The Sony A7R V is the next generation of Sony’s R cameras. R stands for resolution and that resolution has not changed from the R IV. What did change? The stabilisation, autofocus, screen, viewfinder, menu system, card slots and more. A lot, in other words. Read whether the new version is worth an upgrade here.
TESTRESULTS Sony A7R V:
The Sony A7R V has a number of innovations not found on any other Sony.
Introduction Sony A7R V
The Sony A7R V is Sony’s next-generation high-resolution camera. The sensor in the camera is the same as the one in the A7R IV. So at this point, there is no news. We didn’t really expect that either, since Sony also did two generations with the same sensor in the A7R II and A7R III. What has changed, though, is almost everything else. The A7R V has received improved image stabilisation that should now be good for 8 stops of stabilisation, compared to the maximum 5.5 stops possible with Sony cameras until recently. With this, Sony breaks the myth that better stabilisation would not be possible because of the bayonet aperture, which is smaller than that of some competitors. The same argument has also been used to explain why there would never be super bright lenses like a 50mm F1.2 for Sony E, and there are now also. Another major innovation is the screen, which is now tiltable as well as swivelling and tilting. There is an idea among a section of photographers that swivel-and-tilt screens are useful mainly for filmmakers and especially for vloggers. Apparently, those photographers never take portrait shots from low or high angles, because that is quite difficult with a screen that can only fold out horizontally behind the camera.
Yet Sony has also listened to those photographers and designed a screen that can do both: flip out horizontally behind the camera, both up and down as well as rotate and tilt for vlogging, selfies and photos the ‘portrait mode’ of high and low angles. We know similar designs from Panasonic, for example, and it is good to see a screen like this now from Sony as well.
New processor and improved AF
The sensor may not have been replaced, but the A7R V did get a new BIONZ XR processor with a separate processor for autofocus. That ensures that the autofocus now makes much better use of Ai and deep learning algorithms and recognises subjects much better. Another innovation associated with the new processor is the new menu system introduced by Sony on the A7S III and new video capabilities including 8K up to 24 frames per second and video in 10 bit 4:2:2. For photographers, a high res mode has been added that allows images up to 240 megapixels.
Build and operation
The Sony A7R V appears to have seemingly exactly the same body as the A7R IV. However, there are a few differences on the outside as well. On the front is a sensor for white balance. This can help when using automatic white balance, for example. On the top cover is now the new programme button with an extra ring for filming, shooting and Slow & Quick mode. The exposure correction dial is still there, but has now become a programmable dial. So you can assign the desired function to it yourself. If you still use it for exposure correction, however, you can no longer see on the knob what value it is set to. The C1 button has been given a red ring and is the default video button. The biggest visible change is on the back.
That now includes a screen that not only folds out, but also rotates and tilts. So there is something for everyone. On the left side is now a full-size HDMI connection. For a camera in this price range and with these video capabilities, we don’t really expect anything else, although that’s not quite the case with some competitors yet. On the right, we find the two card slots that can hold either an SD or CFexpress Type A.
The door for the card slots has been given a better lock and the whole body has been made extra weatherproof again. The viewfinder is (almost) the same one found in the Sony A1 and has 9.4 megapixels. The only difference is that the A1’s viewfinder has an even higher frequency as an option. To get the most out of the screen, you do have to set the quality to the highest setting. While focusing, the sharpness degrades slightly, so for action photography it is not recommended. The screen is also well endowed with 2.1 megapixels. That too gives a good, clear image, even with the sun on it.
The Sony A7R V’s sensor is the same as the one in the 2019 Sony A7R IV. This still makes the Sony A7R V the highest-resolution 35mm camera, although the difference with other models is slowly diminishing. The camera has a new processor, but that doesn’t create any visible differences between the A7R IV and V. At higher ISOs, you can see that the A7R V still performs slightly less than the A7 modelle with fewer pixels. The better image stabilisation will ensure more sharp shots when shooting without a tripod, though.
Those who need really big files can make gains with the A7R V’s high res mode, though, which can now take shots consisting of 4 or 16 images. With 4 images, the file size remains the same, but each pixel gets the full colour information which completely prevents moire, for example. With 16 images, the final photo becomes 240 megapixels in size. This requires working with a tripod and artefacts due to movement of subjects in the image can be avoided. The images have to be merged in Sony’s Edge software. So, unfortunately, it cannot be done in-camera. As a result, you won’t know on location whether a high res shot has been successful. The prerequisite for a good high res recording is that the camera really does not move between shots. Otherwise you will get areas that clearly appear to have some kind of pixel structure. Movement in your subject is allowed again, albeit in moderation. The Edge software is reasonably successful at removing movement in the shot, such as a person walking through the frame. Only Panasonic’s high res mode works a little better in this area. Something else that may give some photographers an advantage in quality is lossless compressed raw. Previously, Sony offered two choices: large uncompressed raws with no loss or compressed raw in 12 bit with loss. So now there is also a middle ground that is likely to appeal to many photographers. The A7R V also offers three raw formats, for photographers who don’t always need full resolution.
The A7R V’s high resolution enables 8K video, and after Canon’s release of the EOS R5 and Nikon’s Z9, both of which feature this, Sony obviously can’t be left behind. Also new is the ability to shoot in 10-bit 4:2:2. This is certainly due to the new processor. In 8K, the camera does not utilise the entire width of the sensor. There is a 1.24x crop. This is, of course, because the sensor actually has even slightly too many pixels for 8K. The Canon R5, with its 45-megapixel sensor, does not suffer from this. The Sony’s image quality is good in 8K, though. However, the A7R V’s sensor is not a stacked sensor with fast readout. When the camera moves fast, this will definitely show rolling shutter. With the A7R V, you can also shoot in 4K, both without crop and in APS-C mode. Without crop, i.e. in full frame, although the camera uses the entire sensor, it does not use all the pixels on it. So the camera does not oversample, but skips pixels. So it does pixel binning. This does not improve the quality. In APS-C, the A7R V uses a 6.2 megapixel image to calculate the 4K image. In APS-C, the image does oversample and is therefore sharper. Filming in APS-C has two more advantages. The rolling shutter is less and the camera can record in 60 frames per second. The A7R V has all known profiles like S-log 2 and 3 as well as Cinetone. Recording in raw in the camera, however, is not possible. That can be done via HDMI to, for example, an Atomos Ninja V+.
Of course, image stabilisation not only allows you to shoot with longer times, but also ensures that the film shots you take are better stabilised. And that is definitely something you see. Movie shots are less jerky and smoother than previously possible out of hand. Furthermore, the A7R V also has automatic focus breathing compensation, of course, for lenses that can make use of it.
The Sony A7R V has received its own processor for focusing, or – as Sony calls it – a newly developed unit for Ai processing. This allows the camera to make much better use of deep learning algorithms than previous models. The various functions that are also present in the A7 IV, for example, are also in the A7R V, such as recognising animals, planes, trains and cars and engines. However, they work better and faster. At camera can now also better distinguish body shapes and can therefore focus on a head, even if the face cannot be seen for a moment. This has made the A7R V’s tracking even better than previous Sony’s and you notice it clearly. You can see that the camera really recognises subjects by their shape and no longer because they have a certain brightness or colour. With people, the autofocus point stays on the head much better because of this, even when a model turns around. The only thing that could be improved about this system is that it could recognise the type of subject itself. Now you still have to specify whether the camera should take into account a human shape or that of insects. On the latest Canon, this is already the case by now.
Despite the lack of a new sensor, the Sony A7R V does have some special new features. The screen that can now both tilt behind the camera and be swiveled out is something we will hopefully see on the next-generation A7. It is ideal for photographers and cinematographers alike. The high res pixel shift mode allows you to get even more detail out of the camera. The A7R V also features focus stacking and that too is new. The camera can take up to 299 shots and the steps by which the focus changes can be set. The A7R V also – finally – has a Bulb mode for shooting with slow shutter speeds.
Relative to competitors
The Sony A7R V will no doubt be compared a lot to the Canon R5. Both are roughly in the same price range. With the new image stabilisation, the A7R V can rival the Canon EOS R5 at this point. The Sony has higher resolution and has a high res mode for 240 megapixel files, but the Canon can shoot more frames per second and has better specifications where video is concerned. Canon’s 4K HQ video in full frame is oversampled, Sony’s full frame 4K is not, but it is in APS-C. So you could classify the Canon EOS R5 as slightly more all-round, the Sony A7R V is slightly more of a specialised camera for the highest image quality. Those looking for the ultimate hybrid with Sony can go with the A1, but will have to dig a little deeper into their pockets.
Sony A7R V
8K 24p 10bit 4:2:2
|ISO||100 -32000 / 50 -102.400 (extended)|
|max. series speed|
2x UHS II SD of CFexpress type A
|dimensions||131 x 97 x 82 mm|
|weight (incl battery)|
US Dollar 3498 (body)
Conclusion test Sony A7R V
The Sony A7R V is still the best high-resolution 35mm camera.
The Sony A7R is very similar to the A7R IV and has the same sensor. Yet, especially in practice, you notice in a lot of things that the A7R V has really improved in a lot of ways. The autofocus is faster and sticks much better to your subject, the new image stabilisation you already feel as soon as you press the shutter release button and the rear screen, for those who like working with it, is a delight because it still allows you to use the camera just fine at all sorts of weird angles. And, of course, there is the new menu system. Especially for image-makers who like both filming and shooting, this is a huge improvement. Those who already work with an ‘IV’ don’t suddenly have an outdated camera. But the difference with an A7R III or R II is going to be really big anyway. The price is quite hefty, but in these days of ever-rising costs, it was to be expected for this camera. In any case, you won’t find more resolution for less money anywhere. For Sony photographers and filmmakers, the camera offers a mix of improvements you won’t find in other models for the time being, and that alone justifies the price.