Sony A7 IV: Initial Thoughts & Review

A well-rounded prosumer full frame camera for underwater photo & video
By Nirupam Nigam

High-end cameras like the Sony A1, Canon EOS R3, and Nikon Z9 may have been stealing the show as of late, but perhaps the most exciting models are the ones that represent the best value for money. The new Sony A7 IV sits squarely in the middle tier of the full-frame camera market with an incredible set of features. In fact, we think the A7 IV will likely beat out its equally priced rival, the Canon EOS R6 - with higher resolution and more video features. Will this be the best all-around camera for underwater photo & video? Well, we can't say for certain until we have the opportunity to take it underwater. But for now, it might be.

 

Sony A7 IV Availability: December 30, 2021

Sony A7 IV US MSRP: $2,500

 

 


 

 

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Sony A7 IV Camera Body

Ikelite Sony A7 IV Underwater Housing

Isotta Sony A7 IV Underwater Housing

Nauticam Sony A7 IV Underwater Housing

Aquatica Sony A7 IV Underwater Housing

Sea & Sea Sony A7 IV Underwater Housing

 

Sony A7 IV Underwater Housing Guide

 



 

Sony A7 IV Specifications

  • 33 megapixel, full frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO Range: 100-51,200
  • 10 fps burst shooting
  • 828 RAW buffer
  • 4K/60P, 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording
  • S-Cinetone, Cine, S-Log2, S-Log3, and HLG log picture profiles
  • One SD UHS-II card slot and one CFexpress Type A card slot
  • Low light AF down to EV -4
  • AF tracking with Animal eye AF
  • 759 phase detect autofocus points
  • 3.7 million dot EVF (electronic viewfinder)
  • 1/250s flash sync speed and 1/320 flas sync speed in APS-C mode
  • 5 axis in-body image-stabilization (IBIS)
  • 580 shot battery life
  • Size: 131.3 mm, 96.4 mm, 79.8 mm
  • Weight: 658 g (1lb 7.3 oz)

 

Sony A7 IV vs Nikon Z 6II vs Canon EOS R6

The Sony A7 IV is in the same class of full frame camera as the Nikon Z 6II and the Canon EOS R6. In many ways, each of these cameras are very similar. However, the Sony A7 IV stands out as the best option due to its higher resolution, 33 MP sensor. The Canon EOS R6's sensor is "only" 20MP which can be a serious disadvantage for macro shooters. The Nikon Z 6II, on the other hand, has a 24.5 megapixel sensor and a lower price point - making it a more competative camera when compared to the Sony A7 IV.

The Sony A7 IV and Canon EOS R6 are equitable in autofocus performance but both cameras perform much better than the Nikon Z 6II. The auto focus tracking systems are very accurate in both the Sony and Canon cameras with little distinction between the two. 

Finally, the Sony A7 IV is the best option of the three cameras when it comes to video features and specs. The Sony A7 IV is equipped with many more log profiles and video features than the Canon EOS R6 and Nikon Z 6II. 

In all, the Sony A7 IV is a better choice compared to the Canon EOS R6, but in a higher class of camera compared to the Nikon Z 6II. If you're looking for a great deal on a camera, the Nikon Z 6II could make a potentially better option.

 

Sony A7 IV Key Features

Build, Ergonomics, and Battery Life

The Sony A7 IV is a quintessentially Sony camera. It's design is almost identical to the original Sony A7R IV save a few changes in buttons and dials - as well as a size difference of a couple of mm. It's possible that the original Sony A7R IV may be modified for used for the A7 IV, but unlikely. There's a good chance the Sony A7 IV will require a new housing for most models. 

The Sony A7 IV will be equipped with the new Sony menu debuted on the Sony A7S III which will be a relief to those who are upgrading from the Sony A7III. It is color coded and layed out better than even Nikon and Canon's menus, in our opinion.

The battery life on the camera appears to be excellent - certainly enough for a whole day of diving. However, only actually dives will determine if this is true and we can't wait to get in the water with the camera.

33 Megapixel Sensor

33 megapixels is an excellent resolution for a middle-of-the-road full frame camera. It's enough resolution for macro shooters to crop in as they desire, but not too much that it overloads your memory cards and harddrives. We hope that the sensor will perform in low light as well as cameras like the A7S III and Sony A1, but only field testing will tell.

 

Autofocus Performance

If the autofocus in the A7 IV is anything like the autofocus in the A7S III, and it likely will be, then we'll be quite happy with it. Sony is reknowned for their autofocus systems, and I anticipate the autofocus tracking to be quite sticky underwater. I just hope the animal eye autofocus tracking has developed to being as good as the tracking found in the Canon EOS R6, especially for fish.

 

Video Features

The Sony A7 IV is a very excellent video camera for its price point. In fact, in many ways we expect it to function similar to the Sony A7S III except for having the ability to record 4K/120p. So if you are a video shooter, but don't need 4K/120p, you might want to consider the Sony A7 IV. The Sony A7 IV is equipped with a wide range of codecs and logarithmic picture profiles, similar to the Sony A7S III. The only thing that we have yet to determine is the Sony A7 IV's perfomance in low light. If it's anything like the higher resolution, Sony A1, then the Sony A7 IV, might be an incredible video camera.

 

Sony A7 IV for Underwater Photography & Video

We think the Sony A7 IV will likely be the top choice for those looking for the best value underwater camera. With a tried-and-true autofocus system, a relatively high resolution 33 mp sensor, a more than acceptable burst rate, and an improved menu system, the Sony A7 IV will be a very effect tool for photography. We're looking forward to taking the camera underwater and capturing some photos with it. But until then, we think the Sony A7S III is a great preview into the system. 

As for underwater video, the Sony A7 IV should be a top choice for anyone looking for a hybrid camera that takes incredible video. 4K/60p is an excellent frame rate and resolution for shooting underwater video. The ability to capture logarithmic picture profiles with 10-bit 4:2:2 color sampling internally is a great feature for colorists looking to capture perfect colors and details underwater. 

 

Best Lenses for Sony A7 IV

 

In recent years, Sony has gone from having a limited supply of lenses for underwater photography to one of the best repertoire of native lenses for full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market. Sony A7 IV users have an excellent set of choices for shooting macro, wide, mid-range, and fisheye. 

 

Wide-Angle Lenses

The Sony 16-35mm F4 lens is the top wide-angle lens choice for photo and video. If you’re looking for something even wider to get nice close-focus wide-angle (CFWA) shots of reefs there are a couple of options for shooting fish-eye. The 28mm prime lens with a fisheye conversion lens will give the widest possible angle of view. The fisheye conversion lenscan be used behind a large or small dome port, while the Sony 16-35 mm F4 les is recommended for use with an 8-inch dome or larger.

Wet wide-angle lenses are a great option with this camera. We recommend the Nauticam wet wide-angle lens or the Kraken KRL-01 wet wide-angle lens with the 28mm prime lens. All of these options are very sharp and will result in stunning wide-angle photos. 

 

Mid-Range Lenses

The Sony 24-70mm F 4 or the Sony 28-70mm F3.5-F5.6 are good choices along with the 35mm F2.8 portrait lens.

 

Macro Lenses

For underwater photography, the Sony 90mm macro prime lens is the best choice for small fish and macro subjects. It is exceptionally sharp and produces high quality images. A 50mm macro lens is another great option, though it doesn't focus as quick as the Sony 90mm. Recently, the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 DN DG Art macro lens was reviewed by Bluewater Photo. It looks like it's going be an excellent alternative to the Sony 90mm with potentially better image quality! 

 

Canon Lenses

Canon lenses can be attached to the Sony A7 IV with the Metabones, Sigma MC-11, or Photodiox adapters, but auto-focus is generally better with Sony lenses. Lenses like the Canon 8-15mm, 16-35mm, 17-40mm, and 100mm can work well.

 

Sony A7 IV Underwater Housings

Marelux Sony A7 IV MX-A7IV Underwater Housing

*Superb Ergonomics, Durable, Innovative Features*

The Marelux Sony A7 IV MX-A7IV Underwater Housing is an excellent aluminum underwater housing which is built to last and can withstand a beating even in the harshest conditions. Marelux housings have incredible durable anodization to protect them from scratches. It also features a very secure housing & port locking system which ensures the safety of your camera while diving. Camera controls are also readily available at your fingertips. 

 

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Sea & Sea Canon EOS R6 underwater housing

Nauticam Sony A7 IV Underwater Housing

*Excellent Ergonomics, User-friendly, Durable*

The Nauticam Sony A7 IV Underwater Housing is built from aircraft grade aluminum which makes it durable and light weight. Camera controls are very easy to access with buttons, levers, and knobs all within easy reach. It also comes with a vacuum valve pre-installed for ultimate peace of mind. Nauticam housings are universally popular and this housing is rated to 100 meters depth.

 

 

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Conclusions

The Sony A7 IV is a very promising camera to those looking for a daily workhorse that can handle any of the variable situations in underwater photography. It may not be the best of the best, but its the best of all worlds. Now its just a matter of getting in the water and seeing how it performs - just another reason why we can't wait for 2022!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nirupam Nigam is a dedicated underwater photographer and fisheries scientist. While growing up in Los Angeles he fell in love with the ocean and pursued underwater photography in the local Channel Islands. He received degrees in Aquatic and Fisheries Science and General Biology, as well as a minor in Arctic Studies, at the University of Washington. Now he works as a fisheries observer on boats in the Bering Sea and North Pacific. When he is not at sea, he is traveling with his fiancee and taking photos. Check out more of his photography at www.photosfromthesea.com!

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