Sony A7R IV Menu Set Up: Everything You Need To Know
Setting up the menu of the new Sony A7R IV for the first time can be overwhelming, especially when all you want to do is to get outside and test this awesome camera the soonest. However, before starting playing with your new toy, there are certain settings you should absolutely change.
In this guide I’m going to share and explain my preferred settings. Please note that since I’m not into videos, you won’t find any details about video settings in this guide.
Sony A7R IV Menu Set Up: Everything You Need To Know
Please take a moment to review the legend below for easy navigation through this guide:
- The article is divided into three main sections. Section number 1 is about “Default Settings”. The colored icons indicate which menu tab you need to go to in your camera (there are 6 in total);
- Under each setting, in bold, you’ll find the exact steps to change that setting;
- When I say “Navigate To Page (1/15)” it means that you’ll find that setting on page number 1 out of 15 in the specific menu I’m talking about;
- Each setting includes an explanation and the reason why I suggest changing it.
USE THE BUTTONS BELOW TO JUMP DIRECTLY TO THE TOPIC OF YOUR INTEREST:
DEFAULT SETTINGS TO CHANGE
MENU TAB 1
One of the first things to do when setting up the new Sony A7R IV is to make sure that you select the right file format. By default this is set to JPEG. While RAW files are bigger in size, if you shoot landscapes you will find yourself in need of doing color correction to your files, recover shadows and possibly do even more extreme adjustments. For this reason, RAW format is what I recommend you to select.
GOOD TO KNOW: COMPRESSED VS UNCOMPRESSED
The new Sony A7R IV comes with a 61 megapixel sensor. If uncompressed, its RAW files weight around 120mb. By default, uncompressed RAW should be selected already and I suggest you to leave it like that. I personally don’t see the point of shooting uncompressed as in normal conditions you won’t see difference between the files. You could select uncompressed RAW when shooting scenes with high dynamic range or night photography even though I prefer to respectively bracket and stack images instead, in order to have a clean file.
LONG EXPOSURE NR
When shooting long exposures, the Sony A7R IV automatically takes a second exposure (dark frame) to reduce the noise directly in camera. Example: if you take a 30” exposure you will have to wait another 30” for the dark frame to be taken.
The system itself works well in terms of noise reduction. What I personally find frustrating and time consuming, is having to wait for it to take the dark frame after every single shot. Especially when there are several methods and softwares to reduce noise afterwards. Plus, if you want to use the dark frame method you can still shoot those dark frames yourself once you’re done photographing and do it manually in Photoshop.
By default this is set to sRGB, but AdobeRGB will actually allow you to capture a wider range of colors. This is particularly good if you are printing. However, the every day devices we use are calibrated to reproduce sRGB (since it contains less colors). So my suggestion is to shoot using AdobeRGB to take advantage of the full color range, then convert your file to sRGB for online use afterwards.
To activate it and be sure you’ll be able to use the bracket mode later, you just have to set a shutter delay first. I personally suggest choosing 2 seconds. Additionally, from the same menu you can decide to force the order of the different exposures, which by default is set up to 0 > – > +. I prefer to change it to – > 0 > + as I find it easier to keep track of the bracketing set when reviewing my images.
Once you’ve selected the self timer you won’t need to use this setting anymore. You will now be able to turn the bracketing function on and off from the control wheel on the back of your camera. (More on customizing your buttons later).
FOCUS FRAME COLOR
A small yet super exciting news for Sony users, is that you can now choose the color of the AF area. In the previous Sony I was often loosing track of it as it was light grey and blending with the scene most of the times. By default this is set to white, but my suggestion is to change it to red instead so that it pops out against bright scenes too.
This function only works with JPEG format. When DRO is “On” the camera automatically corrects the gamma curve, exposure level and other parameters to remove portions that appear darker than they would to the human eye. Sounds pretty good right? While it is a cool feature, I prefer to have it “Off” mainly because I don’t like if the camera thinks for me. I rather do it myself later during the editing process to be sure I have more control.
However, I definitely see a use for this new feature as a faster way to have your image ready to deliver. It reduces workflow time in case post-processing is not something you want to do.
SHUTTER AWB LOCK
I use auto white balance all the times, but it has some limitations of course. One, for example, is when you are shooting a panorama as you change the composition and the white balance in the scene slightly changes from frame to frame. When you are shooting a panorama you want consistency between the frames and by selecting this the white balance will stay the same.
MENU TAB 2
RELEASE W/O CARD
If, by mistake, you are shooting without SD card and this function is enabled you will be able to take photos and you won’t get any warnings (only a little yellow text on the corner of the viewfinder/LCD, not very noticeable). Of course it happened to me twice!
To avoid that this happens to you too, you just have to disable this function. By doing it, as soon as you’ll press the shutter you will get a warning saying that you can’t take photos because the SD card is missing.
FINDER FRAME RATE
Set up to “Standard” by default, you can change it to “High” so that the viewfinder will have a higher frame rate. This means less latency, what you see through it it’s going to be more smooth and it will feel more natural. This will have no effect on the LCD screen.
Although I like my viewfinder and LCD to be as minimal as possible, I do use the Rule of 3rds Grid. I guess I became so used to it that I don’t even see it anymore and I don’t feel like it is blocking/covering the image in any way. The main reason why I use this grid is not for the composition, but to check if the camera is leveled. I don’t like to have to press buttons to see the level of the camera, and the in camera level blocks the image too much for my taste.
The reason why I prefer to set this to “Movie Mode Only” instead of “Always” is to avoid touching the button accidentally (Left Picture) and start recording unnecessary video clips. By changing this setting, recording only starts when video mode is selected on the Mode Dial on top of the camera (Right Picture).
MENU TAB 5
Having a brighter monitor is a bit of a trade off. Compared to the default setting “Manual 0” it will surely use a bit of extra battery but you’ll see much better from your LCD. Also, the Sony batteries are really good and one will last plenty of time despite this.
With this function set to “Auto” by default, the viewfinder will constantly adjust the brightness level based on the ambient light. Because of this, you could potentially think that what you’re shooting is underexposed or overexposed. To avoid miscalculation of the real exposure of your image, this function is better set to “Manual +2”, so that its brightness stays the same and doesn’t change with ambient light.
By changing this setting the definition of the LCD display will be better and you will be able to take full advantage of it.
Once you turn On this function, you’ll just have to fill in the information required and all your pictures will come with your copyright embed in the metadata. Highly suggested!
REC. MEDIA SETTINGS
Even though I personally have the following settings:
- Prioritize Rec. Media > Slot 1
- Recording Mode > Standard
- Auto Switch Media > On
I do think you should take a moment to think about your preferred settings here. Specifically, when clicking on “Recording Mode”, you can choose to save your files simultaneously on both your memory cards in order to have an “in field” back up in case something happens to one of your memory cards.
In my case, I prefer not to have a second copy of my files (in camera), so it’s set to “Standard” for this reason. With the Auto Switch Media set to “On”, once the first memory card is full all the files will automatically start saving on the second one.
CUSTOMIZE YOUR CAMERA
After adjusting all the default settings, the next thing to do is to customize your new Sony A7R IV. As you’ve surely noticed by now, there are so many menus and pages for each one of them that looking for something can be very frustrating. But the good news is that the camera is fully customizable! And if you do it right, you won’t have to go through the menus ever again.
That’s exactly why customizing the camera is so essential, as it allows you to have fast access to your preferred and most-used features in a short time. There are several different things you can customize in your Sony A7R IV:
- Custom keys functions when shooting
- Custom keys functions when in playback mode
- LCD & Viewfinder customization
- Fn customization
- Custom Menu
Keys are the buttons situated on the rear and top of the camera. You can customize them for still images mode, video mode and playback mode from Menu Tab 2.
By selecting the first “Custom Key” option, you’ll be able to customize all the buttons for when you’re shooting still images. This means that, when you’re shooting, you can click on those buttons and change certain settings. Below you’ll see an example of my settings:
By selecting the third “Custom Key” option, you’ll be able to customize all the buttons again but this time for when you’re in playback mode.
This means that, when you’re checking your pictures, you can click on those buttons and do certain things such as rating an image. Below you’ll see an example of my settings:
LCD & VIEWFINDER CUSTOMIZATION
This customization allows you to choose what you see on your LCD and on your Viewfinder when you’re shooting. Note that you need to set up both separately through the setting DISP Button.
As I was saying earlier, I like my displays to be as minimal as possible. Below you’ll see an example of my settings:
FUNCTION MENU SET
The Function Menu Set is a button you can use to recall your custom functions (up to 12) when shooting.
Below you’ll see an example of my settings:
Starting from the top row, left to right, here is what those settings indicate:
- Audio Signals
- Touch Operation
- Pixel Shift Multi Shoot
- Prioritize Rec Media
- Face/Eye Priority in AF
- Silent Shooting
- Metering Mode
- Grid Line
- Steady Shot
- File Format
- Subject Detection
The custom menu is the 6th and last menu tab in your camera. Think of it as a summary of all 5 menu tabs and as a way to group all the functions you use the most together.
Once you customize it, it will most likely become the only menu you’ll ever use. Below you’ll see an example of my settings:
NEW CAMERA FEATURES
The Sony A7R IV has surely some cool new functions. Below I’ve made a list of what for me are the most useful and appreciated improvements of this camera:
- With its 61 megapixels the quality of the images is even better than it was before. While not everyone will fully benefit from this, higher resolution is especially good for printing. More megapixels also mean more cropping power which can come very handy;
- The body feels much better. The grip is deeper and fits hands more comfortably. Buttons are more squishy and rubbery;
- It has improved weather-sealing protection, which is always important for people like me shooting outdoor;
- The new DRO function is definitely something cool to play with, especially when editing is not in the plan;
- While its predecessor had only one UHS-II SD card slot, there are now two UHS-II SD slots that ensure you faster data transfer;
- Another very cool thing is that this camera allows you to save your settings and copy them to another camera. This is incredibly useful as it saves you plenty of time importing your menu settings to a second camera body!
TO IMPROVE NEXT
After all these improvements, there are now two things I’d like to see in the next camera:
- The touch screen menu. It would made the navigation so much smoother!
- Have something like a mirror to cover the sensor when changing lens. This would limit the amount of dust that gets inside!
If you made it to the end of this article, congrats! I hope you now have a better idea of how to set up the menu of your Sony A7R IV. While it can be overwhelming at first, once you set everything up including your custom buttons and menus, you won’t have to navigate through the other menus much again.