It’s out! The Sony a7r V has been reviewed by us and is now available for purchase at a competitive price. It’s packed with things like an AI processor, an upgraded OLED screen, and new focusing AI algorithms. We had a slew of focusing issues with every single Sony a7r IV we’ve used, but the newer iteration seems much more promising. You should check out our full Sony a7r V review at the previous hyperlink. Yet with all that makes it great, it’s still missing something.
I’m not talking about an easier to way to consolidate all that new AI scene detection like I’ve talked about before, but it’s on a related note.
Take a look at the Sony a7r V from behind and you’ll see all the unused real estate space on the top left of the camera. Why? Why does the top dial need to be reserved only for the Sony a1 and Sony a9 series of cameras? It could be incredibly useful to put a big dial on the Sony a7r V here that’s synonymous to what Nikon does with their higher end cameras.
When I voiced this constructive criticism to Sony reps, Artisans, and other journalists, they agreed. The camera is excellent for what it is: something that is starting to feel less like a Playstation with its own identity tracing back to the Minolta days. But this one dial could truly help.
One Sony rep agreed with me, but wanted to know what that dial could have. Here are some of my ideas.
The AI Control Dial
My first idea is that the Sony a7r V should’ve had an AI control dial. This is a very new concept, but hear me out. Currently on Sony cameras with AI, you press a button and then scroll through the AI options. In this case, you’ve got a lot. The Sony a7r V has:
It’s missing bike detection, but as it is that’s a lot of AI to utilize. So why can’t I turn a dial to the AI mode I need? If you think that doesn’t make sense, let me make you aware of situations where I’ve shot photos and needed things to be done faster:
- Street photography, when I want to go from photographing people to dogs quickly
- Walking through the forest looking for birds, but then finding a cool squirrel or chipmunk only to need to change the AI. I don’t need to worry with Canon or Nikon, but with Sony’s it’s necessary.
- Walking through the forest looking for animals and then finding the most gorgeous butterfly
- Using AI focusing to capture humans and then capturing the train moving by
Some of these situations seem minor, but they’re legitimate needs. Sometimes when you’re photographing birds, something else comes up and you want to photograph animals instead. An AI dial up top here is an excellent idea.
The Sony a1 and Sony a9 II have the drive mode dial up here. And it is quite useful. To keep it different, I’d be alright with keeping the drive dial on the back of the camera, but this is still a legitimate option.
A fully Programmable Option
A fully programmable dial is also a great idea of something to put here. You can press a button and then rotate the dial to switch a setting. This could be programmed to white balance, ISO, drive mode, AI, Creative Profiles, Metering modes, AF modes, etc.
Yes, I said AF modes. I know the norm for Sony shooters is to use it in AF-C mode, but that’s not always sensible. One example is for product photography and when I’ve got the camera already set for human face detection. If I shoot in AF-C mode, I have to diable face detection and then choose an autofocus point. But, if my camera is set to human detection and I can just tell the camera to focus on whatever I prioritize instead using AF-S, then I can do what I need to accomplish much faster.
It’s a reality though: Sony’s cameras are getting so advanced that something like the Sony a7r V should’ve had a big dial up top on the left side. Hopefully Sony will keep this in mind for the future. In the meantime, photographers can rest assured that the Sony A7r V is a great camera.