Sony Adds Pixels to the A7R

bythom sony a7rm4-2

Sony this morning announced the A7R Mark IV (I abbreviate this as A7Rm4). In essence, this camera appears to take the Sony Semiconductor 26mp APS-C Exmor sensor and scale that up to full frame, producing approximately 60mp. Of course, in APS-C crop, the A7R Mark IV will produce 26mp.

While a lot of folk will get excited about the pixel production—especially since there’s a pixel shift capability for up to 16 frames, which can create 19008x12672 pixel 240mp images—the things I’m most happy to see with this new camera are much more subtle.

Take a look at that image, above. In particular, the C3 and AF-ON buttons: they can now much more easily be found by feel and operated when using gloves. Battery life has improved slightly, and the camera can be powered via USB. Sony has also beefed up the lens mount and weather sealing, including fixing the bottom plate vulnerability. The hand grip has been beefed up a bit, too.

Inside you’ll find important changes, too. The EVF is now a 5.76m dot UXGA OLED, retaining the ability to run at 120Hz. I’m also interested in the communication upgrades, including 5Ghz Wi-Fi (in some countries) and USB-C (3.2 Gen 1) that supports an FTP connection, including background transfers. We finally get two matching UHS-II slots. The shutter has been upgraded to produce less shock, as well. 

Video has been upgraded a bit, too, with the APS-C crop producing full pixel production in 4K, and available as S-Log2/3 or HLG graded. Video focus now adds Real-time Eye AF, too.

As always, there are footnotes in the Sony specifications to be aware of. Phase detect focus coverage is only for 74% of the frame. Curiously, there’s a buffer reduction for APS-C (~30 frames as opposed to 68 frames at 10 fps). So I wouldn’t be surprised if we discovered other small bottlenecks given how much data is being moved around in the A7Rm4.

In short, Sony appears to have been listening to the UI and design complaints and started addressing them, which I applaud. We still have the issue of menu (dis)organization and naming to deal with, but Sony made strong strides in the right direction.

The A7Rm4 will ship in September in the US, and is priced at US$3500.

Of course, the Sony fans are out in force. I’m already seeing “this will put Canon and Nikon” in the grave posts and comments. What I’d say to that is that Sony’s “lead” is narrowing. We’ll have near-equivalent megapixel counts in mirrorless from Canon and Nikon in less than twelve months. Which is one of the reasons why I say that getting those little things right is much more important. 

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