Most photographers, professional or hobbyist, would probably proper name 3 major brands that rank higher up all others: Canon, Nikon, and Sony. But one of the well-nigh impressive recent cameras is the Sony Alpha 7 (abbreviated a7). It was released in October 2013 and was followed by the Sony a7 Ii in late 2014 and the Sony a7 III in October 2017.
The about recent version, however, is the drool-worthy Sony a7 IV, which I was fortunate enough to test on a contempo trip through Alaska. Though I almost always travel with a DSLR camera, I’ve never had then many people stop me and ask my thoughts about the camera or, even still, inquire if they could agree it and look through the viewfinder.
Though it’s a pricey camera, it’s truly fantastic. Cheers to a user-friendly carte du jour, several levels of automobile and intelligent shooting, and easy manual controls, it has the potential to turn an boilerplate travel or outdoor blogger, social media creator, or photographer into a great one.
After getting hands-on with this photographic camera (and and so going back to my older camera and lenses), I took the plunge and bought a Sony a7 IV, even though I’m not a professional photographer. I often have photos to back-trail my freelance stories for online use, but that’s probably no unlike from many of
Matador’s readers, who may take photos to share on their blogs or social channels. Information technology’southward more camera than I demand, simply it’south a great piece of tech that has the potential to brand me a more competent photographer. And heck, taking photos with it is just plain fun.
Hither’southward why I bought one, and why other readers may desire to do the aforementioned.
Nosotros hope you love the Sony a7 Four! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small committee from the links on this page if y’all decide to make a purchase. Listed prices are accurate every bit of the time of publication.
The Sony a7 Iv is a total-frame, mirrorless photographic camera
As someone who spent the final vii years shooting on a Canon 6D (a full-frame photographic camera), I’ll never go back to a crop sensor again. A full-frame camera means the camera has a larger sensor and can capture a wider field of view, essentially “cutting off” less of any you’re shooting. The alternative is a crop sensor; cameras with these sensors tend to exist cheaper.
Nearly all professional person and semi-professional person photographers utilise total-frame cameras as they produce college-resolution photos with more detail (and more than flexibility for editing) since the larger sensor lets in more calorie-free.
The downside of full-frame cameras is that they’re bulkier and heavier, which is non platonic for travel and everyday conveying. That’due south why I knew I wanted a full-frame mirrorless camera, a product that didn’t really exist until 2013. In “normal” cameras, an internal slice called a reflex mirror reflects calorie-free from the lens. Until recently, removing that mirror meant that photographers couldn’t change their lenses — hence the reason DSLR (which stands for “digital single-lens reflex,” which refers to camera bodies with interchangeable lenses) couldn’t also be mirrorless. But in 2008, the beginning mirrorless DSLR camera came out, which removed the rather large reflex mirror to create a smaller and lighter camera torso that’s much ameliorate for travel.
But it wasn’t until Sony introduced the get-go of the a7 cameras in 2013 that there was a mirrorless DSLR with a full-frame sensor. It changed the game and permit photographers capture epic, high-resolution shots without the majority and weight associated with professional-level cameras. The Sony a7 IV body weighs just one pound, seven ounces (with the battery), and measures five.two x 3.8 x 3.1 inches — minor enough to fit in a jacket pocket in a pinch.
The resolution is amazing, even on the non “R” version
In that location are a few dissimilar versions of the Sony a7 Iv. I tested the standard Sony A7 Four (the “basic” version), though there’s also the Sony a7R IV — the “R” stands for resolution. The central departure is that the Sony a7R IV has a max resolution of 9504 × 6336 pixels/61 MP, while the “basic” maxes out at 7008 × 4672/34 MP.
While the Sony a7R IV gives photographers an amazing resolution, it’ll be overkill for most photographers unless they’re planning on making large (2-human foot-by-three-foot or larger) gallery-quality prints of your photos. If you do need that professional-level resolution, information technology may exist worth looking into the a7R 4 (or the earlier A7R III, which tin can go upward to 7952 x 5304 pixels/42.four MP).
Note that higher resolution isn’t always better: it can make shooting in depression light more challenging (as its lets more than lite in with each shot) and dealing with editing, storing, and transferring 61 MP photos can exist a task for fifty-fifty the fastest of computers. And don’t forget that large files volition make full your memory bill of fare rather quickly, especially if yous’re shooting in JPG and RAW.
The AI is actually, actually skillful when it comes to automobile shooting
My offset time ever using this camera was while traveling, so I had zippo fourth dimension to go to know the settings. And because of that, I made some mistakes when shooting on manual — like the photo below, which would accept been lovely, had I adjusted the focus correctly (or peradventure paid more attention to the preview).
After screwing upwardly some one time-in-a-lifetime shots, I decided to ride with the auto settings for a while, using them on everything from landscapes to wildlife to shots in an ice cave and on glaciers — both of which tin can exist very tricky for a camera to clarify, given the contrast between heaven and ice.
Nailed it. This comport shot is from at least 75 yards abroad, past the fashion.
Wildlife shots are insane when paired with a long-range lens
Most DSLR cameras do not come with any lenses (unless you buy a basic camera/lens kit), and the Sony a7 4 is no exception. Near users shooting travel, portraiture, nevertheless-life, fashion, and and then on volition exist fine with a upkeep-friendly standard lens, like a fixed 50-mm lens. Depending on the make, those will mostly run between $150 and $300 (just make sure to buy one compatible with the Sony E mount).
Only y’all’ll need more specialized lenses when information technology comes to specialty shooting. I tested the Sony FE 200-600mm lens, which was able to shoot incredible close-up photos of mountain goats from a distance; my friend’due south 400mm lens couldn’t even notice the goats while attempting to focus. Of course, photogs probably know that shooting with any lens above 300mm can make stabilization a challenge, only the combination of the camera’s stabilization and the lens’due south stunning stabilization (which includes a side slider to switch between “normal” and “sports” modes) ensured the photos were stable, even from hundreds of yards away.
Because the Sony a7 Four has the potential to take such high-resolution photos, it may be possible to apply a shorter lens than you’re used to if you’re upgrading from a camera that maxes out around the 25 MP mark. And shorter lenses tend to exist a bit less expensive.
Of note: I took a 300mm lens to a wild animals club a few weeks later testing the 600mm lens and was shocked at the difference. I literally idea my 300mm lens was clouded or not focusing correctly, but no: the philharmonic of the Sony a7 4 and 600 mm lens was so expert it simply makes other lenses look broken in comparison. It is worth noting, nonetheless, that the lens is huge, likely considering information technology has a born stabilizer. As a result, it adds a lot of weight to your kit (four.vi pounds) and can be cumbersome to conduct.
Look all your landscape shots to look epic
The second lens I took with me was meliorate for landscape shooting. While I usually shoot on a ten mm lens for landscapes (and yes, information technology does result in some fisheye-esque baloney I need to fix in Lightroom), I took a slightly more versatile lens since I was simply carrying 2: the Sony Atomic number 26 20mm f/one.8 G Lens. While I usually like to get a bit lower than 20 mm for landscapes, I figured it would piece of work well as a catch-all lens for everyday shots.
And it did.
The 20 mm was the lens I started shooting with before I had any clue how to utilize the camera, and my photos are as crisp and white-balanced as can be. Pair it with the Sony a7 4’s machine settings (for focus, white balance, ISO, and shutter speed), and your photos will be flawless, even if you lot never touch the manual settings.
The lens is pricier than the 50mm version (equally lower focal lengths tend to be), but buyers looking for an everyday lens that skews toward landscapes will find this lens to be a happy medium. It’ll gear up you lot back around $900 if you don’t go information technology on sale.
It’s a professional-level video camera, besides
I don’t usually shoot video, mostly because I don’t have a use for information technology — I’m not a vlogger, and by and large don’t find I have the time to devote to editing travel videos. But the Sony a7 IV shoots excellent high-particular video, as shown by this landscape reel released by Sony.
1 thing I did observe while shooting video — though of course my video isn’t finished and edited, equally this one is — is that the Sony a7 IV does an excellent chore of continuously adjusting exposure and focus while shooting, fifty-fifty if y’all’re switching between subjects or landscapes. Information technology also has an pick to rail objects, which is especially useful if yous plan to use information technology for vlogging, shooting moving subjects, or being in front of the camera equally a solo traveler.
It’s packed with useful, thoughtful features
Buyers who have used any Sony a7 cameras probably already know they’re well-designed. And photographers who will use all the photographic camera’s features are likely going to dig into the total listing of specs before buying, then I won’t list them all here. But these were a few peculiarly useful features I noticed during my two weeks of testing (some of which are on other a7 models, too).
- Easy to hold: the photographic camera has a large front indentation for your finger, so information technology’south easy to hold and very stable, even when you’re shooting from moving surfaces (like from a boat).
Movable display screen:
The A7iv’s screen flips out, old-school camcorder style, and can likewise flip to face in front end of the camera. It’s ideal not but for shooting front-facing video, but also for shots where you lot may need to shoot in portrait or be shooting from a depression angle. I appreciated beingness able to flip out the screen and look down at what I was shooting, rather than having to clamber on the footing to see the frame.
Taking photos of a moving subject? The photographic camera’s real-time focus was super useful. All I had to do was tap on a subject area, and the focus followed that subject, even if moving. Information technology was useful for wildlife shooting, though would likely piece of work just also for sports and fast-moving subjects.
- Two retentivity card slots: Nothing is more than annoying than shooting and realizing your card is full, but since the Sony a7 IV has space for 2, that trouble is no more. You can select which card to save to or divide it by type of file — photos on 1, video on the other.
Photographers can determine what whee or dial controls what and create custom settings you can access by tapping a push.
- No bulky charger: Okay, this does come with a beefy charger — but at that place’south no need to use information technology. You tin can accuse the Sony a7 IV without removing the battery with a simple USB-C cable. I appreciated not needing to carry extra cords or cables and minimizing weight, especially when conveying it on a backpacking trip (and yes, information technology will juice up from a redundancy charger).
The primary downside is obvious: cost
The Sony a7 4 is non a inexpensive camera, and buyers only looking for a stride up from a cell phone camera probably won’t be making the jump direct to a professional photographic camera like this. And the lenses — which are equally fantastic — also don’t come inexpensive.
That said, it’s non the near expensive camera in the line and certainly cheaper than the a7R IV, which runs closer to $three,500 for just the torso. And hey, it’s taxation-deductible if you’re a for-profit blogger, right?
Sony told me their two principal competitors are the Nikon Z6 Two and the Canon EOS R6, both mirrorless, full-frame cameras. The Nikon Z6II is priced roughly the same as the Sony a7 III (the version before the A7 Four) at roughly $2,000 for just the body, and the Canon EOS R6 is more comparable to the Sony a7 Iv, at about $two,500.
The differences between the two cameras are vast if yous dive into the full specs, just for nigh users, the biggest difference comes down to the photo size. The Nikon Z6 II is express to a 24 MP sensor and merely captures video at four:two:0 viii-bit (compared to the Sony a7 Four’due south 4:2:2, ten-bit, and the Canon only has a 20 MP sensor, resulting in a max resolution of 5472 × 3648 pixels (compared to the Sony a7 IV’s 7008 × 4672). That makes the a7 IV a better option for shooters hoping to crop photos (perchance to avert buying a more expensive, higher-focal-length lens).
I had a Canon D6, which can shoot up to 26 MP. But it’s not mirrorless, which makes information technology larger and heavier, equally shown in the photos in a higher place (Sony a7 4 on the right). If the smaller size offered by a mirrorless camera isn’t every bit important to you, you lot’ll have a much wider range of DSLRs to choose from that may generally be more affordable than the a7 IV.
Who should buy the Sony a7 IV?
The Sony a7 Iv and associated lenses are pricey, but so are nigh overnice DSLR cameras. If you meet any of the criteria beneath, consider investing in the Sony A7 4 — particularly if your current DSLR setup feels besides for travel.
- Hobbyists or professionals looking to increase the quality of their photos
- Outdoorsy types who want to drop weight and size while retaining professional-quality gear
- If you plan to utilise it enough get your money’south worth
- If you lot’re hoping to transition from hobbyist to occasionally paid photographer
- If you lot want to develop your photographic camera skills
- If you’re hoping to grow your content-creator business
- If you lot can beget it and simply want a fun new toy
Who should not buy the Sony a7 IV?
You’ll likely prefer a less expensive, lighter camera if yous:
- Aren’t going to carp editing or sharing photos with anyone other than friends and family unit
- Never bank check a bag (camera gear tin can easily fill a carry-on bag)
- Mostly use your phone for photos
- Have no interest in ever manually adjusting any camera settings
- Are budget-conscious
Sony Blastoff 7 deals and coupons
Equally of autumn 2022, at that place are some good deals and specials online for snagging a Sony A7 Iv (or other items and lenses uniform with the Alpha line) for quite a bit less than normal.
If you lot’re because buying one, it may be worth setting a Google Alert for “Sony a7 Four” in case there are solid deals around Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Since the camera has been out for nearly a year, you may also be able to find used and refurbished options on various resale sites, but be aware that these oft come up with scaled-down, non-Sony warranties.
If you’re interested in an before version (the Sony a7 II), it’s currently $500 off as of late October 2022 if you purchase from Sony.com, or $600 off if you buy it with a body kit. I constitute “open box” deals on the Sony a7 Iv from Best Purchase starting at $1,900, though they’re just available in certain stores (not buyable online). Sony currently has the trunk for $2,499 (which seems like the ballpark price effectually nigh retailers) or a gear up that includes an extremely versatile 28 –70mm lens for just $200 more from B&H Photo.
For such a big purchase, some buyers may appreciate the peace of mind that comes from ownership direct from Sony.com, both because it makes warranty claims piece of cake and considering returns are hassle-complimentary, with a 30-day window.