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You probably shouldn't buy a Sony A7R IV or A7R III right now – here's why

Sony A7R IV
(Image credit: Sony)

If you've been eyeing up the Sony A7R IV or Sony A7R III mirrorless cameras recently, it might be wise to slot your wallet back in its holster for now – as Sony has just quietly introduced two minor upgrades to the two cameras.

As Sony's YouTube video subtly reveals, the updated Sony A7R III (which has the model name ILCE-7RM3A) and Sony A7R IV (called the ILCE-7RM4A) bring a few small changes, the most notable of which is a new rear LCD screen.

On both models, this has a more modern 2.36-million dot resolution, compared to the slightly dated 1.44-million dot displays on the cameras that remain on sale at many retailers.

According to Sony, the only other differences are that the USB port has been changed to USB 3.2 (although this isn't a hardware change) to match the Sony A7S III, and the Sony logo under the LCD monitor has been removed.

They're hardly huge upgrades, then, but that updated LCD screen could well be worth having if you relying on it a lot for reviewing images. On the downside, it does appear to have reduced the battery lives by ten shots both models, with the new Sony A7R IV delivering 660 shots (rather than 670) and the A7R III going for 640 shots per charge (compared to 650).

This means some buyers may still be happy with the current models, which go by the standard ILCE-7RM3 (for the Sony A7R III) and ILCE-7RM4 (Sony A&R IV) monikers. But the potential confusion is that it's not always clear which model retailers are stocking, unless you look for those specific product names – so if you want the improved LCD screen of the updated versions, it might be better to hold off from buying right now.

Primal screen

The other question this raises is why Sony has updated these two cameras with new LCD screens – particularly the four-year-old A7R III – when the brand-new, flagship Sony A1 has been left with the standard 1.44-million dot LCD.

We've asked Sony to clarify this, along with the on-sale dates for the new 'A' versions of both cameras, and will update this story when we hear back. While this is just speculation, it's potentially something to do with the "severe shortage of key parts" that Sony told us it was experiencing back in December 2020.

This isn't the first time that Sony has produced a minor camera upgrade with an 'A' suffix either, with the same happening to the Sony RX100 VA back in 2019 – that camera instead had a new Bionx X processor, which allowed for several new features.

Whatever the reason, it's certainly slightly confusing for anyone whose been thinking of picking up either the A7R IV or A7R III. The change certainly doesn't make the current versions of these cameras no-gos – an updated LCD isn't a deal-breaker, and some may prefer to have that extra ten shots of battery life instead.

But it is still a factor that's worth bearing in mind if you're in the market for a high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera, as the 61MP A7R IV and older 42.4MP A7R III remain two of the best options around.