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Sony Unveils the a7RIV

Simon Skinner - 3 months ago

Sony has unveiled the fourth-generation camera in its [hugely] popular Alpha 7 series, the a7RIV. Sony tells us that it’s the world’s first 35mm full-frame camera with a 61MP sensor.

Sony A7RIV front

The new camera boasts 15 stops of dynamic range [stills] and 14 stops along with 5-axis optical in-body image stabilisation. Read on for…

Key features

  • World’s first 35mm full-frame 61.0 MP back-illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor with latest-generation BIONZ X™ image processor
  • 15-stop dynamic range at low sensitivities, resulting in smooth, natural gradations ranging from deep shadows to highlights
  • High-speed continuous shooting at up to 10 fps with full AF / AE tracking for approximately seven seconds in full-frame mode with an increased buffer memory, and approximately three times as long in APS-C mode
  • 567 focal-plane phase-detection AF points covering 74% of image area and 425 contrast AF points
  • The debut of Real-time Eye AF for movie recording and advanced Real-time Tracking plus Real-time Eye AF for still image recording
  • Features an APS-C crop mode delivering stunning high-resolution images of 26.2MP
  • 5.76 million dot UXGA [Ultra-XGA] OLED Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder with outstanding detail, brightness and contrast
  • Upgraded connectivity and operability including high-speed Wi-Fi support, wireless PC remote connectivity, FTP wireless transfer, faster data transfer via USB and more
  • Professional 4K movie recording functionality including full pixel readout with no pixel binning in Super 35mm mode, S-Log3, HDR workflow support
  • Multi-Interface Shoe™ with digital audio interface delivers the high-quality sound recording with Sony’s new microphone and XLR microphone adaptor
  • Additional enhancements to the body design include an improved grip and button layout for improved control with a compact, lightweight body
Sony A7RIV rear

The Alpha 7R IV highlights a newly developed 35mm full-frame, back-illuminated CMOS image sensor with a resolution of 61.0 MP. The new sensor’s structure and effective noise reduction methods blend to deliver what Sony describes as ‘extremely low-noise and high-sensitivity performance, ensuring absolute maximum image quality’.

The 15 stops of dynamic range are said to result in smooth natural gradations ranging from deep shadows to highlights, utilising algorithms from several of the latest Alpha cameras to support great colour reproduction.

Video

Unsurprisingly, the new a7RIV can film 4K UHD in SLog2, SLog3, and HDR. UHD video uses the full width of the image sensor, and full pixel readout without pixel binning in Super 35mm mode. Also similar to other alpha series devices, you can expect to achieve the same 8 bit 4:2:0 internal recording and output over HDMI. Also, and again not surprisingly, there’s no recording time limit.

The showstopper for videographers is that the new camera offers real-time focus tracking. This was a feature that has only previously been seen when shooting stills. When activated, the eye of a subject is automatically tracked with high precision and reliability, allowing you to focus on the content itself as opposed to what is in focus and what is not. The Touch Tracking function will also automatically open Eye AF when a human subject is chosen.

The camera uses an improved Fast Hybrid AF system that promises to achieve faster, smoother, more stable autofocus during video shooting, even if an object temporarily moves in front of the intended subject. The new camera also includes Touch Tracking functionality during filming, allowing the user to simply touch the screen on their intended subject for instant shooting.

S-Log 2 and S-Log 3 are also available to maximise colour grading flexibility, with S-Log 3 offering a total of 14-stops of dynamic range. Hybrid Log-Gamma [HLG] is also available.

Sony XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit
The Sony XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit [with mic].

Image stabilisation

The camera is equipped with an innovative 5-axis, optical in-body image stabilisation system that Sony says has been fine-tuned to support its high-resolution shooting capacity, resulting in a shutter speed advantage of 5.5-steps. Additionally, the shutter unit assembly has been carefully redesigned to reduce even the slightest movement that may cause blur.

The a7RIV can capture 61MP images at 10 frames per second. The camera has real-time tracking and real-time AF that was previously only found in the a9.

Additionally, the new camera features an evolved Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode that composites up to 16 full-resolution images. In this mode, the camera precisely shifts the sensor in one pixel or half-pixel increments to capture 16 separate pixel-shifted images containing a total of 963.2 million pixels of data, which are then composited into a 240.8 million pixel [19008 x 12672 pixels] image using Sony’s ‘Imaging Edge™’ desktop application.

Sony A7RIV mount

The upgraded focusing system of the Alpha 7R IV is comprised of 567 focal-plane phase-detection AF points that cover approximately 74 percent of the image area. There are 425 contrast AF points that add extra precision and reliability for low light and other situations that are best served by contrast AF. The higher AF sensor density and refined tracking algorithms of the new camera are said to produce a notable improvement in tracking performance, allowing complex subject motion and sudden subject movements to be reliably tracked with greater precision than ever.

The Alpha 7R IV also supports Real-time Eye AF, which applies artificial intelligence to detect and process eye location data in real-time, locking and maintaining focus on the subject’s eye with absolute precision. This is available for both animal and human subjects, with either animal or human Eye AF mode selectable depending on the shooting situation.

Real-time Tracking is available as well, which utilises a newly developed subject recognition algorithm to ensure the ultimate subject tracking and persistence of the focusing system. There is also an anti-flicker shooting mode, which automatically detects the presence of fluorescent or artificial lighting in a shooting environment to minimise any impact on the final image.

Sony A7RIV left
Sony A7RIV right side

Sony’s highest res viewfinder

The Alpha 7R IV features Sony’s highest resolution viewfinder ever, a 5.76 million dot UXGA OLED Tru-finder EVF. This is about 1.6x the resolution of the EVF in the Alpha 7R III. The viewfinder is claimed to provide an accurate, true-to-life depiction of the scene being framed. The display quality can be set to ‘Standard’ or ‘High’ mode, and to either 60 fps or 120 fps refresh rate to best match the subject and shooting conditions.

Sony A7RIV right

Power, memory and connectivity

Sony tells us that the battery life has been improved with a CIPA measurement of up to 670 still images per change using LCD monitor, or 530 images with EVF.

For even more uninterrupted operating time, the new optional VG-C4EM Vertical Grip holds two NP-FZ100 batteries, and the optional Multi Battery Adaptor [NPA-MQZ1K] can hold up to four Z batteries. The body can also be powered via the USB connector.
The camera features dual UHS-II slots, an improved grip, and better weather and dust sealing.

The camera is equipped with a variety of connectivity features including wireless LAN functionality to support the conventional 2.4 GHz band, as well as a high-speed 5 GHz band for faster, more stable data transfer. Wireless PC remote connectivity [wireless tethering shooting] is also available, a first for Sony cameras. Requested by working pros, this allows for much more freedom in studio and location shoots, letting the photographer move around freely and without restriction.

In addition to high-speed Wi-Fi® and wireless PC connectivity, the new full-frame camera is equipped with a SuperSpeed USB [USB 3.2 Gen 1] USB Type-C™ connector that supports extremely fast wired data transmission, with almost doubled data transfer speed achieved in combination with Sony’s Imaging Edge software [compared to the Alpha 7R III]. It also supports FTP data transfer with background transfer capability, allowing photographers to send images to a specified FTP remote server while they are still shooting or reviewing images.

To support an efficient, high-speed, connected professional workflow, Sony has announced version 2.0 of its ‘Imaging Edge’ desktop applications [‘Remote’/’Viewer’/’Edit’]. The ’Remote’ application allows users to control cameras and monitor live shooting on their PC screen; the ‘Viewer‘ application is used to quickly preview, rate and select photos from large libraries; and the ’Edit‘ application can develop RAW data into high-quality photos for delivery.

To maximize convenience in image transfer, when utilising the latest version of Sony’s Imaging Edge Mobile™ application the camera can now transfer images to a connected smartphone even if the camera’s power is set to OFF.

Pricing and availability

The new Alpha 7R IV Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Camera will be available this August, [likely September] 2019, priced at around £3,500.
VG-C4EM will ship in September 2019 for approximately £400.
ECM-B1M will ship in September 2019 for approximately £340.
XLR-K3M will ship in October 2019 for approximately £580.

For full details, head to Sony’s dedicated webpages HERE.

And keep scrolling down to watch some of Sony’s own intro videos. We will, of course, get our hands on to test as soon as we can so watch this space!

About the author

Read Sony Unveils the a7RIV

Simon Skinner

Co-founder // Editor

Having spent many years working in various pockets of the music industry, and always with a camera in hand, Simon has worked with organisations such as Warner/Chappell, Food Records and ultimately, co-founding the innovative independent record label, Izumi Records before moving fully into the world of publishing in 2007. Amongst numerous other projects in the last decade, he has been responsible for a number of specialist photo trade magazines and journals for the filmmaking and photography communities, along with a coffee table book entitled, "Great Britons of Photography' which he produced with Peter Dench and Leica. Now heading up PhotoBite, Simon and the team have set themselves a task of delivering informative and inspirational content for photographers of all levels, from the beginner, shooting with smartphones, to the seasoned photographer and filmmaker.

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