Sony Alpha 7R V review: Is this the king of full-frame still cameras?
Performance and Conclusion
For this review, we used the Sony FE 100-400mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS telephoto zoom lens to photograph birds and insects. For landscape and other shots, we used the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM lens primarily but managed to snag the new Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G lens to test as well.
Regardless of the lens used, the AF performance is impressive, whether it is in bright sunlight or dim lighting conditions. More amazingly is its AI AF performance.
With the camera's subject recognition set to Animal, the A7R V was able to quickly recognise the body of a dragonfly, a cat or a squirrel with ease.
As a result, the A7R V was able to capture a sunbird in full flight at a focal length of 400mm handheld. It was lovely to be able to capture its beautiful wings' spread. In addition, the A7R V's IBIS worked well to help prevent camera shake at this long focal length too.
In addition, we were able to capture this carpenter bee in full flight flying around and sniffing up nectars from the flowers. Considering how small and how fast the carpenter bee was flying, we are really gobsmacked that the camera managed to capture this image as it picks its next flower.
As you might expect, the A7R V's AI AF works wonderfully with cats too. Despite having a string dangling in front of this community cat, the A7R V was able to render her eyes sharp at the moment she was trying to reach out for the string.
The quality of the still images taken by the A7R V is probably the best I have seen from a full-frame camera. The images are all incredibly sharp straight out of the camera, even if you shoot in JPEG.
The details, even in the shadow areas, in each still image are just incredible. Plus, colours are vibrant without being oversaturated with skin tone accurately rendered.
A thing about Pixel Shift Multi Shot
The A7R V has a Pixel Shift Multi Shot (PSMS) mode. It allows you to shoot 4 or 16 still images to create a final whopping 240.8-megapixel image with the assistance of AI.
Unfortunately, this AI composite photo is not in-camera created. You have to use Sony Imaging Edge Desktop (free, available on Windows and macOS) to create the composite image.
To add to the inconvenience, the camera or the app does not tag your PSMS images as such. You have to remember what you shot and find them yourself. Plus, processing of one composite image takes at least one minute, on my 2020 high-end iMac with 40GB of RAM.
The difference in details is undoubtedly better in the composite photos, whether it is the 4-shot or 16-shot composite. But I’m not too sure if it is worth the hassle, as I think the original photo is good enough. So the question is whether it is good enough for you.
However, the A7R V's noise performance is probably going to be more than good enough for everyone. In fact, it is seriously excellent. There are very few noise artefacts all the way to ISO 6,400.
Luminance noise only becomes slightly visible at ISO 12,800, but detail loss is minimal. In fact, photos taken at ISO 25,600 are still good enough for small prints, Instagram or Facebook posts.
However, we will not recommend shooting anything above ISO 25,600, unless the situation warrants it. This is because there are visible noise artefacts with substantial detail loss.
Apart from its superb image quality, the operation of this camera is top-notch too. Startup and shutting down of the camera are also immediate, compared to the average 2 seconds for each operation in most mirrorless cameras.
Using a UHS-II SD card with a rated writing speed of 299MB per second, the A7R V was able to shoot 120 RAW images in 15.1 seconds before the buffer ran out. This is an amazing performance that is suitable for shooting sports and wildlife.
Battery life is probably the biggest Achilles' heel (other than its price tag) of this camera though. It is rated at a mere 440 still images (using EVF) on a full charge. By comparison, its predecessor's rated battery is around 530 stills.
In real-life situations, I was able to shoot around 497 stills with the A7R V, and its battery level dropped to 20 per cent. You probably want to get an extra battery if you are shooting a full working day.