A7IV - New Sony User (From Z6ii)

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Handiworks Contributing Member • Posts: 835
A7IV - New Sony User (From Z6ii)

I initially posted this in the regular Sony E-Mount Forum but was encouraged to repost it here, enjoy! :D.

I thought I'd toss out a few first impressions on my new A7iv for anyone else looking to potentially switch systems. This may not be an overly sequentially logical post but hopefully my ramblings might assist someone in the same boat. Edit: Longer than initially intended :D.

First off, though I love Nikon and have tended to use their platform more than others, I'd say Canon is probably my favorite and where I cut my teeth way back with the EOS 650 in 1990. Having played around with the R5 at the camera store (Shout out to Houston Camera Exchange!), as always Canon's construction, fit/finish, and form factor is simply levels above the others... I almost jumped on that band wagon again till I walked outside and reminded myself why I was switching... namely lens eco-system and price-point for my whole family (and my pocketbook and wife thank me!). I needed a 150-600-ish lens for some wildlife shooting and in the end realized that either I adapt affordable used glass to my Nikon, buy a Canon and adapt used glass, or go Sony and look at the Sigma/Tammy offerings (or maybe even the Sony 200-600... what an amazing value!). I also have tended to love Nikon or Canon colors in the past and in that order. It has surprised me how much I've enjoyed the colors from the A7RIV and A7IV. I did numerous blind tests on various forums, downloaded RAW/Jpeg files, and watched YT comparisons, and came to the conclusion that Sony has mostly caught up... aside from the greens lol. Having now played with both the Sony's JPEGs and RAW files I am very pleased with the output of the A7iv's sensor, they are excellent.

As to the A7IV's construction, the materials feel somewhat cheaper in the hand than my Z6ii or the Canon R5, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are. The weight savings alone will actually benefit with the larger lenses I tend to prefer. The grip and overall body size is far more improved than the A7iii while still maintaining the compact size that is a notable feature of the Sony's. All the buttons feel more responsive and tactile than the A7iii and there is a more definitive depress confirmation than the Z6ii. In general though, the on/off and dials feel like cheaper plastics, the front dial so much so that on my copy I don't enjoy using it so I've re-assigned it to Exposure Comp as I rarely use that feature if it can be helped, the dial may loosen over time though. Which highlights one of my favorite aspects of the Sony eco-system which is customization... absolutely astounding!

The customization of this camera is both robust and endless... maybe even too much for some people. It reminds me of my Line6 Matrix Pedal System... I realized I spent way too much time tweaking parameters than actually playing the guitar! Though I prefer the C1/C2 buttons being on top like the A7iii I rented, I am loving the assignable/locking rear dial that used to be slaved to Exp Comp. I have the 2 back dials set to Speed and Aperture mirroring how it appears in the viewfinder. I also have a tendency to inadvertently change my aperture on my variable lenses and being able to lock it works well. The only barrier I've run into is wanting to assign the Up/12-Oclock position on the D-Pad from Display to something else. The My Menu options are also a great addition to speedy location but the menu system has improved so much that I'll rarely need it. Even on the A7iii once I had it dialed in on my rental I rarely had to go into the menus. Again, I just love Sony's customization.

The AF as everyone knows is stellar, BUT, the Nikon is not nearly as behind as CaSony users would have the world believe, it is excellent and has almost caught up with the A7IV if not surpassed on the Z9 (which I've not tested). I really miss the ability to quickly select which subject I want the eye-AF to focus on, it's a quick left/right on the Nikon D-Pad. The Sony on the other hand is so intuitive that 9/10 times it selects the subject I want, which is par for the course on all of the C-AF settings. Whatever AI mojo is happening under the Sony hood it just seems to know what I want it to focus on. The C-AF Wide is outstanding, but the C-AF with Subject Tracking baked in, is a game changer. Nikon has excellent Subject Tracking as well, but Sony's ability to combine intuitive AF selection with Tracking and overlay that with Eye-AF Priority is just sublime. It lets me almost completely forget about focussing and pour more mental resources into the composition. Nikon's Z system is just fiddly for me personally and I felt I was fighting the camera half the time to get what I wanted in a timely fashion. This Sony is more complex, but I can set it up to more intuitively get what I need or even have the camera do it for me. The Z6ii also struggled focusing on the most obvious or forefront subjects or objects at times and though most of this has been rectified it is still a notable frustration. I'll just re-iterate that the Sony's algorithms and coded selection process are exceptionally refined and trustworthy in use.

When it comes to lenses I cannot speak highly enough about the Nikkors. The kit 24-70 F4 is one of the main reasons I purchased the Z6ii. I bought a refurbished Z6ii with that lens for $2100 on sale (zero shutter count) from Nikon, and there is not a better lens/camera combo for that price-point on the market... just phenomenal value. The Nikkor 24-200 was so good/sharp that I actually sold the higher "S" class kit lens with no regrets (as many other Nikon users have). Not being in the financial place of spending $$$ on the excellent Nikon higher/faster offerings is partly why I'm here. So on to Sony. I bought the Tamron 20mm 2.8 at the LCS as it was on sale and they didn't have the 28-200 on hand. I also knew I would miss the 24mm of the Nikkor (which I do) but it was a logical purchase to have and use while I awaited the Tamron. That little 20mm is outstanding for $250, and it's light! My Tamron 28-200 copy to my surprise feels better constructed than the Nikkor super-zoom. Though I'm not certain either is sharper, the AF speed of the Tammy is snappier, and at 2.8 on the wide end a better performer in low-light. The Tamron also stays under F4 all the way to 75mm, which is where the Nikkor starts, though it has VR/OSS which compensates. My initial observations on Low-Light is that the Z6ii sensor handles it more elegantly than the A7iv but that is just looking at a few days worth of images. More grain in the Sony, I believe DPR and other reviews may have commented similarly if I recall correctly. The Sony still performs admirably and I'm looking forward to giving it some better glass to test with.

As to the rear LCD the A7iv is simply woefully behind what Sony should have included with this platform. Screen resolution was one of the main reasons I chose the Z6ii over the A7iii as the A7iii rear screen was nearly useless to me. I was somewhat shocked when the A7iv was released that Sony did not up this ante to compete better (and what kept me on my Nikon longer). The A7iv LCD is better than I was expecting but the screen is much smaller and dimmer than the Z6ii. BUT it has a variable tilt screen which is of course a subjective and polarizing topic for many. For me personally, I missed the vari-tilt screen on every photo op, so much so that it became one of the top reasons for my purchase of the A7iv. I use extreme angles for much of my compositional technique and though I tried using Nikon's iPhone app to compensate, I came to realize that my next camera would in part be decided by that feature. Though the screen real-estate is lower and it is not as bright, it is bright enough and big enough for me and the variable rotation is a breath of fresh... light.

Lastly I'll comment on the overall experience of joining Sony as a new user in general. Though Sony has garnered a large swath of the Pro-Sumer and Pro photographic community they still have much to be desired compared to the decades of refined services and support and... panache that Canon and Nikon have. Registering my Canon feels like buying an Apple product... it's like I've joined a... movement or something lol. Lots of feedback from Canon on how they can support, etc., Nikon is almost as good. Sony just feels less refined in this area thought the various Alpha shooting communities across the HTML landscape are excellent (as has been this DPR Forum). My experience with trying to update the firmware on the A7iv is a perfect example. On my Nikon I can simply download the file and upload via SD Card, or I can connect the Snapbridge phone App and simply accomplish it via my iPhone. I can't remember if Canon is that simple but I remember their App also being more intuitive and refined. On the Sony (at least on the M1 Mac) it was a bit of a nightmare. I know that's a technical example, but it's a good picture of how I view the "everything outside the camera & lens" side of Sony's Camera division, looking forward to them growing in this area.

So there's my 2 cents/pence so far. If my above commentary comes across too negatively or heavier-handed on some particular aspect than deserved, my apologies. The summation I'll leave you with is that I love the Sony A7iv! All the reasons which led to my conclusion that this camera and it's lens eco-system were the best choice for me, at the moment still stand and along many fronts have exceeded my expectations. The lens choices, price-points, customized quick operation, User Support, and overall economics for my whole family (6 children who love photography) all had their respective parts to play. There is no perfect camera system and it is always a juggling match of the different strengths and weaknesses that each brand brandishes, but I'm excited to embark on this new trail.

Thanks to everyone that helped answer my lens and camera questions in this forum over the last few weeks, it helped these choices immensely.

Below are a couple of SOOC Jpegs from the flowers around my house. Nothing fancy, no editing, just a few from the Tamron 20mm and the 28-200 to reference colors etc.

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"The present is the only point where time touches eternity" C.S. Lewis

 Handiworks's gear list:Handiworks's gear list
Sony a7 IV Tamron 20mm F2.8 Di III OSD Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6
Canon EOS R5 Nikon Z9
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