Sony A7C appeared almost a year ago. I have used this camera more than once in my lens reviews. Now, I decided to devote a separate Sony A7C review. It is one of the most affordable full-frame mirrorless cameras in the Sony camera models. And with the ancestor of the Sony A7 III, it is an almost complete copy of which many believe; but the Sony A7C has quite significant differences. All this is in my Sony A7C review and live test.
Features of Sony A7C
The need for a compact full-frame arose a long time ago. If you remember the history of Sony mirrorless cameras, they only grew and got heavier from the very beginning. So, the transition to a new format of capacious batteries NP-FZ100 forced the entire line of mirrorless cameras to add a little more in size.
But we must pay tribute to the engineers at Sony: by making several compromises, they still managed to create a truly compact model without abandoning either the full-frame, the capacious battery, or the so useful built-in stabilizer.
Sony A7C looks and dimensions much more like a six-thousandth-cropped series than other modern “sevens.”
Inside, it is primarily (but not entirely) a copy of the Sony A7 III. The same sensor (24MP and back-illuminated design), the same built-in 5-axis image stabilizer, the same speed characteristics (up to 10 fps with autofocus), the Bionz X processor, and 4K video shooting from the entire frame width.
There are also differences. The tilting display has been replaced by a fully rotatable display, making it more convenient to shoot selfies and videos without an operator. For example, I shot videos for the microphone test on the A7C using a rotating screen. Fans of the brand have been waiting for such an upgrade for a long time.
Unfortunately, the electronic viewfinder has been downgraded. It retained the same resolution, 2,359,296, but the matrix at its core is different, of a smaller size. As a result, the magnification ratio has become smaller: 0.59x versus 0.78x for the Sony A7 III. It is perceived as small. It is not very convenient to work with that all the time. So the primary sighting tool in this model will be the screen.
In the struggle for compactness, the camera lost the second memory card slot, and the first and only one moved to the opposite side of the case, where all the connectors are located. The fact is that literally, the entire grip of the camera is taken up by a large battery.
The victim of miniaturization is the direct AF area joystick and front control wheel. However, considering the presence of a multi-selector on the rear panel of the control dials, the Sony A7C has two. The front disc was just subjectively more convenient.
Closing the list of simplifications is the shutter. First, the minimum shutter speed is 1/4000 s. It limits the possibilities of working with super-high-aperture lenses during the day. Secondly, the photographer can now choose an electronic shutter or a mechanical one with an electronic front curtain.
There is no utterly mechanical mode of operation left. Recall that Sony kept this setting for a long time. A fully mechanical shutter with a microscopic lag was needed to work with old slow-moving lenses mounted through an adapter. They did not always have time to close the aperture to the set value, leading to inaccurate exposure.
Some improvements are invisible at first glance. For example, Wi-Fi now supports 5 GHz.
Even more significant changes were made to autofocus. The Sony A7C uses the latest object recognition algorithms obtained using machine learning at the camera’s release. Recognition of people’s faces, eyes, heads, and bodies works for a solid five.
Perhaps that is why the manufacturer abandoned the AF point selection joystick. Even in the most challenging scenes, just touching the screen is enough for the camera to track the main subject accurately. It applies to both photos and videos.
Now let’s take another look at all the changes. Before us is a classic semi-pro camera, somewhat inferior in subtleties to the more “professional” ILCE-7M3, even though the latter has become cheaper during its stay on the market. But the compactness and rotary screen of the new “seven” give a different comfort level in everyday and travel shooting. It is a typical “blogger camera”: a beautiful and simple device with the broadest possible range of possibilities.
Image Quality of Sony A7C Camera
Equipped with a 24MP full-frame BSI sensor, the Sony A7C does a lot. During the test, in most cases, it was possible to do without a tripod, even in the evening and at night. The stabilizer and high working ISO are the strong points of this model.
At ISO 100, the camera provides excellent detail and a smooth picture without noise. The same character of the image is maintained when ISO is increased to 200 and 400 units.
Smoothness only stops at ISO 800 when fine monochrome noise appears in monotonous areas. But all this is visible only at maximum magnification. The low noise level eliminates additional processing, even for large-format printing. You can safely continue raising the ISO up to 3200 units; slight noise will not cause serious problems.
Degradation of the picture, which requires some compromise from the photographer, starts with ISO 6400. First, the detail in the shadows is reduced, and at ISO 12800, halftones suffer. Still, you can shoot at that ISO too. For complex situations, you can even use ISO 25600; however, already without plans for large-format printing.
Color noise appears at ISO 51200; the picture looks less impressive. And the following two expandable values are of little use in artistic photography due to a noticeable drop in technical quality.
At one time, the Sony A7 III was able to surprise us with the breadth of the dynamic range. The Sony A7C has entirely inherited the “rubber” RAW, which can be pulled up to three stops in either direction. Except that you need to be more careful with shadows: after a two-stop correction, you may need a bit of additional noise reduction.
Sony A7C at Work
The camera’s form factor, especially with compact lenses, makes it an excellent choice for travel photography and even simple urban sketching. At the same time, with heavy and large lenses, some of the model’s advantages are quickly lost. Whatever one may say, the handle’s height and grip are lower than that of other sevens, and there is very little space between the lens and the handle.
We have already noted above that the tiny viewfinder of the Sony A7C is inconvenient for constant work with it. The panning screen is the basic sighting scenario with this camera. The screen also supports a touch interface, but its capabilities are limited. It only serves to select the AF area. In the menu, the touch interface does not work.
The camera body is protected against dust and moisture, which we have repeatedly tested in practice during testing. Dictated by the camera’s ergonomics, the outstretched shooting style gives a more vivid perception of the frame but conceals an insidious feature: the risk of blur increases significantly. The stabilizer comes to the rescue. It compensates for vibrations in five axes, and the claimed efficiency is five shutter speeds.
My testing experience, albeit with some stretch, confirms this figure. With a 50mm lens, it was possible to get sharp shots at shutter speeds up to 0.6 s. At ⅓ of a second in a series of three shots, there will necessarily be at least one utterly sharp frame, and at ⅙ you can safely shoot handheld, almost all photos turn out to be sharp.
Working with autofocus caused the most controversial emotions. On the one hand, that perfectly finds the main subject in the frame, a person, object, or animal. In continuous mode, the main subject is kept in sharp focus.
Eye AF is fast and responsive. Unless you have to choose from the menu: focus the camera on people or animals. And this little thing is the only inconvenience we have encountered. You can forget about any other focus settings for many scenes – the camera does everything by itself.
The Sony A7C owes its conflicting feelings to a lost joystick. If you still need to select the autofocus area manually, you will have to use either the touch interface (rain or gloves on your hands will not allow you to use them) or use the Navipad.
Additional functions are assigned to its buttons and the central button switches between operating modes. Too often changed the ISO instead of the AF point and wasted precious fractions of a second trying to figure out where I hit by mistake. This focusing system can be inconvenient for a photographer who is used to keeping everything under control literally at their fingertips.
As for the rate of fire, there are no questions: 10 frames/s with autofocus, the Sony A7C confidently fulfills. At this speed, I measured 75 compressed RAW files in the buffer. That’s 7.5 seconds of continuous shooting. Not a bad result for a pocket camera.
With autonomy, too, everything is in order, especially by the standards of mirrorless cameras. The declared resource of one battery charge is 680 frames when sighting through the viewfinder and 740 using the screen. In practice, the battery was sufficient for more shots. The Sony A7C is capable of withstanding a day of not too intense shooting.
Formally, the video capabilities of the Sony A7C do not differ from the A7 III. The camera can record 4K up to 30fps from the full-frame or APS-C area (Super35 in the menu). The bitrate is up to 100 Mbps, the color depth is only 8 bits, and the downsampling is 4:2:0. The operator’s work is simplified by the built-in stabilizer, which effectively removes minor shaking during shooting.
There is a microphone input and a headphone output. The camera supports a variety of gamma profiles, including proprietary S-Log 3 and HLG HDR video.
Of the non-obvious advantages over the A7 III, I note the support for the digital microphone interface and, in general, more confident autofocus when shooting video.
The Sony A7C has Bluetooth 4.1 and dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 or 5 GHz) on board. Wireless connections allow you to control the camera from a smartphone or PC, transfer pictures to a smartphone, or even to an FTP server via Wi-Fi. Here, the presence of a fast wireless connection looks no longer just a characteristic for the show but a significant advantage.
The Sony A7C is a powerful camera and camcorder for those who value compactness and quality in technology. The back-illuminated full-frame sensor provides very high operating ISOs and a wide dynamic range.
The built-in stabilizer is effective for both stills and movies. Autofocus can ideally recognize and keep in focus objects, aiming at people and animals’ eyes. The camera’s rate of fire is also at a high level – up to 10 frames per second with autofocus, and the buffer is designed for 7.5 seconds at maximum speed.
Video capabilities are sufficient for budget video production: 4K up to 30 fps with support for various gamma profiles. But most importantly, such a video is straightforward to shoot thanks to good autofocus, a rotating screen, and a built-in stabilizer.
The downsides that we highlighted for the Sony A7C are mainly the simplifications associated with the miniaturization of the body. But it is also important to note the minimum shutter speed of 1/4000 s, limiting the use of ultrafast optics.
You can buy it on Amazon for $1798/-. Here is the product link.
- Modest dimensions and lightweight;
- High detail for 24 megapixels;
- Wide dynamic range;
- High working ISO up to 12 800 units;
- High-speed continuous shooting up to 10 frames/s;
- Capacious buffer;
- Silent shooting;
- Excellent autofocus;
- Effective image stabilizer based on sensor-shift;
- Touchscreen rotary display;
- High-quality video recording in 4K and Full HD;
- Microphone input and headphone output;
- Work with gamma curve profiles;
- Dust and moisture protection;
- Long battery life for a mirrorless.
- Minimum shutter speed up to 1/4000 s;
- The grip is inconvenient for working with large lenses;
- Small viewfinder;
- Limited functionality of the touch interface.
- Editorial Rating – 8.7
- Opportunities – 9
- Convenience – 8
- Justification of the Price – 9