The A7Riv has been released and on paper, the specs look amazing. but there is one glaring shortfall I am utterly confused as to why Sony missed, particularly with a camera with this megapixel count.
Small / medium raw
There will be usual Sony apologists who try to defend the decision, but the reality is the A7Riv would be a better camera if they included it and including small / medium raw wouldn’t impact the users who don’t use it.
A 61MP camera is great when you need 61MP, but how often does anyone really need 61MP? Nikon realised this a long time ago and incorporated it in the D810 and D4S, and whilst it isn’t perfect, Sony has a history of taking imperfect concepts and making them better.
61MP is great that you have the capability of cropping into someone’s nostril hair on the odd chance you might need to throw something up on a billboard, but unless you have a billboard as your personal Instagram or Facebook account or shoot regularly for Vogue, the likelihood of your photos going up on anything larger than an A0 poster is somewhere around 0.0001%. Lets be honest, less than 1% of photographers are actually good enough to be shooting for Vogue.
The second issue is the target market for the A7Riv, which by my guesses would be around 80/20 amateur to pro market, and I’m also guessing that a lot of photographers aren’t going to want to deal with 60-80MB raw files all the time. Having the ability to scale your raw file size up and down offers a lot of flexibility.
The third issue is the camera range in its current form. On the low end, you have the A7iii, next up you have a A7Riv and finally the A9. But what happens if you want a A7iii with a decent EVF? (Yes, the A7iii EVF is sub standard compared to the Nikon, Canon and Fujifilm counterparts) You’re stuck with the A7Riv and 61MP or the A9 which is double the price of the A7iii. Granted the A7iv could fix some of these issues with the quality of the EVF, but if Sony implemented this 2 years ago, it would have solved the problem.
Small / medium RAW means that users who buy the A7Riv can buy it knowing they can use the 61MP when they need to, and use 24MP or 36MP when they don’t. Granted, you won’t get the same level of quality as a native RAW file, but like anything, functionality comes with a compromise. It expands the range of the camera and gives Sony a potential upsell from the A7iv for those users with a slightly larger budget, and as a result, Sony stand to make money out of it.
Given the camera is already out, it would be great to see Sony include small / medium raw in a future firmware update.