I’ve personally owned every iteration of the Alpha 7R series so I shouldn’t have been surprised that roughly 2 years after the R3 we’re going to get an R4… but I was. I’ve spent hours pouring over all the press releases, previews and spec sheets and I’m going to help you decide if this camera is for you.
Let me get this little nugget out there right out of the gate. Like the original, the II and the III before, I will be getting the mark IV. And no I’m not crazy! That said I’m going to predict that for the bulk of you out there, especially RIII owners, this camera is probably not for you.
What’s new and improved?
Let’s start with the minor improvements;
- Dual UHS-2 card slots (R3 had 1 UHS-2 slot and 1 UHS-1 slot)
- Improved EVF resolution (same LCD)
- Slightly improved battery life (With same Z-series battery as other Series -III cameras.
- Improved ergonomics (slightly larger grip, more tactile buttons, and a more robust joystick)
- Improved dust and moisture sealing
- Lockable exposure compensation dial
- Custom settings can now be backed up to SD cards or mobile devices
- Over 68 shots before the buffer fills (7 sec). Over 120 in crop mode.
- Actual resolution (9504 x 6336)
- 567 AF points vs. 399 in the R3
- Change focus point color to red, yellow, or white. (The old grey color was easy to lose)
- The Fn menu can now be customized for both video or still mode.
- Card switching will now not reset file naming sequence. (No more problems with duplicate file names when shooting to 2nd and 3rd cards)
- New 16 image pixel shift mode resulting in a 240MP compiled image
- No more EVF / LCD blackout when using HDMI output to monitor
- No time limit in video recording (a la the A6400)
- Slightly improved maximum dynamic range (Claim of 15-Stops)
Now for some of the bigger improvements;
All new 61 megapixel back side illuminated sensor. This sensor promises to have slightly superior high ISO performance than it’s predecessors and one extra stop of dynamic range. Do you need 61 megapixels? If you don’t know the answer to this question then the answer is probably NO. Will you notice one more stop of dynamic range? Probably not. But this is what camera sensors do; they get better little by little.
Every single time they increase the MP of the R-series bodies I say to myself that’s all I need. Then they increase it, I buy the camera, and I love it. I just love marveling at the increased detail and crop-ability. That said, had cameras never gone beyond 12MP I’d still be perfectly happy. 12MP is more than enough to print 24×36 images so you can imagine how gratuitous 61MP is. Early Jpegs show that you do get noticeably more detail out of the new sensor compared to the old but it’s not likely to change the quality of your images.
The AF performance now approaches the level of the Sony A9, their flagship sports and action camera. This for me is one of the main selling points. The best face detect, eye detect and object tracking of any cameras out there. Eye detect now works in video mode!
For some this will be a minor improvement but for professional studio shooters this is huge. The R IV will be the first Sony to have 5G wifi connectivity to a laptop or PC. No more rigged or corded tethering. By all accounts this should give Sony R IV shooters the best and most hassle free tethering option of any camera on the market. Providing it works as expected. I have to say tethering to a mobile device with my R III has worked very well but having the same options but with large files direct to laptop or PC sounds like a game changer.
What are people complaining about?
- No front facing screen (Meh, this is not a vlogging camera)
- Still pretty bad rolling shutter in silent shutter mode (don’t like this? Get the A9)
- Still only 30 fps in 4K mode
- Still 8bit video output (unless your shooting video HDR or doing extensive color grading 8bit is plenty)
- Too soon. (Get used to it. Sony replaces the R and the base 7 about every 2 years. At least it will drive down the price of a still amazing A7R III.
What’s the bottom line?
For the vast majority of A7 III, A7R III and A9 shooters you probably have no real reason to upgrade unless one of the improvements I’ve mentioned strikes you as something you can’t live without. If you have the R II then this is a pretty substantial upgrade. The biggest thing you will notice is the AF performance. If you already have an R III then you may want to hold off for 2 years and save up for the future RV.
If your wondering why I’m already planning on getting the RIV. We’ll it’s because I shoot about 4 terabytes of content a year. If I had to guess that’s about 40,000 images a year (I should do a shutter count on my R III) over 100’s of hours shooting. For this reason I just want to have the best tool in my hands for what I do. Though the R IV is not a ground breaking improvement over the R III it is clearly an improvement and for me it’s enough.
There’s going to be new details coming out about the R IV just about on a daily basis so if you have any questions don’t hesitate to give us a call or stop in.
*Please keep in mind data is all based on previews and spec sheets and subject to change.