Why I’m Going to Buy a Sony A7R4

Sony Alpha A7RIV Mirrorless Camera

I had and sold the A7R and A7R2, so why the A7R4?

About a minute after the announcement, I decided to buy the Sony A7R4. I sold my Sony A7R2 earlier this year and it didn’t take long for me to miss it. Why did I sell it? Because I didn’t think I needed it. I have a pretty decent pile of cameras and in the brand stack, Sony was my least invested system.

However…

As I said, it didn’t take long for me to miss it. I often carried my A7R2 with the superb Sony Zeiss 35mm F2.8 lens attached. The compact form factor of this body and lens combination made it easy to throw in a bag and take just about anywhere. And that’s what I did. I just threw it in a backpack or whatever bag I carried and went. Or, I slung it over a shoulder with a Peak Design strap. Since the A7R2 didn’t have the new, longer-life batteries, I often carried a spare battery or two as well.

I photographed my family, motorcycle racing, dogs, travel, my brother’s wedding, and just about anything that happened in front of that compact little kit. So, again, why sell it? Because I have two Nikon D850s and a full stable of Nikon lenses, 14-500mm, and I felt an urge to pare down my gear. Plus, I have a nice Leica setup that I really enjoy. So, a third system felt like overkill.

Sadly, none of those other cameras quite measure up to the overall portability and capability of the Sony A7R2 and Sony Zeiss 35mm combination. The gripped D850s and lenses are colossal by comparison. They’re magnificent and I love working with them, but not for roaming around and carrying “just in case” cameras. The Leica M10-P, 35mm film MP, and my Summilux and Summicron lenses are also stellar kit when I want to slow down a bit. However, the simplicity and versatility of the A7R2/35mm combo was just too great to have. I overcame my temptation to buy an A7R3 because I had a hunch that Sony, embroiled in the recent mirrorless arms race since Canon and Nikon released direct competitors to the A7 line, would release something new.

The A7R4 Was A Surprise

I did not expect the A7R4 so soon. The 61MP A7R4 surprised me, pleasantly. The improvements, from what I’ve read and seen in early reviewers are great. I’m pretty stoked about the locking exposure compensation dial. It was one of my quibbles with the previous bodies. I often bumped that dial and occasionally missed some shots–or at least had to rescue some in post processing. It’s a testament to the quality of the raw files that I was able to same some that had been underexposed three stops.

Sony Face and Eye Detection Auto Focus & Real Time Tracking Are Enough to Buy a Sony A7R4

Sony’s eye detection is a killer feature. Both Canon and Nikon introduced similar technology, but Sony is still the leader on this front. Shooting candids is a completely new experience when you have an extremely reliable eye focus capability that is fast and accurate. Photographing kids, friends, street photography, etc., all get much easier. The feature removes another delay in getting that shot. I’ve gotten some great family photos that were hail-mary-point-and-shoot-just-to-see-what-you-get efforts and they worked because of eye detection autofocus.

I’m curious to try out animal eye detection. Depending on its reliability, it should be great for photographing pets. Accurate eye detection combined with a very fast autofocus system is enough for me to buy an A7R4.

The enhanced grip, button feel, and other ergonomic features are also a great selling point.

I’ll post real world review of the system in use later in the year.

My Preferred Sony A7R4 Kit

When I buy the Sony A7R4, here’s what my Preferred Sony A7R4 kit will look like:

The lens that would be on the body 90% of the time would be the superb Sony Zeiss Sonnar 35mm F2.8.

Sony Announces the RX100VII Compact Camera

Sony RX100VII Top View
Sony RX100VII Front View
Sony RX100VII Front View

Sony RX100VII: Compact, but Powerful

Sony continues its rapid march forward with new product releases. Today’s announcement of the RX100VII camera is no different. As with the recent release of the Sony Alpha A7R4, this lates release is packed with technology and significant improvements.

The compact camera boasts a 1″ sensor and focus technology featured in the company’s flagship camera, the A9. Among the many internal tweaks, the camera also gets a new audio port for external microphones–a feature sure to please many vloggers.

I own a Sony RX100III and have been very pleased with it over the past four years. I dropped, dinged, and generally abused it on a variety of adventures and it just keeps working flawlessly. If I destroy it, I’ll replace it with an RX100VII without hesitation.

The RX100VII features a longer lens than the III. The 24-200mm (35mm equivalent lens) originally debuted with the RX100VI. It’s an impressive engineering feat to fit the lens into such a compact body and seems like a bit of a magic trick when the camera turns on or off, extending or retracting the lens.

Combined with the Sony accessory grip and an external microphone, this camera is a great all around shooter that can handle a broad variety of situations. It lacks an internal neutral density filter, but given all the tech that’s jammed in a minuscule body, it’s a small price to pay.

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New Sony Action Camera RX0 II

Sony Action Camera RX0 II
Sony RX0 II Product Video

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A Very Capable Sony Action Camera

Sony announced the RX0 II action camera, a follow up to the popular RX0. It’s a very compact camera with impressive specifications. The camera features a 1″ sensor worth 15.3 megapixels of resolution. The ISO range is also impressive at 80-12800.

The RX0 II has a fixed 24mm f4.0 equivalent lens that focuses down to 20cm. As with many sony cameras, the partnership with Zeiss continues and the lens is a Zeiss Tessar T* model.

Here’s Looking At You — Flip Up Screen

The feature that most people will talk about, however, is the flip-up rear LCD screen. It’s similar in design to the flip up LCDs on Sony’s RX100 cameras and facilitates blogging. When combined with the optional VCT-SGR1 shooting grip, and a microphone, it’s a very compact rig capable of all-weather operation.

The RX0 II features robust video capabilities with 4K/30P recording and a 1000 frames per second high speed recording mode. Additionally, the camera can export uncompressed 4K HDMI output. Advanced shooters will appreciate the availability of S-Log 2 and Time Code/User Bit features for color grading and post production work.

Notably, the RX0 II has eye focus capability similar to the brand’s flagship a9 camera. The RX0 will focus on a subjects eye and track it. This is a particularly useful feature and one that is currently part of the mirrorless camera arms race between manufacturers. Sony’s eye AF remains in the lead.

One of the most notable features of the RX0 II camera system is the Sony Imaging Edge mobile app. The app can control up to five cameras simultaneously and synchronize them.

In a future update, scheduled for later this summer, the app will be able to control up to fifty cameras. Further, the compatible Camera Control Box CCB-WD1 can control 100 cameras.

The Sony RX system is an attractive option for action camera shooters or anyone that needs a small, rugged, capable system. It competes directly with GoPro’s camera, and eclipses their capabilities in some ways. However, it does cost more than GoPro’s offerings without a grip or external microphone.

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New CFExpress Type B Card Announcements

Prograde Digital CFExpress Cards

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Both Sony and Prograde Digital announced CFExpress Type B memory cards today. The new cards use the PCIe, Gen 3 interconnect with NVMe host controller interface and perform at read speeds of 1,600MPB/s. Prograde also announced that sample cards and readers are available for “qualified partners.” Prograde will offer two lines of the cards. The CFExpress Cobalt will perform at the full 1,600MB/s read speed and have burst write capability of 1400MB/s. The CF Express Gold feature a burst write speed of 600-1000MB/s. Read Prograde’s news release for more info.

Sony CF Express Card and CFExpress/XQD Reader
Sony CF Express Card and CFExpress/XQD Reader

Sony announced their own CFExpress Type B cards. The “Tough” cards. Sony claims performance of 1700MB/s read speeds and 1480MB/s write speeds. The “Tough” label highlights Sony’s tripling of the CFexpress standard to withstand force at 70N bending force and “five times greater reliability to endure falls from up to 5m high.” Read Sony’s press release here.

If all this XQD, CFast, CFExpress jargon has you perplexed, read this article by SLR Lounge. It does a decent job of clearing it up.

Sony FE 135mm F1.8G Master Lens and New Remote Commander Announced

Sony FE 135mm F1.8GM

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Sony announced the 135mm F1.8G Master Lens. The lens joins a growing lineup of G Master lenses. Sony claims the lens design maximizes the appearance of pleasing bokeh. The company built the lens with Super ED and ED elements that include “extreme aspherica (XA)” elements and four XD linear motors. An 11-blade aperture controls the roundness of out-of-focus highlights, allegedly even at F4. DPReview published an article on the lens and also has a sample gallery. Check it out here.

Sony Product Photo of RMT-P1BT Remote Commander
Sony Product Photo of RMT-P1BT Remote Commander

The new remote commander (model RMT-P1BT) features Bluetooth technology and precise camera control. According to Sony’s press release, the remote responds within 0.05 seconds. Both the lens and the remote will ship in April and can be ordered today.

Sigma Announces Eleven L-Mount Lenses and Mount Converter MC-21

Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art

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Sigma Product Photo of MC-21 L-Mount Converter

Sigma announced the launch of the Art series lenses in full-frame L-mount. The announcement specifies eleven prime lenses from 14mm to 135mm in focal length. All of the lenses are currently available for other systems. In addition to the lenses, Sigma announced the MC-21 mount converter. The converter allows Sigma SA mount and Sigma’s Canon EF mount compatible lenses to fit L-mount cameras and is similar in design to Sigma’s MC-11. The L-mount is a mount produced in partnership between Sigma, Panasonic, and Leica.

Sigma Offers a Lens Mount Conversion Service

Sigma’s announcement also includes discussion of Sigma’s Mount Conversion Service. The service modifies Sigma mount lenses to other camera mounts.

The lenses in the announcement are (links to currently available versions):

Read the press release for the lenses here and for the press release for the MC-21 here.

Recent Firmware Updates for Leica, Sigma, and Sony Cameras & Lenses

Leica released updated firmware for the Leica Q/QP cameras. Version 3.1 is available for download and the update addresses compatibility with Leica’s updated FOTOS app.

Leica SL Product Photo
Leica SL Product Photo

Leica also released firmware version 3.4 for the Leica SL. Click here to get it.

Sigma MC-11 Product Photo

Sigma also released a series of firmware updates for its Nikon F-mount and Canon EF-mount lenses as well as the Sigma Mount converter MC-11. Click here for more info.

Sony A9 product Photo
Sony A9 Product Photo

Sony also recently announced updated firmware for the A9, the A7III and A7RIII. The updates are not available yet, but Brian Smith has a good run down of the improvements to camera function once the software is available.

Sony VENICE System Camera

Additionally, Sony announced a firmware upgrade for its VENICE motion-picture camera system. Click here to read more.