Sony has launched a new full-frame mirrorless camera which follows on from its successful A7-series models, but with a radical design rethink. The Sony A7C fuses the full-frame sensor and much of the technology of Sony’s A7 cameras with the more compact, box-shaped style of its APS-C A6000-series cameras. If you imagine the tech of the Sony A7 III in a Sony A6600 body, you’ll get the idea, though inevitably the larger sensor means the A7C is larger than the A6600, albeit not by much.

Sony wants to attract a fresh audience of photographers, vloggers and content creators who want a new, fresher design and a camera that’s as adept at video as it is stills photography. Its closest neighbour in the Sony range is the Sony A7 III, and it’s likely to have a similar price tag, so this is not really cheap addition to the Sony full-frame mirrorless range, but can perhaps be considered an alternative entry-level model.

Sony A7C Key Features

The first and most obvious innovation is the design. Sony has opted for a rectangular ‘rangefinder’ style that loses the viewfinder housing on the top and instead positions the EVF in the top left corner on the back. We’re told it’s the same viewfinder like the one in the A6600.

Sony A7C Review

Round the back is a fully articulating vari-angle touchscreen, a welcome step forward from the tilting screen on regular A7-series cameras.

The menu system is similar to that on existing Sony A7 cameras, and not the new design in the A7S III. That suggests to us that the A7C has a lot of technology in common with the A7 III, despite its very different exterior appearance.

Inside, the Sony a7C has a 24.2MP Exmor R CMOS sensor of the type used in the existing Sony A7 III, hooked up to the BIONZ X processor, with an ISO 100-51,200 sensitivity variety, expandable to ISO 50-204,800. Sony says this combination offers a dynamic range of up to 15 stops (EV).
The A7C is designed for video as well as stills, but Sony has not really moved the video specs forward for this model, at least on paper. It can capture 4K movie at 30p in 8-bit XAVC-S ‘for easy editing’, using oversampled 6K capture and with no recording time limit. That’s a pretty basic video spec by current standards, but Sony must be banking on everyday usability as its selling point. You do at least get Sony’s S-Log2, S-Log3 and HLG modes as standard.

In today’s ultra-competitive video market, that might not be enough to rank the A7c amongst the best 4K cameras for filmmaking, but its complete frame sensor and ‘cinematic’ look, combined with its highly effective AF (below) could make it one of the best cameras for vlogging.

Sony A7C Review (rear)

The A7c also has Sony’s digital audio interface, mic and headphone sockets, vertical shooting capability and exactly the same AF speed and sensitivity settings of the recently launched Sony A7S III.

Sony does have an advantage in autofocus technologies, and the The7C has pretty much the best of everything inside this respect, borrowing much of the AF tech from the much more expensive A7R IV to include 693 phase-detect AF points and 425 contrast AF factors covering 93% of the frame, sufficient reason for Sony’s latest Real-Time Eye AF, human/animal, left/right eye and REAL-TIME Tracking capabilities.

It’s no slouch for continuous shooting, either, with the ability to shoot stills at around 10fps with AF/AE, or 8fps in Sony’s Live View mode (a little slower, but a more fluid display refresh for tracking fast-moving subjects).

Sony A7c Review (Front)

Specifications

Model number: ILCE-7C
Sensor:
24.2MP full-frame Exmor R CMOS BSI
Image processor: BIONZ X
AF points: 623-point phase AF, 425-point contrast AF
ISO range: 100-51,200 (exp. 50-204,800)
Metering modes: Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot, Avg., Highlight
Video: 4K UHD up to 30p
Viewfinder: EVF, 2,359k dots
Memory card: 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC, UHS-II
LCD: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 921k dots
Max burst: 10fps, 115 raws, 223 JPEG
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Size: 124.0 x 71.1 x 59.7mm
Weight: 503g (body only)

Performance

The Sony A7C we tested was a pre-production sample, and may not represent the final image quality. Even so, the performance was impressive. A retracting kit lens doesn’t sound like a recipe for optical excellence, but the FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 delivered edge-to-edge sharpness right across the zoom range.

Though of course, it’s not much of a zoom range. Most package lenses offer a 3x zoom variety, and many offer more than that. But this lens has a pretty restrictive 2.1x zoom range, so while it’s sharp enough, it doesn’t have the versatility that you might expect from an all-purpose walk-around zoom lens. In this respect, it’s like the equally restricted but somewhat wider 24-50mm kit lens for the Nikon Z5. The autofocus, however, is stellar. We didn’t possess the camera long enough for detailed testing in a variety of scenarios, however, the zoom lens focused quickly and silently, both for stills and video, and the camera’s AF system is extremely effective, especially for vlogging use, where it refocuses rapidly and smoothly between the speaker’s face and objects held close to the digital camera, or between your speaker’s encounter and the background if they speak to the camera and then move out of the frame.

The in-body stabilisation mechanism has had to be redesigned for the smaller A7C body but still delivers up to 5 stops of compensation and 5 axes of movement. It works well for handheld shooting if you are not moving, but for walking and shooting, you will still need a gimbal.

Sony A7C Price and Availability

The Sony A7C will go on sale in October 2020 for the rather steep price of $1,800 / £1,900 / AU$3,299 for the body alone. If you’d like to get the kit with the new 26-60mm lens, you’ll be paying a touch more – $2,100 / £2,150 / AU$3,899 to be precise.

The A7C will be sold in two versions – silver and black finish will arrive first in some markets, followed by an all-black limited edition further down the line. In Australia, though, both body options will be available from next month.

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