Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens I’ve got the a7 IV in my hand. I’m very excited about this camera, excited about the upgrade to the a7 III. But my question is, is the R6 going to compete with this a7 IV. I think we should look at that because I think they’re head-to-head in the marketplace. This is going to be a hard camera to beat. But the specs may be a little better. But sometimes 20 megapixels or 33 megapixels, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Let’s take a look at these two cameras: picture quality, dynamic range, ISO. Let’s see what they have. Let’s get started.
All right, we’re back from Colorado but before we start looking at these tests I want everyone to know that on the Sony a7 IV we shot on the new 50mm Gmaster f/1.2. On the canon we shot on the f/1.2 Canon 50mm. So these are very good lenses for both these cameras. I’m so excited to be able to use this lens from Sony because this is a lens they’ve needed for a long time. But they’ve come out with a really good solid 50mm portrait type lens and an f/1.2 beautiful lens. So let’s take a look at these. All these tests are shot on those two lenses, just so you know.
So here’s our first test. And I can see it, you know, we’ve looked at these format tests with regards to the medium format down to micro four thirds. And you just see the clarity is not quite the same. The a7 IV is a little more clear. You see a sharper kind of rendition of the shadows and the highlights. And the canon is just a little more mushy. It’s just a little bit softer in the way it renders everything in the image. Is it huge? No, I mean, you really have to look at it. But if you get this very large it’s going to start to be more and more evident. I’m always looking at the transition point where it transitions from one to the next. And it’s hard for me not to feel like it’s just so much crisper with the a7 IV. I think it’s interesting that the color rendition of these two sensors, if you look at the color rendition of each one of these sensors, these are the jpegs straight out of camera. They are not that different. They are very, very similar. When I’m shooting and looking at the color in the Canon it looks better on the Canon than it does on the Sony. But when I bring them together here they look the same. I mean these two really look very, very similar to one another. You’d think we’d color corrected these but we didn’t. We pulled these straight out of the cameras and so the color is very similar. There is a warmth that I’m seeing which is surprising to me on this image. I see the warmth of the a7 IV feels a little warmer than the Canon which has never been the case when I’ve looked at images in the past, ever. So what does that tell me? I feel like the color science of these two cameras are very similar. But I think the megapixels of the a7 IV definitely edge out the R6. They truly do.
Our next test is a dynamic range test. Camera manufacturers always talk about dynamic range because it’s super important. You want to be able to hold the highlights and open up the shadows, and just make shooting in different situations, hard light situations so much more successful. So the a7 IV has about a 15 plus stop dynamic range. Whereas, the R6 is more like 13 and a half almost 14. And in this first image you can see that very obviously. I’ve got open shadows with Brent on the a7 IV. And I’m holding the whites of the clouds in the background. But look at the R6. I don’t have near as open shadow in the foreground on brent and I’m getting the same detail in the background with the whites. But I’ve lost it on the low end. So if I open this up a little bit to be able to see Brent I would have lost the detail in the whites in the background. But this is a pretty harsh lighting situation. We’re in the shadows. We’re looking at white clouds in the background and it shows pretty clearly the difference in the range of these two cameras. So I’m one stop brighter now on these two cameras. I’ve got a really open look at Brent in the shade here. I’m still holding the whites in the background pretty good with the a7 IV. But look at what happens with the R6. It’s still pretty dark on Brent in the foreground and I’m losing detail in the clouds in the background. So the a7 IV obviously has at least a stop or more, maybe a stop and a half more dynamic range than the R6. And that’s pretty obvious in these images. You just get a nicer color rendition, another nicer color transition between our shadows and our background. It’s just holding all that detail from the shadows all the way into those white clouds.
All right, let’s talk about the auto focus capabilities of these two cameras. These two cameras both have incredible auto focus. You do have more face detect points with the R6. It has a 1053 whereas you have 759 with the a7 IV.
All right, so here’s the a7 IV. So Brent is running towards us and it stays right on him. He’s coming at us and it just stays right with him as long as he keeps his head up and we’re seeing the eyes. It’s just right with him. I’m not seeing any of these out of focus. That’s pretty amazing. I mean, we’ve done these tests over the years and you’ll usually lose like 20 percent. I’m maybe getting some that are slightly soft like one or two that are slightly soft but never out of focus. Just slightly soft.
All right so here’s the R6. His focus is really sharp on him until he gets about right here where he’s making the transition into getting a little closer to the camera. So he’s going into like waist up and I lose a couple in a row here then it comes back pretty sharp but it takes a couple here before it finally gets sharp again. So this has been more what I’ve seen in the past with regards to these auto focus tests. That you’re losing about 20 percent and it’s in that transition phase between full body into tighter close-up face. Whereas I didn’t see that with the a7 IV. But on the R6 I’m definitely seeing that.
So let’s take a look at the autofocus in video mode. This is really an area that has improved so much in the last few years. So let’s take a look at it. Here’s our R6. You can see our little boy Grant is running up to the camera. The focus stays with him. It kind of moves in and now as he turns around and goes back, it goes back. But you’ll notice one thing as he goes back, as he moves away from us here, and this is pretty impressive, the R6 is staying with him all the way. It does need to be set up so that sensitivity, that move, you see it right there, did a big jump when he turned around and ran away from us. It had to catch up a little bit but looks really good. Yeah, that jump there, the sensitivity needs to be changed so this is a little more smooth as it goes after him.
Let’s look at the a7 IV now. Boy, in the same situation this auto focus in this continuous mode is just with him the entire way. He comes in and we see him going back out. Even when he turns around we see it stays with him when he turns around. This is a really good one as he runs towards us here he comes towards us and he drops out of the frame. You see the smooth kind of roll back to the background but he pops back up and it rolls right back to his face again. I think the a7 IV is working flawlessly. Here it’s excellent.
All right, let’s take a look at an ISO test. This is for stills. So we’re just going to go through stills pretty quickly. I’m not going to spend any time on the 200 ISO. It looks really good. We jump to 400 ISO. We take a look. The blacks are clean. Everything’s excellent. If we go up to, well even at 800 ISO it is pretty dang clean. When we go to 1600 I start to see the color shift just a little bit. We’re seeing the Sony is just slightly green. Whereas the Canon still has that kind of reddish look. If you look at the transition between the highlights and the shadows we’re starting to see some red banding. It’s starting to see this kind of blotchiness in her skin. That kind of red is starting to show up. We’re getting the highlights start to kind of just become more contrasty and a little more pronounced. Although it’s looking a little nicer in the R6 with regards to that transition. I think at 1600 the R6 is looking a little better. We go to 3200 and I’m just starting to see now this kind of posterization that starts to happen in the transition between the highlights of the shadows. It just starts to become this kind of red and the contrast is heightened. We don’t see a ton of grain but it’s still, if you see these transition areas, it’s still pretty good. I mean the grain is looking pretty dang good. But when we go to 6400 we definitely see grain now. Look at the eye here. It’s just really starting to give you that posterization. It doesn’t look natural anymore at 6400. It’s just not really usable in my mind. At 12,800 it’s like I don’t know who would ever use these things. I guess a really great picture of a famous person at this would be better. But you see the grain building inside the shadows and the highlights. You see the posterization is now really strong. The grain is really bad. Our color has shifted a little bit. You certainly see it in the red. It started to emphasize itself when we go up to 25,600. Unfortunately we got the red light of the one camera shine. It gave us a little on the a7 IV. We got the light from the R6 shining on her face. But if we just look at her face up here it’s just grain and posturized. And you got to admit for 25,600 it’s not usable, but it’s pretty impressive. But if we go on up to 51,200, in the image you certainly see the difference in that 20 megapixel sensor compared to the 33 megapixel sensor. At 102,400 it’s grain all over the place. We don’t see a lot of grain until we get up to about 6400. But for me, acceptable range is like 100 to 800. I feel comfortable in that range. I would go up to 1200 if I needed to on some of these. If I was shooting sports I’d definitely go up to 3200 without any problem because you just need to in order to get the image.
All right, we’re going to go ahead and take a look at the ISO in video on each of these cameras and just see as you raise that ISO how they compare with one another. We’re shooting both these. They are 10 bit 4.2.2 codec, h.265 and 4k. We’re looking at 10-bit. It should be a really great image on both of them. And the very first thing I see is the Canon has very dark shadows. It’s very crunchy. Of course the color is much more orange on the Canon and more neutral, a little more almost gray looking on the Sony. When we go to 1600 I do start to see just a little bit of noise in the Canon in the face. I start to see a little bit of color start to build on her cheek. I’m still seeing a very nice scene, very deeply and nicely into the background on the Sony. 3200 in the blues it’s pretty clean. We see a little bit of a color shift but we’re seeing some dancing in the background. But at 6400 now I see it pretty strongly on the Canon. You start to see the noise on her face. We’re starting to now lose the black in the background on the Sony. So it’s starting to kind of clog up. Of course it’s 12,800 and when we go to 25,600 we are really dark on the Canon. Now, I mean it’s lost all detail anywhere in the background. On the side of her face the Sony’s starting to clog up as well here. We see the noise now. The Sony’s the only one that goes beyond that. It goes to 51,200 and of course I mean we’re getting a lot of noise. Now you see it dancing in her face. You see it’s just clogged up in the background. When we go to 102,400 it’s just it’s very grainy. Her face is kind of white and ashen and has just kind of lost its color. These are both great cameras. There’s not a lot of digital noise with them. You certainly get the 3200. At 6400 it starts to become usable in a lot of situations. And of course above that it’s just a little bit crazy. But there is pretty decent detail on each of them.
So let’s talk about some of the ergonomics of the a7 IV. First off they have gone to a much larger grip on this camera. It’s much better than what they had on the a7 III. I feel like I can hold this comfortably. My finger fits in here really nicely and everything is very convenient for me up on top. It’s nice. They don’t have the exposure compensation wheel anymore, per say. But they just have these dials on top. You can assign this to be whatever you’d like. If you want it to be ISO you can change it to whatever you want. Or it can be an exposure compensation dial as they used to have. It does have a nice knob on the front now that allows you to select and to lock whether you’re in stills or video or s and q if you’re going to be doing slow motion. And that’s a nice feature because it changes the menus inside the camera. So when you go to either, go to video, you now get all the video menus. But if you don’t want to look at those which you don’t when you’re shooting stills. They go away when you’re in the still mode. The EVF on this camera is fabulous. It’s like a 3,680,000 dot EVF. So you look through and you just get a very clear clean picture. Now the back screen, the monitor in the back though is not near as good. It’s more like a 1,036,000 which falls way under the R6 which is at 1,620,000. I find that a little frustrating because people are looking to work off that back screen a lot these days and it just seems like they should have had a little nicer screen that would have been better for this camera. So the camera comes with one SD card slot and then a C-fast express, a slot that will use an SD card as well. Though the C-fast express is much faster. It’s going to give you faster buffering. It’s going to be better for video. I mean, it’s just a great card platform to work on.
So when I look at these two cameras who wins? You know, it really depends on what you do and what ecosystem you’re in. Because if you have Canon lenses I wouldn’t switch because of this camera is just not worth it. If you have the a7 III I would buy the a7 IV because it gives you a great 10 bit 4.2.2 Codec. It’s going to give you an excellent 33 megapixel sensor. I think there’s great advantages to stepping up to that new camera. And I think after three years or so of waiting for it, I think it’s worth it.
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