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A Look at the Design and Ergonomics of the New Sony A7 IV

A Look at the Design and Ergonomics of the New Sony A7 IV

User experience greatly affects the quality of the cameras we use. How has this changed for the new Sony a7 IV?

Sony finally revealed the new a7 IV a little over a week ago. The a7 series is very well known for being the jack-of-all-trades of the Sony system, considering that the a7R line focuses on high-resolution stills and the a7S has features dedicated to producing high-quality videos. The a7 III was released in mid-2018 and has been a favorite among photographers and videographers, professionals and hobbyists alike. 

A Look at the Design and Ergonomics of the New Sony A7 IV 1

The Sony a7 IV was revealed to be packing quite a lot of improvements coming from the three-year-old a7 III. It has a 33-megapixel 35mm full frame back-side illuminated CMOS sensor with an ISO range of 100-51,200, expandable to 50-204,800, spanning a dynamic range of 15+ stops. For video recording, it is capable of shooting 4K at 60p in Super 35 crop mode or 4K 30p without the crop, over-sampled from 7K resolution. It brings S-cinetone to the a7 series with a color sampling of 10-bit 4:2:2 internally. 

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On top of all of that, there are quite a number of further significant changes, such as a higher-resolution viewfinder, video eye autofocus, gyro-data stabilization, and focus breathing compensation, among many other improvements. In this article, however, let’s take a look at the physical and ergonomic changes that the a7IV has compared to its predecessor. 

As a disclaimer, I got early access to this a7 IV unit as a Sony brand ambassador in my country. However, just like all other gear-related articles, any opinion stated here is in no way dictated by the brand. 

An Almost Identical Twin

The a7 IV closely resembles the a7S III much more than the older a7 cameras. As Sony calls this camera model one that is created for hybrid shooters (meaning those who shoot both stills and video), it is not surprising that many ergonomic changes are seen for better handling for shooting videos. A lot of the changes and features that we can see on this camera are also some features we’ve seen on recent models, such as the Sony a1, a7C, and of course, the a7S III. 

Sensor Protection Feature

Before any of the features related to ergonomics and user experience, it might be a delight for some photographers to see that this inherits the convenient sensor protective feature from the Sony a1 and a9 II that closes the shutter when the camera is turned off. This might be an irrelevant feature to some, but for photographers and videographers who change lenses a lot out in the field, this will significantly reduce the risk of getting annoying dust or moisture onto the bare sensor. 

Flip Screen and Tally Light

This new a7 camera packs a vari-angle flip-out screen that now seems to be the new norm for Sony full frame cameras. This 3.0-inch monitor has a resolution of 1,036,800 dots and is touch-sensitive for both focusing and selecting settings. This type of screen has, of course, been seen on every camera released since the a7S III, such as the a7C and even the smaller ZV-1 and ZV-E10 cameras. 

Another screen feature that the a7 IV inherits from the a7S III is the on-screen emphasized recording indicator. While it is technically just a simple firmware feature, many users of the camera have appreciated the availability of it because of the simple but common mistake of forgetting to start recording. This tally light function highlights the edges of the frame red so that the user will have no problem making sure that the camera is recording

Buttons

Perhaps the most significant physical change to the a7 IV is the button and dial placement and layouts. The most obvious (and expected) change is the placement and size of the video record button. Another aspect similar to the a7S III and a7C wherein the video buttons are placed right next to the shutter button for easier reach. Because of that, the C1 custom button was moved to where the button used to be, while the C2 button remained right beside the record button. 

Wheels and Dials

While the front and rear wheels remain the same, the two main dials on the top panel both significantly changed. The EV dial, which has been a standard for many generations of a7, a7S, and a7R cameras, has been changed into an unmarked dial with a locking button. This dial now allows full customization of its function through the menu and can be programmed to change depending on what mode you are in. 

The main mode dial lost the dedicated video and S&Q stops. Instead, this mode dial now has a sub-dial underneath with a release button. This sub-dial switches the camera between photo, video, and S&Q modes, while the main dial switches the program/priority settings. This switching comes in combination, of course, with how the menu system was simplified to a certain extent. 

Menu System

Another common aspect with the a7S III is the new Sony menu system. While still rather packed with so many options, the organization into folders and subfolders allows for easier navigation. With the presence of the mode sub-dial, the menu options on image quality and other mode-related settings change when switched to a different mode, significantly reducing the number of options that are irrelevant to what the user is currently doing. 

Side Ports and Memory Card Door

One big change in terms of memory card compatibility on the a7 IV is the added compatibility for CFexpress type A cards. The previously double SD card setup from the a7 III is now a double SD but with one slot as a hybrid one to take the new type of card. However, a less-noticed change is that the memory card door now takes more of the side panel and needs a slightly different motion to open. From the previous slide-down switch, it now requires a reverse-L movement to slide down the switch and pull out the door before it springs out to open. 

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On the other side are the different mini doors to access the ports with the significant addition of a USB-C port that can be used for data transfer, charging, as well as plug-and-play USB streaming. Along with that, the a7 IV now also has a full-sized HDMI port instead of the previous standard compatibility with micro-HDMI cables. 

Sony took their time in developing this new camera, and both the physical and functional attributes prove that. While specifications and features have been announced worldwide, there is still a lot to be seen about the actual real-world performance of the Sony a7 IV. 

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Hasselblad Details its Decisions Behind the X-System Ergonomics

Hasselblad Details its Decisions Behind the X-System Ergonomics

Hasselblad has released the second video in its “Hasselblad Home” series where the company is giving a behind-the-scenes look at what it calls “the core of Hasselblad.” In it, the company details the design decisions behind the ergonomics, materials, and user interface of its mirrorless cameras.

Hasselblad’s initial X1D and following cameras have a similar design that features a particularly large and deep grip, which according to the company was one of the most important changes it wanted to make going into the design of the camera over previous devices.

“The grip was one of the things that went through the most changes for the X System. I think we went through at least 10 to 15 3D-printed versions,” the company says. “It was extremely important that it was comfortable and gave a firm and secure feeling. We also designed it with the thought that it should fit various hand sizes, which made the process more complex.”

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As a “core ingredient” to the camera, properly blending the form and function of the device was paramount to Hasselblad, the company says. The company’s goal was to achieve a camera that even after a long day of shooting would still feel good in the photographer’s hand.

“The pattern etched into the grip went through several iterations as well as the choice of material. We tested multiple materials for sweat control in regard to photographers who would shoot in warmer climates, taking into account how slippery the grip could get or if the material would rub off and make your hand dirty,” Hasselblad explains. “We tried, for example, leather, which tended to get slippery over time, and silicone, which too easily attracted dust, before landing on a specific rubber that offered an ideal no-slip grip.”

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One of the crowning achievements of the Hasselblad X-System is its menu, which the company says was made to be both simple and usable. The user experience was designed to mimic what can be found on modern smartphones. The video also discusses the material choice for the camera, which is machined aluminum. To Hasselblad, alumunum was chosen because it is both robust and lightweight and was able to keep the camera’s temperature cool.

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“Aluminium is much better than titanium, for example, when it comes to transferring heat from the camera’s electronics,” Hasselblad says. “As well, it allows for freedom of shape — you can make almost any shape in the machining process and it’s easier to manufacture compared to other metals with the bonus that you can make late modifications to the parts.”

The video above goes into much more detail, and for those interested in similar videos make sure to check out the first episode of Hasselblad Home here.

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johnriley1uk’s latest blog : i learn about ergonomics

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I Learn About Ergonomics

28 Aug 2020 12:28AM  
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Looking back on my early days of SLR photography I soon learned that people trying to sell you things don’t necessarily understand what it is you need. It’s not that anybody is trying to deceive, but sometimes the details are lost and we can’t double guess what features are important to any one individual. A case in point was my first 135mm lens. I was going to buy a preset lens (no automatic diaphragm, this has to be set manually) and, quite rightly, the saleman pointed out a slightly more expensive lens that had automation and was far more convenient in that respect. However, what he didn’t realise was that the aperture ring and focusing rings worked the opposite way round to my Pentax standard lens, the filter thread was 52mm instead of 49mm and it was a much bigger and heavier lens anyway. These may seem small points, but they slow down working and are basically a nuiscance.

These two lenses have focusing rings that operate opposite ways round and aperture rings that operate the same way, as per Nikon and Pentax.
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The point being that using them in the same kit potentially causes confusion and may slow us down.

This may be more important for manual focus lenses, but can affect AF systems as well. For example, all the following cameras have on/off switches that surround the shutter release button. This is very efficient when carrying a camera in one hand as we can switch it on with one hand while moving it up to the eye. Our finger is already on the shutter release.
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In this case the on/off switch is on the other side of the top plate, which I personally find less convenient.
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I found the same glitches when using 35mm and medium format. The direction of controls was either Canon/Mamiya or Pentax/Nikon/Bronica. As I couldn’t afford what I wanted I ended up using a wrong handed medium format camera and it bugged me till I eventually had to change it.

Small points maybe, but the devil’s in the detail, so it’s a good reason to handle before we buy. A good thing there are still some camera shops around.

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