I was extremely excited to get my hands on the Sony a7 IV last December. It promised to be a camera with a lot to offer and for me, felt like a huge upgrade from my much loved Sony a7 II. As the successor to the successful a7 III, expectations couldn’t be higher, so it certainly had a lot to live up to. 10 months of heavy use later, I couldn’t be happier with it. Here’s five of the many reasons I’m completely obsessed with the Sony a7 IV.
1. Image Quality
Sony promised upgrades in both the photo and video departments of the Sony a7 IV. They brought a new 33-megapixel sensor and stunning autofocus system, which has made photography a dream. Despite this, I was more excited about the upgrades brought to the video side of things, especially in an era where we are seeing video content more prominently than ever. The video quality of the Sony a7 IV is absolutely top notch. The 4K image, downsampled from 7K, is sharp and incredibly detailed. Paired with the new 10-bit color, you have yourself a beautiful image. Sony also made notable improvements from their previous cameras when it comes to their colors, removing the magenta tint that many users disliked. It’s a camera that has made me fall in love with the color-grading process, as it gives you so much more freedom than the 8-bit footage that previous cameras offered. The image quality has held up incredibly well in the wide variety of scenarios I’ve put it through and genuinely still makes me smile every time I review my footage.
The Sony a7 III already had a pretty solid autofocus system, so this wasn’t an area that necessarily needed all that much improvement but Sony brought an upgrade anyway and I am definitely not disappointed. The autofocus system in the a7 IV is one of my favorite things about it. Both in photo and video, the focus is quick, accurate, and intelligent. The ability to track eyes and faces in all photo and video modes completely relieves the stress of checking your subjects are in focus. It's particularly noteworthy to mention that Eye AF Tracking is available in S&Q modes, which cannot be said for some of Sony’s much more expensive cinema line cameras, such as the FX6. For sports creatives, this camera can also keep up with fast subjects with ease. Once tracked, the autofocus sticks on to your chosen subject very accurately, even in complicated circumstances. The AF was flawless over my several trips to motorsport events so far and continues to amaze me every time I head out to shoot.
3. Battery Life
There is little more frustrating for a creator than a camera with poor battery life. Luckily, this hasn’t been the case with the Sony a7 IV. I did have some worries given my experience with the Sony a7 II, which had less than favorable battery life. However, consider the more efficient system along with the same battery as the a7 III and you can easily get a solid 3-4 hours out of it, the only exception being when shooting continuously in 4K 60fps where you’ll burn through your battery life a little quicker. This has contributed to creating a really positive experience using the a7 IV out and about. It’s always nice to not have to constantly monitor your battery levels so you can focus your attention on the creation at hand.
4. Form and Build Quality
Given my previous experience with the Sony a7 II, I was definitely excited for the improved form factor of the a7 IV. One of the downsides of the smaller mirrorless cameras has certainly been the less ergonomic grips we’ve seen, particularly on the Sony lineup. Luckily, each generation of Sony Alpha camera has brought improvements in this aspect, and with the a7 IV, I believe they found the sweet-spot. The grip is large enough to comfortably hold, even for those with big hands. However, it also isn’t out of proportion with the camera. This results in a very comfortable user experience and less strain on your wrists, as you no longer have to clutch the camera as tightly as previous models. Other updates to the form of the camera are the new buttons. In simple terms, they feel more “clicky” and require a little more travel to depress fully. This gives the camera an overall higher-quality build and more assurance to the user when they’ve pressed a button.
5. Creative Freedom
The camera works so well that it allows me to completely focus on creating, rather than worrying about making sure the camera is doing what I need it to do. This is more important than any particular spec or upgrade. I can depend on the image quality and dynamic range. I can depend on the autofocus to keep my subjects in focus, and I can depend on the battery to last me all day or for a full shoot. I’ve found this creative freedom to allow me to produce better art, in both photos and video. This camera has helped me improve my own skills and produce what I envision in my mind, helping me translate it to moving or still images. For me, that is the sign of a great camera.
Before I get too soppy or I have to re-title this article “A Love Letter to the Sony a7 IV,” I should mention that despite all its high points, it’s not a perfect camera. The camera does get warm shooting in 4K 60 (although I’ve never had a warning or any shut-offs), and it would be better if it didn’t have a 1.5x crop. I do wish the screen was higher resolution and the huge video file sizes almost make me cry. But overall, it does 99% of the things I need and want to do. There isn’t a perfect camera for everyone, but this one certainly gets close enough for me. If it wasn’t already clear already, I highly recommend the a7 IV. Hopefully, you’ll love it as much as me.