This is one Alpha 7 that is not willing to grow up from the A6000 body series. At first glance, you would mistake this as an A6000 series but in fact, it is Sony’s smallest A7 full-frame series in a compact body adopted from its APS-C body – the Sony A7C. We bring you the review, read on.
Reading from the specifications of the Sony A7C, it is like a compact version of the Sony A7 III with some tweaks in up-to-date camera features such as the improved focusing and its ergonimics. It has the same pixel counts at 24 megapixels and basic 4K video at 30p. The full-frame compact A7C fits below the position of the A7 III to target casual user who is used to one-hand operation such as the A6000 series but with the rich features of the full-frame camera.
As this A7C is not a real A7 series in its traditional form factor, we would much like to call it a crossbreed that has the look of A6000 series, just thicker. The vari-angle LCD screen which flips out 180 degrees is one strategic move by Sony to starts incorporate them in the A7 series and we may get to see more of this in their upcoming 7 series releases in the future.
Aesthetically, the traditional electronic viewfinder is not at the centre anymore, it was moved to the left corner and it is also tinier, probably this is one way to keep the size to look compact. With a few struggling moments, we manage to make ourself getting used to the tiny viewfinder.
Launched together with the package is a brand new retracting compact zoom lens, the 28-60mm kits lens specially designed for a compact full-frame camera and it paired handsomely with the A7C to make the overall camera dimension so much smaller. This is a great lens for casual shooting and for those who want to travel light.
It’s recording features, however, is not anything to shout about. It’s almost the same as its older sibling the A7 III with 24MP sensor and the video features are capped 8-bit and 4K 30p. This is a basic video specification for today’s standard. The good thing is, you do get S-Log2, S-Log3 and HLG modes, together with both mic and headphone input jacks, not to mention 120p full HD.
What about the AF system? The good news is, you will get Sony’s best autofocus system, with 693 phase AF points and 425 contrast AF points covering 93% of the frame. Sony’s AF system is one of the most advanced you can find today, and this one has the Real-Time Eye AF, human/animal, left/right eye and Real-Time Tracking. Its 10fps continuous shooting speed is decently fast for most action photography. Sony claimed it can capture 115 raw files or 223 JPEG images in a burst.
Build and handling
As mentioned in our opening, the A7C was built on a brand new platform. Some may love it, some may hate it. It is a compact full-frame camera make on a magnesium alloy body structure. Although A7C is larger than A6000 series, if you compare to the A7 series, it is not exactly that small, just that Sony sliced off the centre EVF and moved it to the side. One-hand operation is easy if you are that person who shoots single-handedly.
The fact is, it’s the new 28-60mm kit lens that makes the A7C seem small. If you mount other regular E-mount zoom lenses on it, the illusion of the compact size might not be there anymore. Vice versa, if we mount the 28-60mm kit lens on the regular A7 series, the compactness now favours the 7 series. You get the idea. For the new kit lens design, it has a mechanical action with no locking button and that’s quicker to use compared to electrically-powered zooms.
There is a “bold” Record button on the top of the camera, and missing was the front control dial on the front grip. Instead, you control the camera with a single rear control dial and a multi-function dial on the back. The grip was solid and secure for a compact body. Major buttons can be accessed with your thumb on the back if you are on the one-hand mode.
Sony A7C come built with a single SD card slot. For a casual shooter, we think it is enough unless you are a heavy production machine. It has a microphone input jack and audio monitor input jack for serious video content producer. This camera can be charged with a USB 3 type C and certain Power-Direct power bank if you are on the go and in need of extra battery juice.
As usual, the menu system is very Sony, not a problem for the seasoned Alpha user, but if this is your first Alpha, you may need to be patience to master the menu navigation system.
The autofocus is excellent. The 28-60mm kit lens focuses quickly and silently, both for stills and video, and the camera’s AF system is extremely effective, especially for vlogging use, where it changes focus rapidly but smoothly between the user’s face and objects held close to the camera, or between the user’s face and the background if they speak to the camera and then move out of the frame. If you want to keep things simple and predictable by selecting an AF point you’ll find the A7C delivers a fast but smooth refocusing action.
Another advance auto focus feature is the Real-time eye AF for animals. The A7C tracks and focuses animal’s eyes. It recognises your usual house pets such as cats and dogs and when you are visiting the zoo, surprisingly, A7C recognises them!
The redesigned in-body stabilisation delivers up to 5 stops of compensation and 5-axis of movement. If you do not have a steady hand, then, it works well to minimise movement shake. Also, an advantage, if you are shooting in the unusually low light situation. Sony’s SteadyShot system is good at managing small unintentional movements.
As the A7C is launched to target at vloggers and content creators. The 4K video specs may be unattractive, but it produces sharp, detailed video and has a very responsive autofocus system. If you are a one-man production team, do consider to pair the Sony A7C with the GP-VPT2BT Bluetooth control grip. For bloggers especially, the grip controls recording and zoom operations, and doubles as a tripod for hands-free shooting. A customisable button and easy camera angle adjustment make it perfect for your shooting workflow.
The workflow for social media content creators is very streamlined. With their Sony Imaging Edge applications for desktop and smartphones, we can do live broadcast connecting the A7C to the laptop to act as a webcam, download and edit our contents in our smart devices and upload to our social media instantly and easily through the camera’s built-in Bluetooth and wifi.
PRO & CONS
New Full-frame retracting lens
Flip-out LCD screen
Good AF performance
Basic video Specs
Viewfinder a little too small
Sensor : 42.4MP full-frame Exmor R CMOS
Image processor: Bionz X
AF points: 399-point phase detection, 425-point contrast detection
ISO range : 100-32,000, expandable to 50-102,400
Metering zones : 1,200
Video 4K: UHD at 30, 24fps
Viewfinder: Quad-VGA OLED, 3.69 million dots
Memory card : 2 x SD/SDHC/SDXC, inc 1 x UHS II
LCD: 3-inch touchscreen, 1,440k dots
Max burst : 10fps
Connectivity : Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth
Size : 127 x 96 x 74mm
Weight : 675g (body only, with battery and memory card)
Buy for RM8,399 (body) at your nearest dealer.