The Sony A7R series of full-frame mirrorless cameras comprises the highest-resolution cameras in Sony’s line-up. It began with the Sony A7R in October 2013 with a 36.4-million-pixel sensor, followed by the 42.4MP Sony A7R II in June 2015 and then the A7R III in October 2017. In July 2019, the Sony A7R IV saw the resolution jump to 61MP and even the flagship Sony A1 (50MP) doesn’t beat it for pixel count.
On 26th October this year, the latest model in the A7R line was announced and you can read our Sony A7R V review that was written after shooting with it ahead of the global launch. The A7R V has the same pixel count as its predecessor but there are some significant upgrades that have got a lot of photographers very excited. In this post, we’ll compare the Sony A7R V vs A7V IV to draw out their main differences and consider whether its worth upgrading from the A7R IV to the A7R V.
Sony A7R V: 35mm full frame (35.7 x 23.8 mm), 61MP BSI Exmor R CMOS
Sony A7R IV: 35mm full frame (35.7 x 23.8 mm), 61MP BSI Exmor R CMOS
While they are widely believed to have the same sensor there is a small difference between the Sony A7R V’s sensor and the A7R IV’s. That is that the A7R V’s sensor has more phase-detection pixels on it. These cover approximately 79% of the imaging surface of the A7R V’s sensor while Sony says that the phase-detection pixels on the A7R IV’s sensor cover 99.7% of the height and 74.0% of the width. It means the A7R V has better coverage.
Sony A7R V: Bionz XR
Sony A7R IV: Bionz XR
The processor names are a bit misleading here as Sony uses the same name for several iterations of the Bionz XR processing engine. The A7R V features a newly updated processing engine that Sony claims is 8x faster than the processor in the A7R IV. There’s also a second processor that is specifically for the AI subject detection.
Sony A7R V: Hybrid with 693 phase detection points
Sony A7R IV: Hybrid with 567 phase detection + 425 contrast detection AF points
Sony hasn’t said how many contrast detection points the A7R V has in total, but if I were a betting person, I’d put my money on it being 425. But it’s the phase detection points that are the most interesting as they tend to get the job done quicker and the A7R V has more than the A7R IV.
Sony has also streamlined (or renamed) the AF point selection options a little on the A7R V to include Wide / Zone / Center Fix / Spot / Expand Spot / Tracking whereas as the A7R IV has Wide / Zone / Center / Flexible Spot (S/M/L) /Expanded Flexible Spot/ Tracking (Wide / Zone / Center / Flexible Spot (S/M/L)/Expanded Flexible Spot).
Sony A7R V: Stills & video: Human (Right/Left Eye Select) / Animal (Right/Left Eye Select) / Bird / Insect / Car / Train / Airplane
Sony A7R IV: Stills: Human (Right/Left Eye Select) / Animal, Movie: Human (Right/Left Eye Select)
As you can see, the A7R V is able to detect and track a wider range of subjects. With animals or birds, the A7R V can also be set to target just their eyes, their head and eyes or their body, head and eyes, making it easier to ensure that you get the shots you want.
While we have seen car, train and plane detection before, the Sony A7R V is the first camera to be able to detect insects.
Sony A7R V: Hi+: 10 fps, Hi: 8 fps, Mid: 6 fps, Lo: 3 fps
Sony A7R IV: Hi+: 10 fps, Hi: 8 fps, Mid: 6fps, Lo: 3 fps
While the A7R V doesn’t make any changes to the speed of shooting, it can capture many more images in a single burst, making a much more attractive camera for sport and action photography than the Mark IV. The images burst depths can be summarised as:
Sony A7R V:
JPEG Extra fine L: over 1000
JPEG Fine L: over 1000
JPEG Standard L: over 1000
RAW & JPEG: 184
RAW (Lossless Compressed): 547
RAW (Lossless Compressed) & JPEG: 159
RAW (Uncompressed) & JPEG: 88
Sony A7R IV:
JPEG Extra fine L: 68
JPEG Fine L: 68
JPEG or RAW: 68
RAW & JPG: 68
RAW (Uncompressed): 30
RAW (Uncompressed) & JPG: 30
Sony A7R V: 8K at 24p/25p (cropped), 4K at up to 60p (cropped) or 4K at up to 30p with no crop, or 4K downsampled from 6.2K
Sony A7R IV: 4K at up to 30p
The A7R V makes some significant improvements upon the A7R IV with regards to video recording with ability to record 8K video at 24/25p and 4K video at up to 60p, both with a slight crop of 1.2x. There’s also the option to shoot 4K video downsampled from 6.2K or regular 4K video at up to 30p using the full sensor width.
In addition, there’s the option to shoot in 10-bit 4:2:2 (A7R IV is limited to 8-bit 4:2:0), S-Log3, S-Cinetone and HLG, making the A7R V a more rounded video camera than its predecessor.
Sony A7R V: 5-axis giving up to 8EV shutter speed compensation with a compatible lens
Sony A7R IV: 5-axis giving up to 5.5EV shutter speed compensation
In-body image stabilisation (IBIS) is a given for any new camera and the degree of shutter speed compensation has been rising with Canon and Olympus really pushing the boundaries. With the A7R V, Sony has made a significant step forward with a new IBIS unit that’s capable of working with some of the company’s stabilised lenses to deliver a shutter speed compensation value of up to 8EV. The stabilisation works in stills and video mode.
The IBIS also plays a role in the cameras’ Pixel Shift Multi Shooting Mode. When the Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode is activated, the camera shoots up to 16 images in short succession. These images can then be composited into one much larger (241MP) image using Sony’s free Imagining Edge Desktop Software.
Although it is still a tripod-only mode, with the A7R V, the software can detect when there are movements between the images, for example a gust of wind blows some leaves, and only the images in which the composition is the same are composited.
Sony A7R V: 0.64-inch 9,437,184-dot OLED
Sony A7R IV: 0.5 type 5,760,000-dot OLED
Sony has given the A7R V the same viewfinder as is in the Sony A7S III, which means that it is bigger and has higher resolution than the viewfinder in the A7R IV. Like the A7R IV’s viewfinder, it has a maximum refresh rate of 120fps with a default setting of 60fps. The larger, more detailed vide in the A7R V’s viewfinder makes for a clearer and more natural-looking image.
Sony A7R V: 3.2-inch 2,095,104-dot 4-axis touchscreen
Sony A7R IV: 3-inch 1,440,000-dot tilting touchscreen
Like the viewfinder, the A7R V’s rear screen is bigger and higher resolution than the A7R IV’s screen. And while they are both touchscreens, there’s very little touch-control available with the A7R IV. The A7R V’s screen, however, allows much more touch-control so you can navigate the menu and making setting selections with taps.
Another key difference between the screens is that the A7R IV’s screen can only be tilted up or down, so it’s only really helpful if you’re shooting in landscape orientation. Sony has combined a tilting mechanism with a vari-angle hinge on the A7R V, which means that as well as tilting up or down, the screen can be flipped out to the side and rotated to face forwards. It’s a much more versatile approach than with the A7R V and it promotes creative photography.
The A7R V also has a revised menu that includes a new Main menu page with a tabulated layout.
Sony A7R V: 2x CFexpress Type-A / SDXC UHS-II
Sony A7R IV: 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-II
While the A7R V can accept SD type memory cards, it can also accept CFexpress Type-A cards which are faster. These cards facilitate the internal 8K video recording. CFexpress Type-A cards are still uncommon, but as most photographers have a few SD cards, the SD card compatibility helps get over any initial storage problems.
Size and weight
Sony A7R V: 131.3 x 96.9 x 82.4mm, 723g with battery and memory card
Sony A7R IV: 128.9 x 96.4 x 77.5mm, 665g with battery and memory card
If you put the A7R V alongside the A7R IV, you’ll be hard pressed to spot a difference in the body size or shape. However, the A7R V is a little bigger and heavier. This is thought to be largely down to the change in the screen mount. It feels just the same as the A7 IV in your hand.
A couple of buttons have swapped position on the new camera and the video record button, which is on the rear of the A7R V, is on the top of the A7R V – near the shutter button. It’s a better location.
In addition, the dial that is the exposure compensation dial on the A7 R IV is unmarked so that although it can be used to adjust the exposure compensation, it can be used to adjust other settings as well.
Should I sell my Sony A7R IV?
As the Sony A7R V has the same resolution sensor as the one in the A7R IV, and there’s been no major redesign to the chip’s structure, it’s unlikely that the new camera will produce significantly more detailed images. However, the upgraded AF system, backed by the overhauled subject detection system, and the better in-body image stabilisation system should result in more sharp images being captured with the A7R V in comparison with the A7R IV.
The A7R V also benefits from a more flexible rear screen which encourages creative shooting by making it easier to shoot in either orientation from a range of angles.
And let’s not forget the new video features in the A7R V. It’s primarily a stills camera but its also a very capable video camera.
When you consider all of these points, many Sony A7R IV owners are likely to be tempted to sell their camera to upgrade to the Sony A7R V.
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