Can the Sony Alpha a7R IV Do it All?
While most cameras perform quite well for various creative image-making tasks, manufacturers design, develop, and promote many models for specific applications: sports action, wildlife, low light Astro, landscape, and other niches. Rarely is a camera announced as a ‘do it all’ workhorse camera, and the Sony Alpha a7R IV is no exception.
The ‘a7r IV’ is an evolutionary camera that has been in the lineup since 2019, and newer models have come since. However, the camera is still in high demand due to its large sensor and versatile capabilities. We decided to put it through its paces on a day-long shoot in Malibu, California, and explore it as a photographic art tool across a range of scenes and light.
We began shortly after dawn, and by dark, Roui Israel, Samy’s Photoshool’s Director of Education and I, concluded that the ‘a 7R IV’ is genuinely a ‘do it all’ and ‘do it really well ‘ powerhouse of a camera.
The Malibu Challenge
Malibu is iconic and epic. The 21-mile scenic coast stirs the imagination and fires the soul as a photographic showcase for action-packed surfing images, golden beaches, bold landscapes, and botanical wonderlands of wildflowers found in shaded canyons and on windswept ridges. Renowned for its exclusive celebrity homes, exquisite cuisine from famous eateries, and a laid-back lifestyle, Malibu attracts surfers seeking the perfect wave, and hikers come for the miles of chocolate-box trails.
Roui seized the day, sought out five favorite locations to explore the extraordinary capabilities of the Alpha a7R in sunny and low light conditions. I journaled notes for the blog and let the optimal imagery wash over me.
A customary day in Malibu starts with a dawn patrol surf session on the famed beloved surfer haven Zuma Beach. Generations of Malibu local surfers have sought out waves on the legendary Zuma Beach, along with First Point, County Line, and Leo Carrillo. Shooting at 10fps, along with full AF / AE tracking, Roui easily captured surfers at top speeds riding epic waves amongst the sand bottom beach break. Although it was overcast and low light, the capability of the Alpha’s 15-stop dynamic range allowed her to capture high-speed images with split-second timing that yielded a surfs-up story with grit and excitement.
Hike and Seek
Following our surf session, we sought out a nature hike on the Zuma Ridge Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. We were actively seeking out somewhere for Roui to capture the essence of Malibu’s nature along with the opportunity to explore the capabilities of the Alpha IV’s versatile FE 35mm wide-angle lens. Shooting local flowers, never-ending trails, and native mountains, we found the options limitless for landscape photography. Scouting out hikers, horses, flowers, and more kept Roui busy shooting in the early sunlight. We could have spent hours on these trails, but knowing we had a full day ahead of us with lots of ground to cover, we moved on and began the scenic drive through the canyon.
Time to Cruise
After driving a few miles through Kanan Dume, we pulled over to enjoy the monumental views from one of the famed peaks overlooks in the canyon. We enjoyed the stunning mountain canyon views and also simultaneously took advantage of all the potential the scenery around us was for shooting video. This gave Roui the opportunity to experience the impressive 4K HDR video of the Alpha a7R IV boosts. The clarity of the Alphas 4K HDR along with the area-specific noise reduction features, enabled her to capture the imagery and shut out all the surrounding sounds while filming. It was on the locally known “Mickey Mouse Ears” peak that we met up with Malibu local Drew Newman and spent time playing with the Alpha’s wide 15-stop dynamic range as we captured images of Drew and his vintage red 1962 Chevy C-10 pickup truck.
Next stop on our Malibu journey— a wine lover’s favorite, The Semler Ranch. During a short cruise along the historic Mullholland drive to find the ranch, we took advantage of some more of Alpha’s filming capabilities. Utilizing Alpha a7R’s 5-axis Steady Shot came in handy as we filmed the spectacular scenery, along the curvy canyon roads. The Steady Shot feature allowed Roui to minimize any camera shake and effectively capture all the imagery alongside our drive.
As we approach the Semler Ranch, we are mesmerized by its vast size, greenery, and assortment of animals we find milling around the property. Semler Ranch has over 1000 acres of rolling hills, 70,000 vines that help produce 12 different wine varietals and is locally known for being a quintessential location for weddings, events, and wine safari tours. Roui took advantage of the opportunity to play with the Alpha a7R ‘IVs Real-time Eye AF for shooting the various animals we encountered as we explored the property. Stumbling upon various grapes of sizes and colors in the Semler vineyards inspired us to stop, take a quick break and enjoy tasting the different regional wines. We were overjoyed to be able to experience an afternoon filled with wine tasting and exploring the property’s many photographic locations.
Farm to Table
After a full day of shooting, it was time to sit back for a low-light sunset meal at the historic Malibu Pier at the Malibu Farm Restaurant. The Malibu Farm, known for its fresh, farm-to-table food, has been a favorite amongst locals and visitors since the day Helene Henderson first opened its doors six years ago. Locally sourced, fresh produce, meats, and fruit are creatively used to create simple yet gourmet meals. This gave Roui and our team the inspiration to start shooting all the robust colors of the meals presented to us. The Alpha a7R IV’s full-frame 61MP Exmor R CMOS helped us capture optimal high resolution stills that easily showcased the vibrancy of the meal we were about to share. We took advantage of the early evening hour to enjoy eating and sharing delicious tastes amongst a gorgeous Malibu sunset backdrop.
Ending the Day
You might say our day in Malibu was a ‘do it all’ day, and the Sony Alpha, a 7R IV, proved to be a “do it all” camera. From a gray, misty surf shoot to the almost perfect afternoon sunlight against rich landscape and lifestyle backdrops, we enjoyed a perfect day of creative photography. Roui’s workflow with the camera as if the Sony was custom made for her hands and eye and at the end of the day, no matter the subject of conditions, we captured more than great images, we captured life itself, and the ‘7R’ helped us create work that was beyond the lens.
The Sony Alpha a7R IV can be found at Samy’s Camera online: https://www.samys.com/p/US-Only-Shipping/ILCE7RM4A/B/Alpha-a7R-IV-Mirrorless-Digital-Camera-Body-with-FE-35mm-f/1.8-Lens/235675. html