Sony enthusiasts continue to be enamored with the versatile Sony a7 IV. We reviewed it when the camera debuted, and I thoroughly enjoyed its capabilities. The human and animal detection with eye AF is snappy. It was always fast to achieve focus and produce beautiful images. Its main drawback was that it froze when shooting bracketed and produced color noise in low ISO.
The recent firmware update from March 2022 aims to provide better eye AF. Sony’s newest update, v1.01, improves the overall camera stability. It also addresses the inability to capture images with a SEL2860 lens attached. While we were not able to test the SEL2860 lens at this time, testing the firmware was easy. However, the installation process on an m1 Macbook Pro made me want to pull my hair out.
Sony a7 IV Review Update
I added the following to our Sony a7 IV review:
The Sony a7 IV continues to be a stellar workhorse for various applications. Its most recent 2022 firmware update provides a small bump in performance, similar to Apple iPhone S models. But, installing it was headache-inducing.
Let’s preface this by saying a firmware installation, in theory, should be seamless and straightforward. Sadly, that has never been the case regarding Sony communicating with Apple. And it seems that the newest workaround necessary with Apple’s security appears to exacerbate the problem. After taking all the essential steps and exhausting six hours of my day, the installation was finally successful. If you are an Apple user, I recommend restarting your machine after every step.
After installation, I experienced the same impressive performance as before. The camera quickly tracked my frisky feline as he trotted toward me in mixed lighting scenarios. It had a very infrequent miss rate in wide-area AF in both AF-C and AF-Auto modes, even when shooting continuously. This is an improvement. The camera always performs well while single shooting in AF-S mode with a single focal point.
However, it wasn’t always accurate when photographing Dennis in thick black glasses. The camera often identified the contrast of the black frames as the eye first. It achieved focus appropriately when I recomposed, and it became a non-issue when Dennis changed his glasses. The a7 IV was responsive and quickly achieved autofocus in various lighting conditions.
Other than glasses, it was only a little sluggish when the face was in a dark shadow against bright light. Any improvement is negligible as I didn’t notice much of a difference, but it was already great to begin with. The overall performance of the Sony a7 IV was excellent and made for a good user experience. It performed well in hot weather and moderate rain. The camera never froze when shooting bracketed.
Currently, you cannot update to v1.01 with a memory card. And installing the v1.01 firmware on a Macbook Pro with an m1 Max chip is very frustrating. As per Sony’s instructions, you must first download and install a camera driver. It requires you to restart your Mac in recovery mode and adjust its security settings. Then, you’d think you can download and install the firmware. And it really should be that easy. But it wasn’t; the update failed time and time again. Finally, after complete exasperation, I restarted my machine after every step. Only then did it work.
Eye AF Isn’t Always Accurate
I tested the Sony a7 IV with the Sony FE 85mm f1.4 GM lens.
The Sony a7 IV did an excellent job tracking my cat as he ran up to me and rolled around outside. It was quick to focus in a variety of lighting conditions. There were few misses in wide-area AF with AF-C and AF-A modes. But, I didn’t have any misses when single-shooting with a single focus point in AF-S mode. This is an improvement.
The a7 IV has always succeeded with human detection. I had Dennis try on a few pairs of glasses to see if it performed consistently. The camera often mistook the contrast of a thick black-rimmed pair of glasses for the eye.
I had him walk toward me numerous times in various lighting. The camera often switched focusing between his glasses and his actual eyes.
Recomposing and turning him towards flat light helped, as did changing glasses.
I previously tested the a7 IV with the Sony 35mm f1.4GM lens and Sony 50mm f1.2 GM lens. Both pairings were swift to achieve accurate autofocus. I did notice a marginal difference with this newest firmware update and the 85mm lens. Although, it was already pretty great.
Improved Camera Stability
The Sony a7 IV operated remarkably well in humid and dry conditions when temperatures soared into the 90’s. Moderate rain isn’t even a notable adversary. Also, it did not freeze when shooting bracketed like I experienced previously.