The mirrorless full-frame A7 family has been a game-changer for Sony. Today, the A7 is one of the most popular choices by photographers, videographers, and enthusiasts alike. The company even expanded the lineup further with the A9 and the flagship A1. But since the first A7 model was released in late 2013, Sony has made major improvements and changes to the lineup.
Editor’s Note: The Sony a7 series has been the standard shooting gear for the entire YugaTech team since 2016. We started off with the A7S II and A7R; then added the A7 III and the A7C later on. More than 90% of the videos in our YouTube channel are shot on a Sony camera. Needless to say, the team is quite familiar with this series and its capabilities.
Recently, Sony Philippines sent us the newest member of the lineup – the A7R V – or formally known as the ILCE-7RM5 to test out. Needless to say, it impressed us a lot given how capable it is. But the question is this – should this be your next camera given its expensive price tag especially if you skipped the A7 IV? Well, to find out the answer, I suggest you read on.
Table of Contents
Design & Construction
If you’ve ever tried Sony’s A7 models before (whether it’s the A7, R, or S models), the body of the A7R V should be familiar to you. However, there is a big change from the older models (A7III and older) in terms of button placements and the like. Noticeably, the body is also thicker with a larger grip in comparison to the A7 III I own too.
It took a while to get used to the new button placements and the thicker body, but I didn’t have a hard time adjusting to the size. It’s also a lot easier to switch modes, particularly photo and video. Instead, they’re now a separate switch below the mode dial. No doubt Sony users will feel right at home, while newcomers should be able to navigate the main settings without too many problems.
While the A7R V is mainly intended for photos, it does shoot great videos which we’ll go into more detail later. With the bigger body, it does get tiring holding it so best to use it with a wrist strap or a neck strap.
One of the best upgrades Sony made to the A7R V is the screen. Unlike the simple tilt screen like before, this one can flip out and even tilt both upwards and downwards. The function makes it easier for vloggers and even take selfie photos. For reference, you have more flexibility with the screen on the A7R V as compared to the A7 IV.
The screen itself now looks better too. According to Sony, the resolution on the OLED panel is up to 9.44 million dots and even has a 120Hz refresh rate. This makes it similar to what you’d see in an optical viewfinder. And for photographers, it’s definitely a helpful upgrade.
In terms of storage, there are two dual-format card slots. Each one accepts either UHS-II SD cards or faster, but more expensive CFexpress Type A cards. As for ports, Sony also ditched the micro HDMI port for a full-sized HDMI port. There’s also a USB-C 3.2 port which allows you to charge and power the camera at the same time. The battery is still the same size as the one on the A7 III.
The A7R V uses the new 61MP Exmor R Sensor which can shoot up to 10FPS in both mechanical and electronic modes. However, it does drop to 7FPS when you’re shooting in high-res JPEG and uncompressed RAW files. It’s still not the same as the A1 which uses stacked sensors, but it’s not bad.
Possibly my favorite feature of the A7R V is the autofocus, which is just brilliant, featuring 693 AF points and offering Real-time Recognition AF. Since I mostly shoot cars, the new tracking mode is extremely accurate since it has a mode specifically for cars. This makes it easier to take rolling shots as with some of the sample photos you’ll see here. There’s a touch to track mode that makes it easy to lock onto subjects by simply touching the screen.
Aside from cars, it’s great at head, face, and eye tracking even in low light conditions. Other tracking modes available with Real-time Recognition AF include birds, animals, insects, trains and airplanes. However, you do have to select them manually which means going deep into the labyrinth-like menu. I do wish Sony added a mode to choose subject matter more easily. Although my solution is to add this feature into My Menu, which is the camera’s custom user menu.
In addition to the amazing autofocus, image stabilization has been greatly improved as well. During testing, I was able to shoot handheld with shutter speeds of up to 1/10 seconds. Do note that I do have a somewhat steady hand, but it’s almost impossible to do on my current A7 III. According to Sony, the A7R V has up to eight stops of compensation available when shooting stills.
For video mode, Active Mode image stabilization helps make handheld shooting smoother. It’s very useful for times you don’t have a gimbal or places where a gimbal won’t fit. You can even pair it with some lenses that feature optical image stabilization.
Battery life is great too. After half a day of shooting on the race track, I still had around 40 percent battery life left afterward. Since it uses the same battery as the A7 III, those planning to upgrade can use their old sets.
While the A7R V does have a 61MP sensor and the Bionz XR processing engine, the image quality in many respects also comes down to the lens attached to the body. Sony Philippines did provide us with an FE 16-35 F2.8 GM in addition to the camera body to make the most out of the camera.
But even if you use third-party lenses, like with my Tamron 28-75 F2.8 Di III RXD, you’ll still get excellent results both in photo and video. With the new sensor and processing engine, you have a really wide dynamic range, especially when shooting in uncompressed RAW. Sony claims the dynamic range is rated at 15 stops, and it seems to be the case.
I was able to drastically improve this photo above even if it was mainly overexposed due to the harsh lighting conditions. Just take a look at the before and after.
It’s the same when shooting in very low-light conditions too. At 6400 ISO, there’s barely any grain, and you can still increase the exposure by 1 stop before you start seeing graining. However, this can easily be corrected by adjusting other settings in post.
For reference, the A7R V has a native ISO range of 100-32,000 but can be expanded to ISO 50-102,400. From my experience, however, shooting anything above 25,600 is no longer usable. Then again, you should have brought a tripod at that point already.
With the 61MP, you can also use it to your advantage when taking landscape photos. It’s especially useful when you don’t have a zoom lens, such as a 70-200, since you can just crop and the image quality is still great.
Video quality is impressive as well with the A7R V capable of shooting 8K video at 24FPS, 4K at 60FPS, FHD at 120FPS, and even 4:2:2 10-bit color depth. However, these do note that 8K and 4K60 record at a crop, and you will need a very fast card (UHS-II or CFExpress A). With that, I think the A7S III is still the better option for videographers.
To give you an idea of the image quality, do enjoy the sample photos I took with the A7R V using both the Sony FE 16-35 F2.8 GM and Tamron 28-75 F2.8 Di III RXD.
There’s no doubt that the Sony A7R V is one of the best cameras you can buy today, whether you’re into landscape, portrait, studio, or motorsport photography. You get a large 61MP sensor and a powerful processing engine with excellent image quality all around. Not to mention you can also adjust the photos a lot in post thanks to the very high dynamic range. At the same time, it can shoot great videos if needed.
But there are some issues with the A7R V, and the first is a big one – the price. The Sony A7R V currently retails for PHP 239,999, and it doesn’t come with a lens yet.
If you really want to take advantage of the A7R V, you’ll also need the best glass, and Sony’s G Master lenses are far from affordable. For reference, the FE 16-35 F2.8 GM lent to us retails for PHP 129,900. You can go the Sigma Art route, but those are relatively expensive too.
Then there’s another issue – storage. There was no memory card included in the A7R V, so I opted to use my personal cards which are already UHS-II with 250mb/s read and write speed. Still, it was too slow for shooting uncompressed RAW. I couldn’t even record in some video format as the camera says the cards’ speeds are too slow.
Sony recommends their Tough CFExpress Type A cards with the A7R V, but those cost an arm and leg too, starting at PHP 14,950 for the 80GB model. For reference, the uncompressed RAW photos are around 150-160MB each, and that’s excluding the JPEG photo which is around 25MB each. As a result, you will need additional storage when you’re exporting the photos to your PC or laptop.
As a result, it’s hard to recommend the Sony A7R V to everyone, especially to someone who’s only a hobbyist. Instead, I would recommend checking out the A7 IV or even the older A7R IV, which are still available. So if you’re not sure whether you want to pursue photography or not, at least the monetary investment isn’t that big.
But if you’re a photographer by trade or want to put up a studio, you won’t go wrong with the newest member of the A7 family. If you’ve already been using Sony glass, then you can reuse those as well. The A7R V is by far one of the best full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market. It is expensive, but it is worth it.
Amazing Auto Focus
High Dynamic Range
Very Expensive (both body and Sony lenses)
Needs high-end SD or CFExpress Type A cards
Photos take up a lot of storage
Sony A7R V Specs:
Sensor: 61MP BSI full-frame CMOS
Processor: Bionz XR (with AI processing unit)
Autofocus: 693-point phase-detection
AF subject recognition: human, animal, bird, insects, car, train, automobile
EVF: 9.44-million dot Quad XGA
In-body stabilization: Up to eight stops
Continuous shooting: 10fps (compressed raw), 7fps (uncompressed raw)
Video: 8K/24p, 4K/60p, 10-bit 4:2:2
Screen: Fully-articulated rear screen w/ tilt out