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The (Brand-New) Sony a7 IV Versus the a7 III: How Do They Compare?

Sony a7 IV vs the Sony a7 III

After years of waiting, it’s finally here: the Sony a7 IV, which has been officially announced and will begin shipping on December 30th.

The a7 IV slots into Sony’s lineup as the successor to the highly popular a7 III, known for its versatility and top-notch hybrid shooting capabilities. But what does the a7 IV offer that the a7 III can’t match? And is the a7 IV worth purchasing over the a7 III? Let’s take a closer look, focusing on key a7 IV improvements versus the a7 III.

a7 IV vs a7 III: What’s new in the Sony a7 IV?

The a7 IV features a brand-new, full-frame, 33 MP BSI sensor, which offers nearly 50% more resolution than the a7 III, outstanding low-light performance, and impressive dynamic range. To me, the upgraded resolution is the most surprising a7 IV feature; Sony seemed wedded to its 24 MP sensors for the a7 line.

But it’s a welcome upgrade, at least in my book. While the a7 III’s 24 MP sensor is certainly capable, the 33 MP a7 IV sensor will appeal to high-resolution photographers: landscape shooters, astrophotographers, even commercial photographers. It remains to be seen whether the resolution upgrade will impact the a7 IV’s low-light photography, though Sony promises “superior image quality…while reducing noise.” 

Don’t expect major speed compromises, either. The a7 IV packs the same processor found in the venerable a1, Sony’s flagship professional do-everything camera, and Sony promises “next-level AF performance” using a1 technology. To call the a7 III autofocus performance “good” is a gross understatement, yet the a7 IV’s AF is better still; human eye detection is enhanced, the AF point count has increased, and Sony has added both bird and animal eye detection, useful for wildlife and pet photographers. 

It’s slightly disappointing to see the a7 IV max out at 10 frames-per-second continuous shooting, especially compared to the a1’s blistering 30 fps. On the surface, this is identical to the 10 fps offered by the a7 III, except that the a7 III shoots 10 fps uncompressed RAW files, whereas the a7 IV’s 10 fps is in compressed RAWs only. Buffer depths are excellent, however; the official spec sheet claims “over 1000 frames” of uncompressed RAW files, which is certainly an upgrade over the 33-frame buffer on the a7 III and will appeal to wildlife, bird, and other action photographers.

As for video: The a7 III offers 4K/30p shooting, and Sony bumped this up to 4K/60p in the a7 IV – but with a significant crop (Sony’s Super 35mm mode). On the other hand, 4K/30p is full frame, unlike the a7 III, and oversampled from 7K resolution for beautiful, pro-level results.

The a7 IV also packs a couple of additional upgrades worth mentioning: the electronic viewfinder resolution has jumped to 3.69M dots (versus 2.36M dots on the a7 III) for a more lifelike viewfinder experience, and the LCD screen is fully articulating (the a7 III’s LCD only tilts), a major benefit for videographers and certain types of still shooters.

The Sony a7 IV: final words

The Sony a7 IV packs plenty of eye-catching upgrades over the a7 III, expanding the already-impressive versatility of Sony’s “basic” full-frame lineup. If you’re a landscape, architectural, macro, or commercial shooter, then the a7 IV’s 33 MP resolution is undoubtedly attractive, while wildlife and action photographers will love the camera’s improved autofocus capabilities. And the a7 IV maintains the lineup’s appeal for hybrid shooters and videographers, though I can’t help but wish for uncropped 4K/60p. 

And what about the price? The a7 III is currently available for around $1800, body only, while the a7 IV can be preordered for $2500. Whether the upgrades are worth the extra cash depends on your needs, but $2500 seems reasonable for what the a7 IV offers. 

So if you like the a7 IV, grab it before supply-chain issues and shipping delays make it impossible to find. The advertised ship date is December 30th.

Now over to you:

What do you think about the a7 IV versus the a7 III? Are you pleased? Frustrated? And how do you feel about the increased a7 IV price? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Jaymes Dempsey
Jaymes Dempsey

is the Managing Editor of Digital Photography School, as well as a macro and nature photographer from Ann Arbor, Michigan. To learn how to take stunning nature photos, check out his free eBook, Mastering Nature Photography: 7 Secrets For Incredible Nature Photos! And to see more of Jaymes’s work check out his website and his blog.

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