One year ago, I finally received my Sony a7 IV after a long wait from my local camera store. In this article, I explain what I like about the camera and where I think it could improve.
In February 2018, Sony shook the camera world with the announcement of the Sony a7 III as a $2,000 "basic entry level full frame camera," but this camera was not basic at all. It was packed full of features, which took the photography and videography world by storm with an incredibly affordable price tag.
Fast forward to October 2021, and the highly anticipated Sony a7 IV was announced, would this camera live up to the same hype as it's predecessor? After owning both cameras, for me, I believe that the a7 IV is a fantastic upgrade over the a7 III but it is not for everyone.
Wildlife Photography Is Where It Shines for Me
I want to start with where I think this camera excels and why it was worth the upgrade from the a7 III. As a hobbyist wildlife photographer, the a7 IV has several features that have made photographing wildlife much easier. The improved eye autofocus for animals has been fantastic, along with the new addition of bird eye autofocus, which works well. The autofocus is not without its faults, though. Sometimes, it still struggles to find a subject, even with decent separation between the subject and background. I find myself zooming to 200mm to find the subject and then zooming back out once found to find my composition.
For those looking to use the camera for filming, the camera can record up to 4K 60p; however, 4K 60p is cropped. For some, this was a dealbreaker when the camera was announced. However, for wildlife filming, having a crop is not a bad thing!
The Vari-angle screen has also been a blessing, allowing me to photograph and film from different angles. The tilt screen on the Sony a7 III was always one feature that frustrated me while Canon was releasing cameras with the Vari-angle screen. So, I was very happy that we finally got this function on the a7 IV.
Lastly, the increase of megapixels, going from 24 to 33, is a great boost and allows more wiggle room for cropping images, which is very often useful in wildlife. The ability to upscale resolutions in software now also enables us to make the most of this.
For photographers who have the Sony a7 III and are shooting other styles of photography, the upgrades in this camera may not be worthwhile. The a7 III is still a beast of a camera and still extremely capable to this day, with a cheaper price tag brand new or even secondhand.
The a7 IV does boast improved focusing, new autofocus types for subjects, the Vari-angle screen, etc., as previously mentioned. These may be a selling point for others, but if you aren't too fussed about these features, then there might be no need to upgrade just yet. They can wait for the Sony a7 V or opt for the new a7R V or a7S III.
That being said, the a7 IV has performed almost flawlessly for me in multiple other situations such as landscape, astro and wedding photography.
What Could Be Improved
My wishlist for what could be improved on the a7 IV may or may not be farfetched, but I hope some of these things could be improved with firmware updates (although sadly, this is one area that Sony is very poor in and should improve).
My first request is more hardware,based and that would be an improved EVF and rear LCD screen. The resolution on both of these is low compared to the competition and would make a great improvement going forward in future models.
For software upgrades, I would love for this camera to have several features, such as the ability to set longer exposure times than 30 seconds without an intervalometer and in-camera focus stacking (like on the new a7R V).
Another great option would be to have a higher burst speed. The camera currently maxes out at 10 fps. However, this can be lower when shooting uncompressed raw, etc. The Canon EOS R6 Mark II, however, is a similarly priced camera and shoots up to 40 fps in electronic.
I believe with some of these features, Sony could and should deliver these in a firmware update. However, as touched on before, Sony is unfortunately very reluctant to improve features on existing camera bodies.
What would you like to see from Sony either in firmware for this body or in the next generation? Let us know in the comments below.