Sony's mirrorless cameras have been among the biggest photographic innovators of recent years, and that form has continued with the new Sony A7R V: a 61MP full-frame powerhouse with highly intelligent autofocus. (Looking for our first verdict? Head over to our Sony A7R V hands-on review.)

Designed for landscape, portrait, nature and product photographers, the Sony A7R V is part of Sony's "Resolution" series. Like its storied 2019 predecessor, that means it's built around a 61MP BSI full-frame sensor, which only medium format cameras like the Fujifilm GFX100S can beat in resolution.

But the biggest change to the A7R V is a new "AI processing unit" that sits inside the camera's Bionz XR processor. Sony says this unit means its new camera can process vast amounts of autofocus-related "deep learning" training data, making it a "tipping point" for its entire Alpha range.

We haven't fully tested these claims yet, but they look promising, given that Sony recently got ahead of its rivals with its real-time tracking autofocus technology. The real world implications are that the Sony A7R V can, for example, analyze a human's entire pose in great detail to find their eyes, even when they are hidden in the scene.

The same is apparently true of animals, with AI autofocus able to recognize a dog's head and body even when turned towards the camera. If the system lives up to its claims, it could be a boon for portrait and wildlife photographers.

What else is new compared to the A7R IV? A collection of design updates address some of the most common criticisms of the previous camera. A new four-axis articulating touchscreen lets you use it in both angled and inverted formations, which should suit hybrid photographers who prefer a balanced stills and video regimen.

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(Image credit: future)Sony A7R V camera on a white table(Image credit: future)Sony A7R V camera placed on a wooden floor(Image credit: future)Sony A7R V camera placed on a wooden floor(Image credit: future)

Above the screen is the same 9,44 million-dot electronic viewfinder we had before on the Sony A7S III, while to the side the A7R V now has two CFexpress Type A card slots (which also accept UHS SD cards). -II). A new setting also ensures that the camera's shutter stays closed when it's turned off, to avoid the sensor dust issues that have plagued some A7R IV owners.

While the heritage of Sony's "Resolution" series lies in photography, the A7R V is also a powerful video camera. It makes the jump to 8K/24p video and can also record 4K/60p images with 10-bit 4:2:2 color depth, which will appeal to those who like to colorize their videos. Unlike the flagship Sony A1, however, there's no 4K/120p mode for slow-motion fans.

With a host of other upgrades, including improved in-body image stabilization, which gives you up to eight stops of compensation for handheld shooting, the Sony A7R V is now (on paper) one of the most powerful mirrorless cameras that (many of ) money can buy. You can preorder it now, for €3,899 / £3,999 / AU$6,199, with delivery expected in mid-November (December in the US).

Analysis: Another leap forward for autofocus?

The Sony A7R V camera on a blue background.

(Photo credit: Sony)

Sony has pioneered in-camera autofocus over the past three years, with its "real-time tracking" AF taking the technology to the next level on the Sony A6400 and Sony A9. And while we haven't fully tested its new 'AI processing unit' yet, the company says the A7R V could be a big step forward for mirrorless cameras.

Along with the traditional “photographic triangle” of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, focus is a key element of image quality. And the so-called AI autofocus, which is actually more based on machine learning, effectively automates the whole process; recognizing the subject of a scene and fixing the focus on the key part of that scene (most often the eyes of a person or animal).

It's a bit strange that Sony has chosen to introduce this new technology, which is likely to appear in its next generation of Alpha cameras, in the Sony A7R V. After all, this is an expensive professional camera intended for the type of photographer who knows how ( and often prefer) to control settings like focus.

Again, some of the target buyers for the Sony A7R V will be wedding or event photographers, who will no doubt appreciate using a next-generation AF system to shoot and video their unpredictable and ever-changing scenes. The A7R V also seems to address the most common criticisms of its A7R IV predecessor; including its convoluted menus, sensor dust issues, and general usability.

This makes the Sony A7R V a powerful new rival to the popular Canon EOS R5, another powerful mirrorless camera capable of shooting 8K video. However, since both cameras are equally steeply priced, more budget-conscious photographers might plan to see what discounts show up on older models, like the Sony A7R III and IV in this year's Black Friday camera deals, which they are fast approaching.

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