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  • Fitri Aiyub

SONY A7iv VS FX3 Review : 4K 10-bit Battle

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

Improving upon its predecessor the Sony A7iii, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the A7iv when it was announced mid last year in 2021. Boasting the new 33MP sensor and 4K50p 10-bit 4:2:2 capabilities only kept me wondering how image qualities would compare when stacked up against the likes of a cinema camera of the Sony FX3.

Could be this be the perfect Sony hybrid camera I’ve been waiting for? Or would the hype leave me disappointed? Not to mention the three-month waiting list for a loan unit from Sony and having only seven days to review it as the year 2021 came to a close. But despite the anxiousness of getting to know a camera in such a short period of time, finally having it in my hands felt like Sony took the exact same body of the A7Siii with a bigger grip, more tactile buttons and overall ergonomics which felt like a glove.

I liked how there’s now an articulating touch screen, a brighter and higher refreshed rate EVF, dedicated switches for Stills, Movie and S&Q modes separated from the main dials. Not forgetting to mention a Full HDMI input which would be useful if you’ve got external monitors. If you’ve ever experienced using micro HDMI’s before, then you know how this would be an exciting improvement. The amount of broken cables I’ve laid to rest during shoots is unforgivable.

Comparing it to my 3 year old A7iii was an unfair predicament knowing how well it had serve me over the years and countless of client work, even though it burned a hole in my wallet when I first got it. So if you’re reading this and it sounds like this review got much more personal than the other cameras I’ve had the privilege to play with, it certainly did. But does that make me a Sony fanboy? No. I’m way too curious of other brands out there, and just purely interested in tech ingenuity. Sorry, Sony. Maybe send me a camera for free or something, then maybe I’ll get “Alpha” tattooed on my arm.

But if you’re here to read specs and only specs, don’t worry, we got you.

Up to my third day of using the A7iv and having celebrated the new year with it, getting used to new menu system was still complicated than I hoped for, even though there were still big improvements from the mess of a menu system in previous generations, it still felt like other brands such as Canon and Nikon were still the go-to user friendly experience. But I’ll commend Sony for even trying and hearing out to their customers for a change.

Image quality when recording at 4K25p 10-bit 4:2:2 is no surprise on how big of leap forward from the greenish tint that was prominent in my current A7iii. Something about the way highlights and shadows are much more retained and overall balance in colours feels like it has the finesse I’ve been dying to see. Even in low light conditions pushing over 4000 ISO in S-Log 2 looks clean and sharp with little to no noise that I could see coming straight off the camera.

Whether or not the new 33MP sensor had a major part in achieving this is likely but probably would only show it’s true comparable differences when cropped in at 400%, which I doubt anybody would be doing for their professional work purposes.

Up to my 4th day with the A7iv, I finally got official confirmation from Sony that it would not allow you to shoot in XAVC S-I 4K or S&Q mode without V90 cards and above, in which truly left me saddened knowing how I didn’t have any CFexpress Type A cards and knowing how pricey these cards were if I wanted to shoot slow motion footage. Considerably the biggest let down in my experience carrying out this review, while I stare at all of the standard SD cards in my memory card holder.

Despite the setback, I was keen to see how image qualities of the 10-bit 4:2:2 in the A7iv if were to stand up against a Sony FX3 and what sort of impressions it would make to a good friend of mine who is a professional colourist. But along the way of carrying out this test, my user error of incorrectly dialling in the wrong white balance settings caused the process to be more difficult than I hoped. Goes to show even the tiniest of mistake could make a huge difference in getting colours to match, and how much more I have to learn in grading footage. The overall test still gave the FX3 as the winner in retaining highlights and dynamic range. Not the biggest surprise to me as it is a cinema camera with a BIONZ XR image processing engine and costing almost twice the price. So maybe the A7iv was bound to lose even before the battle began. But hey, I am a hybrid shooter and needed to represent the underdogs for a change.

Coming in to my last and final day with the A7iv was to focus on its stills photography side of things, but there were no exciting tests I could do as the unit I had with me was still in pre-production, so not much of the features available such as 10fps in HI+ burst mode felt way slower than it should. Probably a mechanical or software issue that wasn’t addressed by Sony when they dropped it off. Nonetheless, images taken with the new 33MP sensor is considerably sharper and a great step forward for baseline cameras which are getting more popular in the rise of content creators around the world who are looking to find the best value for money in this price range.

I do hope Sony continues to favour their entry level professional mirrorless cameras every time a new one comes out, as I’m always drawn to hybrid cameras that doesn’t break your bank account such as the Canon R5 which is another hybrid favourite among photographers and videographers.

The Sony A7iv is priced at RM11,500 or S$3,599

My overall experience with the Sony A7iv leaves me to believe how grown up it’s become from its predecessor. Gearing in a new 33MP sensor, more video focused features such as Focus Breathing Compensation for racking focus, 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 capabilities and not forgetting the Full HDMI input, all to aid in a better user experience throughout video shoots. While it may not be the most innovative that came out in 2021, it’s praise for being the best hybrid camera is something I could agree to while still being affordable enough for us hybrid shooters. Yeah you might have to spend more on more premium memory cards now than we’re used to, but I believe it to be a smart play from Sony to future proof itself in the years to come and how badly I’d like to upgrade from my A7iii knowing how cameras such as the A7iv are within our reach.


Written by Fitri Aiyub

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