Go “beyond basic” with the Sony Alpha 7 IV (plus, two new flashes)

Sony announced three exciting additions to the Alpha imaging series today (click to skip ahead):

The Alpha 7 IV (or α7 IV) refreshes 2018’s popular α7 III with a host of technical improvements, making it the ideal all-around full-frame camera in the Sony lineup. Top of the line features designed for both still image capture and videography suggest a new scope for what a “basic” camera can do.

The powerful, wireless HVL-F60RM2 and HVL-F46RM flash units feature upgraded continuous performance and a high degree of control. Professional studio photographers and content creators alike could benefit greatly from one of these cutting edge lights.

The new flashes should be available by mid-November, while the α7 IV is expected on December 30th.

Alpha 7 IV full-frame mirrorless camera

Inheriting technology from no less than the august Alpha 1, the Alpha 7 IV is a true hybrid camera. Featuring a brand new 33 MP BSI CMOS sensor, it is also capable of recording up to 4K 60p video in Super 35 mode or 4K 30p video with full pixel readout/7K oversampling (max quality 10 bit 4:2:2 All-I XAVC S-I, up to 600 Mbps).

Focus Map (click to enlarge)

Sony’s latest BIONZ XR processing unit ensures that all this power can be used unchecked, as in the completely new Focus Map feature. Going a step beyond focus peaking, an easy-to-read depth map is overlaid on the screen for real-time video control. Areas in focus appear as they are, areas behind the area of focus appear blue, and areas closer to the camera appear red. Checking focus and staying aware of your whole scene’s depthof field has never been easier!

The new sensor is no slouch when it comes to sensitivity. Featuring an expanded ISO range of 50–204,800 and up to 15 stops of dynamic range, you won’t have to worry about missing a single detail.

As we have come to expect from each new generation of Sony Alpha cameras, autofocus performance was a big part of designing the latest iteration. Animal Eye AF (including birds) has come to the “standard” α7, and Sony is claiming a 30% performance improvement over the α7 III on real time Eye AF in general. This, combined with the almost 100% coverage of the 759 AF points, promises excellent tracking performance in both still and video recording. Video AF inherits the AF Assist function from the Cinema Line FX6 for unprecedented control while actively filming.

Stills can be captured at up to 10 fps with full autofocus and exposure adjustment, with a healthy buffer: up to 828 uncompressed RAW + JPGs or over 1,000 compressed RAW + JPGs.

Stability is bolstered by a 5-axis in-body system which is rated for 5.5 stops of increased steadiness. The α7 IV also features Sony’s Active Mode stabilization processing, eliminating a significant amount of shake in-camera and enabling confident hand-held videography on location anywhere. (Check out the visual comparison below to get an idea of why a little cropping is totally worth it!)

Oversampling provides incredible video clarity.

Speaking of video, the α7 IV has been tuned for vastly improved performance in that department compared to the α7 III, which allowed a maximum bitrate of only 100 Mbps (one sixth of the α7 IV‘s max).

As noted above, the α7 IV will record up to 4K 60p video in Super 35 mode or 4K 30p video with full pixel readout/7K oversampling (max quality 10 bit 4:2:2 All-I XAVC S-I, up to 600 Mbps). You can also record up to 120 fps in FHD resolution for stunning slow-motion scenes.

Files saved in XAVC FS format benefit from hugely efficient H.265 compression, stretching your memory further than ever, and a heat-dissipating frame prevents overheating while out gathering scene after scene. That means you can experiment guilt-free! Record using Sony’s signature S-Cinetone for gorgeous, cinematic footage straight out of the camera, or try color modes like S-Log3 or S-Gamut3.Cine for later color grading (taking advantage of the α7 IV‘s 15-stop dynamic range). You can even try out Sony’s Creative Look modes (not just for still images, eh?), featuring ten presets with eight adjustable parameters.

Certain lenses even support a new breathing compensation feature. Much like active image stabilization, the camera will crop video slightly to make the adjustments in field of view that sometimes happen while focusing completely invisible.

Physically, the α7 IV incorporates some of the design improvements Sony has made to the Alpha series in the last three years, such as a more usable video record button and an additional thumb dial. There’s also a new dial below the mode dial which allows for instant shifts between still, video, and S&Q (“slow and quick”) modes. Fn-button settings and custom button assignations are independently customizable for these modes, so when you switch from stills to one of the video settings, fine-tuned adjustments are effortlessly accessible (plus, when you hit the menu button, you’re already in the right place).

A full vari-angle LCD touch panel and 3.68 million dot EVF make it easy to see what you’re getting and like what you’re seeing. Connection to Imaging Edge Mobile has been improved with 5 GHz WiFi support, and the USB-C out supports SuperSpeed 10 Gbps live communication. Stream your next unboxing video with full-frame power, or just look amazing on your next webcam meeting.

Both memory card slots support UHS-II SD cards, and one supports CFexpress Type A.

By the way: Sony has put a lot of effort into limiting the environmental impact of this camera, as well. The body’s exterior is made with SORPLAS recycled plastic, which doesn’t depend on non-renewable resources and whose manufacturing sites are powered by renewable energy. Packaging has been minimized and is recyclable.

The Alpha 7 IV is expected in-stores just before the end of the year. Click here or visit your local Mike’s Camera to pre-order yours today!

Sample images

Compressed for quicker loading. Please contact me for higher res samples. Click to enlarge.

Product images

HVL-F60M2 & HVL-F46RM flashes

Ahh, but the α7 IV is not the only new member of the Alpha system! Sony has also announced two new flashes. Both are powerful, wireless units, featuring enhanced high-speed performance and intuitive operation. The HVL-F60RM2 can be fired up to 200 consecutive times at 10 fps (or even at 20 fps when used with the α1 and external battery adapter FA-EBA1); the HVL-F46RM can be fired up to 60 times at the same speed. Four standard Ni-MH batteries can power up to 240 flashes with 1.7 second recycle time and 320 flashes with a 2 second recycle time for the HVL-F60RM2 and HVL-F46RM, respectively.

Advanced Alpha-system features like in-camera menu control, face-detection adaptation, automatic white balance correction, and more are fully supported.

Both flashes are expected to arrive in stores next month. Click here or visit your local Mike’s Camera to pre-order yours today!

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