Sony a7R IV Hands-on – Same Video Quality, Better Autofocus

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The Sony a7R IV was just announced and it might bring many enhancements for dedicated photographers, but for us filmmakers, it brings very little in comparison to previous Sony models. In fact, some of the video specifications found in this new camera – like color sampling, bit depth, resolution, frame rates, data rate and such – are exactly the same as those found in the ageing Sony a7S II, which was released almost 4 years ago!

Sony a7R IV – still from the 4K timeline

I know this is a bit of a harsh opening for an article, but I do have to express my frustration. Please don’t be mistaken, I have A LOT of respect for the people who are behind the new camera, and I can assume that many photographers will find what they were looking for in this new Sony offering – but, let me take one step forward and say that when it comes to the filmmaking crowd, Sony is risking to become less relevant, not taking action like other manufacturers do. When attending the press event in Ireland, I kept hearing that “the new a7R IV is a photo camera primarily, and that is why the video side of it is not enhanced”, but in all honesty, in my opinion this argument is not so relevant anymore. Look at what FUJIFILM and Panasonic (for example) are doing with their new cameras: By offering the best they can for photo and video performance in one shooting device, they are able to attract many. Now, I’m not saying that Sony should do the same, but at least the argument should be different or, better yet, a bit more clear about their future camera roadmap.

Sony a7R IV

Sony a7R IV – Video Highlights in a Nutshell

  • Real-time Eye AF for movie recording and advanced Real-time Tracking
  • APS-C crop mode (1.6x crop)
  • 5.76 million dot UXGA (Ultra-XGA) OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Full pixel readout with no pixel binning in Super 35mm mode
  • Multi Interface Shoe with digital audio interface for high-quality sound recording with Sony’s new ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone and XLR-K3M microphone adaptor Kit
  • HDR recording (Hybrid Log-Gamma, HLG)
  • S-Log 2 and S-Log 3
  • The 29 minutes recording limitation has been removed

Sony new ECM-B1M Microphone

Sony’s New Accessories

Actually, what keeps me optimistic are the 2 new audio accessories. If those are anything like a commitment to the filming community, then the future is bright. What really captured my attention is the new ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone. This new device is like having 3 different microphones (pattern-wise) in a single product. I must say that the demonstration I had was very convincing (it will be interesting to see how this microphone performs in the filed). In addition, the new Sony XLR-K3M now supports an additional 3.5mm stereo mini jack for microphone and line input. Both of the new audio accessories are designed to work best with the new a7R IV, as they support digital audio interface, meaning audio is directly transferred to the camera in digital form without noise or degradation.

Sony XLR-K3M – Additional 3.5 input

 

Conclusion

I guess this is one of the shortest hands-on articles I’ve ever written, simply because there is not much to highlight about the video capabilities of the new Sony a7R IV. The video output is nice, but video specifications-wise, this camera leaves a lot to be desired. On the positive side, I managed to write a short article and not mention the much anticipated Sony a7S III. Bravo Johnnie…

Music is courtesy of MusicVine. Get 25% off your next music license with code C5D25 (valid for one use per customer).

What do you think about Sony kind of neglecting us filmmakers? Are you still hoping for a better-spec mirrorless camera to arrive from Sony or have you moved on to use other manufacturers’ equipment? Please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.  

 

Full disclosure: Johnnie and other media representatives were guests at Sony Europe’s a7R IV launch event in Dublin, Ireland. Sony paid the transport and accommodation for this two-day trip, but there was no other payment involved whatsoever. 

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Andrew ParkBruce HyerAlex PasquiniTom RyanJohnnie Behiri Recent comment authors
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Hey Now
Guest
Hey Now

Wow, Sony has blown it. 8-bit video was shoddy when the A7s II came out; now it’s profoundly embarrassing and not even worth considering for a video-camera purchase. And look at this sham: “HDR recording (Hybrid Log-Gamma, HLG)” IN 8 BITS? BWAHAHA, that is straight-up ignorant.

Nikon will now overstep Sony, outputting raw to ProRes Raw on Atomos; and others will do the same. Especially others with no “cine” line to protect.

Bummer for those who bought into the Sony ecosystem, only to have it stuck in the past.

Jan Hermann von Bayern
Member

I wait for the A7s III before I judge. This is a photo camera.

 Tom Ryan
Member
Tom Ryan

Six months after announcing prores raw out of Nikon, where is it? Nowhere…

Mitchell Sayers
Guest

Johnnie, I hear what you are saying, but this is a dedicated stills camera and the 61mp sensor is the big attraction. Many of your concerns are not relevant when we think about the excellent Photo/Video camera they released in the A7iii. “What do you think about Sony kind of neglecting us filmmakers? Are you still hoping for a better-spec mirrorless camera to arrive from Sony or have you moved on to use other manufacturers’ equipment?”

How have they neglected us with the excellent A7iii they released just last year? As far as i’m concerned this is still the #1 mirrorless Video camera on the market.

NILTON SANT ANA SPAGNUOLO
Guest
NILTON SANT ANA SPAGNUOLO

Congratulations on the honest way you put your opinion, Johnnie. Sony’s autofocus really is video reference, but the same can not be said of Panasonic that stubbornly maintains the focus deficiency in its latest release Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R. Greetings from your reader from Brazil.

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