Sony's slimmest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera, the Sony A7C, has the guts of a Sony A7 III but in a body that more closely resembles its A6XXX series APS-C mirrorless cameras. The Sony A7 III was already a pretty popular full-frame camera and one that I liked very much too when I reviewed it.
The Sony A7C is designed to offer users improved tracking and eye autofocus, plus a fully articulating touchscreen, in an even smaller footprint. It's time to test this camera and see if it's any good.
Sony A7C design
The Sony A7C is impressively small considering it has a full-frame sensor and 5-axis stabilisation on the inside. It's not as compact as Sony's APS-C cameras but it's close enough. The Sigma fp (Review) is still the smallest full-frame camera I've tested, although it didn't have sensor stabilisation. The A7C has a beefy handgrip, giving it a good in-hand feel. Compared to the Sony A7 III, the Sony A7C's electronic viewfinder (EVF) has been moved to the back, on the left, thereby giving you a flat top. The mode and exposure compensation dials have similar positions on the top as on the A7 III, but some of the customisable function buttons and the handgrip dial are missing.
The Sony A7C has a relatively small footprint for a full-frame mirrorless camera
The body is built from a single piece of magnesium alloy, which gives it very good rigidity and sturdiness. The Sony A7C offers good physical connectivity, and you'll find the headphone, microphone, USB Type-C, and Micro-HDMI ports, and a single SDXC card slot under flaps on the left side. Unlike the Sony A7 III, the A7C has a flip-out touchscreen which can be articulated 180 degrees to face you, which could be handy for vlogging.
While this touchscreen is a big improvement, the A7C sadly still uses Sony's old-style menu system, as seen on the A7 III, and not the updated one we got with the Sony A7S III. Touch input is also limited to just picking a focus point, either by tapping it directly or using it as a touchpad when the EVF is active. Most of the on-screen menus still require you to use the rear buttons and jog dial for interaction.
Battery life of the Sony A7C is very good thanks to the high-capacity battery pack
In India, the Sony A7C body-only price is Rs. 1,67,990, but you can also buy it with a 28-60mm kit lens for Rs. 1,96,990. Sony sent me the latter for this review. This lens has an aperture range of f/4 to f/5.6 and it is collapsible, which keeps the overall footprint of the camera relatively compact for storage or travel.
Sony A7C specifications
The Sony A7C uses a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor with 693 on-sensor PDAF points and 425 contrast detection AF points. The BionzX image processor is capable of capturing up to 10fps burst shots with AF/AE tracking, real-time tracking focus with the dedicated AF-On button, and real-time Eye AF for humans and animals. The camera has a native ISO range of 100 – 51,200, which is expandable.
The A7C also has similar video capabilities as the A7 III. It can shoot at up to 4K 30fps, and there's a dedicated S&Q mode for slow-motion videos of up to 120fps (1080p). Advanced picture profiles such as 8-bit S-Log2, S-Log3, and HLG are supported.
The Sony A7C has a fully articulating rear LCD
The 2.35-million dot resolution EVF produces a crisp image, and the framerate can be bumped up to 120fps for smoother tracking of your subject. I wish Sony had provided a proper eye-cup around the EVF which could cover the user's eye completely. Also, the magnification of the EVF is lower than before due to the smaller size, at just 0.59x compared to 0.78x on the A7 III, which makes the size of the viewfinder look smaller than usual. There's built-in dual-band Wi-Fi which can be used for syncing with the Imaging Edge app on your phone.
The menu system of the Sony A7C is pretty much exactly what we've seen on other Sony mirrorless cameras such as the A7 III. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it's feature-rich and functional once you get the hang of it.
Sony A7C performance and battery life
Performance of the Sony A7C was pretty solid in the time I spent using it. The low weight of just 509g (body only) makes it easy to carry around and shoot, especially one-handed. The kit lens is serviceable, but its zoom range isn't great and I noticed some focus hunting in low-light situations due to the narrow aperture. You could easily avoid these issues with better lenses, but that would also increase the size and weight of the A7C, which defeats its purpose.
The camera's ISO performance was very impressive, as you can see from the image below. There's barely any visible loss in detail even at ISO 1,600, compared to ISO 100. Images continue to be very usable even at ISO 12,800, with just a mild loss in detail beyond that. At the highest native ISO of 51,200, the image isn't as sharp but noise is handled very well. Expanding the ISO isn't recommended unless you absolutely need it, since this introduces visible chroma noise.
Sony A7C ISO test
Thanks to the solid high ISO performance and the 5-axis stabilisation, you can capture good-looking low-light photos with minimal blurring even if you don't have very steady hands. Colours are retained well, noise is at a minimum, and details are very good. The kit lens also produces a very pleasing natural depth with close-up subjects.
With enough light during the day, the Sony A7C captures some excellent-looking landscape and close-up shots. Colours are rich and natural, and JPEGs pack in plenty of detail. The autofocus system works pretty much flawlessly every single time. Faces are automatically detected and prioritised, and I found the eye AF to work very well too.
Sony A7C camera sample (ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/320s, 60mm)
Sony A7C camera sample (ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/40s, 34mm)
Sony A7C camera sample (ISO 2,000, f/4.5, 1/40s, 35mm)
Sony A7C camera sample (ISO 12,800, f/5.6, 1/5s, 60mm)
Video performance was equally satisfactory. 4K videos pack in excellent details and you can easily tap the display to pull focus between subjects. The Sony A7C is very good with tracking objects too, and doesn't let go even if your subject briefly drops out of the frame. I tested the A7C as I would use any camera for product shoots and pieces to camera, and the experience was nothing but great. One thing I noticed was that if you're using external power through the Type-C port when shooting, the plug makes it impossible to rotate the display. This issue could have been avoided with better placement of the charging port.
Battery life was also impressive. The Sony A7C uses the same NP-FZ100 battery as the A7 III, but promises slightly better battery life of 740 shots per charge (CIPA rating). In my experience, it's actually possible to hit that number and go a bit beyond too, depending on the power saving options you have set, and whether you have Wi-Fi on or off.
The Sony A7C delivers very good still and video performance for its size
The body of the Sony A7C is priced exactly the same (at the time of this review) as that of the A7 III, at Rs. 1,67,990 on Sony India's website, which makes it a no-brainer to pick this camera over its older sibling. The A7C offers pretty much the same features as the A7 III, but with improved autofocus and a rotating display, all in a more compact body. If you opt for the kit lens bundle, the A7C is comparatively more expensive on Sony's website, but both these cameras usually sell for less on other websites and offline, so it's just a matter of finding a good deal.
As good as the performance is, there are few things to keep in mind. The touchscreen still has limited functionality, the magnification of the EVF is on the lower side (even though the quality is good), and I think Sony could have chosen a brighter kit lens given the premium it charges for the bundle.
Overall, the Sony A7C is still a great camera for stills and video which offers all the benefits of a full-frame sensor in a compact and light body.
Is Mi 11X the best phone under Rs. 35,000? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (starting at 23:50), we jump over to the Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.