Sony Alpha 7R V: it is inspired by smartphones for the better but not for the worse

The new Sony A7R V professional mirrorless camera features AI-driven autofocus for smartphone-like operation.

Sony formalized this Wednesday the Alpha 7R V, the fifth generation of its mirrorless camera high resolution, designed for wildlife, landscape, wedding and portrait photography. It joins the large Sony Alpha family, which includes the versatile A7 series, the high-sensitivity A7S series (very popular with videographers), the high-speed A9 series, and the A1 series which combines the best of the previous ones.

The Alpha 7R Mark V inherits some of the innovations of the A1 and the A7 IV, launched in January then December 2021, and brings new ones, so much so that it is ahead of the A1, the flagship of the range, on many criteria.

When real cameras are inspired by smartphones

But the most remarkable thing is that this A7R V is the new symbol of an industry, that of “real” cameras (and video), which is finally embracing the big trend of “software defined” (defined by software). Indeed, the A7R Mark 5 uses the same 61.0-megapixel 24 x 36 mm Exmor R retro-exposed sensor as its predecessor, launched just over 3 years ago, in July 2019. The main novelty of the last -born is in fact its processor, since it goes from a single Bionz X chip to two Bionz XR chips, like the A1, one of which is dedicated to the execution of artificial intelligence algorithms.

Most of the developments in the A7R V therefore do not stem from new components, but from new software algorithms, or from increased processing power.

This is what has been happening for several years on the smartphone market, as Marc Levoy, an eminent computer vision researcher, explained when launching the Google Pixel 4. Except that, fortunately, the “real Strictly speaking, cameras don’t do computational photography, which gives smartphone photos their characteristic, flattering, but crude look.

A ‘next generation’ of AI-powered autofocus

On the A7R V, through various deep learning games (deep learning), artificial intelligence “only” improves automation: automatic exposure, automatic white balance, and above all autofocus.

Artificial intelligence thus enables the all-new autofocus to detect new types of subjects: planes, trains, vehicles (cars, etc.) and insects, in addition to humans, animals and birds. It also promises to “dramatically” improve the efficiency and accuracy of focusing on the eyes, by analyzing the posture of humans to estimate the location of their eyes before they enter the frame. The autofocus can thus focus on the eyes even if the subject is wearing sunglasses, a mask or a helmet.

Phase-detection autofocus coverage increases from 567 points and 74% lengthwise to 693 points and 86%, respectively. Enough to use this focusing mode, which is more effective than the contrast detection used otherwise, even when the subject is at the very edge of the frame.

15, 26, 60 or even 240 megapixels

The autofocus is all the more critical as the definition is high, 61.0 effective megapixels. On this point, the A7R V offers greater flexibility than its predecessor.

It offers a “pixel shift” shooting mode in which it exploits the stabilization of the sensor to capture 16 images shifted by half and one pixel, in order to improve spatial and colorimetric resolution. The Imaging Edge Desktop software then combines these 963 megapixels (almost a gigapixel!) to produce a composite image of 240 megapixels (19008 x 12672 pixels).

Conversely, 61 megapixels sometimes produces files that are too large. The A7R V offers on the one hand RAW with lossless compression, and on the other hand RAW in 26 or 15 megapixels. In 26 megapixels, you can switch on the fly from full frame to APS-C cropping (focal length multiplied by 1.5). And for those who have not (yet) adopted RAW, which here offers a dynamic range of 15 EV, the camera can now record in HEIF format.

The native sensitivity range is ISO 100-32000, expandable to ISO 102400 in stills. The burst is increased to 10 frames per second and the buffer memory increases from 68 to 583 compressed RAW files. The device also has two SD UHS-II or CFexpress Type-A combo slots.

1666794840 901 Sony Alpha 7R V it is inspired by smartphones for
The swivel screen, and not only tilting, facilitates vertical shots

Also a good video camera

The A7R V is progressing a lot in video. It can now film in 8K, at 24 fps, in 4K, up to 60 fps (against 30 on the A7R IV), in 10 bits (against 8) and in 4:2:2 (against 4 :2:0). It can record internally in H.264 or HEVC, or externally in 16-bit RAW, via a now full-frame HDMI output. In addition to the S-Log3 color profile, aimed at those who do color grading, it offers S-Cinetone. Finally, it offers a new “Active+” mechanical stabilization mode.

Professional ergonomics, but lightness and compactness

Unlike the historical manufacturers Canon and Nikon, which integrate a vertical handle into their imposing EOS R3 and Z9 professional bodies, Sony relies on lightness and compactness. Thus the case weighs only 750 g.

However, the A7R V combines USB connectivity at 10 Gb/s, Wi-Fi 5 2×2 MIMO and even Gigabit Ethernet or cellular, via a USB-C adapter or connection sharing from a smartphone, to transfer data. real-time pictures. It can be used as a webcam without proprietary drivers, via the USB Video Class and USB Audio Class standards.

Finally, it offers the new interface, which offers a very high level of customization, and which is now used via the 3.2-inch tilting and now swiveling touch screen. It has a very high definition electronic viewfinder of 9.44 megapixels, or 2048 x 1536 pixels of 3 RGB sub-pixels.

Sony Alpha 7R V price and availability

The Sony Alpha 7R V, also designated A7RV or ILCE-7RM5, will be available at the end of November 2022 at a price of 4500 euros, bare case.

It competes with devices like the Nikon Z7 II, sold for 3,500 euros, the Panasonic Lumix S1R at 3,400 euros, which are cheaper because they are older, or the Canon EOS R5 at 4,500 euros.

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Sony Alpha 7R V: it is inspired by smartphones for the better but not for the worse

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