The Sony A7R V has been given a significant boost in comparison to the A7R IV. Yes, the pixel count is the same, but the processor and AI Processing Unit enables some nice improvements, with the Eye AF being much more sensitive and snappy, and an expansion in the range of subjects that can be detected and tracked automatically. There’s also a -million-dot viewfinder and a 4-way tilting touchscreen that allows much more touch-control. And let’s not forget the 8K video capability (with a 1.2x crop) and the full-frame 4K from 6.2K. It’s a very tempting package for professional photographers and content creators.
Wide range of subject detection modes
High resolution viewfinder and 4-axis screen
1.2x crop in 8K video mode
Rolling shutter is an issue
What is the Sony A7R V?
The Sony A7R V is the replacement to the Sony A7R IV. Like its predecessor, the Sony A7R V has a 61MP backside-illuminated (BSI) full-frame sensor, but there are lots of changes that have taken place to bring Sony’s highest-resolution mirrorless camera bang up to date.
Chief amongst the improvements are the enhanced subject detection autofocus system that benefits from the addition of a new AI processing unit, a more versatile screen that is both tilting and articulating, and a larger, higher-resolution viewfinder. In addition, the in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) has been improved to offer great shake compensation.
Given all the enhancements that the new camera makes over the A7R IV, plus the economic climate, it should perhaps come as nor surprise that the Sony A7R V price at launch is significantly higher than its predecessor’s.
The Sony A7R V retails for £3,999 / $3,9000 / €4,500. It went on sale in December 2022.
Camera type: Full-frame mirrorless
Announced: 26th October 2022
Sensor: 61MP full-frame sensor
Processing engine: Bionz XR
Lens mount: Sony FE
Continuous Shooting: Up to 10fps burst shooting with full AF / AE Tracking: Hi+: 10 fps, Hi: 8 fps, Mid: 6 fps, Lo: 3 fps
Autofocus system: Hybrid with 693 phase detection points and subject detection
Buffer depth: JPEG Extra fine L: over 1000 frames, JPEG Fine L: over 1000 frames, JPEG Standard L: over 1000 frames, raw : 583 frames, RAW & JPEG: 184 frames, raw (Lossless Compressed): 547 frames, raw (Lossless Compressed) & JPEG: 159 frames, raw (Uncompressed): 135 frames, raw (Uncompressed) & JPEG: 88 frames
Video resolution: 8K at 24p (1.2x crop), 4K at up to 60p (1.2x crop) or 4K downsampled from 6.2K
Video formats and compression: XAVC S, XAVC HS, XAVC S: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264,XAVC HS: MPEG-H HEVC/H.265
Sensitivity range: Still images: ISO 100-32000, expandable to ISO 50-102,40, Movies: ISO 100-32000
Dimensions: 131.3 x 96.9 x 82.4mm / 5 1/4 x 3 7/8 x 3 1/4 inches
Weight: 723g / 1lb 9.6oz
While there’s little change with the 61MP BSI sensor in the Sony A7R V, the processing engine is the very latest incarnation of the Sony Bionz XR and it, plus the dedicated AI Processing unit, is behind some exciting updates that the A7R V makes on the A7R IV.
Most significantly, there’s a new autofocus (AF) system with 693 phase detection points that cover 79% of the sensor. This backed by the subject-recognition system which, according to Sony, delivers a 60% improvement in human eye recognition and a 40% improvement in animal recognition. The range of detectable (and selectable) subjects has been extended to include humans, animals, birds, insects, planes and trains. It’s also possible to set the A7R V to detect animals and birds at the same time or by themselves. That’s useful if you’re at a wildlife park when you’re likely to encounter lots of animals and birds one after the other.
Thanks to the AI-enhanced Real Time Tracking, the Sony A7R V can follow people via their pose or body shape. And the Eye AF can even predict where the eyes are behind sunglasses so the eye is in focus rather than the glasses.
When animals are selected for detection, the camera can be set to look for their eyes, their body and head or their body, head and eyes in hierarchal order.
This sophisticated AF system is backed by the ability to shoot at up to 10fps (in Hi+ drive mode) with full-AF but blackout between the frames or 8fps (in H drive mode) without blackout. Also, when the new compressed raw file format is selected, the A7R V can record up to 583 images in one continuous sequence.
Sony has uprated the A7R V’s in-body image stabilisation in comparison with the A7 IV and when paired with a fully-compatible lens there’s up to 8EV shutter speed compensation in stills and video mode.
The Sony A7R V also has an improved Multi Shot Pixel Shift system. As before this can be set to capture 16 images that are composted into one larger image using Sony’s Imaging Edge Desktop software. Paired with the latest version of the software (V3.5), any movement is detected and the frame removed to ensure greater sharpness throughout the final 240.9MP image.
Sony has extended the range of files sizes and formats that the A7R V can capture to include uncompressed raw, lossless compressed raw (in large, medium or small sizes), compressed raw and Jpeg, with Jpeg light joining the usual array of compressions (extra fine, fine and standard). In addition, Jpegs can be recorded at full resolution or 26MP or 15MP.
Sony A7R V video features
The headline figures for the Sony A7R V on the video front are that it can shoot 8K video at 24/25p with a 1.2x crop or 4K video at up to 60/50p also with a 1.2x crop and 4K video at up to 30p with no crop. There’s also the option to shoot 4K video downsampled from 6.2K with no pixel binning.
The MPEG-H HEVC/H.265 codec is on hand along with all intra recording and 10-bit 4:2:2 colour.
Sony’s updated subject recognition system and real-time tracking are also available in video mode and there’s breathing compensation feature that we saw introduced with the Sony A7 IV.
As I mentioned earlier, the IBIS works during video mode but there’s also a (digital) in-body Active mode for the image stabilisation.
The Sony A7R IV also features:
Focus bracketing in which it will shoot up to 299 images automatically, shooting the focus across a user-defined range, for post-capture combining.
Full-time DMF that switches the camera to manual focus whenever the lens’s focus ring is rotated in AF-C or AF-S autofocus mode.
Built-in Wi-Fi and 2×2 MIMO support for fast and stable image transfer.
A graphite heat dissipation structure to move heat away from the sensor, image processor and AI processing unit. This construction has a sigma shape and is built into the image stabilisation unit.
Two CFexpress Type A slots that can be used with SDXC/SDHC UHS-II or UHS-I cards.
USB PD (Power Delivery) which means a USB charger or mobile battery that supports USB PD can be connected to the A7R V’s USB Type-C port to supply power or charge the battery.
Build and handling
Like the rest of the Sony A7-series cameras, the A7R V is fairly compact for a full-frame model. It has a familiar quite angular SLR-like shape, but also has a well-shaped grip with a nice groove to accommodate your middle finger while your index finger is on the shutter release. There’s also a reasonable thumb ridge so the camera feels comfortable in your hand. As you might expect, it feels front-heavy with a long lens such as the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II mounted, but the grip feels assured.
Comparing the new Sony A7R V with the A7R IV that it replaces reveals few differences, they appear to be the same size and have the same shape. However, there are few differences with the controls. The C1 button on the A7R IV, for example, is now the record button on the A7R V so it sits on the top-plate near the shutter release – hurrah! The C1 button on the A7R V now occupies the space where the A7R IV’s record button is. I think it’s a better arrangement as the record button is more readily available.
The dials on the top of the camera are the same, however, the dial on the far right of the A7R V, which is the exposure compensation dial on the A7R Iv and has markings accordingly, is unmarked. It can be used to adjust the exposure compensation, but it’s customisable.
Also, instead of having the video mode on the main mode dial, there’s now a switch under the dial that lets you swap between stills, video and S&Q *slow and quick) mode. This is another step in the right direction as it means the video exposure mode can be set via the mode dial rather than via the menu.
Sony A7R V screen and viewfinder
Sony has changed from a tilting screen on the A7R IV to a 4-axis screen. That combines a tilting bracket with a vari-angle hinge. It means that the screen can be tilted so that it remains in line with the optic axis of the lens, or it can be flipped out to the side to help with framing vertical shots and even rotated to face forward. I think it’s the best of both words but it takes a little time to get used to this new level of freedom of movement.
The 3.2-inch 2,095,104-dot screen is also a touchscreen and Sony has made much more use of the touch control than it does with the A7R IV. It means that you can navigate the menu and make selections with taps – or use the buttons and dials.
Further good news is that Sony has updated the menu system so it’s easier to find key features and, like the FX30 it features a new ‘Main Menu’ pages which has a tabulated layout similar to some camera’s quick or function menus. And don’t fear, the A7R. V still has a function menu that’s accessed by pressing the Fn button.
Above the rear screen there’s the 0.64-inch type 9,437,184-dot viewfinder (with 0.9x magnification) which by default has a refresh rate of 60fps but can be boosted to 120fps. This is the same viewfinder is on the Sony A7S III and it gives a very natural and detailed view in 60fps mode. If you wear spectacles, you may find that you need to position your eye carefully to see the full image clearly in the viewfinder, but without glasses, the view is excellent.
Like the screen, the viewfinder gives an excellent preview of exposure, colour, white balance and depth of field. Unusually, there’s no ‘DSLR’ or natural view option to attempt to replicate the view in an optical viewfinder. It something many brands offer to entice DSLR users, but it negates one of the main advantages of using a mirrorless camera.
Sony claims that the A7R V delivers a new level of resolution at low sensitivity settings, and the results are very good, but there are no major changes in comparison with the A7R IV. However, the improvements made to the autofocus system, subject tracking and the enhanced stabilisation mean that there are more ‘keepers’ in each sequence of images. The refreshed Subject Recognition AF system is particularly good.
It’s worth noting that although the A7R V has a top continuous shooting rate of 10fps (in Hi+ mode), you need to shoot Jpegs or compressed raw files to achieve that rate. When shooting uncompressed raw files in Hi+ mode, I was able to capture 82 images to the CF Express Type A card in around 12 seconds. That equates to a frame rate of around 5fps. Switching to compressed raw files extended the shooting time to around 15 seconds and the burst depth was boosted to 153 images, hitting the 10fps maximum.
Exchanging the CF Express type A card for a UHS-II SD card, however, reins in the shooting time to around 9 seconds and reduces the burst depth to 95 compressed raw files.
Sony A7R V Autofocus
As I mentioned earlier, the Sony A7R V’s Subject Recognition system can be set to detect and focus upon humans, animals, birds, insects, planes and trains. There’s an option for it to look for both animals and birds, but not humans and animals – which may be disappointing for family photographers who might want to include pets in the frame.
Part of the beauty of the Subject Recognition system is that it’s easy to use, you just set the type of subject that you want it to target and it does the job regardless of the AF Focus Area Mode you have selected. If it doesn’t see the subject in the frame, you can fall back on using your preferred Focus Area mode.
The system works extremely well for stills and video, and usually detects the specified subject as soon as it enters the frame, even when it’s quite small. With humans, animals and birds, you see the selection area narrow down to target the head and eyes as the subject gets larger in the frame and these features become more visible.
When photographing the London Welsh Women play rugby against Wasps, the camera was quick to spot a body, head or eye in the frame, but with so many players on the pitch it didn’t always target exactly who I wanted. I found one of the Tracking Settings, often Tracking Spot M (medium) or S (small) a good alternative.
The system proves invaluable when photographing wildlife. When photographing a robin, for instance, it latched onto its eye quickly and following it around the frame as I composed the shot. Not having to select the appropriate AF point manually gives you that extra bit of time to check the background and compose your shot. The speedy subject detection and autofocus system is very useful when a bird flits from one area to another and you need to find it again, and it’s fast enough to capture birds in flight.
When the Subject Recognition was set to Bird, it did an excellent job of keeping a blue tit’s eye sharp as it moved from one side of a twig to another, it was almost like the twig wasn’t there.
The camera’s Subject Recognition system was set to Bird for this image and it did a great job of keeping the eye sharp
I’ve found that some subject detection systems mistake the ears of some animals for eyes. Otters are a prime example, but on most occasions the A7R V correctly identified the eye.
Sony A7R V image quality
Those portaloos in the background show the impact of rolling shutter effect
It’s clear that the camera’s AF system is capable of keeping up with the 10fps maximum continuous shooting rate, but it’s easier to follow a moving subject if you drop from the Hi+ setting to Hi and 8fps (depending upon the file format) because there’s live view of the image between the shots.
Another issue to consider is the type of shutter that you use because the A7R V is prone to rolling shutter effect when the electronic shutter is used. I have some images that were shot at the rugby match which look fine despite the fact that I was moving the camera and using the electronic shutter, but there are others that show the tell-tale distortion. As a rule, stick to using the mechanical shutter if the subject or the camera is moving.
According to Sony, the A7R V has an improved automatic white balance system with a new sensor on the front of the camera. However, I find that it tends to make scenes look a bit too neutral, especially under an overcast sky and it’s preferable to use the Daylight or Cloudy presets, or a manual setting to give images a little warmth. Colours can also look a little drab when the Natural Creative Look, however underexposing by 1/3-stop or switching to the Vivid setting gives them a boost. Fortunately, the screen and viewfinder provide accurate guide for the colour and white balance so you can adjust accordingly at the shooting stage if you want share-ready images.
There are five metering options but the default all-purpose Multi-segment (1200-zone evaluative metering) setting proves a good choice in many conditions. However, it tends to err on the side of caution with regards to highlights, so you may find yourself dialling some positive exposure compensation now and then to brighten your image. Again, the viewfinder and screen provide accurate previews for the exposure so you can trust the evidence of your eyes.
As I mentioned at the start of this section of our Sony A7R V review, there’s an excellent level of detail in the images that the camera produces. Noise is also controlled well for such a high resolution model.
The native sensitivity range for stills and movies is ISO 100-32,000. Where possible, I’d aim to to keep to ISO 12,800 or lower, but I wouldn’t worry much if I had to push up to ISO 25,600.
If you’re keen on pixel-peeping you’ll see a clear granular texture in ISO 12,800 raw files in images at 100% on a computer screen, and the Jpegs look a little smooth between the edges. However, it’s worth remembering that we’re talking about 9,504 x 6,336 pixel images and at 300ppi, the images measure 80.47 x 53.64 cm (31.68 x 21.12 inches). When the images are sized to fill a 27-inch screen the noise isn’t visible and the level of detail looks great.
Sony has worked on the in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) system in the A7R V, and while I find the 8EV shutter speed compensation a stretch with the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM at 70mm, around 50% of my images were acceptably sharp when I shot 1 second exposures. That’s a compensation factor of around 6EV.
Sony A7R V sample images
Follow the link to browse and download full-resolution images from the Sony A7R V. Most of the images are straight from the camera and uncropped or edited, but a few have been cropped to improve the composition followed by some light editing.
The Sony A7R V is the fifth incarnation of Sony’s high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera series. It has the same 61MP pixel count as its predecessor and they are the highest resolution 35mm-format cameras currently available.
With such a high pixel count, the A7R V is naturally suited to landscape photography, but thanks to its autofocus prowess, it can also hold muster as a sport and action camera.
It’s also one of the most expensive cameras of its level around, but unlike the 45.7MP Nikon Z7 II, it’s capable of shooting 8K video (albeit with a 1.2x crop). It’s most direct competition is the Canon EOS R5, which although lower resolution (45MP), has an excellent subject detection system and is capable of recording 8K video. The Fujifilm X-H2 and Fujifilm X-T5 also make attractive alternatives with both featuring a 40MP APS-C format sensor, excellent focusing with a range of subject detection options and excellent image quality.
Sony A7R V video sample
This video was shot on the Sony A7R V set to XAVC HS 4K at 50p and 200M 4:2:2 10bit. The lens was the Sony FE 70-200mm GM OSS II, used by itself and with the Sony 2x Teleconverter for the closer shots. The camera was hand-held, with my hands or elbows resting on a ledge for support. The image stabilisation was on and set to ‘Standard’. The focusing was set to Continuous AF with transition speed 5, AF Subject Shift Sensitivity set to 5 (responsive) and Subject Recognitions set to Bird.
The Sony A7R V is one of the most exciting and competent cameras that has been announced in the last 12 months. The increase in the number of detectable subjects for the AF system is great news for a wide range of photographers and videographers, making wildlife and pet photography, in particular, much easier.
Some photographers may have been hoping for a higher resolution sensor, but really, 61MP is more than enough for most shooting situations. If you need more, perhaps you should be looking at a medium format camera? Similarly, some photographers may have hoped for a faster continuous shooting rate than 10fps, but this is a 61MP camera, how much storage do you want to fill?
While a 61MP camera might not be the natural choice for shooting sport, the A7R V is up to the task. It’s also great for wildlife, portrait, wedding and fashion photography where you need responsive focusing and the ability to capture lots of fine detail. This ability to capture detail also makes it a great choice for landscape photography, although focusing speed is less of a concern so the Sony A7R IV maybe a more attractive option.
The A7R V is also not the mostly likely choice of video camera, but its 8K capability could be attractive to some despite its processing demands. Nevertheless, it’s also capable of producing high-quality 4K footage.
The larger, high-resolution viewfinder is superb and the 4-axis screen is an excellent addition, enabling the simplicity of a tilting screen with the freedom of a vari-angle screen. Add in the enhanced touch-control and the A7R V becomes a much more flexible creative tool, it feels a more rounded camera than the A7R IV that it replaces.
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