Sony’s new A7 The full-frame IV mirrorless camera is one of the best entry-level mirrorless cameras on the market. Yes, there are higher resolution sensors and you won’t find some high-end video features, but it will be difficult for you to find a better universal hybrid photo and video camera.
This update adds a new 33-megapixel sensor, crazy, almost unlimited buffer capacity – which means you can keep shooting uncompressed RAW / JPG while the battery is low – a much improved autofocus system with better eye tracking and support for multiple video shooting modes, including Hybrid Log Gamma for HDR TV playback.
Physically, the A7 IV is not much different from its predecessor, although the handle is significantly larger, which gives the camera a bigger feel. The new grip is very similar to the one used by the A7S III. I found it less comfortable than my A7RII, but how it feels will depend on the size of your hands. I suggest you check one out at your local camera store if you can. Despite the increased size, this is still one of the more compact full-frame cameras in our mirrorless camera guide.
The back controls remain pretty close to what you’ll find on other recent A7 series cameras. It has a four-way multi-controller that can also act as a disc, a joystick for positioning the autofocus point and six buttons, all of which are programmable. External controls are enough to make sure you really only have to dive into the menus once to set everything up the way you want. This is also good, because Sony’s menu system is still a maze, and the less time you spend there, the happier you will be.
The new and remarkable in the A7 IV is mainly inside. The A7 IV uses a new 33-megapixel, backlit CMOS sensor, which provides better resolution and potentially better image quality in low light conditions. The new sensor is a step forward from the A7 III (which had a 24-megapixel sensor), as well as what you’ll find in competitors such as the Canon R6, Nikon Z6II and Panasonic S1.
At the same time, the A7 IV is still a entry-level camera in Sony’s range. In terms of resolution, the A7R IV, with its 60-megapixel sensor, remains in its own class. It is worth noting that we will probably see the A7 IV sensor in the successor to the A7C, which I would expect later this year – you have to wait for this if you want a smaller camera body.
While the sensor is new, the A7 IV processor comes from the Sony A7S III, video-oriented, where it stands out with its dynamic range. The A7 IV gets a similar boost, offering 15 stops in dynamic range, opening up an incredibly wide range of post-processing options. The new processor also makes the A7 IV much faster than its predecessor. (Sony claims it’s up to eight times faster.) I didn’t have an A7 III around to compare, but I never thought the A7 IV was stuck.
Along with the processor and sensor, Sony’s new autofocus system – first seen in the flagship A9 – is finally coming to the A7 line. The improvement here is difficult to overestimate. This system, which Sony calls “real-time tracking”, is really smart and very fast.
I test half a dozen high-end mirrorless cameras a year, each of which promises to be faster in autofocus, but most are largely indistinguishable from the results. I will admit that in my free time I shoot only with lenses with manual focusing. I’ve been shooting by hand since I took my first Minolta SR-T in 1988, and I’m relatively fast at the moment. In most situations – with the exception of wildlife and sports – I get fewer out-of-focus images hand-focused than with the latest and greatest autofocus. That is, up to A7 IV.