Yes, the new A7 still has just 10 frames per second and no resolution boost; and its readout speed is slow enough to put running people on what looks like a 15-degree slope, just like the good old times. But they haven’t been doing nothing for the last few years. They did boost the display resolution; deepened the buffer; upped the IBIS rating (to 8 stops?!) and created a less rigid pixel shift process, although that’ll still have to run through the somewhat-bearable PC software Sony made.
Perhaps the biggest improvement is to the autofocus tracking, which can now exploit better silicon to up Sony’s mid-range offering. The A7 camera line appears to be settling into the landscape photography use case, with the high resolution and slow readout, where fast autofocus is less important. Many of us held out hopes that it would continue to increase speed to become a less-crazy wildlife and sports option versus the A1, but that does not appear to be the product manager’s plan.
Sony designed a steampunk version of a tilty/flippy screen, where you can fold out the screen rather flexibly to sit in various aspects once you figure out all the hinges and axes.
The A1’s menu system improvements have moved over here, and you’ll see long-time Sony users singing their praises, but most people with experience with other brands will still find some choices maddening. Quick, in 0.2 seconds you need to change the focus recognition settings. Do you select Recognition Target, Recognition Target Select or Recognition Part? Too late. But you’re shooting an A7, so you’re a landscape photographer. What are you bothering with focusing anyways?
The remaining mystery appears to be the in-body image stabilization (IBIS) ratings. YouTube reviewers appear to find the IBIS fine (which is an improvement from the older Sony IBIS, which hadn’t been updated for a couple camera generations), but no one has yet shouted eureka and claimed to feel what it looks like when it is 1024-times more stable than a non-aided, hand-held shot.
As expected, and desired by most Sony shooters, the memory card ports have been swapped for CFexpress Type A/SD card slots. These are nifty in their flexibility, but the Type A card market remains very pricy, and the card capacities are several times smaller than the larger Type B cards available. In the chart at right, Type A cards are the orange line, showing relatively little price drop over two years, where the blue line (Type A) plummeted, and the gray line (SD cards) formed the bottom. These are average prices per gigabyte over the entire market.
There are a few additional internal software treats. Focus bracketing is a notable one, giving you a virtual rail.
The camera can handle flash with continuous shooting. I’d have settled for it finally telling us why the flash wasn’t triggering, as there were at least four settings that could have caused that with the A7R4.
The camera also does video. 8k features a 1.24x crop, as do most of the 4k options at higher frame rates. Normal frame rate 4k at full width suffers from not using the entire sensor. You get the good stuff if you shoot with less-than-full-frame sensor modes, where it will oversample. The A1’s share of video geeks is safe.