The Sony a7 IV: What's Coming Next

The Sony a7 IV: What's Coming Next

We now know that the Sony a7R III and a7 III have sorted out many of the major complaints with mirrorless cameras, such as battery life, overheating, and autofocus, but there are still so many more features that we didn’t get. What does the next generation of Sony mirrorless cameras have in store for us?

I’m excited, you’re excited, we’re all excited about the just-announced Sony a7 III. It joins the a7R III in making a groundbreaking generation of mirrorless cameras. These cameras certainly earned their praise by squaring up to the drawbacks of mirrorless and tackling them head on.

Taking a step back, however, this isn’t the perfect camera. There are features that have been strongly requested for years that still haven’t made their way to the Sony a7 series. These are things that could have been included in the third generation of a7 cameras — things that are technologically possible today (and some that were possible yesterday). Here’s my list of what could, and should, be coming to the Sony a7 IV.

In-Camera Time-Lapse and the Return of PlayMemories Apps

The Sony a7R III and a7 III are great cameras for video work. One thing that they are missing though that other brands offer is the ability to shoot in-camera time-lapses. The strange thing is that the a7 series used to be able to through a PlayMemories app. However, Sony removed PlayMemories from their latest cameras and hasn’t replaced the missing features with anything.

The new Sony a7 III.

Two UHS-II Slots

This one may be outdated by the time the a7 IV rolls out, but it is forever a strange decision to offer two SD card slots in the a7R III and a7 III, but support for UHS-II in only one of them. Other brands seem to have no problem keeping up with the times and offering two UHS-II slots, or one UHS-II and one XQD, or even two XQD.

Unlocked Touchscreen Capability

The touchscreen has arrived to the a7. It can be used to set focus points and flip through photos in playback. Sony has gone through all the trouble to get to this point, why not take it all the way and unlock the touchscreen for use everywhere in the camera’s software? The menu wasn’t designed for touch you say? Well…

Revamped Menu System

If this were a numbered list, this would probably hit somewhere near the top spot. For years I’ve heard Sony users complain about the endlessly long and confusing menu system. Sony took that complaint and gave us colored tabs and a My Menu slot for customized options. What’s coming next has got to be a complete redesign of the menu system, and hopefully with touchscreen in mind this time.

Articulating LCD Screen

As I said before, these latest a7 cameras are great for video and would be absolutely killer with the inclusion of an LCD screen that can be flipped and rotated so that it can be seen while in front of the lens.

Personally, I think there is a fairly good chance we'll see this come to the a7S III. We’ve seen the sweeping improvements to the third-generation a7 and a7R cameras, and the a7S III really needs to bring it in order to clearly stand out. This is one of those stand-out video-centric features.

Sony a7R III's tilting, but not articulating, LCD screen.

Improved Weather Sealing

As previously reported by Lens Rentals, the a7R III still has issues when it comes to weather sealing despite Sony saying they beefed it up. The problem area with that camera in particular is the bottom, and it will be interesting to see if any changes were made for the a7 III once it’s cracked open. Seeing as how the bodies appear identical, I’d bet they unfortunately share the same weak point.

The a9 Focus Mode and Drive Mode Dial

People love the look of Fujifilm mirrorless cameras, myself included. They have character. Part of this is the physical dials on the top of the camera that are both nostalgic and highly useful. The Sony a9 brought an extra stacked dial to the left of the EVF that controls the focusing mode and the drive mode. I would love to see this make its way to the a7 IV series.

Added dial on the Sony a9.

4:3, 1:1 Aspect Ratios

With Sony’s uber-expensive compact camera, the RX1R II, one can set the image aspect ratio. This feature would be far more useful in a7 bodies where photographers are actually using them for commercial shoots every day and need their images to fit with the final look on the page.

sRAW

The Sony a7R III can shoot big and beautiful 42-megapixel raw images, but do we always need that kind of resolution? Even the a7 III’s 24 megapixels can be seen as overkill to some. Having the option to scale down the captured raw file could be helpful for shooting events where full resolution isn’t doing anything but killing hard drive space and slowing transfer times.

Sensor Protection

This is one of those areas that DSLR shooters have an upper hand. On DSLR cameras, the mirror acts as a shield to the precious sensor behind it. On the a7 mirrorless cameras, the sensor is exposed directly to the outside world once you pop off the lens. Some sort of curtain mechanism that can be activated could make changing out lenses in less than favorable conditions a better experience with less dependency on rocket blowers to clean things up.

Shutter mechanism for the Sony a7R III.

This is my humble list of requests for the Sony a7 IV. It appears quite a few of these could probably even be firmware updates for the current generation; however, that kind of feature release rollout hasn’t seemed like Sony’s style in the past. Either way, Sony has taken great strides to get to where they are at today, and the speculation for what’s up next continues.

What are your thoughts? What about electronic neutral density filters, 4K 60p, RGB live view histograms? Add your reasonable feature requests that the a7 series still hasn’t scratched.

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41 Comments

Surprisingly, my Sony arrived with shutter closed. As soon as I powered it - it opened. I’d love to see default state as closed (any time camera is powered off).

Tyler Thomas's picture

I'm going to buy an A7III and that is my biggest concern at this point. Even with a mirror I manage to get dust on my sensor sometimes... Having the shutter close on power down would give me so much more peace of mind.

Tom Herriman's picture

Alexander,
Electronic View Finders (EVF) develop the image from the sensor.
If the physical shutter is closed, you won't see anything in the viewfinder or rear LCD.

Do you think I really need to see anything when camera is off? ;)

Tom Herriman's picture

Once more through the thought here...
power on = shutter open
power OFF = shutter closed (default state)

You want the shutter to close when the power is off but yet you complained that the shutter opens when the power is on.

NO, I don't think you need to see anything when the power is off. So what's the problem?

Ben Perrin's picture

I would like to see playmemories restored. There was only 1 or 2 good apps there but they made a difference. I also liked your idea of sensor protection and articulating lcd screen. I also wouldn't mind seeing the exposure compensation dial be replaced with something else. I've never used it even once. YMMV.

Cody Tolmen's picture

Great post! I would love to see this stuff done. I'll add a list that I sent to Sony... I doubt it was ever seen by eyes that would be able to make any decisions but who knows.

My wishes for the A7RIII and beyond.

Problems to FIX
-Fix control dial lag, and all other lag. I feel like I'm using an 8 year old android phone. NO other camera on the market has lag like Sony cameras.

-Embed larger JPEG in RAW. Programs like Photo Mechanic need this! The only way to get around this is to shoot RAW + JPEG which I'd rather not have to do at all times.

-Fix the problem that we can't change minor settings like drive speed or silent shooting when the camera is buffering.

-When changing some settings in menu, the camera jumps out to the shooting menu interface where that setting also resides. Then when you change the setting and hit ok, you have to go back into the menu again... Leave the setting in MENU while "in" the menu.

-When focus hold button or back button focus is used, don't continue to show image preview after photo is taken! You can't see anything except the image preview. Keep live view running when half pressing shutter.

-When using the setting to remember focus point by orientation - there is huge lag when flipping from landscape to portrait or the other way around! It makes it completely unusable in an action or wedding environment. Fix it. This is one thing that I was super excited to finally see on the mk III but it's poorly implemented

-There is a lag when shooting continuous focus. It's tiny, but it's there and the only way I've found to take care of a little bit of the lag is to turn the setting from balanced to release in focus setting.

Things to ADD via firmware
-PLEASE add 4x3 and other ratios! Does every other camera and phone do this? EVEN the RX100? Come on Sony! Nikon just added 4x3 in the d850 and the viewfinder even blacks out the side bars! That's pretty amazing. With an EVF this would be such an easy change. Fix it

-The exposure scale in the viewfinder should go from -3 to +3 or more! It's just grayed out? Why? Cameras like the Fuji GFX go from -5 to +5 and it's really helpful in some environments, especially when shooting with flash when the camera is no longer showing true exposure.

-Skip over grayed out items in settings. If I change focus area, why do I have to click over every grayed out area? It's a waste of time. Maybe studio people don't care? Did you build this camera to live on a tripod? Also allow all settings to be changes in the menu! Why do you gray out settings just because you are not shooting in that mode right then? Freaking ridiculous

-PLEASE add focus tracking for whatever size focus area I'm shooting with! On Nikon d850, when shooting 3D tracking, if you have only one point selected, the camera tracks only that one point. I don't want to be distracted by a giant green ever changing rectangle! Keep the focus point size.

-Allow the focus point rectangle to be completely customizable. On Fuji cameras, when selecting focus point, you can turn a dial to make the point larger or smaller. Do something like this!

-Add an intervelometer for people who want it.

-Please add the ability to add continuous focus TOGGLE to a custom button. If I'm shooting single focus and then a bride is walking, I want a button to toggle continuous focus. This can be done on Canon 5D and I love it.

-Add auto review of 1 second and also .5 seconds in menu. Fuji GFX does this and it makes auto review in EVF great. I can see if someone blinked in .5 seconds and then preview is gone.

-Add ability to have auto review on LCD ONLY. So it would act more like an OVF camera. For instance - when shooting, auto review wouldn't show in EVF but if I pull my eye away from the finder, the auto review is on the LCD. This is how Canon and Nikon and everything else functions without an EVF. Make this an option. Fuji just did this for the GFX via firmware update...

-Please add the ability to remove things from the finder. On Fuji GFX you can literally add or take out everything and have a blank slate if you want, or show just aperture and shutter speed, or battery life... Whatever. It's a beautiful thing.

-Add seconds in the time menu. Have you guys ever synced cameras before? Or heck have them sync with an NFC tap?

Things to add in next body
-Add a bloody top plate OLED! Fuji implemented this beautifully in the GFX

-Add a second processor? Why in the crap is there still lag in these cameras!?!?!? You can process 10 42megapixel images a second and throw them onto an SD card, but you can't make a dial respond instantly?

-Add an ISO Dial?

-Move to XQD for rIIII and a9II?

-Add drive mode dial to rIV

-Make opening to EVF LARGER!! EVF is gorgeous, but when shooting with glasses on, I can't see the edges of the frame! What the heck?

Just some last comments
Sony - You are now competing with the big boys and probably taking them over. Canon will die soon if they don't change. You have done some amazing things in the last few years, but you need to do better. The A7R series has been priced with Canon 5D and Nikon 800 series since the start, but it hasn't had all the pro feaures. With the release of the A7RIII, it finally has dual cards and better features to be able to compete and surpass many other cameras, but please pick up a d850, 5DIV maybe a GFX, and who knows maybe a Pentax camera, find what makes them great, and add everything they do only better. Fix the lag. Also know that you are now selling to potential professional shooters that have been shooting for a decade or many decades. Fix the menus. Know your customer. This isn't someone buying an NEX 3 years ago! Make the menus and features pro. Don't be afraid to add more defined settings. Heck add a setting to switch to basic mode for the random parent who buys it to shoot their kids. But make the default mode ready for a working pro to pick up the camera and customize every single piece of the thing.
Don't be afraid to take over the camera market. Don't be afraid to step on Nikon and Canon's toes. Just make the best camera that has ever been made and be proud of it and then dominate. You have the ability to do this but you keep making these incremental baby steps, as if you are scared to annihilate the other guys.

Be a company who takes care of their customers with great service and firmware updates. People love fuji for this. Do the same. Don't be some distant robot that doesn't listen to people.

I have been shooting weddings full time for close to a decade. I started on Sony, then switched to Canon when Sony service badly failed us. Now I fully shoot Sony again (along with a Fuji GFX) but with all Canon glass. I love the cameras but I also put up with things that many pros just wont. I shoot the Fuji GFX primarily though which is bloody amazing but lacks a good fast standard so I only use adapted glass. I love you as a company but these things need to change and then who knows, in 3 years, you just may be the top dog. People don't laugh at Sony anymore, but the majority of pros still aren't ready to mess with a system that just has too may problems to put their full trust in. My all time favorite camera was the Sony a850. It had the best feel. The shutter was amazing, the interface was good if I remember correctly, the viewfinder was one for the history books, and it just had a glorious analog feel to it. Bring back a little bit of that Minolta history and feel and breath a little "life" into the somewhat lifeless robotic a7 series. That will make Sony great.

I agree with your comments about the lag. You mentioned shooting Sony with Canon glass. Which adapter are you using? Do you notice more of a lag when using the adapter?

Cody Tolmen's picture

Hey Suzi so I only shoot canon mount lenses on Sony bodies so I'm really not sure if it would be similar with Sony glass. I doubt that dial and menu lag would have anything to do with the lens mounted but who knows! I have an a7rii and 2 a7riii's and I have 2 Sigma MC-11's, 2 Metabones Mk IV adapters and one Mk V adapter. I like the build and quality of the Sigma adapter leaps and bounds more than Metabones, but I don't like how they function with Sigma lenses so I tend to just use the Metabones adapters. If I was just using actual Canon glass only though, I would just use the Sigma adapter. Hope that helps?

David Candlish's picture

If I may, why do you have so many adapters? What is it that makes the sigma adapters better than the metabones ones?

Although you've convinced me to hold off for now, I don't see many reviews focusing on the adapters so I'd love to learn more.

Cody Tolmen's picture

We shoot weddings full time and every now and then we split up and shoot 2 in a day so I have to have enough gear to cover 4 shooters at 2 weddings... So yeah lots of stuff! The Sigma adapters are just built better. If you held both you would know what I'm talking about. They fit better, look better, and are more reliable. I had quite a few issues with Metabones adapters freezing up a7rii's in the middle of very important moments, but they have never failed on the a7riii. So I feel like I can trust them a good bit now. I did also buy the new Metabones mk V adapters and they were a complete fail. I bought 2 just to make sure it wasn't my camera and both did the same thing. So I just use the mk IV which is ok. Ok so here's the deal on both - The Sigma adapter is great for Canon lenses because you can select phase detect focus only. Canon glass works better on these cameras than on Canon cameras. My problem with Sigma lenses is that you can't select phase focus only, so they tend to do this little hunt in good light and in low light they work pretty cruddy, except in continuous focus. So if I'm using Sigma lenses, I'll stick to Metabones. Metabones work better overall if I'm using a combination of Sigma and Canon glass. Really, you'd have to see what you dig. To some people, they might like the Sigma adapter with Sigma glass but as much as I try, sometime during the wedding day, I'll give up on the Sigma adapter and switch to Metabones. I just wish the Metabones adapters had a better build and that they were weather sealed. Sorry if this sounds crazy and confusing. It kind of is! To finish up though, with the a7riii, I have had no issues with Metabones mk IV adapter so I tend to just use it now. I have asked Sigma if they would allow an option to change modes on the adapter with their dock software but they haven't. Maybe one day. Hope that helps!

Simon Patterson's picture

Whoa, and I thought the original article was a pretty good list. Your list looks comprehensive!

Adrian Pocea's picture

Your very competent comment convinced me that the Sonys are not ready to replace my Canon 5div as a main camera for weddings. I shoot a lot in a photo journalistic style, usually having to change settings and camera orientation for 10 shots in a row. I cannot tolerate any lag or twisted menu access. Camera has to be a continuation of my arm and to ve totally out of my way

Cody Tolmen's picture

Thanks Adrian. So I wouldn't totally dismiss it as a system because I certainly still think they are great cameras, but for real, Sony needs to fix some stuff. But I guess I just kinda get along with the problems for the most part. Really my favorite thing about them is being able to rely on accurate focus all the time. With Canon, I was always testing focus and making micro adjustments when buying new lenses. If I rented a lens, I'd have to dig out my focus align crap, throw it on a tripod, and make sure the lens was dialed in for a wedding day... Whenever I'd buy a new body or lens from Canon, I'd send it right back to Canon to have them align everything under warranty. With Sony bodies, the focus system is all on the sensor so every lens I throw on it is perfect and I can be confident on a wedding day to shoot wide open all the time and not miss focus. But yeah sometimes I do miss the feel and solidness overall of my Canon stuff. And the lag on the focus point when changing orientation, big bloody fail in my opinion. As far as a camera getting out of the way, I totally feel ya. These cameras do want to get in the way a bit. Luckily, after you really dive in to them and customize the crap out of them, they do work pretty well ;)

David Candlish's picture

Same for me, I'd hoped that because the reviews glossed over menu/operation lag and other niggles they weren't present but you've convinced me now that at best I need to get my hands on it for an extended trial and maybe to wait for some updates altogether.

Was just about to pull the trigger, thanks for stopping me just in time :)

Cody Tolmen's picture

lol I didn't mean to stop you! I'm sorry if all the stuff I wrote sounds negative, overall I do like the cameras. I put up with stuff and I'm ok with that. I will tell you that I would never switch back to Canon though. Canon really needs to light a fire under their back sides and get to work if they don't want to be the forgotten 4 years from now.

Travis Harris's picture

Hey Cody! I have a 1dx and thinking of switching. I use photo mechanic for my weddings. Culling. So... What's the deal with this and Sony? It won't work?

Cody Tolmen - I'll second everything you say here. I'm a Canon user for 10 years (commercial/ad photog) making the transition over to Sony for the last year. I'm wondering why you aren't using native glass with the Sony? My experience with the Metabones adaptor and Canon is that tracking (continuous focus) is totally unreliable and there is a lag from when pressing the shutter and when the camera fires. Plus you give up the other AF options. Does the Sigma adaptor fix the continuous focus problem? Do you like the look of the Canon glass more? or are you using Canon bodies in tandem? Thanks and hopefully you've put your list up on multiple sites as well as sent it off to Sony. I'm always curious how much of this stuff MFG's actually listen to. You might send it to guys like Brian Smith, Chris Burkard, etc. -- guys who are working as Sony ambassadors. I would hope they have a little pull on changes.

All those things would be nice. Except for the shutter dropping down. I think the shutter is actually more delicate than the sensor. At least sony prob thinks that and I'll go with the engineers preference.

All excellent ideas and totally concur! Well written Ryan thanks. ++1 for intervalometer.

Anthony Cayetano's picture

Other suggestions:

- Cine 4K @ 24/30fps
- Stacked Sensor (not the current A9 version) to prevent rolling shutter when using electronic shutter
- 4K60P
- 10-bit video

Excellent article and Cody Tolmen's additions are also very much to the point. May I add three further comments?

1. EyeAF. I frequently use a tripod with a cable shutter release, but there is no way that I know of to engage EyeAF without holding down the programmed button on the camera at the same time. It would be great to be able to toggle EyeAF on and off with the press of the designated button.

2. When playing back an image taken in portrait mode, zooming in causes the camera to switch to landscape mode.

3. I can't format a card via the Function menu button. The least inconvenient means of access I have found to the Format command is via My Menu.

Ryan Mense's picture

I might be imagining it, but I think I saw a Pre-AF Face Detect in the menu settings for the a7 III. That would continuously track a face in the frame without pressing anything. Not exactly what you want but it shows it's probably possible for them to do down the line.

I have the AF/MF / AEL switch on my A6300 set to switch between BB AF and BB Eye AF. Should be possible to set the AEL button on the A7 III to be specifically for Eye AF instead of using a toggle.

Also, the A6300 doesn't have the issue of rotating the image when zooming. Maybe a bug due to the new OS?

Ryan Mense's picture

I set the AE-L button to Eye AF on the a7 III, but I don't think that's what Eric wants to do. He wants the camera to have Eye AF on all the time without any camera interaction.

The a7R III had that playback portrait mode bug when I was testing it and it was pretty annoying.

"(Eric) wants the camera to have Eye AF on all the time without any camera interaction."

That's right, Ryan.

Simon Patterson's picture

Whenever a new camera comes out, I always ask "what is missing or has been removed, to return in the next model?" People usually pooh pooh my question, but you just answered it for the Sony Ar3, with aplomb. Thank you!

Anthony Cayetano's picture

If you think about it, once the A7IV comes out, the A7III would be the most sought-after primary or 2nd camera for professionals. The III has essentially all the features the pro wants. Right now some A7IIs are selling under $1K...

Christian Lainesse's picture

Sony's newly patented Global Shutter Technology

Thomas Schütz's picture

As far as I know (I think I saw it in a YouTube video), they removed the play apps because they changed the processor architecture and the apps do not run on this one anymore.

Maybe they bring it back.

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