Conclusion

What we like: What we don't:
  • Plenty of resolution, good dynamic range and noise performance
  • Excellent autofocus tracking implementation
  • Generous grip, very good button-and-dial feel
  • Large, high-res electronic viewfinder
  • 10 fps max burst shooting with AF
  • Class-leading detail in 4K video
  • Excellent AF tracking in video
  • Updated weather-sealing measures
  • Dual UHS-II card slots
  • Great battery life
  • Users can now choose their AF area display color, making it easier to see
  • 'Focus Priority' option to focus at wider apertures in low light is welcome
  • Good JPEG sharpening, noise reduction and color
  • Incredible customization options
  • Ports galore
  • Pixel Shift yields up to 240MP images
  • Robust wireless connectivity
  • In-camera charging + power
  • Large file sizes mean lengthy card write times, even with very fast cards
  • General interface lagginess persists
  • Burst shooting hurts AF accuracy
  • Slightly noisier files than predecessor
  • Touchscreen is under-utilized
  • Exposure settings carry over between stills and video; they shouldn't
  • 4K video maxes out at 8-bit files
  • 10 fps only gives 12-bit Raws with compression applied
  • Clumsy Raw compression
  • No in-camera Raw conversion
  • Touch-to-track implementation should recall setting between stills and video
  • Can't switch to video until buffer clears
  • High resolution increases visibility of camera shake and AF misses
  • No Pixel Shift motion compensation
  • Pixel Shift workflow is cumbersome
  • No flash AF assist grid

Although the a7R IV's borderline-bonkers 60MP of resolution grabbed most of the headlines upon its release (and understandably so), the real story here is how busy Sony has been working on refinements to the body and the interface. The result is a camera that gets out of your way much more so than any a7-series camera before it, so that you can focus on your photography and really make the most of all those megapixels on tap. For professional wedding photographers, landscape shooters and studio portraitists, the Sony a7R IV is, frankly, the camera to beat right now.

Out-of-camera JPEG.
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM @ 55mm | ISO 640 | 1/400 sec | F4
Photo by Dan Bracaglia
Sample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photo

Check out more a7R IV samples here

To be sure, there will always be people who profess that they just need the resolution the Sony offers, but I suspect the vast majority of photographers picking up the a7R IV will be more enamored with the updated ergonomics than anything else. The grip is generous and comfortable, the buttons and dials are now more easily operated with gloves in cold outdoor environments, and the AF point is now easy to see. Speaking of those outdoor environments, Sony has updated the camera's weather sealing in an effort to help it stand up to the elements better than its forebears.

Perhaps Sony's greatest triumph is that, with few exceptions, the a7R IV doesn't feel like it's churning out files with sixty million pixels. While we still wish the general interface was a bit snappier, the a7R IV offers sports-and-action-appropriate 10fps burst shooting (albeit, with clumsily compressed 12-bit Raw files). The autofocus is generally excellent, with the camera's Real-time Tracking AF tech smoothly transitioning from subject tracking to Eye AF and back again without fuss. A new option to force focus at wider apertures in low light is a step in the right direction, albeit conservative in its approach and with added shutter lag. And though the AF can get tripped up during burst shooting, firing off single shots while leaving the autofocus in 'continuous' netted us as a near-as-makes-no-difference 100% hit rate.

Perhaps Sony's greatest triumph is the a7R IV doesn't feel like it's churning out 60MP files

But we must admit we have some reservations about the a7R IV's feature set. The menu system continues to be needlessly complex, Sony's video specs have fallen behind the competition, its Pixel Shift high-res mode is the least convenient option of all cameras that offer such a feature, and its laggy touchscreen performance and limited implementation smacks of the early days of touchscreen phones.

But if you desire or need the 60.2MP files the a7R IV outputs, well, there's not much in the way of 'deal-breaker' material here. This is the most polished and well-rounded full-frame Sony camera you can currently buy, and with an expansive lens lineup, there is little you can't photograph and produce a billboard-sized print of if you have an a7R IV in your hands. If that's not deserving of an award of some sort, I'm not sure what is.


What we think


Richard Butler
Technical Editor

The Sony a7R IV is a hugely powerful camera which, with a bit of configuration, makes it remarkably easy to shoot perfectly-focused 61MP images. Improvements to the AF behavior and ergonomics make it the most pleasant Sony to shoot with so far, in my opinion. It feels less sure-footed away from its core role, though, with burst shooting and high res mode not being quite so effortless. It's also not as slick as it could be for switching between stills and movie shooting, if that's something you need to do quickly.


Rishi Sanyal
Science Editor

The a7R IV offers a unique blend of high resolution and nearly industry-leading autofocus. Improved ergonomics make the camera much easier to use. Some concerns remain: focus can occasionally misfire in challenging light, and fans of fast aperture primes have to remember to switch to mechanical shutter in bright conditions. Still, the combination of eye-popping image quality, detailed 4K Log video, and a powerful, easy-to-use AF system make this the full-frame camera to beat.


Compared to its peers

Let's first look at how the Nikon Z7 compares with the Sony. We prefer the Nikon's ergonomics despite Sony's handling improvements, the Z7 has slightly better dynamic range and offers 10-bit video over HDMI, if you want maximum gradability to your 4K footage. But the Sony strikes back with a far deeper native lens lineup at the time of this writing, a better autofocus tracking implementation, dual card slots and much better battery life. The resolution, honestly, shouldn't be your sole deciding factor - the move from 46 to 60MP isn't as significant as you might imagine, and is certainly less significant to us than the other differences outlined here.

Against the other high-res full-frame mirrorless camera on the market, the Panasonic S1R, the Sony also fares well. The a7R IV has more dynamic range, far better autofocus and faster burst shooting, more native lens options, more impressive battery life, and log video capture (albeit, 8-bit only). We do think that the S1R bests the a7R IV in terms of ergonomics and build quality, but the trade-off is that the S1R is larger and heavier.


Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Sony a7R IV
Category: Semi-professional Full Frame Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Sony a7R IV is among the most capable cameras we've tested. It makes a compelling case that the days of choosing between speed-oriented cameras and resolution-oriented cameras are coming to an end. It wouldn't be our top choice for sports and action purists (all those megapixels result in many megabytes of storage), but for those users that need this resolution on a regular basis and want to be able to photograph fast-moving subjects when necessary, the Sony a7R IV is the best option on the market right now.
Good for
Landscape photographers, wedding and event shooters, studio photographers that specialize in portraits and product photography, and anyone that wants to make really big prints.
Not so good for
Dedicated sports and action shooters, those that must frequently switch from shooting stills to video and back again.
91%
Overall score