Sony Alpha A7R V at a glance:

  • £4,000 body-only
  • 61MP full-frame sensor
  • 693-point AF with subject recognition
  • ISO 100-32,000 (standard)
  • Up to 10fps shooting
  • 8K 24fps video
  • 9.44m-dot, 0.9x OLED viewfinder
  • 3.2in, 2.1m-dot 4-way-articulated LCD

Since the original Alpha 7R appeared in 2013, Sony’s ‘R’ series cameras have established a resolution benchmark for full-frame mirrorless, making them popular with landscape and studio photographers for whom capturing the maximum detail is paramount. Despite being over three years old, the current Sony A7R IV is still unsurpassed in this respect, thanks to its superb 61MP sensor. But the firm isn’t known for resting on its laurels, so now we have a new version. The Sony Alpha A7R V features the same sensor and core imaging specs as its predecessor, but almost everything else has been updated and improved.

Sony A7R V vs Sony A7R IV

The A7R V builds on the A7R IV (right), but adds a host of new features. Image credit: Andy Westlake

The first major update is an enhanced subject detection autofocus system that’s capable of recognising a wider range of subjects, powered by a new AI processing unit. There’s also a considerably improved viewing experience, with the A7R V inheriting the huge and detailed electronic viewfinder previously used by the Alpha 7S III and Alpha 1. This is complemented by a new, much more versatile screen design, which combines an up/down tilting mechanism with a fully articulating side hinge. The in-body image stabilisation has been substantially up-rated, and the camera also inherits a host of design and interface improvements from recent Alpha 7 models.

Sony A7R V screen

One key update is the new multi-angle screen – essentially a side-hinged vari-angle screen attached to an A7R IV-like tilt mechanism. Image credit: Andy Westlake

With these updates comes an inevitable hike in price, to £4000 body-only, or fully £1000 more than its predecessor’s street price. Compared to similarly designed high-resolution full-frame models, this is £1400 more than the 45.7MP Nikon Z 7II, but £300 less than the 45MP Canon EOS R5. So is the A7R V worth the money, and do all the updates bring it back to the top of its class?

Sony A7R V: Features

If there’s been one camera-design theme of 2022, it’s the widespread adoption of subject detection autofocus. On the A7R V, Sony has included its most sophisticated iteration yet, adding cars, trains, airplanes, and insects to the existing list of humans, animals, and birds. It also claims that the camera can understand these subjects in much more detail than before. For example, it can recognise animal heads and bodies as well as eyes, and boasts human ‘pose estimation’, which is used to help ensure the camera holds focus on the most important part of the subject. This is all backed up by an autofocus system that boasts a larger number of focus points than its predecessor, at 693 compared to 567, and which also covers more of the frame (79% vs 74%).

Sony A7R V sensor

Sony has built the A7R V using the same 60MP full-frame sensor as its predecessor. Image: Andy Westlake

The camera’s new AI processing unit isn’t just used for autofocusing, however. Sony claims it should also help deliver more reliable autoexposure and auto white balance, for example in shaded scenes which can be prone to blue colour casts. Colour rendition is said to be improved, too, and particularly skin tones.

Another striking update lies with the in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), which is now rated for up to 8 stops of shake reduction in CIPA standard tests, compared to 5.5 stops previously. As before, the A7R V can also use its IBIS mechanism to create pixel-shift multi-shot images. Two options are available: a 4-shot mode which produces 60MP files with full-colour sampling at each pixel location, or a 16-shot mode that outputs massive 240MP images. The camera has to be mounted on a tripod – there’s no hand-held mode – but in a welcome move, Sony’s Imaging Edge Desktop software can now detect and compensate for image elements which move between frames.

Sony A7R V battery

The A7R V is powered by Sony’s familiar NP-FZ100 battery. Image: Andy Westlake

Elsewhere, though, it’s a broadly familiar tale. The 61MP full-frame sensor employs a backside-illuminated design to maximise light-gathering efficiency and provides a standard sensitivity range of ISO 100-32,000. There are also extended low settings down to ISO 50, with an increased risk of irretrievably clipping highlight detail, and high settings up to ISO 102,400.

As before, the maximum drive speed is 10 frames per second. But the A7R V should now shoot more frames in a burst: up to 88 uncompressed raw + JPEG, or 184 compressed raw + JPEG. However, this is contingent on the storage media used, with both card slots now accepting high-speed but expensive CFexpress Type A cards, as well as UHS-II SD.

Sony A7R V card slots

Both card slots now accept both UHS-II SD cards and the faster, but more expensive CFexpress Type A media. Image: Andy Westlake

One disadvantage of the A7R IV’s 61MP resolution has always been the associated storage and processing overheads. To address this, Sony has provided a wider range of image recording options, including lossless raw compression which reduces file sizes by 20%-50% with no drop in image quality. You also get the option to record lossless-compressed raw at two lower resolutions, 26MP and 15MP, makes the A7R V much better suited to more casual photography.

Various other new features are found squirrelled away in the menus. An “Anti-flicker TV scan” function can automatically fine-tune the shutter speed to suppress colour banding effects when shooting under fluorescent or LED lighting. There’s also an option to close the shutter when the camera is switched off, to help keep dust off the sensor. Sony has included a bulb timer option in the menu for shooting long exposures with ND filters, although simply adding longer timed shutter speeds would have been a much more practical solution.

Sony A7R V shutter closed

It’s now possible to set the A7R V to close its shutter when turned off, to help prevent dust getting on the sensor when you change lenses. Image: Andy Westlake

There’s also a significant boost to the A7R V’s video credentials. It’s now capable of 8K recording at 24/25fps and 4K at 50/60fps, although both come with a 1.2x crop. Using the full sensor width, it can shoot in 4K at up to 30fps. The camera outputs 10-bit 4:2:2 colour, includes Sony’s S-Cinetone profile, and boasts focus breathing compensation, which maintains a constant angle of view as focus is pulled from one subject to another (as long as you’re using a Sony lens).

Like almost all current models, built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi allow the camera to be connected to your phone via Sony’s free Imaging Edge Mobile app. This offers a pretty typical feature set, allowing you to copy images across to your phone for sharing on social media. Unfortunately, Sony has yet again stubbornly refused to include in-camera raw conversion, so you can’t tweak your shots before showing them off.

Sony A7R V connector ports

Ports include HDMI, PC flash sync, microphone, headphone, USB-C and micro USB/multi-terminal. Image: Andy Westlake

You can also operate the camera remotely over Wi-Fi, with extensive control over exposure settings and a live view display. You can tap the phone’s screen to set the focus point, too, a simple enough feature that was bizarrely missing from older Sony models. One useful option that is missing from the app, though, is a simple Bluetooth remote release mode.

Additional pro connectivity options include tethered shooting to a PC using the firm’s Imaging Edge Desktop software, either via a 5 GHz Wi-Fi or 10Gbps USB-C connection. Files can be transferred to an FTP server through Wi-Fi, USB, or a USB-tethered smartphone. You can even wire the camera to your computer and use it as a 4K webcam without installing any additional software, should you wish.

Sony Alpha A7R V: Key features

Sony has built upon the A7R V’s excellent predecessor, improving it in many significant ways

  • Ports: On the side there’s now a full-size HDMI output, along with microphone, headphone, PC flash sync, USB-C and micro USB sockets. None clash with the articulating screen
  • Remote: You can trigger the camera remotely using Wi-Fi, a Bluetooth remote release, or a micro USB (Multi-Terminal) cable release. But there’s no longer an infrared remote receiver.
  • Accessories: The A7R IV can use all the same accessories as the previous model, including vertical grips and L-brackets. The clever screen design doesn’t clash with the latter.
  • Storage: Dual media slots can accept either UHS-II SD cards or the faster CFexpress Type A cards. Cards can be used simultaneously or sequentially, or different file types recorded to each.
  • Power: Sony’s familiar NP-FZ100 battery is rated for 440 shots per charge using the EVF, or 530 with the LCD. It can be topped up via either micro USB or USB-C, and an external charger comes in the box.
  • E-mount: This is easily the best supported full-frame mirrorless mount, with a vast array of lenses available from Sony, Samyang, Sigma, Tamron, Voigtlander and Zeiss.

Sony A7R V: Build and handling

Unsurprisingly, the A7R V looks very much like its recent Alpha 7 siblings, with the same blocky, angular design that wastes no time on such fripperies as mere styling. Anyone who’s used a full-frame Sony since the A7R III of late 2017 onwards will already know pretty much how it works. However, compared to its predecessor, it gains an array of body design and interface updates, most of which are inherited from last year’s A7 IV. In your hand it feels solid and robust, and the extensive weather sealing means you should be able to use it with confidence on a rainy day.

Sony A7R V top controls

The A7R V’s exposure compensation dial is now unmarked and user-customisable, while the video button is easier to reach. Image: Andy Westlake

You still get an SLR-shaped body that’s relatively compact compared to most of its full-frame peers, with a chunky handgrip and no fewer than four electronic control dials. But in place of the dedicated exposure compensation dial, there’s now an unmarked dial that still does the same job, but whose function can be re-assigned by the user.

A switch beneath the exposure mode dial selects between photo, movie, and slow/quick motion shooting, while the video record button moves to the top plate, making it easier to reach. I preferred to re-assign it back to focus magnification for stills shooting, mind you, like on the A7R IV.

Sony Alpha 7R V shooting controls

A switch beneath the mode dial selects between stills, movie and S&Q (slow and quick motion) shooting. Image: Andy Westlake

Given how the Alpha 7 design has been continually refined, it should come as no surprise to hear that the A7R V generally handles very well. The various controls are all well-placed for use with the camera up to your eye, and I found them to be sufficiently large and positive in action to be perfectly usable while wearing winter gloves. Every single control can be customised to suit the user, but I found that there’s not that much need to change things, as the most important settings are already easy to access. About my only criticism is that the two top-plate thumb dials are now quite easily confused with the camera up to your eye, as they have a very similar feel. In contrast, the exposure compensation dial on the A7R IV has firmer, more defined clicks.

While other cameras have more sculpted and comfortable handgrips, the A7R V’s still gives a very secure hold, and works well with heavier lenses. However, the narrow body does mean that it’s quite tightly cramped to the lens, which some users find uncomfortable. Whether this will affect you depends both on the size of your hands, and the size of the lenses you use, so if in doubt it’s worth checking before you buy.

Sony A7R V My Menu

The A7R V includes Sony’s latest menu system, which includes a handy user-customisable My Menu. Image: Andy Westlake

On the A7R V, you also get Sony’s latest menu system and comprehensive touch interface. The latter is a very welcome addition, as it allows you to navigate the onscreen Fn menu and change settings much more quickly. As for the menus, they’re both prettier and more logical than before, but they’re still overwhelmingly vast, with no fewer than 55 tabs. Sony also has a bad habit of abbreviating words by missing out the vowels, leaving you guessing what some settings are supposed to mean. You certainly don’t want to be searching for functions while you’re shooting, so it makes a lot of sense to configure your most-used items into the My Menu tab.

Sony A7R V: Viewfinder and screen

One significant practical update comes with respect to composing and viewing your images. You now get the same 9.44m-dot electronic viewfinder that first appeared on the A7S III, with a huge 0.9x magnification. The A7R IV’s 5.76m-dot, 0.8x EVF was excellent, but the A7R V’s is sensational.

Sony A7R V viewfinder

Sony has fitted the A7R V with a stunning 9.44m-dot, 0.9x viewfinder. Image: Andy Westlake

Sony previews colour, white balance, exposure, and depth-of-field, which means you get a very accurate idea of how your shots are going to turn out. What you can’t do, though, is turn off all the processing to get more a neutral view resembling a DSLR’s optical viewfinder, unlike most other brands. And you still can’t display both an electronic level and live histogram at the same time, but instead have to cycle through multiple screens to see them, which is annoying.

Sony A7R V tilt screen

The A7R V’s screen tilts up and down in a similar fashion to the A7R IV. Image: Andy Westlake

One totally new feature, for Sony at least, is the design of the rear screen. This takes the up/down tilting design used on the A7R IV and adds a side-hinged fully articulating mechanism, much like Panasonic’s design on the Lumix GH6 and Lumix S1H. As a result, it combines the discreet shooting offered by a tilting screen with the increased compositional flexibility of the articulated type, including the ability to shoot at high or low angles in portrait format. The screen itself is also larger and more detailed than before, at 3.2in and 2.1m-dot.

Sony A7R V articulated screen

Alternatively, the screen can work like a side-hinged vari-angle type. Image: Andy Westlake

Together, this makes for a dramatic improvement in the usability of the LCD for composing your photos, and as a result, I used it rather more than I tend to with the A7R IV. Unlike conventional vari-angle screens, this design also works perfectly well when you have an L-bracket attached to the camera, which means it’s great for landscape photography. It doesn’t add much extra bulk to the body, either.

Sony Alpha A7R V: Autofocus

One of the A7R V’s headline updates is its new subject-recognition autofocus system, which covers cars, trains, airplanes, humans, animals, insects, and birds. When enabled, in principle it will focus only on the specified type of subject, outlining it in the viewfinder and ignoring anything else. As the subject gets closer and larger in the frame, it’s also smart enough to home in and focus on the most important part. It’s all very clever, and it works ridiculously well.

Click on any of the sample images below to see the full-size file.

Sony A7R V bird detection AF sample image

AI Subject detection allows you to delegate autofocus area selection to the camera and concentrate on composition instead. Sony Alpha A7R V, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS C at 400mm, 1/1000sec at f/6.3, ISO 800, APS-C crop mode (26MP). Credit: Andy Westlake

Indeed, if you’re prepared to put a little effort into mastering how the settings work – and this being Sony, they’re not necessarily very clear – this might be the most capable autofocus system around. It doesn’t matter whether your subject is static or moving erratically around the frame, the camera simply nails focus almost all the time. Whether it be shooting informal portraits at the pub, or birds in flight at the local park, I found the subject recognition worked consistently well with minimal effort on my part. This might sound lazy, but the reality is that it allows you to concentrate your efforts on composition, rather than setting up your AF system.

Sony Alpha 7R V AF tracking sample image

The A7R V’s autofocus was up to tracking small, first birds with a decent hit-rate, even using a third-party lens. Sony Alpha A7R V, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS C at 400mm, 1/2000sec at f/6.3, ISO 240, 9.4MP crop. Credit: Andy Westlake

Sony is always keen to point out that you’ll get the best C-AF performance with the firm’s own GM lenses, so naturally, I was keen to try it out with some less expensive optics. I tested it using the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS, which at £900, is less than half the price of its Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS counterpart. Even with small, fast-moving subjects such as gulls, the autofocus still gave me plenty of tack-sharp shots, if perhaps not same percentage of keepers as you’d get with the Sony GM optic.

The main irritations come with configuring the AF system to do what you want. In a long-running Sony quirk, you can’t just turn AF tracking on and off with a simple button press – instead it’s inexplicably grouped with the AF area mode settings. However, you can set the AF-ON button to also activate tracking, which makes a lot of sense. If you’re prepared to delve deeper into the camera’s workings, you can go further and register a ‘Custom Shoot Set’ in the Shooting menu to combine tracking with AF-C and continuous shooting, and then assign this setup to AF-ON in the Setup Menu, which is my preferred solution.

Sony A7R V portrait sample

Face and eye detection is great for informal portraits. Sony Alpha 7R V, Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN C, 1/100sec at f/2.8, ISO 3200. Credit: Andy Westlake

You also have to select in advance what kind of subject you’re intending to shoot, using either the Fn menu or by assigning selection to a custom button. While most cameras work like this, it’s disappointing on a brand-new £4000 body, given that Canon and Nikon’s recent high-end models can now auto select between subject types. Wildlife photographers do, at least, get an option to photograph animals and birds at the same time, although not insects. But you’re not allowed to shoot humans and animals together – maybe Sony engineers don’t have pets? Thankfully, if the camera can’t find a subject of the correct type, it’ll revert to its conventional tracking instead, which is still very reliable.

Sony A7R V cormorants sample image

Subject detection recognises subjects reliably even when they are small and distant in the frame. This is a 6MP crop from an APS-C frame. Sony A7R V, Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DN DN OS C at 380mm, 1/2000sec at f/6.3, ISO 800. Credit: Andy Westlake

Sony has also included an extraordinary Subject Recognition sub-menu, in which you can fine-tune many aspects of how the system works. But not only is it massively over-complicated, the menu settings are all obtusely named. You can press the Delete key for an onscreen help page that attempts to explain each setting, but this will probably just leave you even more confused. Personally, I decided to leave it all well alone.

Sony Alpha A7R V: Performance

We’ve become used to Sony cameras being incredibly slick performers, and the A7R V follows suit. It’s extremely quick and responsive, and unlike previous generations, this extends just as much to the touchscreen interface as the physical controls. The result is a reliable tool that gets out of your way and does its job with the minimum of fuss.

Sony Alpha 7R V snowy landscape sample image

The Sony Alpha 7R V’s 61MP sensor delivers excellent image quality across a wide range of situations. Sony A7R V, Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS at 63mm, 1/80sec at f/8, ISO 1600. Credit: Andy Westlake

It’s pretty discreet too, with the shutter operating with a relatively quiet, unobtrusive snick. You can engage the silent electronic shutter in especially sensitive situations, but be aware that it’s rather prone to rolling shutter effects with moving subjects, along with banding under artificial light. This is one of the camera’s few real weaknesses, and I’d only use it as a last resort.

Sony A7R V ISO 5000 sample image

Image quality is maintained well at higher ISO settings. Sony Alpha 7R V, Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN C, 1/80sec at f/8, ISO 5000. Credit: Andy Westlake

While the headline burst rate is 10fps, this doesn’t quite tell the whole story. You’ll only get this speed when shooting JPEGs or compressed raw files; switch to uncompressed raw, or lossless compression, and the speed immediately drops below 7fps. At 10fps you don’t get live view between frames, either, but playback of a previous image instead, which makes tracking a moving subject almost impossible. Usually, you’re better off selecting the Hi mode, which tops out at 8fps. If shooting sports and action is your thing, you’ll still be better served by the Alpha 1.

Sony Alpha 7R V frost berries sample image

The sensor delivers stunning detail, especially when paired with a sharp prime lens or GM zoom. Sony A7R V, Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS, 1/1000sec at f/8, ISO 800. Credit: Andy Westlake

You also need to use CFexpress Type A cards to achieve Sony’s specified buffer depths. When using UHS-II SD cards instead, I found you can expect to be able to shoot about half as many frames before the camera stutters or slows down. But this still equates to about 90 compressed raw, or 50 uncompressed raw files in a burst, which is still very impressive given the resolution.

Sony A7R V frosty landscape sample image

The combination of high resolution and dynamic range is a godsend for landscape photographers. Sony A7R V, Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II at 36mm, 1/80sec at f/8, ISO 100. Credit: Andy Westlake

Sony’s metering is generally biased towards preserving highlight detail, which is a good strategy for users who are predominantly using raw. Indeed it’s fair to say that the A7R V really is a raw shooter’s camera. Sony’s JPEG colour processing is decidedly neutral in its intent, and while you can pep things up by switching to the Vivid (VV1) colour mode, this goes a little over the top for my tastes.

Sony A7R V vegetable market sample image

You’ll generally get the most attractive colours from processing raw files. Sony A7R V, Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN C, 1/50sec at f/2.8, ISO 200. Credit: Andy Westlake

The firm claims to improve its auto white balance with every release, but I found it was still overly prone to giving odd colour casts, or over-neutralising strongly-coloured scenes. Sony isn’t unique in giving the occasional AWB fail, but the difference is that you can’t fix this by re-processing the raw file in-camera. Overall, the A7R V doesn’t come close to troubling the likes of Fujifilm or Olympus/OM System cameras in terms of consistently attractive JPEG output.

Sony A7R V autumn foliage sample image

Sony’s AWB over-neutralised this image, and re-processing from raw gave a much more attractive result. Sony A7R V, Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS, 1/320sec at f/2.8, ISO 1600. Credit: Andy Westlake

However, once you pull the raw files into your preferred editor, you’ll find they are superb. While the image quality is pretty much unchanged from the A7R IV, the 61MP sensor is class-leading, being capable of delivering ridiculous levels of detail at low ISOs. To get the very best results you’ll need to use high-end lenses, with Sony’s excellent FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II being a natural companion to the camera. Likewise, I was blown away by the detail recorded in files shot using the FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS. But there’s no law against trading off a bit of sharpness for convenience, and I was also very happy with images taken with my Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS, even if they weren’t as bitingly sharp.

Sony A7R V snowy landscape JPEG sample image

Sony Alpha A7R V, Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS at 54mm, 1/60sec at f/8, ISO 500, camera JPEG. Credit: Andy Westlake

You also get massive dynamic range at low ISO settings, with the ability to push shadows up by at least four stops before noise becomes problematic. Meanwhile in the highlights, you can often pull back another stop very convincingly, if not perfectly accurately. This extraordinary malleability allows you capture extreme brightness ranges in one raw file and then render it during raw processing, for example during sunrise or sunset.

Sony A7R V dynamic range sample image

The sensor’s massive dynamic range allowed me to balance a bright post-sunset sky with an almost completely dark foreground. Sony A7R V, Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II at 27mm, 0.8sec at f/8, ISO 100. Image: Andy Westlake

Sony’s updated image stabilisation is a clear improvement over previous models, too. I was able to shoot consistently sharp images hand-held towards the wide and of the FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II zoom at shutter speeds as slow as one second, and even longer if I could find somewhere to rest my elbows. This allows you to use low ISOs in low light, and/or exploit motion blur for creative effect, without having to set up a tripod. Personally, I find it invaluable.

Sony Alpha 7R V hand-held long exposure sample image

Sony’s up-rated IBIS gives reliably sharp hand-held images at longer exposures than before. Sony A7R V, Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN C, 0.5sec at f/5.6, ISO 100. Credit: Andy Westlake

When it comes to video, the A7R V is something of a mixed bag. One the plus side, you get that ridiculously effective autofocus system that’s capable of keeping subjects in focus as they move relative to the camera, and the option of 8K recording if you need it. However, one disadvantage of the 61MP sensor is that the 4K quality isn’t quite as detailed as cameras with resolutions around the 24MP mark, that downsample their footage from a full-sensor readout. I also found the IBIS less effective at smoothing hand-held video, and especially panning motion, compared to the best on the market. It’s by no means bad, but if you’re after a hybrid camera for both stills and video, it might not be the ideal choice.

Sony Alpha A7R V: variable resolution raw and pixel-shift multi-shot

As an A7R IV owner, one feature I definitely appreciated was the variable resolution raw, which allows you to record 15MP or 26MP compressed raw files when you don’t need the sensor’s full resolution. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this feature, with the Leica M11 providing something similar. On the A7R V it works seamlessly, and I couldn’t see any disadvantage to using it – you still get all the usual benefits of shooting raw, but with considerably smaller file sizes. You just need to remember to switch back to full resolution when needed.

Sony A7R V uncompressed raw comparison sample image

60MP file from uncompressed raw. Sony A7R V, Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II at 41mm, 1/60sec at f/8, ISO 100. Credit: Andy Westlake

Here’s a set of comparison shots of an image shot in raw at the various available resolutions, then processed with extensive tonal adjustments (probably more than I’d normally use). These are presented as 100% crops from each resolution – click on each to open the full-size image.

Sony A7R V 60MP lossless compressed raw comparison image

60MP lossless-compressed raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V 26MP lossless compressed raw comparison image

26MP lossless-compressed raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V 15MP lossless compressed raw comparison image

15MP lossless-compressed raw, 100% crop

Pixel shift multi-shot mode works very well in its 4-shot, 60MP incarnation, giving a visible improvement in fine detail over regular single-shot files. Sony’s new motion suppression algorithm avoids ugly ghosting effects due to subject movement by painting-in affected areas with single-shot data, which is an effective approach.

Sony A7R V 60MP 4-shot PSMS comparison image

60MP 4-shot pixel-shift multi-shot image, 100% crop. Look carefully and you’ll see finer pixel-level detail.

The main drawback lies, as usual, with practicality, as the camera always has to be mounted on a tripod. You then have to copy your raw files to your computer, identify each sequence manually in Sony’s Imaging Edge Viewer software, and combine the files to produce an ARQ composite raw file for further processing. It’s not clear why the camera can’t just produce composite raw files in-camera.

Sony A7R V 240MP 16-shot PSMS comparison image

240MP 16-shot pixel-shift multi-shot image, 100% crop

I wasn’t as convinced by the 240MP mode, though, which simply doesn’t deliver as much extra detail as you might hope. It also chews up storage space alarmingly, with the 16 raw files together taking up 2GB per scene, and the final composite raw file being almost as large again. Given that 60MP should already be more than enough for almost any purpose, I’m not sure there’s much practical point to this, but it’s there if you need it.

Sony A7R V: ISO and Noise

The A7R V may not have a new sensor, but no other full-frame camera can surpass it in terms of image quality. When used with a high-quality lens, the level of detail it can capture is remarkable. Image files are extremely clean at ISO 100, and there’s barely any penalty in pushing up to ISO 1600 either, with just a little luminance noise creeping in.

Beyond this noise has an increasing impact, swamping the finest low-contrast detail and causing colours to desaturate. Even so, I’d be entirely happy shooting up to ISO 25,600 if necessary. But as tends to be the case, I’d avoid the extended high settings unless there really was no other alternative.

Below are 100% crops from our standard studio test scene – click on any to see the full-size image.

Sony A7R V, ISO 100, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 100, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 400, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 400, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 1600, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 1600, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 6400, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 6400, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 25600, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 25600, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 51200, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 51200, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 102400, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony A7R V, ISO 102400, raw + Adobe Camera Raw, 100% crop

Sony Alpha A7R V: Our Verdict

We’ve become used to Sony raising the bar significantly with almost every new camera it releases, and the Alpha A7R V is no exception. In short, it’s ridiculously impressive in almost every imaginable way. The sensor may still be the same as its predecessor’s, but that means you get class-leading image quality that can only be surpassed by stepping up to a medium format camera such as the 100MP Fujifilm GFX100S, which means compromising in terms of speed and autofocus. Elsewhere it’s a significant upgrade over the A7R IV, thanks to its sensational viewfinder, superb screen design, and multitude of interface improvements.

Sony Alpha A7R V in use

Sony has added a range of significant updates to the A7R V, but at a price. Image: Andy Westlake

That’s before we even consider Sony’s latest subject recognition AF system, which adds a whole new string to the camera’s bow. It just works so well, which makes shooting those specific subject types so much easier, particularly when they’re moving rapidly or erratically. Of course, if you’re currently using the A7R IV for landscape, portrait, or studio work in mostly static scenarios, then the new AF system probably won’t bring much advantage. On the other hand, it’ll be exciting to see what it delivers on the action-specialist Alpha 1’s eventual successor.

Sony A7R V London sunset sample image.

As a high-resolution stills camera, the A7R V is very difficult to beat. Sony Alpha A7R V, Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II at 35mm, 1/6sec at f/2.8, ISO 100, hand-held. Credit: Andy Westlake

Overall, if your needs are tilted more towards image quality than outright speed, it’s difficult to argue against the Sony Alpha 7R V being the best full-frame stills camera available. However, it’s undeniably very expensive, commanding a serious premium over the likes of the Sony A7R IV and Nikon Z 7II. Likewise, if you’re not ideologically wedded to full-frame, you can get a significant fraction of the capability at a much lower price from the Fujifilm X-H2 or X-T5. But if you can justify the A7R V’s price, you’ll be blown away by just how good it is.

Amateur Photographer Testbench Gold - 5 stars

Sony Alpha A7R V: Full specification

Sony Alpha A7R V specifications