Hands on with Sony’s a7R IV, plus sample images

First impressions of Sony’s new 61 megapixel mirrorless full frame camera.

Sony a7R IV
The Sony a7R IV is the first 35mm mirrorless camera to feature a 61 megapixel sensor.Jeanette D. Moses

Sony's new a7R IV flagship camera is a monster on paper. It's new 61 megapixel sensor pumps out uncompressed RAW files that are 123.2 MB and Extra Fine JPEGs that are nearly 40MB, and it can do it at 10 fps with autofocus. It has eye-tracking in video mode, 547 AF points, and promises 15 stops of dynamic range, which is beyond what many high-end medium format systems with five-digit price tags promise. But, the spec sheet can only tell so much. We had an early chance to shoot with Sony's new top dog camera. Here are some sample images and initial impressions.

Design and feel

At first glance the a7R IV looks identical to the a7R iii, but once you pick it up you start to notice some of the subtle ergonomic differences. The a7R IV features a chunkier grip and some additional weather sealing around the doors that hide the dual UHS-II card slots and battery. The rear dial on top of the camera has been redesigned, the AF-On button is larger, and there is a textured rear joystick. The camera also features a lock on top of the exposure comp dial on the top of the camera, which will prevent shooters from accidentally changing that setting while the camera is in a bag or slung over your shoulder.

Sony A7R IV camera
The controls on the top of the camera have been slightly redesigned, one of the most notable new features is that the Exposure Compensation dial can be locked.Jeanette D. Moses

The larger grip makes the camera a bit beefier than earlier models, especially when you are shooting with Sony’s high-end G-Master lenses, but it’s still quite comfortable to hold. The tacky joystick on the camera’s back is a nice addition for changing focus points while shooting, although we didn’t love the texture of the redesigned rear dial. The top lock on that exposure comp dial is very welcome. Overall, don’t expect any huge surprises if you’re already familiar with other cameras in the line.

Shooting experience

The 5.76M-dot finder gives the camera a higher-resolution image and it’s one of the first things that I noticed when using the new camera. The display offers Standard or High settings. In “High” mode, the resolution is 1.6 times greater than the QVGA OLED Tru-Finder on the a7R iii. The camera has more AF points than the a7R iii and the tracking modes have been updated too.

Sony a7R IV
The Sony a7R IV also has some ergonomic updates and features a more substantial grip than its predecessor.Jeanette D. Moses

The a7R IV can track subjects when the shutter is half-pressed in both still and video shooting. Like some of Sony’s other pro-grade cameras the a7R IV can detect both human and animal subjects eyes. The AF point now appears as red or white box, rather than the grey found on earlier versions of the camera. A new mode called ‘Focus Priority’ allows the camera to focus with a wide open aperture—good for shooting in low light conditions.

The sensor update is the line’s first since back in 2015. Although the cameras we were shooting with were production level models and producing final image quality, we were told that there may be some additional upgrades to the Firmware before the camera hits the market in September.

woman in yellow and pink dress
The large amount of megapixels inside the camera make it a good option for shooting studio portraits like this. This image was captured at 1/160 sec at f/14 and ISO 200.Jeanette D. Moses

Sony’s autofocus system has a reputation for accuracy, and in most of the shooting scenarios the camera behaved as expected. It’s a great choice for shooting portraits of humans or animals, especially if you are working with studio lighting conditions. The ultra high-resolution images took a bit of getting used to. There were a number of times while shooting where it appeared that AF wasn’t quite nailing the focus on a subject’s eyes or face, but once the files were uploaded to a computer things seemed fine. When you are shooting at 10fps you should expect some duds, but with fast moving subjects, the camera seemed to have a bit of trouble grabbing onto faces and holding on.

Ultimately the Sony a7R IV is a lot of fun to shoot with. Although the ability to shoot such high-resolution images is very appealing, keep in mind that a camera like this one means you will really need other pro-level equipment to make the most of it: fast lenses, fast cards, fast drives, and a computer that can handle all that data.

woman in white blouse against leafy backdrop
The camera has the ability to continue locked on a subjects eyes even if they happen to be closed.Jeanette D. Moses
woman in red dress lounging
An outdoor portrait shot with the new Sony a7R IV in Manhattan.Jeanette D. Moses
man drawing on clipboard
Shooting with Eye AF and continuous focus mode makes for beautiful portraits.Jeanette D. Moses
german shepherd dog
Eye AF works for animals too. This wolf portrait was shot at 1/250 sec at f/4.5 and ISO 1600.Jeanette D. Moses
german shepherd dog
A tighter portrait of the wolf captured at 1/250 sec, f/4.5 and ISO 1600.Jeanette D. Moses
woman in bustier against green tiles
The large sensor inside the a7R IV make it a great option for shooting portraits.Jeanette D. Moses
dancer on black and white geometrical floor
The camera is still quite speedy though, capable of shooting 10fps in continuous focus mode, so it is still an excellent option for freezing action.Jeanette D. Moses
dancer on black and white geometrical floor
This image of a dancer was captured at 1/320 sec at f/4.0 at ISO 800.Jeanette D. Moses
dancer on black and white geometrical floor
Dancer photographed at 1/320 sec, f/4.0 and ISO 800.Jeanette D. Moses
dressed up couple lounging
Portrait of a couple lounging at the Academy Mansion in Manhattan.Jeanette D. Moses
portrait of dressed up couple on couch
The camera is capable of identifying multiple faces within a scene while shooting.Jeanette D. Moses
man in dress clothes on green couch
Portrait captured at 1/320 sec at f/4 and ISO 1600.Jeanette D. Moses
dancers on black and white geometrical floor
Two dancers at the Academy Mansion in Manhattan.Jeanette D. Moses
woman in colorful clothing and makeup
Portrait captured at 1/800 sec, f/3.2 at ISO 1600 with the new Sony a7R IV.Jeanette D. Moses
blonde woman in black dress in dim light
A moody portrait shot at the Academy Mansion in Manhattan.Jeanette D. Moses
woman in colorful clothing and makeup
A portrait captured at the Academy Mansion in Manhattan using the Sony a7R IV.Jeanette D. Moses
man in dress clothes on green couch
The new camera works nicely with Sony's FE 85mm F1.4 GM lens.Jeanette D. Moses
sultry woman leaning on green couch
A powerful camera like this requires other pro grade tools like fast lenses, fast cards, and fast drives.Jeanette D. Moses
woman lounging on couch
Captured at 1/400 sec, f/9 at ISO 2500 with the FE 85mm F1.4 GM lens.Jeanette D. Moses
two women in bedroom
We love the way the new camera processes colors in this scene.Jeanette D. Moses
man in colorful jacket with macaw
Although the camera has the ability to track human or animal eyes, if your scene features both you will have to select one.Jeanette D. Moses
man and women with boa
For this frame we chose to track the models eyes rather than the reptiles.Jeanette D. Moses
woman in fur coat at the table
Portrait captured during the Sony announcement event in New York City.Jeanette D. Moses
man drawing on sketchpad
An environmental portrait at Gallow Green.Jeanette D. Moses
woman in white lounging
An outdoor portrait of a woman lounging on the roof of Gallow Green in Manhattan.Jeanette D. Moses
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