Friday, August 7, 2020

Printing Your Memories with the EPSON SureLab D870

Click to see the EPSON SureLab D870 at B&H

Want to print a large number of photos blazingly fast at a price that doesn’t break the bank, yet has a professional look and feel? I did, so I wrote this review to see if the EPSON SureLab D870 lived up to its promises and my very high standards as a professional print master, print book author and Senior Program Manager of the Microsoft Windows print team for 3 years.

If you are here just for the review of this printer designed for professional photographers then you can skip the next section. If you are a photography hobbyist or someone with a lot of photos that you wish you had time to print, then you may enjoy the background story below about why I am writing this article.

Background Story

According to my photo library management software, Mylio, I have roughly 450,000 photos saved on my NAS and for my phones I have 100,000+ in Google Photos plus 22,000 in iCloud. Now out of those roughly 572k photos I’ve made about 30k public and shown my family about another 10k or so on top of that. Let’s assume I’m being too conservative though and say that the total number of photos seen by eyes other than mine is really 72,000 photos. That means I have a half million photos that have never been seen by others, and that’s from someone who is internationally known for photography AND printing!!!!

Now I will admit that because I shoot in burst mode, there’s probably plenty of photos that my eyes have only glanced at once or twice. However, this past March I had a lot of time to think as I drove from Seattle to Texas (and back) to bury my Dad. While I was at his place in a rural Texas town I found myself enjoying old family prints from the time before digital photography. It kinda hit me like a ton of bricks that I wasn’t judging these photos for their composition, sharpness, color, etc… – I was just enjoying the walk down memory lane.This reminded me of a common complaint from my wife who tells me “you have all those photos, but they are useless because I can’t even see any of them”.

Now we do enjoy plenty of photos on our Meural digital frames as well as the fantastic photo frame experience of the Google Nest Hub Max, so if you aren’t doing that I still highly recommend that. My wife enjoys printing her cell phone photos with her Epson PictureMate, and I’m a heavy user of my EPSON P800 and P5000 printers for my fine art photography work. However, there’s a decade of digital photos that live on my redundant NAS storage devices that really need to be combed through so I can print those memories to be enjoyed the good old fashioned way – by holding them in a hand – long after me and my NAS devices, digital frames and phones are long gone. More importantly, they need to be enjoyed by my kids and future grandkids (hopefully) as I have enjoyed the print photos my parents and generations before them took.

As I was driving through beautiful places like Moab, Utah during my long drive I got to thinking about how sad it would be if my family couldn’t enjoy the experience of seeing my photos because they got lost due to some digital tragedy after I was gone. Sure I have lots of digital backups, but what if those after me just simply stopped tracking all of that data and ultimately it was lost? What would be left? Just the prints – and most likely just the ones in good old fashion photo albums or printed photo books.

Now my success with this blog has given me a benefit many of you don’t have, so my cost at trying photo print services, printing photo books, archiving photos digitally, making professional prints, etc… is usually $0.00. With the cost excuse out of the way, I still have my wife complaining that she doesn’t know happened for most of the years we were dating and the first 10 years of my sons life outside of what you see on the blog (which is also what’s on our digital frames). Why is that? I have no excuses, right?

Well, it turns out that I still work 60+ hour weeks despite the fact that I’m not blogging like I used to. I’m also the father of 4 children which includes active 11 and 4 year old kids who need to spend time with Dad when he stops his workaholic days, so my free time usually begins around 10:00 PM at night (which was the start of my blogging work day years ago). Weekends end up being family time as well, so I’m lucky to get 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there to do activities that I enjoy – like editing or printing personal photos. With these constraints, I find myself getting deeper in the hole each month as I still shoot photos regularly, but I fail to find to edit or print photos that aren’t for my clients or blog. Simply put, my cherished personal photos don’t get prioritized – sound familiar?

Sure, I occasionally tell myself I’m going to do it and then I find myself falling into the second trap – I end up going through a few dozen photos and then spending all my personal time editing one or two of these photos. At this pace it would take me a few centuries to accomplish my goal of leaving prints that memorialize my wonderful life for generations that come after me.

When I had this discussion with my wife she challenged me – why don’t you just identify the best family photos and JUST PRINT THEM. She insisted – don’t waste your time editing them because its better to leave the memories behind than it is to have them lost because you couldn’t let the professional photographer inside you forgive yourself for not making professional images. She even went so far to remind me about my strict policy of publishing photos on the blog for camera and lens reviews that are 100% unedited (all are in-camera JPEG), so why couldn’t I do the same for my digital memories and “just print the damn things”.

Again, is any of this ringing a bell with you?

Well, its my own love of photo editing and desire to have my important pictures that have been a mental block keeping me from doing what I needed to do, so I made a pact with her and myself that I’d finally address this problem. My objective – to print my collection – but obviously not all 500k+ photos – just the memories through the years.

I started with my 2007 photos collection – the year I got serious about digital photography (after years of “thankfully” being a film photographer with prints – albeit very bad ones). After 3 months of pouring through – just that one years worth of photos – I identified about 460 images that seemed to be worth printing. I took 22,271 photos that year, so roughly 2% were what I’d consider “family classics” that I’d want to hand down to generations after me. They also represent just over an hour of printing by the amazing SureLab D870.

Wow – after the long battle of pouring through all of these photos – and admittedly probably spending too long in Lightroom doing minor tweaks on some of them – it took me 3 months to pinpoint the photos and a little over an hour to have a big stack of 4x6 prints to put in a photo album or at least a shoebox (guess what I actually did :). I didn’t have to then upload them to some service and fight with its UI, I didn’t have to deal with a ROES system for a service built for volume printing, I didn’t have to fight the crappy tools to build photo albums that never preserve my desired aspect ratios so I end up spending weeks to build a simply 20 page “book”.

No, this was much easier – I just dumped all of the files out as Full Size JPEG’s, went to the folder in Windows Explorer, selected all of the photos then did a right-click and Print (which launches the native Windows Photo Print Wizard). 

REVIEW: Epson SureLab D870

EPSON describes this printer as “The fast minilab printer for demanding small-format photo production”, and I’d say that actually hits the nail on the head. This six ink dye-based ink printer is optimized to print 4" x 6" prints in as fast as 8.3 seconds (using 720 x 360 dpi) and up to 430 4" x 6" prints, 275 5" x 7" prints, or 140 8" x 10" prints per hour – that’s screaming fast!!!

This means if you are a school, event or wedding portrait photographer you can print the bulk of your photos on this printer very quickly even if you have a huge amount of photos to print. What’s more, the Epson SureLab Luster Photo Inkjet roll paper and Epson UltraChrome D6r-S Light Ink Cartridges are extremely affordable, so you will not only save time but your cost per print will be peanuts compared to SureColor professional printers – yet they will have that same high-quality professional feel same in the hand to your clients. While its true you will sacrifice the archival and tonal range characteristics of the UltraChrome® inks, it does allow you to have more competitive pricing for the time and money you’ll save with this solution. You can also still use your professional pigment ink printers for the larger prints sold at a premium price.

Simply put, if you print a lot of prints for your business – this is a no-brainer purchase that will quickly yield a return on your investment as you enjoyed with your 70-200 f/2.8 lens! However, I’m not and many of my readers aren’t either.

I decided to review this printer with a slightly different intention – does this printer make sense for the hobbyist to print their collection and can it produce results that are better than the typical low budget print services (e.g., Costco, Walgreens, Shutterfly, etc…).

How I Printed 495 Photo Print Jobs

I identified the photos I wanted to print in Lightroom and then exported out all of my pics as full-size sRGB JPEG files to the same folder. I would then select all, right click and choose print. This launches the Print Pictures wizard whereby I set the settings as shown above and then then clicked options to modify the printer driver as follows:

Don't forget to change the Color Management setting to ICM for best results!!!!

This gave perfect borderless prints, but the prints were dark. This was easily corrected by changing the Color Management to ICM with no other changes necessary in the Advanced… settings.

Like all borderless printing, if your aspect ratio of your images don’t match the output you are going to lose quite a bit of picture detail. As a result, you may choose to NOT do borderless to avoid that. If you go down that route some 4x6 prints taken from 3:2 aspect ratio source images may have a small white line on one edge of the photo but its not bothersome to me.

Sorry Mac users, I only tested on Windows 10 1909 over USB, so I have no comments about using this printer from a Mac.

I did successfully print to this printer from Lightroom and Photoshop, but this method was by far the fastest and recommended to me by my friends at EPSON. After much experimentation, I agreed and stuck to this method throughout my time with this printer.

Oh and if you are wondering why I had 495 photos – well that was just the limit I gave myself for each year worth of photos.

Actual Observed Performance

When printing 4x6 borderless prints I observed it took an average of 7.2 seconds per print which excludes the nearly 2 minutes it took for the Windows Print Wizard to create the print job and then another 4 minutes it took Windows to spool the 6GB print jobs (495 photos) I would throw at it. I excluded that as my Windows system is getting a little old so a faster performing system might be much quicker.


Pouring through tons of photos to identify the ones you want to print is really the big time sync. I completely underestimated how long this task would take – especially given my crazy busy work schedule. I could have been less picky when pouring through 20,000+ photos per year, but 500 pics creates a pile of photos over 6 inches tall that then need to be dealt with later (e.g., put in a photo album, or even organized in a shoebox). Sadly when printing this any when the photos pile up they don’t end up in a meaningful order, they just get mixed all together out of order. This means I ended up with a huge pile of photos that needed to be sorted once again by hand.

I definitely think the quality of the luster prints I got was very good but obviously not as good as I can get from my SureColor printers with a complete color managed workflow in Lightroom/Photoshop or with Epson Print Layout.

For a consumer who can afford a large format printer or $2000+ lens, I think this is definitely a great investment to print your own 4x6, 5x7, 8x10 or letter size prints at home – especially now during COVID-19. I’d much prefer to do my own than send them off to a service – especially with the hassle of having to upload all of the photos and configure the settings for the photos (or god forbid dealing with horrible ROES systems).

Obviously if you are the budget conscious type or one who thinks Costco / Walgreens / Shutterfly prints are just fine, then go for it. I’m not that type as I’m pretty picky and I don’t like a big pile of prints that don’t look even close to color accurate to me.

If you are a wedding, event, portrait photographer, etc.. – this is a no brainer investment. Yes, you’ll still want a SureColor printer for your large prints and the Bride’s wedding album, but for everything else these prints are going to look very professional and make your clients happy.

The only knocks I really have against this printer is that the lack of pigment means these prints aren’t going to last as long, which I care about for archival purposes. That said, I think they’ll look significant better in 40 years than the prints my parents took of me and had developed at the drug store, so really its more of an academic discussion than anything else. If a photo was so important that it needed a 200+ year archival lifespan then I’d print it on the SureColor anyway – and it won’t be hundreds of prints!

So, if you can afford it – get it. Its a big upfront investment that will pay off quickly thanks to super inexpensive ink and paper. The performance will give you back valuable time and you'll avoid being the most hated family member for sucking all your household bandwidth uploading photos to print services.

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

REVIEW: Sony a7R IV with with 24-105mm Lens

Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera at B&H
Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera at B&H

shown with Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens
also sold in kit form

When I reviewed the Sony a7R III in 2017 I declared it my camera of the year. I was literally blown away with it, so I was a bit shocked when the IV came out and I started hearing rumblings of it being inferior to its predecessor. After all it had gained almost 19 more megapixels and had performance improvements that were sure to make it better, right?

Read on to see if more is better or if Sony ruined a good thing.

Camera Body Thoughts

You can read about all of the big features on Sony’s website, but my real world observations were that the viewfinder is definitely very good and the joystick feel is now excellent. My favorite feature – eye AF – now works without requiring special setup or holding a button and even features support for specifying which eye it should focus on or you can still have it decide using the auto feature. Lastly the lock button on the exposure compensation is a welcome addition to avoid accidental changes.

Other than that, really this feels like mostly the same camera now with loads more megapixels.

I did not try the Pixel Shift Multi Shooting feature on this camera or the III, even though it sounds interesting. If any readers have had great results with this feature, then I’d love for you to post links to your favorite shots on my Facebook page alongside the post for this review.

Imaging Edge Desktop

Imaging Edge Desktop Editor

I don’t keep up on every detail around Sony, but I noticed that Sony offers an option besides my recommendation of CaptureOne for Sony (or CaptureOne Pro). Their raw editing software is called Imaging Edge Desktop that is super crude, but gets the job done if you don’t have anything else. I do think its better at raw processing Sony files than Adobe Lightroom / Camera Raw, but my favorite is still Capture One to bring back the most details from Sony ARW files.


For my long-time fans of the blog, I thought I’d throw in a bookshelf shot here (more available in the gallery) to show the razor sharp detail in the Lord of the Rings book, great color and excellent detail in the shadows.

f/8 @ 105mm for 15 sec at ISO 100

With 61 megapixels you get super shallow depth of field, so you’ll notice even at f/11 that the books on the edges are out of focus, so its a good thing this camera and lens perform well at f/16 & f/22 as you are definitely going to need those apertures!

Real World Shots

With the death of my father just days before my review unit arrived and lockdown for COVID-19, it was very tough getting decent shots for the review. As a result, my apologies for the larger number of kids shots vs more interesting landscape shots. I literally had to visit a closed park and hike straight up hill for 800 feet to get any landscape shots at all!

All of the photos are 100% unedited in-camera JPEG originals. Generally speaking I tried to shoot with camera default settings, but I did adjust the white balance to daylight or shade for landscape shots. I also enabled eye AF auto as well as face priority which I’ll discuss in sample photos below.

You may download and view the photos associated in this article while your browser is open to this article, but you permission to have the images locally ends when you navigate away from this article. All images are copyright Ron Martinsen – all rights reserved – so you may not edit, print, alter, republish or link to any of the photos in this article without my ink on paper notarized signature.

For the full gallery of photos, visit

f/4 @ 105mm for 1/320 sec at ISO 100

My 4 year old daughters first shot with this camera was spot on thanks to great eye AF

f/4 @ 105mm for 1/400 sec at ISO 100

Even rush attacks from my daughter with hair and hand distractions had a good keeper rate,
but if you pixel peep these images aren’t as tack sharp as those from the a9 or a7R III

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/640 sec at ISO 100

The advantage of more megapixels is better bokeh, but the challenge becomes less depth of field

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/640 sec at ISO 100

Perhaps I’ve grown to used to my iPhone XS Pro, but I often forgot to do some exposure compensation to adjust for the meter really sticking faithfully to a 18% gray exposure in its default multi metering mode

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/400 sec at ISO 100

Switching to center metering mode vs spot worked better for scenes like this

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/125 sec at ISO 640

Even seemingly static shots like this with virtually no wind required a handful of shots to get a fairly sharp image without boosting the shutter speeds – which I tried to avoid given the mediocre ISO high performance (as shown in the next shot)

f/4 @ 24mm for 1/400 sec at ISO 10000

The overall dynamic range seemed less than the a7R III or the D850.
Compare to a similar shot taken with a Nikon D850 under similar conditions.
Notice how the D850 did a much better job with the details outside the window.
Also observe at 100% how bad the image quality and noise is on the face.

f/5.6 @ 78mm for 1/80 sec at ISO 2500

As good as eye AF is, the foreground bunny and eyes closed seemed to trip it up

f/5.6 @ 78mm for 1/80 sec at ISO 2500

When I shot a similar shot without the bunny in the foreground it did much better

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/125 sec at ISO 400

Lots of gallery shots including this one and the one below prove that hair distractions often aren’t an problem for the excellent eye autofocus

f/4 @ 80mm for 1/640 sec at ISO 100

In super harsh direct sunlight I got mixed results with multi metering, but overall it was good enough especially since the raw images support a whopping 15 stops of dynamic range which means almost any sharp shot can be saved

f/4 @ 105mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 400

In harsh midday sun I once again felt like this camera was underperforming compared to what I’m used to enjoying from my iPhone XS Pro but its still about the same as what I saw with the a7R III.  Once again, its pretty easy to correct if you shoot RAW.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/320 sec at ISO 5000

The advantage of so many megapixels is that you can preserve a lot of detail even after aggressive noise reduction which is a good thing as ISO 5000 shots are definitely going to need Noiseware if you are doing anything with the shots besides posting them small like this online

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/320 sec at ISO 6400

In my opinion, ISO 6400 is my usable limit for this camera – in ideal lighting conditions

f/5.6 @ 75mm for 1/30 sec at ISO 2500

There’s great flexibility in the auto white balance setup, but even the default is reasonable for everyday snapshots like this taken under tungsten lights.
The extra megapixels definitely help bring out the texture of the red maguro

f/8 @ 24mm for 1 sec at ISO 100

Daylight white balance is pretty warm even with standard creative style so I never even tried landscape or shade white balance during this review period

f/5 @ 83mm for 1/100 sec at ISO 5000

Gorgeous bokeh that is buttery smooth is definitely a benefit  you get with 61 megapixels
as shown here on a shot from my Peak Design Travel Tripod review

f/5 @ 43mm for 1/50 sec at ISO 1600

This is a tough scene due to the dark blacks and bright iPhone XS Pro LCD, but multi metering actually did an admirable job. I could easily make this shot perfect with some raw editing and layer masks.

f/16 @ 30mm for 4 sec at ISO 100

Without the tilting LCD this shot wouldn’t have been possible.
See a behind the scenes of this shot in my Peak Design Travel Tripod review.

f/16 @ 24mm for 2.5 sec at ISO 100

Another down low shot made possible thanks to the tilting LCD.
See a behind the scenes of this shot in my Peak Design Travel Tripod review.

f/8 @ 36mm for 1.3 sec at ISO 100

Generally cameras start to lose sharpness after f/8 due to diffraction, but not here.
Compare this f/8 shot to the f/16 shot below
See a behind the scenes of this shot in my Peak Design Travel Tripod review

f/16 @ 36mm for 6 sec at ISO 100

I was pleased to see that f/16 kept the sharpness of the in-focus f/8 subjects while offering sharpness to the f/8 out of focus subjects thanks to minimal detail loss.
Simply put, f/16 (and even f/22) can be used without concern – if you can keep the ISO low.
See a behind the scenes of this shot in my Peak Design Travel Tripod review

f/9 @ 46mm for 2 sec at ISO 100

I was playing around using the Peak Design Travel Tripod as a tabletop tripod for this shot and got an impressive result. Given the importance of keeping the ISO low on this camera, I’d strongly urge you to bring a tripod everywhere you take this camera to avoid going beyond ISO 6400.

f/9 @ 49mm for 4 sec at ISO 100

I moved the flowers in to better light with less distractions and got great detail on the center of the flower with highlights that are easily recovered with the raw file.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 400

It surprises me how weak the in-camera JPEG’s are, but I guess Sony gave up making improvements there knowing that the 15 stops of exposure adjustments possible with the RAW file make it ridiculous to not shoot raw with this camera.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 1600

Ask a 10 year old to find a prop that we can use to test eye AF, and this is what you get.
You get the point though – even with a clear distraction, eye AF does a stellar job for about 80% of the complex scenarios like this that I threw at it. It might miss a frame or two, but more times than not it nailed it like this.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 3200

I was super pleased that photo bombing big brothers didn’t confuse the auto focus either.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 3200

Once again, while my daughter waved a stick in front of her face the eye AF never faltered…

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 3200

This one frame was the only one that focused on the stick, but that’s what I’d expect with AF sensitivity set to 5 (most responsive) as it was in this case. The default or slower most likely would have kept the eye in focus.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 800

I’m used to Canon’s default Evaluate metering on my 1DX II prioritizing the focus point, but the default multi metering here and another similar shot always did a scene average which still results in hot spots and the subject being too dark. Again this is all savable with the RAW, but its a theme that demonstrates that Sony expects you to shoot raw and spend a lot of time fixing these in-camera issues unless you are very diligent in your manual adjustments on a per shot basis.
Sadly enabling Face Priority in Multi Metering mode did not solve the problem in cases like these.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/500 sec at ISO 1250

Yeah, another eye AF test – I just couldn’t help but try to trip it up but it almost always nailed it.
Thankfully the IV does it automatically with an option to prioritize which eye like Fujifilm offers, without having to hold a special button as was required with the III.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 1250

I registered both kids faces with my daughter as the #1 priority. However, my son was in the #2 spot so the camera alternated between the two subjects as shown in this series of shots.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 1250

Since my son was in the #2 spot for registered faces, the camera sometimes would choose him over my daughter who was registered in the #1 slot.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 1250

When I unregistered my son’s face, I had a 100% success rate with the camera prioritizing her face over his. This feature is available on many Sony models and as a parent I can’t emphasize enough how much I love this feature – especially with photo bombing big brothers!

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 800

I know I keep going on about the metering, but in this shot the meter just blows the exposure on the dress and cheek highlights

f/4 @ 105mm for 1/320 sec at ISO 100

When I switched from multi-metering to spot metering with focus point link enabled it did a better job but at the expense of the entire background. Canon shooters who appreciate partial metering or how Canon does spot metering are going to struggle like I did with getting perfect metering in-camera. That said, I was happy with how this one came out even if it wasn’t my intent to completely lose the background.

f/4 @ 105mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 500

My daughter was dancing around behind the tree while winking and once again the eye AF feature did a great job.

f/4 @ 105mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 500

Auto white balance on overcast days had mixed color results with this shot being taken a few minutes apart from the shot below.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/125 sec at ISO 1000

Here the auto white balance color was outstanding whereas above it was fairly blue so I wondered if face priority in multi being enabled not only helped the exposure but the skin tone colors for this more close up shot than the one above.

f/5.6 @ 105mm for 1/250 sec at ISO 2500

Take moments apart from the two previous shots, the average result in real world shooting was that auto white balance does a pretty good job.

f/11 @ 77mm for 1/160 sec at ISO 100

This studio shot gave the IV and this lens the opportunity to show their strengths – and it did in the detail in the eyes and the hair. However the extra megapixels showed how unforgiving the depth of field is at f/11 as the bunny belly is completely out of focus. This is to be expected, but its something to consider when shooting in the studio as you are going to want lenses that are razor sharp from f/11 to f/16 – at least.

f/9 @ 52mm for 1/125 sec at ISO 100

I cranked up the lights to try to freeze the action on some hair spin shots but my decision to open up to f/9 cost me too much depth of field so my previous point applies. If you are going to have a dynamic studio shoot with this lens, I’d recommend staying closer to f/16 than f/8.

f/9 @ 105mm for 1/100 sec at ISO 100

Ok, I admit this shot is mostly here because its cute but I was happy that eye AF saved me from having eyes that were out of focus. Her eye lashes are razor sharp which is exactly what you want in a shot like this, so I was happy the camera did the right thing without me having to put any thought into it.
For the record, she was sad because the studio chair was scary high. She took the next shot shortly thereafter, so she recovered quickly.

f/11 @ 105mm for 1/125 sec at ISO 100

A 61 megapixels camera is always going to find its happy place in the studio under ideal lights so the strength of this camera and lens camera combo shined for this shot. Even a thin stray hair over the camera right eye is tack sharp at 100% Here the softness on the neck and body work brilliantly to direct the viewers eye to the face exactly like you’d want it.
Yes, if you are a studio photographer you are going to enjoy this camera – especially if you pair it with amazing glass like the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens or SIGMA 85mm f/1.4 Art Series .

f/14 @ 32mm for 3.2 sec at ISO 100

For fun, the gallery has several series of shots where only the aperture differ.
Enjoy comparing this f/14 version to the f/16 version and the f/22 version.

f/22 @ 31mm for 6 sec at ISO 100

I have no reservations shooting this camera at f/22 but I sure wish this camera had the built-in focus stacking that I enjoyed in the Fujifilm GFX 50s.

f/5.6 @ 71mm for 1/160 sec at ISO 12800

Buttery smooth bokeh is an advantage of 61 megapixels no matter how bad the high ISO noise is – especially when showing small version of the the massive files.

f/22 @ 32mm for 13 sec at ISO 100

This shot, taken with a circular polarizer, had loads of detail and deep greens – especially when viewed at 100%.

f/22 @ 27mm for 15 sec at ISO 100

Same scene photographed with the camera nearly touching the water using the Peak Design Travel Tripod. It obviously needs a perspective adjustment because I had issues with the viewfinder sensor making the LCD screen go black because the viewfinder was too close to the legs. I’m sure there’s a way to disable it, but I wasn’t able to figure it out deep in the backwoods while standing in the water for this shoot. If you buy one of these cameras, don’t be like me – learn how to disable this feature if you plan to shoot shots like these!


Well we’ve been down this road before where more megapixels doesn’t always mean a better camera. Yes, I loved the extra megapixels in the wonderfully fun to use Fujifilm GFX 50s but more often than not the extra megapixels end up being a disappointment as a primary everyday camera as I observed  with the Nikon D800 and the Canon 5DsR.  It seems Sony wasn’t concerned about that and decided to leapfrog all of these cameras by offering a whopping 61 megapixels (9504 x 6336 pixels), but would this result in mediocre autofocus performance and poor high ISO performance as I’ve historically observed?

The short answer is sadly, yes.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a great camera but you do make tradeoffs that I wouldn’t make – especially for this price point.

I’d gladly still take a Sony a7R III over a IV any day of the week. The extra megapixels have only made the ISO performance above 800 below average by todays standards and increased the number of out of focus shots I got even in bright lights both outdoors and in the studio.

This camera simply isn’t for me. If was going to go with more megapixels I’d still opt for the Fujifilm GFX 50s, but if I wanted the best camera I’ve ever used then I’d have no reservations “stepping down” to the much more affordable Sony  a7R III or the sports machine gun that is the a9 II (see my Sony a9 review).

I will say that I did enjoy the range of the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens , but I’d need to test it with a different camera to really render a final verdict. I was terribly disappointed with the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens when I reviewed it with the a6500 and a9, but I also loved the Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens that some Sony fans hate. I will say the 24-105 covers a focal range that I most enjoy when carrying only one lens, but given the constraints of a 61 megapixel sensor I’d love to retest it to get a better feel for its true performance.

I also wish that I had a Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens or SIGMA 85mm f/1.4 Art Series to use for this review as that would have given me the most accurate picture as to just how good this sensor is in terms of resolving detail, but I still don’t recommend the a7R IV based purely on its autofocus and ISO performance despite what other fanboy and paid advertising sites say about it.

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