Sony has announced the latest in its a7 series of full-frame mirrorless cameras, the a7R Mark IV. The camera is built around a new 61-megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor, which Sony claims offers 15 stops of dynamic range. The pixel count puts Sony way up at the top of the full-frame mirrorless heap, well ahead of the 42.4MP a7R Mark III as well as the 47.3MP Panasonic S1R, the previous champion.
The hybrid AF system features 567 phase-detection AF points covering 74% of image area as well as 425 contrast AF points, and it supports real-time tracking for humans and animals, both in stills and videos. Real-time Eye AF also now works in movie mode. In burst mode, you get 10fps with continuous AF with a buffer allowing up to 68 shots—impressive considering those huge 61MP files.
The 5.76M-dot EVF is also a big step up from the 3.69M-dot affair on its predecessor, but the tilting 1.44M-dot touchscreen display hasn’t changed. The Mark IV also shares the Mark III’s Bionz X processor and 5-axis image stabilization, which Sony claims can reduce shake by up to 5.5 stops. The a7R IV captures oversampled 4K/30p video at a top bit rate of 100Mbps and offers support for 8-bit S-Log2/3 and HLG.
Significantly for underwater shooters, the a7R IV has a redesigned body that features a deeper grip, newly designed and repositioned buttons and dials, and a larger joystick—so existing underwater housings will not accommodate the new camera.
Shipping in September, the a7R IV will retail for $3,500 (body only).
When purchasing underwater photography equipment like the products mentioned in this article, please support DPG by supporting our retail partner—Backscatter.com.
Sony Electronics Introduces High-resolution Alpha 7R IV Camera with World’s First 61.0 MP Back-illuminated, Full-frame Image Sensor
Unprecedented Highest Resolution and Widest Dynamic Range for α - Alpha System, Combined with High-speed Performance and a Lightweight, Compact Body
World’s first[i] 35mm full-frame 61.0 MP[ii] back-illuminated Exmor R™ CMOS image sensor with latest-generation BIONZ X™ image processor
15-stop[iii] 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[iv] with full AF / AE tracking for approximately seven seconds[v] 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[vi] and advanced Real-time Tracking[vii] plus Real-time Eye AF for still image recording
Features an APS-C crop mode delivering stunning high resolution images of 26.2MPii
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[viii], 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[ix], 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
NEW YORK — July 16, 2019 — Sony Electronics Inc. today announced the latest addition to its acclaimed Alpha 7R series full-frame mirrorless camera line-up: the extremely versatile, powerful Alpha 7R IV (model ILCE-7RM4).
Sony’s highest resolution full-frame camera ever, the new Alpha 7R IV delivers stunning image quality with high resolution and wide dynamic range while maintaining outstanding focusing performance, high-speed continuous shooting and much, much more.
“We are continuing to drive innovation, break boundaries and redefine the expectations of digital camera performance,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president of Imaging Product and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics. “The new Alpha 7R IV combines medium format-level image quality with high-speed shooting, extremely fast focusing and an extensive list of upgrades to design, connectivity and usability. This will allow professional photographers, videographers and all other types of creators to capture content in ways that were simply not possible before.”
A New Level of Image Quality
The new Alpha 7R IV features a newly developed 35mm full-frame, back-illuminated CMOS image sensor with a resolution of 61.0 MP[ii], the world’s first[i] of its kind. 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. The camera also boasts an impressive 15-stop[iii] dynamic range at low sensitivities, resulting 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.
This new full-frame model is equipped with an innovative 5-axis, optical in-body image stabilization system that has been fine-tuned to support its high-resolution shooting capacity, resulting in a shutter speed advantage of 5.5-steps[x]. Additionally, the shutter unit assembly has been carefully redesigned to reduce even the slightest movement that may cause blur.
The Alpha 7R IV also includes Sony’s highest resolution viewfinder ever, a 5.76 million dot UXGA OLED Tru-finder EVF. About 1.6x the resolution of the EVF in the Alpha 7R III, this new viewfinder provides 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.
Additionally, the new camera features an evolved Pixel Shift Multi Shooting[xi] 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[xii]. Ideal for photographing architecture, art or any other still life subject, this enhanced mode produces photographs with a level of detail and color accuracy that is simply stunning.
Shooting and Focusing Speed
The innovative new Alpha 7R IV full-frame mirrorless camera can shoot full resolution images at up to 10 fps[iv] with continuous, accurate AF/AE tracking for up to approximately seven seconds[v] in full-frame, full-resolution mode (JPEG / RAW), and approx. three times as long in APS-C crop mode delivering 26.2MP[ii] images. These high-speed options ensure that fast moving subjects can be captured with extreme accuracy and incredible image detail.
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 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[vii] 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[xiii] mode, which automatically detects the presence of fluorescent or artificial lighting in a shooting environment to minimize any impact on the final image.
Enhanced Connectivity for Professional Workflow
Sony’s new Alpha 7R IV full-frame camera is equipped with a variety of advanced connectivity features designed to enhance professional workflow. The new model includes wireless LAN functionality to support the conventional 2.4 GHz band, as well as a high-speed 5 GHz[xiv] band for faster, more stable data transfer. Wireless PC remote connectivity (wireless tethering shooting)[viii] is also available on the new Alpha 7R IV, 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[viii], 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’)[xiii]. 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[xv], the camera can now transfer images to a connected smartphone even if the camera’s power is set to OFF[xvi].
High-resolution 4K and Professional Filmmaking Features
In addition to its impressive still image capabilities, the new Alpha 7R IV performs exceptionally well as a serious filmmaking tool, offering 4K (3840x2160 pixels) video recording across the full width of the image sensor, and full pixel readout without pixel binning in Super 35mm mode[ix]. This ensures high-quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth. 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)[xvii] is also available on the Alpha 7R IV to support an Instant HDR workflow.
For video autofocus, the versatile new full-frame 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.
The new Alpha 7R IV debuts Real-time Eye AF for movie shooting, a first in any of Sony’s cameras. 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.
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 Adaptor Kit for clear, low-noise and high-quality audio recording. Interval shooting for creating time-lapse videos is available, as well as full HD recording at up to 120 fps, Slow and Quick Motion[xviii] functions and much more.
Enhanced Build, Design and Customizability
The new Alpha 7R IV has several upgrades to its design and usability, with many adjustments being implemented directly from the voice of Sony’s professional community.
To maximize durability, the new Alpha 7R IV features upgraded dust and moisture resistance[xix], with additional sealing provided at all body seams, battery compartment cover and media slots. The camera is built with an extremely lightweight and durable magnesium alloy and also has an upgraded six screw, extra-firm lens mount.
Additional enhancements to the body design include an improved grip for greater comfort and a more sure hold within the hand; an increase in the diameter and feedback for the ‘AF-ON’ button; a new multi-selector joystick design for improvised control; an exposure compensation dial lock button; and a redesigned shape and new position for the rear dial. A strong request from many professional users, the new camera also includes two UHS-II compatible media slots, allowing for higher overall capacity and faster read/write speeds.
For added convenience, camera setting registration is expanded. Now, almost all camera settings can be saved to, and read from, an inserted memory card. Up to 10 combinations can be saved to any individual cardand loaded into any camera body of the same model.
Despite its increased pixel count compared to the Alpha 7R III, 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[xx].
Sony has also released a variety of new accessories to compliment the new Alpha 7R IV camera, including:
- VG-C4EM Vertical Grip – Provides same operation, handling and design as the Alpha 7R IV camera, including upgraded dust and moisture resistance[xx]; doubles battery life and allows USB battery-charging via the camera body
- ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone[xxi] – Eight high-performance mic capsules and advanced digital signal processing provide three selectable directivity patterns in one compact microphone of approximately 99.3mm (4 inches) in length with Super-directional pick up; when connected to the Alpha 7R IV via its Multi Interface Shoe with digital audio interface support, audio is directly transferred to the camera in digital form so that the highest possible quality is achieved without noise or degradation
- XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit[xxii] – Two XLR/TRS combo connectors and one 3.5mm stereo mini jack for microphone and line input, with extensive control that helps facilitate the post processing workflow; connected to the Alpha 7R IV via its Multi Interface Shoe with digital audio interface support, audio is directly transferred to the camera in digital form so that the highest possible audio quality is achieved without noise or degradation; supplied extension cable for Audio provides extra flexibility for camera attachment with rig, cage or bracket
- SF-M series TOUGH – Ultra-Tough UHS-II SD card with ultra-fast speed up to 277MB/s (read) is ideal for shooting under severe circumstances, and streamlines the post-shooting workflow; supplied with file recovery software (supports both mac OS and Windows)
- MRW-S3 – Fast USB for PC hub with UHS-II SD/microSD reader, supporting USB 3.1 Gen 2 and 100W USB Power Delivery (USB PD), contributes to efficient workflow by ultra-fast, stable backup to PC or SSD
Pricing and Availability
The new Alpha 7R IV Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Camera will ship in September 2019 for approximately $3,500 US and $4,500 CA. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.
The new VG-C4EM Vertical Grip will ship in September 2019 for approximately $400 US and $530 CA.
The new ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone will ship in September 2019 for approximately $350 US and $470 CA.
The new XLR-K3M XLR Adapter Kit will ship in October 2019 for approximately $600 US and $800 CA.
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