The Sony A7 IV is an excellent hybrid camera which builds on the strong foundations of the Sony A7 III. Most notable features include 10-bit (4:2:2) 4K recording up to 60fps (with crop), full Eye AF tracking, tracking control, articulating display with improved resolution, full touchscreen control and separate video/photo mode dial for individual shortcuts and controls.
The Sony A7 IV opens up plenty of camera possibilities, but the side effect of that is the increased operating temperatures and a higher possible chance of the camera overheating from previous generations. Having said that, you’ll be hard-pressed to even get the Sony A7 IV to overheat, with the battery much likelier to deplete before that happens. But, create the right conditions and it is possible. If you find yourself in a position that has you somewhat nervous, here are 13 ways to manage the temperatures, so you can maximise your Sony A7 IV workflow without the worries of overheating.
Go into the camera settings and change the temperature to ‘high’. This allows the camera to operate at higher temperatures than standard mode, without any side effects to the camera so you can shoot for longer, especially during 10-bit 4K video recording. This is the first thing to do before everything else, otherwise, the camera will power itself off as it reaches a low-temperature threshold in standard mode.
Have display open from body
Articulate the touchscreen display outwards either toward the side or away enough from the camera body enough. It separates the screen from the body and allows trapped heat to escape more than if it is closed.
Leave battery cover open
Leave the battery cover open for extra access points for air to flow into the camera body, and help cool those temperatures. Even in hot conditions, with the extra room for hot standing air to drift through, it can slowly but surely help. You don’t need to worry about the battery falling out as there is a security latch which prevents it from doing so.
if you haven’t done so already and you don’t need to use remote shooting, turn off airplane mode. It not only drastically saves battery power but reduces the power consumption as wifi and Bluetooth are turned off. Otherwise, they’re constantly on or searching for nearby devices and vice versa, creating plenty of power wastage.
Record video in short sessions
Aim to record only what you need and stop recording when you’re on standby waiting to shoot. Limiting the recording time not only makes your workflow easier by having multiple clips to find what you need compared to one longer clip, but it also gives the camera time in between shoots to cool itself down and lower temperatures before shooting again. Doing this makes overheating far less likely.
Reduce direct power consumption by turning off the EVF and inbuilt display, if you plan to connect an external monitor. External monitors like the Atomos Ninja V or Feelworld, run using their own battery packs, reducing the power-load somewhat, as long as you turn the Sony A7 IV display off otherwise you won’t benefit from it.
Use viewfinder only
This one is debatable as I haven’t fully confirmed but switch monitoring to EVF only so it turns the display off. It’s argued the EVF uses more battery but I’m not so sure. Change from either auto or monitor to the viewfinder. You may see some incremental gains and lower power consumption since the display is fully offline.
Create shade outdoors
You are more likely to experience overheating when shooting high bit rate video outdoors in the direct heat. I found even when just shooting stills in 35C weather the camera was very hot because of the direct sunlight burning down that ramps up the body temperatures. Either find areas of shade you can shoot from or go to when you’re not shooting, or create a sunblock either with yourself to make a shadow or object. It’s minimal but definitely helps if it means the difference between just about getting away with it or pushing to the edge and powering off due to overheating.
Carry a portable fan
In between shooting sessions, carry a portable fan and blow it against the body internals (battery section general body area or behind the screen) to create airflow and movement to dissipate standing heat. Like a laptop, the movement of air can help cool and bring temperatures down quicker.
If there’s any chance, put the camera in a cool, air-conditioned or ventilated room to bring temperatures down quickly before heading out again.
An ice pack or cold drink
An effective way is to place an ice pack very close or place it against the camera body wrapped in a cloth (to absorb the wetness from the ice pack) which can quickly reduce body temperatures. If an ice pack is not available any chilled cold drink in a can or cartoon can do the trick too.
Lower bit-rate, frames and resolution
More as a last resort if you’re running out of options and you’re hard-pressed to get your stuff working, record video firstly at a lower bit rate if you’re shooting say 400mbps towards 140 Mbps at 4K on the A7 IV. If you’re overshooting the framerate for safety say 50fps when 23.976 or 25fps is perfectly fine, definitely do that. The last resort, is to downgrade from 4K to Full HD however the order of the three may differ depending on the priority (needing a high bit-rate for detail post-production, only need 1080p to begin with or need 4K for extra flexibility). Shoot with the output in mind and what you can get away with.
Set your power saving mode to turn the camera off after a short time so it’s not left on standby powered on. You can adjust the time when this kicks in but by doing so, you allow the camera to fully power off so it reaches below idle temperatures. It also won’t be generating heat since it will be fully powered off in case you forget to turn it off yourself or accidentally leave it on. This mode will save your battery and temperatures when it can.
Overheating final thoughts
The above are all preventative measures should your Sony A7 IV be running much hotter than usual so you have many methods to use if it is needed. But like I mentioned at the beginning, the Sony A7 IV has not overheated on me on the field or during any shooting so I would not worry about that at all. It will definitely run much hotter than you’re used to if it’s your first 10-bit 4K camera that can shoot up to 60 fps, that is normal. It’s something you’ll have to adjust to.
However there’s no harm if you’re starting to see signs with hot weather conditions, standing heat and long shooting sessions, then it’s good to be perceptive and do what you need to keep your equipment cool.
By doing all of the above, this should never be any issue for the A7 IV or any other camera body for that matter, though some camera models can handle this better than others and if it’s overheating more frequent than it should, then it may be worth considering changing to another camera body for your type of use. Got a method to share? Let me know in the comments below!