more to wrap your fingers around. The extra size hasn’t resulted in a heavier body though: I weighed the A7 IV with battery at 656g, a mere 12g more than the A7 III.

Round the back, the biggest difference is of course the screen mechanism – vertically-tilting on the A7 III and fully-articulated on the A7 IV, not to mention a slightly wider panel on the IV which now matches the native 3:2 shape of photos – but beyond this you’ll notice larger and more tactile buttons on the IV, most obviously the AF-ON button, and a joystick that’s more comfortable to use.

From the top both cameras share a similar layout but with adjusted functions on the new version. Custom Function 1 on the A7 III has become the relocated movie record button on the IV, while the old exposure compensation dial has now become a much more useful programmable dial on the IV with the welcome addition of a ballpoint-pen style locking button in the middle. Most importantly the mode dial on the IV has become simplified, swapping the scene preset for a third custom bank and sensibly moving the movie and S&Q modes to a new lower collar control which I’ll talk about more in a moment.

Switch the old A7 III on the left for the EOS R6, arguably the biggest rival to the A7 IV, and you’ll notice the Canon’s more rounded in style and a little wider and taller, albeit much the same thickness with a similar-sized grip. I weighed the R6 at 40g heavier than the A7 IV, but in use or in a bag they’re essentially the same.

From the rear you’ll notice the Canon’s screen looks bigger, but this is down to a taller bezel as their active area is similar. Meanwhile Canon’s rear thumb wheel may not double as a rocking d-pad but is larger and felt more tactile to me, but the R6’s joystick position is a bit of a stretch for my own thumb, whereas Sony’s is easier to reach without adjusting my grip. It’s all personal choice though.

From the top you’ll see Canon and Sony’s different approach to shutter  and finger dial positions – again a personal choice, although I found Canon’s dials provided more positive feedback all-round and felt less squishy. Note the R6 keeps the movie mode on the main dial versus the separate collar control on the A7 IV, and also lacks the third programmable dial of the Sony.

Let’s take a closer look at that new collar control on the A7 IV which lets you select between stills, movies and the S&Q mode. By default each mode shares the same exposure settings, but delve into the Customisation in the Setup menus and you’ll find options to enable separate settings for stills and movies, which saves lots of time for anyone who regularly switches between them. Note if you push the movie record button during stills mode though, the video will inherit the stills settings.

Switching the old compensation dial for one that’s now programmable – not to mention lockable – is also a useful upgrade, although I’d have also preferred the locking mode dial of models like the Alpha 1.

In terms of exposure, the shutter speed range remains 30 seconds to 1/8000 with either the mechanical or electronic shutter, while Bulb is available for the mechanical shutter alone, but sadly there’s still no Bulb timers to make those longer exposures easier to deploy. An interval timer is available taking up to 9999 frames at intervals of one to 60 seconds, and you can exposure-bracket up to nine frames at ⅓, ⅔ or 1EV increments, or five frames up to 3EV apart, but annoyingly Sony continues to resist including focus bracketing for macro photographers who want to stack multiple images to increase the depth of field.

The side-hinged screen is a major change from earlier models in the series, with the 3in 1.03 million dot panel, now in the 3:2 shape, able to flip out and twist to face forward, or fold back on itself for protection. There’s pros and cons. The old vertically-tilting screens on earlier models stay in-line with the optical axis and are quicker and more discrete, but the side-hinged version on the new model is invaluable for anyone who’s presenting to camera, taking selfies or simply wanting the flexibility of angling it out for both landscape and portrait shaped photos. I personally prefer the change, but I know some of you won’t.

I’m pretty sure everyone will welcome Sony’s latest menu system though, trading the horizontal tabs of the old A7 III on the left for the newer vertical tabs seen on models like the A7S III and Alpha 1 on the right, along with some well-needed reorganisation. Anyone familiar with the old menus will understandably be a little lost at first, but overall it’s a far better system in my view, and thankfully the A7 IV also inherits the latest touchscreen control to operate the Function and main menu system if preferred.

As for the EVF, Sony has unsurprisingly upgraded the resolution from the 2.36 million dot panel of the A7 III to a 3.68 million dot OLED to bring it in line with other mid-range full-frame mirrorless cameras at this price point. Side-by-side with the A7 III, you’ll notice a more detailed view with less jaggies on diagonal lines or curves, although the 0.78x magnification remains the same. If you’re following action, you can enable a smoother 120fps frame rate, albeit at the cost of slightly lower preview quality. 

For storage the A7 IV allows dual SD cards with both slots supporting UHS-II speeds and simultaneous recording of stills or movies. Slot-1 at the top also supports faster CF Express Type-A cards, allowing faster clearing of the buffer, although it’s not necessary to support any of the video or burst modes. Looking at the plastic cover over Slot-2, I wondered if the card unit was in fact the same as the Alpha 1 and A7S III, but deliberately hobbled to prevent the use of dual CF Express cards to differentiate models in the range. Sony claims Slot-2 doesn’t have the required electronics for CF Express on the A7 IV, but without taking it apart I can’t tell you. At least action shooters have the option of a faster card if they want it, unlike the A7 III and EOS R6 which are SD only.

For power, the A7 IV is supplied with the same NP-FZ100 pack as the A7 III and all current models in the Alpha series. It remains one of the best around, easily lasting a long day’s shooting. As before it can be charged in-camera or powered over USB, albeit only with the C port, and I successfully used my MacBook Pro and Galaxy S20 chargers with it.

In terms of ports, there’s a 3.5mm microphone input behind its own flap at the top, considerately avoiding the screen mechanism, although the hotshoe also supports Sony’s latest digital audio interface too. Below the mic and behind its own flap is a 3.5mm headphone jack for monitoring audio, and below that, twin USB ports. The upper Type-C port is 3.2 Gen 2 and supports charging, power delivery, tethering, a Gigabit ethernet adapter for wired networks, and new to the A7 IV, streaming to a computer or selected smartphones so you can use it as a USB webcam without any extra software or capture devices. 

The lower Micro USB port can also be used for streaming up to 720p or tethering while the upper one is handling power, but sadly the Micro USB can no longer be used for power, making it a lot less useful than before. But in a very welcome upgrade over its predecessor and Canon’s mirrorless cameras, the HDMI port now features a full-size Type-A connector – much appreciated Sony, thanks! In terms of wireless, there’s Bluetooth and Wifi now at 2.4 and 5GHz; Bluetooth is used to initiate connections and can also work with your smartphone GPS to location-tag images. There’s no longer NFC though.

The A7 IV sports a brand new sensor: a 33 Megapixel, back-illuminated CMOS, coupled with the latest BIONZ XR image processor from the A7S III and Alpha 1, and in a nice upgrade you can now choose whether the shutter closes at power-off; this can reduce dust, but you do need to be very careful not to touch the delicate shutter curtain.

The A7 IV’s sensor captures images measuring 7008×4672 pixels versus 6000×4000 on the A7 III, or 5472×3648 on the Canon R6. You can save images in JPEG or HEIF, the latter in 4:2:0 or 4:2:2, although there’s still minimal software to get the most from the HEIF format. JPEGs and HEIFs can be saved in the choice of four levels of compression and at lower resolutions of 15 or 8.2 Megapixels in the native 3:2 shape; you can also choose 4:3, 16:9 or 1:1 aspect ratios. If you’re shooting RAW, you have the choice of compressed, lossless compressed or uncompressed options, although each can have an impact on burst speed.

To measure and compare the resolution between the A7 IV, A7 III and EOS R6, I photographed my standard test chart using each camera fitted with the same adapted Sigma 40mm f1.4 ART lens closed to f8. I shot RAW and JPEG but until the A7 IV is supported by Adobe, I’ll be presenting JPEG results for now.

Zooming-in and placing them in ascending order of resolution, you have the Canon R6 on the left with 20 Megapixels, the A7 III in the middle with 24 Megapixels and the A7 IV on the right with 33 Megapixels. In terms of vertical or horizontal resolution, the A7 IV has 16% more pixels than the A7 III and 28% more than the R6, and in this pure test it’s certainly resolving finer details than its predecessor and main rival, and in real life this does provide greater latitude for cropping.

To discover the impact this has on real-life noise levels, I photographed these flowers with each camera at every sensitivity, again using the same adapted Sigma 40mm f1.4 ART lens at f8. In each case the white balance was fixed, DRO and Auto Lighting disabled, and the exposures identical between cameras.

Once again while we wait for RAW support from Adobe, this is a JPEG comparison, so let’s run through the sequence with the Canon EOS R6 on the left, the A7 III in the middle and the A7 IV on the right, all viewed enlarged by 400%. The R6 is missing from the start and the end as it doesn’t offer a 50 or 204800 ISO option. The most obvious difference between the cameras here is the softer looking image from the R6, due to modest sharpening on Canon’s default JPEGs. These can easily handle a boost in sharpness that I’ll show when I can make a RAW comparison. Even taking that into consideration though, the two Sony’s, especially the A7 IV are showing finer detail at low to mid ISOs as you’d expect given their higher resolutions. From 12800 ISO upwards, their approach to noise varies with the A7 IV actually looking the cleanest of the three, albeit sharing similar degrees of actual detail. I won’t know the full story until I can compare RAW files, but I’d say the R6 isn’t showing a decisive lead at high ISOs thanks to its larger pixels, and that the A7 IV doesn’t appear to be visibly suffering due to its smaller pixels. What do you think?

Just before moving on, a quick note about dynamic range which I’m also leaving until there’s broad support for RAW. I’ll also have a better chance to evaluate the HEIF files then, so once that comparison is ready I’ll link to it here.

Moving onto stabilisation, Sony claims its sensor-shift IBIS system is now good for 5.5 stops, but as always it’s influenced by the lens in use. Here’s a view using the Sigma 35mm f2 DG DN lens which has no optical stabilisation of its own, and now with IBIS only, showing the view becoming much steadier. I managed to handhold a sharp result at ⅕ using IBIS, and 1/40 without, so that’s roughly three stops of compensation. And next with Sony’s own 70-200mm f2.8 G Master II at 200mm, first with SteadyShot disabled from the lens barrel, and now with SteadyShot enabled on the barrel. As far as I know there’s no way to separate body IBIS and lens IS – you either have neither or them both. I handheld a sharp result at 200mm at 1/13 with SteadyShot enabled and 1/400 without, so five stops for that combination.

Next for some focusing tests and again you’re seeing the A7 IV fitted with the FE 70-200mm f2.8 G Master Mark II lens at 200mm f2.8 in single AFS mode. The A7 IV’s autofocus system easily exploits top-end lenses like these for quick and accurate response. Set to Continuous AFC, it’s even faster.

Beyond speed, the A7 IV also features Sony’s latest AF algorithms including face and eye detection for humans, animals and birds for both stills and movies and you’re watching some bursts of Brighton’s seagulls here. It also supports real-time tracking, focusing down to -4EV at f2, and continuous AF at apertures as small as f22. In use it worked seamlessly from photographing still portraits to erratic sports action and birds in flight. For sports, I generally used the zone area to narrow-down the selection, but for birds in flight I mostly left the camera in wide area mode and just let it figure out everything by itself – which it invariably did. It’s still a little frustrating having to manually select between humans, animals and birds for the most reliable eye tracking, but it seems churlish to complain when you consider how easy it makes sports and wildlife photography. As for viewfinder lag when shooting bursts, there is some delay at the top 10fps H+ speed that can make panning tricky at times, but reducing to H mode slows the burst and provides live feedback. Depending on the speed and predictability of your subject, you may find H+ is fine, or may prefer to use H. 

In terms of burst speed, the A7 IV sticks with a maximum of 10fps whether using the mechanical or electronic shutter, and here’s how it sounds with the mechanical. As before though, there are conditions to achieve the top speed and caveats when you do.

10fps is only available when you shoot in JPEG and or compressed RAW. In my tests I could keep shooting JPEGs at 10fps using SD or CF Express, but needed CF Express to shoot compressed RAW at 10fps; when I switched to SD memory, the speed reduced to 8fps.

The top speed falls again when you’re shooting uncompressed or lossless compressed RAW, regardless of the card type. I measured 6fps for lossless compressed with either card type, and 6fps for uncompressed when using CF Express only. When shooting uncompressed RAW on SD I only managed 6fps for the first 25 frames, before it slowed to 3.5fps. This appears to be a downgrade from the A7 III which, in my tests, could shoot RAW in any format at 10fps, even if only for a few seconds. Maybe the buffer memory has reduced and presumably the greater pixel count per frame has an impact too.

The card type also influences the size of the buffer at the top speed and how quickly it’ll clear. Here’s the A7 IV using a fast SD card and set to JPEG + uncompressed RAW. Notice how quickly it falls in speed and once I’ve taken around 50 shots, see how it takes several seconds to then clear the buffer. The good news though is you can now at least enter the menus while the buffer is clearing rather than being locked out.

In contrast here’s the A7 IV fitted with a CF Express card and when shooting JPEG + uncompressed RAW it maintained the speed until I let go of the shutter at around 50 frames, after which the buffer cleared almost instantly. If you’re only shooting JPEG, there’s little benefit to CF Express over SD, but if you’re including RAW in your bursts, CF Express will let you shoot longer bursts at the top speed and clear them much faster too.

Continuous shooting speed is an area where the Canon EOS R6 appears to perform better with a mechanical shutter frame rate up to 12fps and electronic up to 20fps. To achieve the top speeds, you will need a battery with a decent charge level and a modern lens, but it seems less fussy about RAW file type than the A7 IV.

And finally for part one of this review, a comparison between the mechanical and silent electronic shutter, starting with a pan using the mechanical shutter where, as you’d expect, the buildings are upright. But now for the version with the electronic shutter where the fairly average sensor readout means there’s quite visible rolling shutter, with the buildings and tower skewing quite obviously. To be fair, the A7 IV doesn’t have a stacked sensor, so can’t come close to the rolling shutter performance of the A9 or Alpha 1, and it’s no worse than the Canon R5 and R6, but the bottom line is you should avoid using the electronic silent shutter if the camera or subject are in motion.

Which brings me to the end of my review for photography quality and features, and now onto the second part, concentrating on video!

Sony A7 IV review for videographers

Now for the second part of my in-depth Sony A7 IV review, concentrating on the movie quality and video features. I’ll talk about the A7 IV’s controls and features for video, followed by an in-depth look at the movie focus, resolution, noise, slow motion and rolling shutter, along with how the camera performs for vlogging and as a USB webcam, and of course a look at whether overheating is an issue.

Ok, first a quick look at the body features and design from a video perspective. In arguably the most requested update for videographers, the A7 IV becomes the first model in the series to sport a side-hinged fully-articulated screen. Stills photographers may be in two minds over this decision, but for video it’s a win, allowing you to flip the screen forward to face you, invaluable whether you’re vlogging, presenting a piece to camera, or setting up a webcam meeting. In fact I know owners of previous models for which this alone will be justification to upgrade.

The EVF also enjoys a boost in resolution over the Mark III to bring it in line with current mirrorless rivals like the EOS R6. This makes manual focusing easier than before, especially when coupled with some of SOny’s assistance which I’ll mention in a moment.

In terms of controls, Sony’s moved the record button from the viewfinder side to the top surface, but more importantly now employs a new collar control around the mode dial to switch between stills, movies and the S&Q mode. 

By default each mode shares the same exposure settings, but delve into the Customisation in the Setup menus and you’ll find options to enable separate settings for stills and movies, which saves lots of time for anyone who regularly switches between them. Note if you push the movie record button during stills mode though, the video will inherit the stills settings.

As for memory, the A7 IV is equipped with dual SD slots, both able to exploit UHS-II cards and write stills or video to both cards simultaneously, while slot 1 can alternatively use a faster CF Express card. Thankfully none of the video modes require CF Express, so it only benefits the speed and buffer during photo bursts and I’ve gone into detail in part one of my review.

The 3.5mm mic input is positioned behind its own flap which clears the screen mechanism, while the multi-interface shoe also supports Sony’s digital audio accessories. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack, and twin USB ports, with the upper USB C port allowing charging, power delivery, tethering and, new to the A7 IV, streaming as a standard USB webcam without any extra software or capture devices. 

The lower Micro USB port can also be used for streaming up to 720p or tethering while the upper one is handling power, but sadly the Micro USB can no longer be used for power, making it a lot less useful than before. But in a very welcome upgrade over its predecessor and Canon’s mirrorless cameras, the HDMI port now features a full-size Type-A connector – much appreciated Sony, thanks, although there’s currently no word as to whether it will ever output RAW video. This is an advantage of the Lumix S5 which can output RAW video oliver HDMI and costs less too.

As you’d expect the A7 IV is powered by the same NP-FZ100 as the A7 III and all current models in the Alpha series. It remains one of the best around, and I was able to charge it in-cameras using my MacBook Pro or Galaxy S20 chargers, although again sadly no longer with the Micro USB port.

Sony says it’s improved heat dissipation over the A7 III, and it’s certainly slightly thicker all-round than its predecessor, although thankfully only a few grams heavier. The grip’s larger too and personally speaking I found it more comfortable to hold and use.

So how long can you record for? Like recent Sony cameras, the A7 IV dispenses with the half hour limit per clip that was imposed on the old A7 III and still plagues the EOS R5 and R6, but the maximum clip time is influenced by the Auto Power OFF Temp setting. At the default Standard setting, the A7 IV would overheat and shutdown in my tests after about 35 minutes of 4k, at any frame or bit rate, although the camera itself didn’t feel that warm. Set the Auto Power Off to High though and it happily kept recording in my tests until I either ran out of battery or memory.

In my tests I managed to record a single 4k 25p XAVCS clip lasting 2hrs 8mins and 53 secs on a full charge before the battery ran out, without any overheating issues. I also tried 4k at 50p in 10 bit using XAVC HS at 200 Mbit/s and squeezed almost one hour and 18 minutes onto a 128GB card, before I ran out of memory and again without overheating.

This is a major advantage the A7 IV has over the A7 III and Canon’s EOS R5 and R6, all of which are limited to half hour clips. Plus the R5 and R6 infamously face overheating and cooldown issues in any of their headline modes.

Ok, next for autofocus and you’re looking at the A7 IV filming 4k 25p with the FE 70-200 2.8 GM II at 70 2.8 and pulling focus between the two bottles effortlessly using a single AF area – this also works well using the touchscreen to select the desired subject.

Here’s the same lens at 70mm f2.8 but this time with a human target where again the camera has no problem keeping me sharp throughout without any hunting. You can also adjust the transition speed and sensitivity. The A7 IV now supports eye tracking during video recording, for human subjects as well as animals and birds.

So here’s Steven Seagul with the same lens but the camera AF switched to bird eye detection, where again the technology just gets out of the way and does what you want it to. Eye tracking even works when filming birds in flight. You just need to remember to select human, animal or bird in the menus.

If you prefer to focus manually, the A7 IV offers a variety of assistance including magnification prior to filming and peaking in a choice of colours while filming if desired. But new to the A7 IV is the Focus Map which attempts to visualise the actual depth-of-field with clear areas indicating what’s in focus, while anything behind is coloured blue and anything in front coloured red. To demonstrate it in action I recorded the view when fitted with the 70-200 2.8 at 200 2.8 and manually focusing between the jar and two bottles. Again when you see the subject in normal colour, it’s within the depth of field. As I close the aperture down, notice how the depth of field increases, with the clear areas expanding as you’d expect. At first the focus map looks too blocky to be useful, but over time I found it a surprisingly accurate way of visualising depth of field and a fun alternative to focus peaking both for setting up a shot and while filming. 

Ok next for a video where I’m manually pulling focus from the nearby subject to the garden and back again with the FE 20mm f1.8, an excellent lens but one which suffers from quite noticeable breathing. This is where the field of view changes as you vary the focus and can be quite distracting for videographers.

New to the A7 IV though is focus breathing compensation which automatically crops and rescales the image in realtime as you focus for selected lenses, including the 20mm. And here it is in practice, where the magnification change seen previously has essentially gone. Now of course the entire clip needs to be cropped to the narrowest field of view in that lens’s focusing range, but the amazing part is how well the camera is scaling the image in realtime even as I randomly adjust the focus back and forth.

Here’s both clips side by side with the normal one on the left and the one with compensation on the right. Again note the crop to the field of view on the right, but it may be a sacrifice worth making if you’re performing a dramatic focus-pull and want zero breathing. The feature works on all the G Master lenses up to the 70-200, as well as the 20 1.8, 12-24 f4, 24-105 f4 and 28-135 f4.

Ok, now it’s time to see what quality modes are available. You can record 1080 video at 24 to 120p, or 4k at 24 to 30p all without a crop and oversampled from 7k’s worth of data. 4k is also now available at 50 and 60p, but only in the cropped Super 35 format with a 1.5x field reduction. You can also film 1080 at 24-120p and 4k at 24-30p in the Super 35 format and all cropped footage is oversampled from 4.6k’s worth of data. So the A7 IV avoids the Mark III’s crop at 4k 30p, adds 4k at 50 or 60p, oversamples from more data, but sticks with a maximum slowmo rate of 1080 120p.

In another important upgrade over the A7 III, you can now record any mode in 8 or 10 bit with 4:2:2 options for everything other than 1080 at 100 or 120p. The XAVC S HD and XAVCS 4K modes of the A7 III are also now complemented by the more efficient XAVC HS 4K mode that employs H.265 encoding, as well as XAVC S-I in 1080 or 4k for all-intra encoding.

Right that’s enough numbers so let’s have a look at some footage, all filmed with the A7 IV with the FE 70-200mm 2.8 GM II at 70mm f11, starting with 1080 at 50p. I filmed without an ND filter, so apologies for the fast shutter and choppy playback.

And next for 1080 at 100p which is also uncropped. I started this clip at normal playback speed, but have now slowed by four times on my 25p timeline. I like that Sony still doesn’t slow the footage in-camera unless you’re in S&Q mode.

And for comparison, back to normal 1080 at 25p before moving onto

4k at 25p which is also uncropped up to 30p and over-sampled from 7k, a nice upgrade over the A7 III which applied a minor crop at 30p. Also note Canon’s R5 and R6 also apply a small crop to all 4k recorded in the 16:9 UHD shape.

And now for 4k at 50p which as you can see applies a 1.5x crop, and which oversamples from 4.6k. You can also apply the Super-35 crop to 1080 or 4k at any frame rate, so here’s 4k at 25p in the Super 35 mode.

Now back to 4k 25p uncropped for a moment and like all my previous clips, this was filmed using the standard Creative Look and with Picture Profiles off. So let’s switch that now for S-Cinetone which provides an attractive result out-of-camera without any adjustment. And next for Hybrid Log Camera, and this is out-of-camera without any additional tweaking or grading. If you’re really into grading, there’s S-log 2 and S-log 3 available in the Picture Profiles, and this is S-Log 3 from PP9 out-of-camera, filmed in 10 bit at the base sensitivity of 800 ISO. And now for a graded version where I’ve applied the S-Log 3 LUT in Final Cut and tweaked the levels. As I mentioned earlier, there’s no news of RAW output yet, so 10 bit 4:2:2 is as good as it gets for now.

To better reveal the differences in quality between the A7 IV’s modes and compare it against the Mark III and R6, I filmed my standard resolution chart in a variety of modes and fitted each camera with the same adapted Sigma 40mm f1.4 ART lens at f8.

I’m going to zoom-in by six times here to more easily reveal any differences between the cameras, starting with full-frame 1080 25p footage filmed with the R6 at the bottom, A7 III in the middle and A7 IV at the top. Here I’d say the R6 and A7 III are roughly neck-in-neck, but that the A7 IV enjoys a small boost in resolution over the two of them.

Next for 4k at 25p with the R6 at the bottom adjusted to accommodate its small crop, while the A7 III in the middle and A7 IV at the top are both full-frame. It’s hard to call this one on resolution alone with all three looking similar on detail, although both Sony’s are suffering from false colour moire artefacts in this test which the R6 is avoiding. The A7 IV may be fractionally better than the III, but it’s very close here.

Next for 4k at 50p between the R6 at the bottom which incurs a small crop and the A7 IV at the top which incurs a 1.5x crop. Again the Sony is exhibiting undesirable colour artefacts here at the limiting resolution that the Canon’s avoiding, but in terms of actual resolved detail, they’re similar.

And finally back to 1080 video, but this time at 100p with the A7 III at the bottom and A7 IV at the top – sorry, I don’t have a 100p chart result for the R6. Here the A7 IV maintains essentially the same resolution at 100p as it does at 25p, whereas the A7 III falls in quality at 100p, so a nice upgrade for the slow motion fans.

Next for a noise comparison between the three cameras from 1600 ISO to their maximum sensitivities: 25600 for the R6 and 102400 for the two Sony’s. This time I’m showing them at normal magnification as this is how you’ll see them in practice, starting with a 1080 25p comparison, followed by a 4k comparison – note the small crop from the R6 in 4k. I’ll be back in a moment.

Ok, now for slow motion which in terms of spec remains similar to the A7 III, so 1080 at a maximum of 120p, although as you saw earlier, the quality is a little better than the A7 III and there’s also now cropped 4k up to 60p for mild slowdowns. As before, Sony remains one of the only companies to record high frame rate video with sound, and encode it for normal playback speed too, allowing you to drop it into a standard timeline with audio before speed-ramping it down as desired. Unsurprisingly there’s no 4k 120 at this price point – at least for a full-frame camera – leaving that capability to either models with smaller sensors, like the upcoming Lumix GH6, or pricier full-frame options like the A7S III, Alpha 1 or EOS R5.

Like all recent Sony full-framers, the A7 IV has sensor shift stabilisation, or IBIS for short, that works with any lens you attach. New to the A7 IV though is the enhanced Active mode that applies extra digital stabilisation on top of IBIS with a mild crop, as well as the recording of meta-data to allow post-stabilisation in Sony’s Catalyst application. Note Active steadyshot and meta data are not available when recording 1080 at 100 or 120p, but they are for 1080 or 4k up to 60p. 

And finally a rolling shutter test, starting with the A7 IV filming 1080 at 25p. When I shake the camera back and forth, there’s a little skewing, but it’s not too bad.

But when I switch to 4k at 25p, the skewing becomes visibly worse with the tower looking almost like elastic. To be fair though, this is roughly similar to the Canon R5 and R6.

Increase the frame rate to 50p though and the rolling shutter effect becomes lessened. Here it is at 1080, and now in 4k at 50p, and note this incurred a crop which I didn’t compensate for on the lens, so it’s actually an even tougher test for it. So if your subject or pans are fast and you’re filming in 4k, I’d use 50 or 60p to minimise skewing.

Check prices on the Sony A7 IV at B&H, Adorama, WEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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Sony A7 IV

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