Sony A7C Review
|Full model name:||Sony Alpha ILCE-A7C|
(35.6mm x 23.8mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 51,200|
|Extended ISO:||50 - 204,800|
|Shutter:||1/8000 - 30 sec|
|Max Aperture:||4.0 (kit lens)|
4.9 x 2.8 x 2.4 in.
(124 x 71 x 60 mm)
|Full specs:||Sony A7C specifications|
Sony A7C Review -- Now Shooting!
The photography industry has changed dramatically since Sony launched the full-frame Alpha 7 series back in 2013. Over the past seven years, the general size and form factor of Sony's full frame mirrorless cameras has remained quite similar. That is, until now. Sony has announced the Sony A7C, a dramatic shift in design for the company and the result is the one of the world's smallest and lightest full frame interchangeable lens cameras. The Sigma fp still reigns supreme as the smallest full-frame ILC, but the Sony A7C takes the crown for ILCs with in-body image stabilization.
The new compact Sony Alpha camera is designed for enthusiast photographers searching for a small and light full frame camera, APS-C owners wanting to step up to full frame image quality and performance, and first-time interchangeable lens camera owners. Sony is aiming to expand the full frame market and deliver large sensor imaging performance in a compact form factor. The A7C can also perform as a compact second camera body for enthusiasts and working professionals.
Key features and Specifications
- Compact and lightweight full frame camera
- 20% smaller body than the Sony A7 III
- Vari-angle LCD
- 24.2MP CMOS image sensor
- BIONZ X image processor
- ISO up to 204,800
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization
- Hybrid AF with real-time Eye AF (human and animal) and real-time Tracking AF
- Continuous shooting at up to 10 frames per second
- 4K UHD video capabilities with fast Hybrid AF and real-time Eye AF
- Industry-leading battery life
- Available with a new compact FE 28-60mm kit lens
Camera Body and Design
When briefing us on the A7C, Sony shared that it had asked APS-C camera owners about their desire to move to a full frame camera and over half of them wanted their next camera to be a full frame one. Roughly the same number of respondents had selected an APS-C camera, such as the A6300 and A6500, due to the camera's size and weight.
To that end, the new A7C certainly fits the bill. It is about 20 percent smaller and lighter than the Sony A7 Mark III. For reference, the Sony A7 III is 3.74 inches (9.5 centimeters) tall, 5" (12.7cm) wide and 2.87" (7.3cm) in total depth. The A7 III weighs 23 ounces (652 grams). The A7C, on the other hand, is 2.8" (7.1cm) tall, 4.88" (12.4cm) wide and 2.32" (5.9cm) deep. The A7C weighs in at 17.9 oz. (507g). In fact, the A7C is not much larger than the Sony A6600 despite having a much larger image sensor. The A6600 is 2.6 x 4.7 x 2.3 inches (6.7 x 12 x 5.9 centimeters) and weighs 17.7 oz. (502g).
In order to make the A7C compact and light, Sony has made numerous adjustments to internal components. The 5-axis in-body image stabilization system has been revised to be smaller, and the shutter unit has also been redeveloped. The new shutter is driven by an electromagnetic drive and is rated for up to 200,000 cycles.
Another way in which Sony reduced the size of the A7C is by moving the viewfinder from the top of the camera to a built-in design on the back left of the camera, much like is found on Sony's A6XXX series of cameras. The EVF uses an OLED display with 2.369M dots.
The body itself incorporates a monocoque construction to reduce the weight while increasing overall rigidity and strength. The A7C uses a magnesium alloy chassis and is dust and moisture resistant.
Another way Sony has been able to make the A7C so compact and lightweight is by reducing the number of available controls. Compared to the A7 III, the A7C lacks a dedicated autofocus control joystick, rear C3 button and AEL button. It also lacks a front control dial, though there is still a rear thumb dial as well as a command wheel on the back of the camera.
The A7C's rear display is three inches diagonally, has 921K dots of resolution, and features touch functionality. Like the recent A7S III, the display can flip out to the side such that it can be used for vlogging or as a selfie display.
In terms of storage, ports and connectivity, the A7C is a bit different from other A7 series cameras. A big difference is that the A7C has a single UHS-II compatible SD card slot. In terms of wireless features, the A7C has 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi capabilities. The A7C can also perform FTP file transfer, either wired or wireless, and tether via its USB-C port. For audio, the A7C has headphone and mic jacks and is compatible with Sony's digital audio interface.
The A7C uses the same 24.2MP Exmor R backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor as is found in the Sony A7 III. Paired with the BIONZ X image processor, the A7C delivers a high ISO of 204,800. In terms of dynamic range, Sony states that the A7C delivers up to 15 stops of dynamic range for still photography.
Autofocus and Performance
Like the sensor, the A7C's Hybrid AF system is also borrowed from the Sony A7 III, although the AF algorithm is from the recent A7S III. The result is an AF system offering 693 phase-detect AF points and 425 contrast-detect points. The A7C delivers real-time Eye AF for both humans and animals. The real-time autofocus feature is the same as is found in the A7R IV camera. Likewise, also found in the A7R IV, the AF On button initiates real-time tracking and AF with default control settings.
Powered by its BIONZ X image processor, the A7C can capture images at up to 10 frames per second with both full autofocus and automatic exposure metering. This speed is available when using either the mechanical shutter or the electronic shutter in silent shooting mode. Sony states that the buffer depth is 223 images with Large Fine JPEGs, though buffer depth will drop with other image quality settings and file format combinations. For example, with compressed RAW shooting, the A7C is stated to shoot at around 115 frames, while uncompressed RAW drops the buffer depth performance further; uncompressed RAW buffer is about 45 frames.
In terms of battery life, the Sony A7C delivers 'industry best' performance. The A7C uses Sony's NP-FZ100 lithium-ion battery and is rated for 740 images (when using the LCD), 640 shots with EVF, and 225 minutes of video recording. Further, the camera can charge via its USB-C port.
The A7C is equipped with 5-axis in-body image stabilization. The new compact 5-axis IBIS system is rated for 5 stops of compensation.
The new compact A7C has essentially the same suite of video features as the Sony A7 III. This means that the A7C delivers 4K UHD video at 24 and 30p frame rates with full pixel readout. For faster frame rates, the A7C can record Full HD video at up to 120fps using Sony's Slow & Quick Motion shooting mode. As of writing, there's no word on recording limits for 4K video clips. However, Sony has stated that the camera is not restricted to a 29 min. 59 sec. recording limitation, and the camera also features a menu option for "Auto Power OFF Temp," that will adjust the temperature limit for video recording. It will be interesting to see if the A7C employs some of the passive cooling designs found in the Sony A7S III.
For those working within a professional workflow, or enthusiasts who enjoy getting the highest quality video from their cameras, the A7C can also record S-Log 3/2 and HLG/HDR video. This allows for up to 14 stops of dynamic range. 4K video is recorded internally at 8 bits.
In terms of video autofocus, the camera's Fast Hybrid AF system includes Real-Time Eye AF for human subjects and AI-powered Real-Time Tracking AF. Users can also adjust the speed at which the camera changes focus and the AF system's sensitivity to new subjects as they enter the frame.
Usability during video recording was an area of focus during the design of the A7C, especially considering the target audience of the camera. Sony states that the A7C is ideal for vlogging thanks to its side-opening vari-angle LCD. Further, the camera is compatible with Sony's shooting grip with wireless remote commander, and it has a Multi Interface hotshoe with support for Sony's new Digital Audio Interface that was first seen in the A7R IV. The A7C has a dedicated recording button on the top panel as well, just beneath the power switch.
New FE 28-60mm kit lens
Alongside the A7C, Sony is introducing a new compact kit lens to go with its compact full frame camera. The FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 is the world's smallest and lightest full-frame E-mount standard zoom lens and employs a mechanically retractable design.
The new FE 28-60mm lens weighs only 5.8oz. (164g) and in combination with the A7C body, the kit weighs 23.8oz (675g), which is barely heavier than the Sony A7 III body by itself. The A7 III with its FE 28-70mm kit lens weighs 33.3oz. (944g). Further, the A7C with the retracted 28-60mm lens is a much smaller overall footprint.
In terms of special glass, the FE 28-60mm lens includes a trio of aspherical lens elements. The lens uses a linear AF motor for quick and quiet autofocus and does support full AF at the A7C's maximum shooting speed of 10fps. The lens can close focus to 11.8" (0.3 meters) at the 28mm focal length and 17.7" (0.45m) at 60mm.
Price and Availability
The Sony A7C will be available as a body only or in a kit with the new FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 lens. The body by itself will launch with a suggested retail price of $1,800 USD and the kit will cost prospective buyers an additional $300 when both products launch this November.