Sony set a new benchmark when it recently released the Sony a7RIV, the highest resolution full-frame sensor camera on the market. Offering 61-megapixels, the new Sony even beats full-frame DSLRs and builds on the success of its predecessor, the Sony a7RIII. But how does this camera stack up against Nikon’s flagship mirrorless mode, the Z7? Well, we’re digging deep into the specification sheets to help you make an informed decision.
Design and build: Let’s start with the Sony and, as you’d expect, the a7RIV is built around Sony’s popular E-mount, so there are plenty of lenses to pick from. Behind the mount is that jaw-dropping 61-megapixel full-frame Exmor sensor. Weighing in at 129x96x78mm and tipping the scales at 665g, which is pretty standard for a full-frame mirrorless camera, but still way lighter than a DSLR alternative, such as the Nikon D850, which weighs considerably more at 1015g.
The Nikon Z7 was, along with the Z6 of course, Nikon’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras when they were launched back in August 2018. The Z7 is the higher resolution model of the Nikon pair, offering a full-frame CMOS sensor that serves up 45.7-megapixels. Instead of the standard F-mount found on Nikon DSLRs, the mirrorless camera uses Nikon’s new Z-mount and, while there aren’t as many native lenses for the Z7 as there are for the Sony, Nikon users can use their older F-mount glass via the use of an adapter. Measuring 134 x 100.5 x 67.5 mm, the Z7 weighs in at 675 g (with battery and memory card), virtually matching the Sony and offering Nikon users a much more portable and lightweight option compared to a DSLR.
Both cameras do share a number of features; such as built-in 5-axis IBIS (In Body Image Stabilisation), which will enable photographers to capture sharp images even in low light conditions. The Z7 (and Z6 of course) were the first full-frame Nikon cameras to feature IBIS technology. Both cameras also feature LCDs with a tilting design, although the Nikon’s version is slightly larger at 3.2-inches, compared to the Sony’s 3-inches. However, the Sony strikes back by offering a higher resolution Electronic Viewfinder (EVF).
Both cameras can offer photographers a quick burst rate, making them suitable for professionals who wish to capture action sequences, alongside more static landscape of portrait work. The Z7 serves up a max burst rate of 9 FPS (Frames Per Second), but the Sony literally goes one better, offering 10 Frames Per Second. While this can’t match the insane burst speeds offered by dedicated sports and wildlife cameras like the Canon 1DX MkII, Nikon D5 or Sony’s king of speed a9, which offers 20 FPS, the two cameras will certain be fast enough to capture everyday action sequences.
When it comes to autofocus, both cameras offer advanced, sophisticated systems. The Z7 features 493 AF points, while the Sony offers 567, along with the brand’s acclaimed AF technology for eye detect in humans and animals.
As you’d expect, both cameras are weather sealed, making them suitable for profession use and meaning you won’t have to stop shooting when the rain starts to fall. However, one big difference is the amount of memory card slots. While the Z7 can only offer one XQD slot, the Sony boasts two SD card slots, enabling users to make an instant back-up or choose to record still images to one card and video to the other.
Image quality: With such huge sensors, it’s clear these high performance cameras are perfectly capable of producing professional level image quality. The high resolution means huge prints can be created and also enables photographers to crop heavily without compromising image quality. With 45.7-megapixels at their disposal, Z7 users can capture images with a max file size of 8256 x 5504pixels. Meanwhile, Sony a7RIV users can capture files measuring 9504 x 6336pixels. This means both cameras can easily create huge prints, well in excess of A3.
When it comes to low light performance, both cameras are well-specced with the Z7 offering a range of ISO 64-25600, which can be expanded up to 102400. Meanwhile the Sony a7RIV offers a slightly higher native ceiling of ISO 32000, which can also be expanded up to 102400. As you’d expect, both cameras shoot RAW files, along with JPEGs and offer the option to shoot smaller RAW files so you don’t have to chew rapidly through memory cards with you don’t need the maximum resolution.
Video: Full-frame mirrorless cameras are popular with videographers thanks to their lightweight and compact dimensions and both these cameras offer plenty to prick the interest of aspiring film-makers. Both cameras are capable of capturing ultra high-quality 4K footage up to 30p. What’s more, videographers can get creative by taking advantage of the fast 120p frame rate each camera offers that will enable them to capture slow motion sequences in Full HD quality.
The a7RIV and Z7 each have external ports for both headphones and microphone so that enhanced audio can be captured and monitored. Both cameras also include the brand’s colour Log profile (S-Log for Sony and N-Log for Nikon) so more serious videographers can take their editing even further.
|Sony a7RIV||Nikon Z7|
|Burst rate:||10 FPS||9 FPS|
Extra features and verdict: Although both cameras share a number of similar features, including the tilting LCD and the IBIS systems, there’s actually a lot that separates the two cameras too. Of course, the main difference is the jump in resolution between the 61-megapixel a7RIV over the 45.7-megapixel Nikon Z7, but potential buyers should also be aware of additional features, too. For example, the Sony features a flash sync port and offers the better battery life, offering 670 shots on a single charge versus 330 from the Z7.
Ultimately, both cameras are packed with an amazing amount of cutting edge technology and will find a perfect home in the kitbag of any professional photographer. The Z7 will be of great interest to existing Nikon shooters who have a bag full of F-mount glass as they will be able to use it on the Z7 via the adapter. The advantage of the lighter mirrorless over the heavier D850 DSLR may be an entry-route into the Z system and with more native Z-mount lenses on the way, the Z7 is the foundation of a great system.
Sony of course got on the full-frame mirrorless train way ahead of its rivals and the a7RIV is an epic item of kit. Boasting resolution previously only available with megabucks medium format, the Sony also offers an advanced autofocus, great battery life for a mirrorless and a decent burst rate too.