Sony A7III vs A7IV
In this post I am putting the Sony A7III vs A7IV to see how the two compare. Is the Sony A7IV worth upgrading to from the Sony A7III?
I originally owned a Sony A7III back when it was released in 2018. I was pretty impressed with it as you can see in my review at the time. The Sony A7IV intrigued me as I wanted to see how they could improve upon what is still one of the best hybrid cameras, even in 2022.
In this article I am going to cover everything that you need to know when considering the Sony A7III vs A7IV including image quality, video quality, ergonomics, menus and all the upgraded features. If you would rather watch then my video comparison of the Sony A7III vs A7IV Can be found here . The video shows screen recordings of the AF in action, the IBIS and video quality as well as everything else.
Sony A7III vs A7IV – Ergonomics
The first thing that you notice when you put the Sony A7IV next to the A7III is that the new camera has gained a little size over its predecessor. In terms of weight they are within a few grams of each other but the size difference, particularly the depth of the camera is more noticeable than the figures would have you believe. The mark III feels quite small and dinky in comparison to the latest mark IV version. The A7IV is deeper due to Sony adding a fully articulating screen (more on that later) and improving the heat management of the camera.
The grip has also grown and now offers more depth and provides more purchase on the camera, particularly when operating it one handed. Those with larger hands will definitely appreciate the added space and comfort. The A7 IV now weighs in at a measured 658g with the battery which is only 8g more than the mark III.
One of the most obvious changes to the A7IV is the switch to a fully articulated rear LCD screen. The previous model had a tilting mechanism often favoured by purely stills photographers but the new, articulated screen works much better for hybrid shooters like myself.
Not only is the new screen fully articulating it has also increased the resolution from 0.92 million dots to 1.04 million dots. More importantly the screen now has a 3:2 aspect ratio which matches the cameras sensor resulting in less wasted space on the screen.
The Sony A7IV’s screen now uses the touch screen functions to much greater effect, allowing you to use it to navigate the menus as well as the usual AF funtionality. The A7 III touchscreen was mainly limited to selecting AF points. The new one feels much more modern and in keeping with what we have become used to with modern gadgets like phones and tablets.
The EVF on the Sony A7IV has also been upgraded to 3.69m dots from 2.36m dots on the A7III. The improvement is welcome and a noticeable one but it is not class leading compared to some of the competition. The refresh rate can also be boosted to 120hz, double that of the older model. Everything else remains the same on the viewfinder.
One of the ergonomic changes that I find most satisfying is the increased size of the buttons on the mk IV. The AF-On button is now substantially larger and the AF joystick has also been enalarged and also flattened slightly which definitely makes it easier to move your AF point as desired.
The record button has been moved to the top of the camera instead of to the right of the viewfinder. In all honesty I don’t mind either location but given the choice I prefer the new placement as it is more in keeping with the other cameras that I use such as the Canon R5 and Nikon Z series bodies. I would prefer the Menu button to be on the right hand side like Nikon and Panasonic cameras so that it can be selected one handed.
There is now a dial below the PASM dial which allows you to switch between photo, video and S&Q modes. The dial is lockable as is the unmarked exposure compensation dial (it can be set to whatever you want now). There are also 3 custom setting slots on the PASM dial as opposed to 2 on the A7III.
The Sony A7 IV now has dual UHS-II card slots with slot 1 also accepting CF Express type A cards. You will need either V90 rated SD or CF Express A cards to record in the higher video resolutions/bitrates now available on the A7 IV. The A7 IV wont allow me to even try using a Sandisk Extreme Pro 170mb/s card for these higher quality video settings. I ordered a couple of these cards to enable recording using the higher quality video modes and they work well.
There is also a new locking mechanism on the memory card door. You now have to slide the lock (similar to the A7III) and at the same time slide the memory card door towards you. It is kind of awkward to be honest and one of the things that I prefer on the Sony A7III. Also the strap lugs on my A7IV are quite thick and can get in the way of the memory card door when opening. It’s not a big deal but something that I have noticed.
The A7IV uses the latest Sony menu system and my goodness what a difference it makes. The old Sony menus were a confused mess fo the most part. I often still find myself searching through them to find certain options and settings.
The new menu system is now much better laid out and for the most part it is logical and much quicker to find what you need. I particularly appreciate that it gives you a preview of the items contained within the selected menu option so that you don’t waste time diving into a menu only to find that the setting you needed is not there. I’d go as far as to say it is now one of the best menu systems available.
One thing that has caught me out and something that I find annoying is that when you set the camera up to use a picture profile in video mode, the camera carries this across when you switch back to photo mode. So I shot a bunch of images this morning with the log profile set for photos. Why Sony thought this was a good idea I do not know. Luckily I shoot in RAW + Jpeg so had the RAW files to fall back on.
Sony A7III vs A7IV – Image quality
The main headline grabbing upgrade for the A7IV is probably the increase in resolution from 24mp to 33mp. In all honesty, if this were the only reason that you are considering an upgrade from the Sony A7 III then I would save your money.
The increased resolution is nice to have as it enables a little more cropping room but the difference is not enough to justify the expense of an upgrade. You’re going from images measuring 6000×4000 pixels to 7008x 4672.
Yes, there is a little more detail in the 33mp images but it’s only just about enough to go up one print size. It does make the A7IV a more interesting proposition for landscape photographers who also have a hybrid workflow, perhaps aspiring youtubers who focus on landscape photography may give the A7IV more consideration but for most people resolution alone, while nice to have, likley isn’t the main reason to upgrade.
From my testing dynamic range remains essentially the same so at least that resolution bump has not come at the cost of dynamic range.
In terms of high ISO noise performance, you can see from my test shots below that the A7III and A7IV perform very similarly.
The A7III does slightly better once above ISO 6400 but once you down size the A7IV file to match the A7III dimensions it is actually a tiny amount better.
One thing that I have noticed is that the auto white balance in the A7IV does a better job than the A7III. I often had to apply fairly significant corrections to the A7 III images as they sometimes gave a magenta or yellow tint depending on the lighting conditions. I have not found this to be an issue with the mark IV. Outdoors the colours are very similar as seen below.
Skintones have also been improved on the A7IV vs A7III, particularly in mixed lighting conditions. This quick portrait was shot in window light with auto white balance and auto ISO. The AF nailed shot after shot. It really is impressive and the more I use it the more I appreciate just how easy the A7IV makes everything.
The A7 IV now also adds the ability to shoot lossless compressed RAW files which helps to save some card and hard drive space without compromising image quality.
You can also shoot in 10bit HEIF format instead of Jpeg. In theory this should give more colour information than the 8bit Jpeg files but in use I haven’t noticed any difference. You also have to consider that HEIF is a relatively new format so before shooting chekc that they are compatible with your device/PC.
A7 IV vs A7 III – IBIS
The IBIS in the A7 IV is said to give 5.5 stops of image stabilisation compared with the 5 stops quoted for the A7 III.
I wanted to test out whether there was any real world difference so I shot my usual tests handheld at 24 mm on the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8.
I found that results were so similar as to not warranty any further testing.
It is impossible to explain the difference in IBIS performance for video without showing the footage so please see my video here
This is where the A7IV shines against the A7III – Auto Focus
The AF in the Sony A7 III was always pretty good, especially as Sony updated the firmware to add better Eye AF as well as animal detection. However this has been improved again, with the A7 IV taking advantage of the BionZ XR which Sony claims is 8x faster than the BionZ X found in the mark III.
The A7 IV has 759 phase detect AF points giving 94% coverage vs 693 with 93% coverage on the A7 III. The increase doesn’t sound like much but more importantly it puts it in line with the A1 and A7SIII which I suspect will allow it to benefit from any AF improvements added to those bodies.
The phase detect points now work down to f/22 (vs f11 on the A7III) and the AF will work in -4 EV vs the A7III’s -3 EV.
When I first noticed that you can now change the AF point selection colour from white to red I gave a little prayer to the camera gods as this was something that I often had issue with in previous generation Sony cameras. When using the A7III and the A7R2 I owned before that, it could sometimes be incredibly difficult to know which focus point was being activated if the colour matched the background. It’s funny how small things can sometimes turn out to be instrumental in giving you a feel for whether you will like to use a camera or not.
The A7 IV has ported over the same AF algorithms found in the top of the line Sony A1 which adds real time eye AF and subject tracking. The A7 IV also adds human/animal AF that works in both photo and video mode. There is also vehicle tracking for photography as well as the ability to select bird eye AF.
Having tested this out on some not too challenging geese and pigeons I can say it does a great job.
Again, it is best to watch the video for demonstrations of just how good the AF in the Sony A7IV is.
In use I have found it to be as good as anything available (including my Canon R5). In fact I would even put it a notch above the R5. It locks on really quickly and is accurate. To see this in action subscribe to my Youtube channel and hit the notifications bell as the full video will be released soon which includes footage of the AF captured on an Atomos Ninja V. You can now see the video here
With Eye AF turned on it is the quickest system that I have used to pick up the subjects eyes and it can do it even when the subject is quite small in the frame. Mind you, the Sony A7III is no slouch in this area either.
I could see a discernible difference when shooting the Sony A7IV vs A7III. It is simply much quicker to react, pick up the subject and place that green box over the eye.
When the subject either turned away from the camera or left and then returned to frame it was significantly quicker to regain focus on the eye than the A7III. The MK III did not always pick up the subject’s eyes again quickly and on some ocassions even failed to do so at all. I believe this is due to the older algorithm scanning the entire scene to re-aqquire the subjects eyes whereas the Sony A7 IV has been programmed using machine learning to prioritise looking for a subjects eyes in the same area as it last detected them. Whatever the technicalities it is a marked improvement.
The Sony A7III was one of the first true hybrid cameras, bringing together great stills and at the time, excellent video specs. However times have moved on and the lack of 10 bit internal video as well as 4k is starting to show against the competition.
The A7IV has adressed this and now offers upto 4k30 with no crop whereas the A7III tops out at 4k25 without a crop. Once you go to 4k30 there is a 1.2x crop on the A7III. The recording limit of 30 minutes found on the A7III has now been removed too.
As well as the usual S-log options the A7IV now includes S-Cinetone.
Importantly the A7IV now offers 4k60 full pixel readout (no binning) but this does crop to APS-C or 1.5x.
Where the A7IV has definitely taken things up by several notches vs the A7III is with the codecs and colour depth available. This is great news for those wishing to colour grade their footage in post.
The A7III only offers 8bit 4:2:0 internal shooting options whereas the A7IV now shoots 10 bit 4:2:2 internally with the option to use the H.265 codec or All Intra H.264 at a bit rate of 300mbps for 30p or 600mbps for 60p footage. Lower data rates are also available for those who don’t need the added grading headroom or simply want to save on disk space.
Below are the various 4k codecs and bit rates available.
4K All intra has fixed settings as follows :
24p – 4:2:2 10 bit 240mbps
30P – 4:2:2 10 bit 300mbps
60p – 4:2:2 10 bit 600mbps
The A7IV does away with the Micro HDMI port and replaces it with a full sized HDMI which is so much more sturdy.
It also adds what Sony call Active stabilisation. This is basically a digital stabilisation using information from the gyro on the IBIS. The field of view crops in a little to allow this. This is something that I tested for my video review and will show there.
The A7IV now lets you adjust (in 7 steps) how quickly focus transitions are performed as well as 5 steps of control for how quickly the AF will switch from one subject to another.
An interesting concept and one that I have seen carried out extremely well by DJI is the focus mapping option. This shows you which areas of your image are in and out of focus by colouring the areas. I’m still not convinced on its usefulness so will report back when I have had time to use it a little more.
Sony A7III vs A7IV – Conclusion
When I saw the specs for the Sony A7IV I wasn’t blown away. There was no one aspect that really stood out to me as groundbreaking or a must have. A little more resolution, an articulating screen, a new menu (again), a few extra video modes and promised AF improvements didn’t really seem like that much considering how groundbreaking the A7III was back in 2018 and how long it has been since then.
I have had and owned at least one of each generation of Sony’s A7 series bodies since the A7R. I have always appreciated their technical abilities, groundbreaking specs and ability to push the boundaries for autofocus. However, I have never gelled with one the way I have with say, the Fuji X-Pro 1 & 3 or the Nikon Z7II or Canon R5. The difference, I have always felt is that those feel like cameras made by a camera company that understands photographers. They get the little things right in terms of button placement, menus, ergonomics, design and handling. These things really do make a massive difference when it comes time to pick up a camera and shoot.
The Sony A7IV is the first Sony camera that I have picked up and felt like it is finally designed by a company that understands what we as photographers/videographers want. There are no headline grabbing features that blow your mind the way that the Canon R5, Sony A1 or Nikon Z9 did at release but the whole is definitely more than the sum of its parts when it comes to the A7IV.
After having shot a lot with both of these cameras side by side, if it were my money and I had to decide between the Sony A7III vs A7IV , I would buy the A7IV without doubt. It feels like a camera, makes everything easy and gets out of your way and lets you shoot. Not to mention that I would no longer consider a camera without 4k60 video.
I hope that you found some value in this article and it helps with your decision. Please don’t forget to help out in anyway you can by subscribing to this blog, my yotube channel or buying through my links. Any help is much appreciated and allows me to spend more time creating content like this.