Sony α7R V Overview


Alongside creators from every corner of the world, Sony has been at the front of visual expression advances. Since its appearance, the α series changed the landscape of photography and video by introducing reliable full-frame mirrorless imaging solutions. Serious content creators can deliver the impossible in speed, sharpness and resolution. And now, with the announcement of the α7R V, Sony has surpassed itself and promises the capability of capturing all of our subjects, in the perfect moment, and exactly as we desire! How? By adding new camera intelligence. So let's see what the fuss is about.

Evolution Driven by AI Processing Unit

This is Sony's first Alpha camera to be equipped with an Artificial Intelligence unit, enabling it with an extremely accurate "Real-time Recognition AF". It looks like something taken out of a Sci-Fi movie, and from the promotional video, we can testify that this is the first time we ever see something like this in a camera.

By using a state-of-the-art, dedicated AI processing unit, Sony's α7R V autofocus system is capable of precise and intelligent subject tracking and recognition capabilities. This along with the highly trusted hybrid AF system Alpha cameras are famous for. Real-time Recognition AF works with seven different target types:

  • Animal, Bird, and Animal/Bird modes are now 40% more accurate for tracking and recognizing a wide range of animal types. Recognition of these subjects includes birds, cats, dogs, and many more; making it a great field tool for wild-life photographers. These various selections are achieved via a swift operation which combines focus on eyes and animal recognition based on bodies and heads.
  • Car or Train and Airplane, which means that the α7R V camera is capable of discerning between the front part of a train, the nose of an airplane, or an entire fast-moving subject.
  • Humans, of course, which tracks body and head positions for accurate portraiture. Also, the Real-time Eye AF performance has been improved by 60% thanks to the human pose estimation capabilities.
  • And last, Insect Recognition. This new addition offers even finer performance with the ability to detect the head or entire insect subject.

In short, this camera sounds perfect for sports and action shooters. But also for any other visual professional benefiting from human pose estimation, which is a feature allowing the camera to distinguish specific individuals from the crowd while keeping focus wherever we desire. And even when someone crosses in front of our subjects, the α7R V maintains focus on the key subject.

The advanced Fast Hybrid Autofocus covers 79% of the full-frame image area or 100% of the APS-C cropped area. A Fast Hybrid AF system delivers a dense 693 phase-detection point grid for quick and precise focusing in a wide range of lighting situations with sensitivity down to -4 EV; available in all recording modes, benefiting both video and stills.

Full-time Direct Manual Focus (DMF) enables using our lens's focus ring for manual focus control at any given time. Making it quicker to switch focus to a different subject even when framing with Autofocus mode. For capturing moving subjects, the focusing system keeps up with the top 10 fps continuous shooting speeds, offering full-time AF tracking between each consecutive frame. And last but not least, In-camera Focus Bracketing, with the capacity of recording up to 299 frames with sequentially shifted focus points for creating composite images in post.

Nice, What About Video Recording?

Indeed, Real-time Eye Autofocus is fully supported while shooting video! Meaning subject detection and tracking of subjects won't skip a beat while shooting. An interesting feature imported from the Sony FX6 digital cine camera is AF Assist. This allows us to intuitively switch over to manual control for adjusting focus position when working with AF.

Focus Map is a new way of visualizing DoF and functions in a similar way to peeking with a colorful overlay of the scene, indicating which zones of the scene are in front of and behind the focus point depending on the chosen aperture. Beyond precise focusing, 8K 24p and 4K 60p Support makes use of the high-resolution sensor and fast processing capabilities, UHD 8K 24p and UHD 4K 60p XAVC HS 10-bit video recording, possible when using the sensor's complete width; meaning a full pixel readout for breathtaking sharpness in every scene.

Raw output is supported at up to 4K 60p and simultaneous internal 4K recordings; internal 10-bit 4:2:2 sampling is possible at up to 4K 60p in XAVC HS and XAVC S-I. And when tethered recording via the full-size HDMI A port, 16-bit raw output can be used for greater tonal reproduction and post-production flexibility.

Image Sensor and Processor

So far, the α7R V Sony camera has been described as the ultimate mirrorless camera system for those in the need of extreme detail and control. But how does the 61MP full-frame sensor interact with the aforementioned AI-based autofocus system and 8K video recording? Well, that's pretty much due to the elite combination of Exmor R BSI Sensor and BIONZ XR Processor.

With a back-illuminated design, this full-frame 61MP Exmor R CMOS sensor offers a blend of pure resolution with high clarity, low noise, and an extremely generous 15-stop dynamic range. Its structure allows impressive image quality, and deep in its nuts and bolts, a copper wiring layer dedicated to improving data transmission speed for achieving 14-bit, high-resolution stills with a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-32000; expandable to ISO 50-102400.

And as no sensor works without a proper imaging processor, the brand-new image processing engine with wide sensitivity and dynamic ranges, and more fluent processing, capable of handling plenty of AI tasks alongside imaging processes. This processing system also reduces rolling shutter and other uncomfortable distortions for a crisp rendering of moving subjects. Speed-wise, it enables up to 10 fps shooting, at full resolution with a mechanical shutter, for up to 583 consecutive compressed raw frames, with full-time AF/AE; and if shooting JPEG files only, more than 1000 frames can be recorded in a single burst. So no moment gets missed!

Especially upgraded for Sony's α7R V, the IBIS system has been redesigned to deal with up to 8 stops of camera shake compensation. This 5-axis stabilization system combines a high-performance gyro sensor with an optimized algorithm for highly precise shake control and improved communication between the body and optics.

For video shooting, there's also an Active Image Stabilization mode which adds even more precise stabilization methods for smoother footage straight out from the camera. Also, the digital stabilization system has been updated with a new algorithm, which gives the best IBIS performance when paired with select OSS-enabled lenses.

The unique Pixel Shift Multi Shooting compositing mode allows us, serious shooters, to achieve an even more significant resolution than the 61MP sensor allows. Working together with the sensor-shift image stabilization, this mode shifts the sensor while making 16 consecutive exposures to acquire approximately 240.8MP of information for greater color accuracy and detail than possible with a single exposure, along with an impressive image size of 19,008 x 12,672 pixels. Then, these files can be merged during post-production by using the Sony Imaging software suite; or your prefered post-production software as well.

The new exposure and color auto-exposure algorithm can detect skin areas in faces for more accurate color for portraits. This method is about 20% more reliable, even in complex light situations like backlit or direct sunlight, or even when the subject is not directly facing the camera. Yes, this camera can recognize people even when not facing the lens! A deep learning technology, along with external visible light and Infrared sensors, contributes to more accurate color reproduction and auto white balance processing.

How Does it Feel?

The robust yet lightweight design in the α7R V responds to the industry's feedback and high field demands. This camera system comes with a uniquely new 4-axis multi-angle LCD monitor, a high-performance electronic viewfinder with a superbly wide field of view and two media slots for both CFexpress Type A and SD memory cards.

Some other design features include an intuitive user interface and friendly-to-use menus, various touch operations and a generous range of communication functions for professional workflows. This includes remote shooting via WiFi or USB connection, FTP transfer function for server communication through various linkage methods, including smartphone USB tethering for rapid and efficient remote setups. This enables stress-free, fast, and stable transfer of both motion and still files.

With the highest resolution in its class, the impressive QXGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF features a massive 9.44m-dot resolution and 0.9x magnification for exceptionally bright, clear, and detailed eye-level viewing. This electronic viewfinder allows 120 fps playback for smooth motion rendering, and the finder's housing design has a long 25mm eye point, 41° field of view, and comes with a fluorine coating on the outermost element for easy cleaning purposes. The 4-Axis Multi-Angle LCD sports a new, more functional design which combines the best features of tilting and side-open/flip-out vari-angle designs. Last but not least, this 3.2" 2.1m-dot LCD has a touchscreen design and a DCI-P3 wide gamut for accurate color monitoring.

The α7R V camera can be used with the high-capacity NP-FZ100 rechargeable lithium-ion battery, enabling us to shoot 440 full-resolution frames or to record for 90 minutes straight with each charge when shooting solely through EVF. Similar shooting specs are present when relying on the LCD rear monitor, 530 shots and 100 minutes of video footage record. Of course, these stats are approximated, but they give us a solid idea of how trustworthy this camera is on the field.

And speaking of field, the entire magnesium alloy chassis guarantees durability, rigidness and stability without scarifying weight. Body only, the α7R V camera system weighs just 723 g, that's with battery and cards! The Sony E lens mount has also been revised for better supporting heavy telephoto lenses, and the overall hand grip has been noticeably improved for a more comfortable hand-held shooting. Long gone are the days in which mirrorless camera systems were just fine for studio-like conditions. The extensive weather-proof design in this camera includes enhanced sealing around the battery cover, terminal cover, and chassis joints; perfect for resisting dust and moisture while shooting in harsh weather conditions.

Achieve new creative heights via stable 5G wireless transmission with the Sony Xperia smartphone and Airpeak drone. With devices like these, limitations become shorter and the full potential of the α7R V camera system expands into a whole new level of innovative expression. Last but not least, Sony includes a flexible layout of customization for us to make each camera a personal device.

Also interesting to mention is Sony's commitment to the planet. In the past decade, they have used 379 tons of recycled plastic in their digital cameras and digital video cameras. Packaging is from more plant-derived materials, and their compact lightweight bodies also assure less packaging, contributing to reducing the environmental impact of transportation; and the α7R V camera model is assembled in facilities using 100% renewable energy.

Our Final Thoughts Around Sony α7R V

Stating that the Sony α7R V camera is a wild game-changer for the visual content creation industry is a modest insight. This camera brings science fiction to our fingertips, empowering our professional workflows to be solely limited by our creativity and imagination. Having such a powerful artificial intelligence in the field, aiding us to achieve our ultimate visual desires, is almost like magic, to say the least. Since the appearance of Alpha cameras, Sony has defined the industry's standards, and this camera is no exception to the rule.

As it is used in our blog, we like closing with a little reflection on who should buy this camera, and our response got highly biased after reviewing all the available documentation around this cutting-edge mechanism. Everybody would benefit from this camera, yes, but the target is clear for us. This camera has been targeted at professionals whose deliverables rely on the highest visual quality possible to achieve. Therefore, we are sure that a considerable number of new α7R V users will be well-seasoned pros with prior Alpha experiences. Nevertheless, we are sure that this camera will also be extremely attractive for those amateur and novice image makers willing to upgrade their current visual solutions.

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