Sony announces the a7R IV

Sony has just announced the a7R IV and claims that the camera is the World’s first 35mm full-frame camera with a 61MP sensor.

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Sony claims their new alpha camera has 15 stops of dynamic range (stills) and 14 stops (movie recording), 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization.

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Sony A7R IV from the press event

Key features

  • World’s first(1) 35mm full-frame 61.0 MP(2) back-illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor with latest-generation BIONZ X™ image processor
  • 15-stop(3) 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(4) with full AF / AE tracking for approximately seven seconds(5) 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
  • Debut of Real-time Eye AF for movie recording(6) and advanced Real-time Tracking(7) plus Real-time Eye AF for still image recording
  • Features an APS-C crop mode delivering stunning high resolution images of 26.2MP(2)
  • 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(8), 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(9), 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 compact, lightweight body
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Sensor

The Alpha 7R IV features a newly developed 35mm full-frame, back-illuminated CMOS image sensor with a resolution of 61.0 MP. Sony claims that the new sensor’s back-illuminated structure and effective noise reduction techniques combine to deliver extremely low-noise and high-sensitivity performance, ensuring the absolute maximum image quality.

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Sony says that the 15 stops of dynamic range results in smooth natural gradations ranging from deep shadows to highlights, and utilizes algorithms from many of the latest Alpha cameras to maintain outstanding color reproduction.

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The camera can resolve 26MP in its APS-C crop mode.

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Video features

The a7R IV can record 4K UHD in SLog2, SLog3, and HDR. UHD video recording uses the full width of the image sensor, and full pixel readout without pixel binning in Super 35mm mode. Nothing exciting there!

Just like other alpha series cameras, you are going to get the same old 8-bit 4:2:0 internal recording and CbCr 4:2:2 8 bit/RGB 8-bit output over HDMI. The camera continues Sony’s tradition of no UHD 60P (UHD is limited to 30p). Furthermore, UHD at 23.98/25/30P is still at 100Mb/s in XAVC S. You can see the full list of video specifications a little further down.

There is no recording time limit, which is no real surprise.

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The big news for video shooters is that the camera can do real-time focus tracking. This was a feature that has only previously been possible when shooting still images. When activated, the eye of a subject is automatically tracked with high precision and reliability, allowing the shooter to focus on the content itself as opposed to what is in focus or not. The aforementioned Touch Tracking functionality will also automatically initiate Eye AF when a human subject is selected.

Just how well this actually works in the real world will be interesting to see.

The camera utilizes a refined Fast Hybrid AF system that achieves faster, smoother, more stable autofocus during video shooting – even if an object temporarily moves in front of the intended subject. The camera also includes Touch Tracking functionality during movie shooting, allowing the user to simply touch the screen on their intended subject for instant acquisition.

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S-Log 2 and S-Log 3 are also available to maximize color grading flexibility, with S-Log 3 offering a total of 14-stops of dynamic range. Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) is also available.

RECORDING FORMAT
XAVC S, AVCHD format Ver. 2.0 compliant

VIDEO COMPRESSION
XAVC S: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, AVCHD: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264

COLOR SPACE
xvYCC standard (x.v.Color when connected via HDMI cable) compatible with TRILUMINOS Color

PICTURE EFFECT
7 types: Posterization (Color), Posterization (B/W), Pop Color, Retro Photo, Partial Color (R/G/B/Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera(Normal/Cool/Warm/Green/Magenta), Soft High-key

CREATIVE STYLE
Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Clear, Deep, Light, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Autumn leaves, Black & White, Sepia, Style Box(1-6), (Contrast (-3 to +3 steps), Saturation (-3 to +3 steps), Sharpness (-5 to +5 steps))

PICTURE PROFILE
Yes (Off/PP1-PP10) Parameters: Black level, Gamma (Movie, Still, Cine1-4, ITU709, ITU709 [800%], S-Log2, S-Log3, HLG, HLG1-3), Black Gamma, Knee, Color Mode, Saturation, Color Phase, Color Depth, Detail, Copy, Reset

IMAGE SIZE (PIXELS), NTSC
XAVC S 4K: 3840 x 2160 (30p, 100 M), 3840 x 2160 (24p, 100 M), 3840 x 2160 (30p, 60 M), 3840 x 2160 (24p, 60 M), XAVC S HD: 1920 x 1080 (120p, 100M), 1920 x 1080 (120p, 60M), 1920 x 1080 (60p, 50M), 1920 x 1080 (30p, 50M), 1920 x 1080 (24p, 50M), 1920 x 1080 (60p, 25M), 1920 x 1080 (30p, 16M), AVCHD: 1920 x 1080 (60i, 24M, FX), 1920 x 1080 (60i, 17M, FH)

IMAGE SIZE (PIXELS), PAL
XAVC S 4K: 3840 x 2160 (25p, 100M), 3840 x 2160 (25p, 60M), XAVC S HD:1920 x 1080 (100p, 100M), 1920 x 1080 (100p, 60M), 1920 x 1080 (50p, 50M), 1920 x 1080 (25p, 50M), 1920 x 1080 (50p, 25M), 1920 x 1080 (25p, 16M), AVCHD: 1920 x 1080 (50i, 24 M, FX), 1920 x 1080 (50i, 17 M, FH)

IMAGE FRAME RATE
NTSC mode: 1fps, 2fps, 4fps, 8fps, 15fps, 30fps, 60fps, 120fps PAL mode: 1fps, 2fps, 3fps, 6fps, 12fps, 25fps, 50fps, 100fps

IMAGE SIZE (FRAME RATE/BITRATE)
NTSC mode: 1920×1080 (60p, 30p, 24p), PAL mode: 1920×1080 (50p, 25p)

MOVIE FUNCTIONS
Audio Level Display, Audio Rec Level, PAL/NTSC Selector, Proxy Recording (1280 x 720 (Approx. 9 Mbps)), TC/UB (TC Preset/UB Preset/TC Format/TC Run/TC Make/UB Time Rec), Auto Slow Shutter, REC Control, Clean HDMI Info. (ON/OFF selectable), Gamma Disp. Assist

HDMI OUTPUT
3840 x 2160 (25p), 1920 x 1080 (50p), 1920 x 1080 (50i), 1920 x 1080 (24p), 1920 x 1080 (60p), 1920 x 1080 (60i), 3840 x 2160 (30p), 3840 x 2160 (24p), YCbCr 4:2:2 8 bit/RGB 8 bit

Alpha Universe ILCE 7RM4 a7R IV FE2470GM XLRK3M 1

Another notable video feature is the addition of a digital audio interface to the camera’s Multi Interface Shoe™ (MI Shoe), allowing a direct, digital connection from the new ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone or XLR-K3M XLR ($598 USD) Adaptor Kit for clear, low-noise and high-quality audio recording.

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The Sony XLR-K3M is a dual-channel XLR audio adapter that allows you to connect microphones and other audio sources to cameras equipped with a Multi Interface Shoe. Other Sony cameras with the standard MI Shoe can still make use of the microphone as there is a selectable digital/analog output.

The XLR-K3M features two XLR-1/4″ combo mic/line inputs with 48V phantom power, and a 3.5mm stereo input with plug-in power, all with individual level controls. Intuitive controls make the adapter easy to use right out of the box.

An ECM-XM1 shotgun is included, as well as an MI Shoe extension cable which gives users the flexibility to position the XLR-K3M on professional rigs and camera cages.

Interval shooting for creating time-lapse videos is available, as well as full HD recording at up to 120 fps.

Image Stabilization

The camera is equipped with an innovative 5-axis, optical in-body image stabilization 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.

Stills

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The a7R IV 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.

Auto Focus (stills)

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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 also 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 employs artificial intelligence to detect and process eye location data in real-time, locking and maintaining focus on the subject’s eye with extreme 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 utilizes 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 minimize any impact on the final image.

Sony’s highest resolution viewfinder ever

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 extremely 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.

Battery Life

DesSony claims 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.

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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.

Other Features

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The camera features dual UHS-II slots, an improved grip, and better weather and dust sealing.

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Enhanced Connectivity

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The camera is equipped with a variety of advanced 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 many working professionals, 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(8), 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’)(13). 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 utilizing 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.

Price & Availability

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The new Sony a7R IV will be available in September for $3,498 USD.

Thoughts

Sony seems to be content just adding incremental improvements to their cameras and not really pushing the boundaries. Yes, the real-time tracking autofocus for video looks to be a great feature, but staying with the same old 4.2.0-8 bit internal recording at 100Mb/s is getting a bit old.

At the end of the day, this camera is more geared towards still photographers than video shooters. The a7s III can’t come soon enough.

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