Action Cameras

Sony a7R V brings AI help and 8K video

Sony’s compact system cameras already had pretty speedy subject detection, but the new a7R V steps things up a notch with the help of artificial intelligence. A dedicated deep learning chip promises to recognize humans and animals in real-time for pin-sharp autofocus – even if they refuse to sit still for a snap.

Effectively the firm’s new top-tier mainstream model, the a7R V sits below the pro-grade Sony a1 with a host of under-the-hoot improvements and ergonomic upgrades over the outgoing a7R IV.

The 35mm full-framer has the same 61MP pixel count as the previous generation, but increases phase-detect autofocus points to 693, with 79% sensor coverage. It’s paired with an all-new Bionz XR image processor, which should be up to eight times faster than the outgoing model.

The deep learning chip is entirely separate silicon, and can recognize a subject’s individual limbs while shooting at up to 10fps with full AF/AE tracking. As well as knowing the difference between cars, trains, planes, cats, dogs, insects and birds, it’ll deliver a 60% improvement to eye detection and a 40% improvement in animal recognition over the a7R IV. That applies to videos as well as stills.

New for ’22 is five-axis in-body image stabilization, which promises eight steps of shake reduction. Noise has also been reduced when shooting in low light.

Video recording now tops out at 8K/25p, with 4K 60fps also on the table. It can shoot 4K oversampled from 6.2K without pixel binning, with real-time autofocus. Those craving top-tier quality can shoot in 10bit, 4:2:2 raw at up to 600mbps.

Sony has stuck with a dust- and water-resistant magnesium alloy body, but found room inside for a graphite heatsink that’ll cope with the rigors of 8K video recording. The top plate has gained a dedicated mode dial for switching between stills and video, and it supports CFexpress Type A cards for the first time. Twin slots can mix and match between CFexpress and SDXC, with the former needed for 4K video recording at the highest possible quality.

The biggest physical change is an all-new, 4-axis multi-angle LCD touchscreen, which is a whole lot more versatile than the outgoing camera’s up/down articulation. It’s paired with a 9.4m dot QXGA OLED viewfinder, which has an optional 120fps mode if you don’t mind the associated hit to battery life.

Speaking of, independent tests have the camera rated for 440 shots using the viewfinder, or 530 using the LCD between charges. USB-C Power Delivery is now on hand for charging, too.

Keen snappers will be able to get their hands on the Sony a7R in mid-November. Prices are set to start at £3999 for the body only, with retailer-specific lens bundles yet to be confirmed.

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