First Look: Sony α7C


      In summary

      The relatively small size and light weight of the Alpha 7C (α7C) will make it ideal for travellers, even if you choose to fit a slightly longer zoom lens than the rather restricted 28-60mm f/4-5.6 kit lens. The articulating monitor with touch controls make the α7C a good choice for spontaneous shooters, including street and documentary photographers and casual snapshooters.

      It will also be attractive to vloggers and YouTube posters who will want the mic-in and headphone jacks as well as 4K 25p movie recording and the ability to use the camera on a compact gimbal or in a suitably-sized video rig.

      Full review

      Sony’s just-announced Alpha 7C (α7C) claims to be the smallest and it’s the smallest and lightest camera with IBIS currently available. Using new mechanical components (shutter and IBIS mechanism) and a revised control layout, the company has shoehorned most of the features of its α7M3 camera into an α6*** like body, even managing to include an EVF in the top left corner of the rear panel. It’s a pretty neat achievement that doesn’t compromise imaging performance. The new camera will be offered in all-black and silver and black versions.

      The Sony α7C, shown in the black version with the 28-60mm f/4-5.6 kit lens. (Source: Sony.)

      The α7C provides the same 24.2-megapixel resolution and BIONZ X image processor as the α7M3 and provides similar 4K UHD video recording, an ISO 50-204800 sensitivity range and 10 fps continuous stills shooting with AF and AE readjustments. But there’s a substantial difference in their physical size and weight figures, as shown below. The α7C body is a svelte 124 x 71.1 x 59.7 mm weighing 509 grams with battery and memory card, while the α7M3 measures 126.9 x 95.6 x 73.7 mm and weighs 650 grams.

      This illustration compares the bodies of the Sony α7M3, α7C and α6600 camera, which has a smaller APS-C sized sensor. (Source: Sony.)

      The α7C will be available in early October 2020, with the body only priced at an SRP of AU $3,299 and the body plus FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 lens at AU $3,899.

      Who’s it for?
      The relatively small size and light weight of the new camera will make it ideal for travellers, even if you choose to fit a slightly longer zoom lens than the rather restricted 28-60mm f/4-5.6 kit lens. The articulating monitor with touch controls make the α7C a good choice for spontaneous shooters, including street and documentary photographers and casual snapshooters.

      It will also be attractive to vloggers and YouTube posters who will want the mic-in and headphone jacks as well as 4K 25p movie recording and the ability to use the camera on a compact gimbal or in a suitably-sized video rig.

      The α7C in use with a video rig. (Source: Sony.)

      The optional grip and microphone makes cable-free vlogging easy. Vertical format recording is supported for recording movie clips, while the  five-stop, 5-axis in-body image stabilisation ensures steady shooting for both stills and movies.

      The α7C shown with the GP-VPT2BT shooting grip. (Source: Sony.)

      Built-in Bluetooth LE provides an instant cable-free connection to the camera when it is used with the optional GP-VPT2BT shooting grip, as shown above. This compact accessory’s adjustable grip head makes it ideal for both vlogging and everyday photography.

      Finally, the camera’s solid monocoque construction features improved dust and moisture resistance, which will make it usable in many situations where a cheaper camera would be vulnerable. If you’re looking for an alternative to the kit lens, there are 26 FE and E-mount lenses that can be used on ‘full frame’ cameras listed on  Sony’s Australian website and a further 46 lenses from manufacturers like Carl Zeiss, Sigma, Tamron, Laowa, Samyang and Tokina readily available in local camera stores.

      Build and Ergonomics
      We don’t yet know what the α7C is made of but the camera feels tough and well-built. It has a generous grip moulding on the right hand side and a separate memory card slot (for one SD or Memory Stick Duo card) on the left. Microphone and headphone ports are also located on the left side panel, with the headphone port sharing space with the USB (Type C) and HDMI ports.

      Front view of the α7C with no lens fitted. (Source: Sony.)

      The front panel is similar to other α7 models, but although the grip contains the invisible Wi-Fi antenna, it doesn’t slope forwards and there’s no front control dial. The grip is nice and deep, with an indent for the user’s second finger that positions the index finger above the combined shutter button and on/off lever switch.

      The lens mount still dominates this panel, with two microphone holes above it. The lens release button is the only other control on this panel.

      The top panel of the α7C with no lens fitted. (Source: Sony.)

      The top panel has the same mode and exposure compensation dials as the α9 although the settings on the mode dial are arranged in a slightly different order. You can register a set of frequently-used aperture and shutter speed combinations to each of the Custom buttons for quick recall via the mode dial. Aside from the exposure compensation dial, the only other control on this panel is the movie record/stop button, which is indicated with a red circle.

      Left of the mode dial is the multi-interface MI shoe, which is recessed into the panel and has a slide-off plastic cover. It provides a digital audio interface for an external microphone (such as the ECM-B1M shotgun mic) or accessory flash.

      The rear panel of the α7C showing the control layout.  (Source: Sony.)

      The smaller camera body has required some adjustments to the rear panel control layout. There’s no joystick control (which is a pity) and no AEL button and the AF-on button has been moved down a bit, while the menu button is now located above the monitor near the centre of the rear panel.

      The 3-inch TFT LCD screen on the rear of the camera is attached to the left side of the panel and is fully articulated. It has a resolution of 921,600 dots and five steps of brightness adjustment plus a Sunny Weather mode (the default). Its touch panel overlay provides a limited range of controls, although it does include focus point selection the ability to swipe your finger or thumb across the screen to pull focus when shooting movie clips, depending whether you’re using the EVF or the monitor to frame shots.

      It’s easy to adjust focus by touch by moving the AF point with your thumb while framing shots through the EVF. (Source: Sony.)

      The arrow pad is virtually unchanged, save for clearer labelling of directional buttons. But, in the absence of a front control dial, its rotating wheel can be used to control either aperture or shutter speed, depending on which is set for the main control dial.

      The programmable Fn (function) button is in the same place as it is on the α7M3 and. As in that camera, any one of a wide range of functions can be assigned to it. Most of the other buttons on the camera are similarly programmable.

      The battery is the same NP-FZ100 pack as used in the α7M3 and located inside the grip moulding. It’s CIPA rated for approximately 680 shots/charge with the EVF or 740 with the monitor. A separate charger is provided but the USB-C port enables direct charging when required. The only other item on the base plate is a metal-lined tripod socket, which is in line with the lens axis.

      The autofocusing system in the α7C is virtually identical to the Fast Hybrid AF system in the α7M3, which is good news. It has the same hybrid array of 425 phase-detection points and 169 contrast-detection points and the camera provides a full range of AF modes and area settings. Touch AF is supported as well as touch tracking for both stills and movie shooting.

      Users can select the focus area mode by pressing the Fn button and then select the focus point with the control wheel around the arrow pad and pressing the centre button. A new feature is being able to activate focus tracking while pressing the AF-On button. AF transition speeds are adjustable across seven speed settings (up from 3 in previous models) with sensitivity to subject shift adjustable across five levels (an increase of three levels over previous models).

      Touch control can be used to activate autofocusing in manual focus mode while recording movie clips and Real-Time AF can be initiated via a custom button to allow quick switching between focus positions. For portraiture, Eye AF can be assigned to a custom button to make it easy to select the eye to focus upon when the camera doesn’t recognise the subject automatically.

      The α7C provides the standard set of Sony’s Creative Style and Picture Effects. Creative Styles provide a set of in-camera adjustments to JPEGs that control various parameters in different ways. They differ from Scene Selections by being user-adjustable.

      The Picture Profile system is designed mainly for movie recording, although one of its settings covers Still gamma. The remaining settings cover pre-determined tone curves, which include the industry-standard Cine and S-Log settings. Users can adjust the black level, gamma curve and colour parameters (saturation, colour depth, colour phase, detail) in the camera and copy the settings to another picture profile number.

      The camera comes with several of them pre-set but each setting is adjustable across a range of functions. The setting you choose will engage a particular gamma curve, which defines the relationship between a pixel’s numerical value and its actual luminance in order to make hues and tones look natural. Each profile sets a specific gamma for a specific application. The Movie and Still gammas set optimal curves for each type of recording.

      There’s also an option to copy settings and a reset button to return them to the original defaults. Because Picture Profiles process the video signals before compressing, it can reduce the time required to edit clips when working with nonlinear editing software.

      The α7C provides the same communications facilities as other recent Sony cameras, with a 5 GHz/2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection plus low-energy Bluetooth.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      The 24.2-megapixel sensor in the α7C is essentially the same chip as in the α7M3 and α9 and covered in our review of the latter camera. Image sizes and quality settings are mostly the same as in the previous cameras.

      The BIONZ X processor and front-end LSI chip are the same as in the α7M3 and α9 and supports the same ISO sensitivity range. Like the α7M3, the α7C has four continuous shooting settings: Hi+, Hi, Mid and Lo. The Hi+ setting supports frame rates up to 10 frames/second (fps) with autofocusing and auto exposure. The Hi setting is slightly slower but the viewfinder image updates between captured frames for easier subject tracking. The two slower speeds  are 6 fps and 3 fps, respectively.

      Movie recording resolutions and frame rates are almost identical to those in the α7M3, although the camera will only record video in the proprietary XAVC S codec. The following settings are available:

      Movie format Record setting Bit-rate
      PAL NTSC
      XAVC S 4K 25p 100M 50p 100M Approx. 100Mbps
      25p 60M 30p 60M Approx. 60Mbps
      n.a. 24p 100M Approx. 100Mbps
      n.a. 24p 60M Approx. 60Mbps
      XAVC S HD 50p 50M 60p 50M Approx. 50Mbps
      50p 25M 60p 25M Approx. 25Mbps
      25p 50M 30p 50M Approx. 50Mbps
      25p 16M 30p 16M Approx. 16Mbps
      n.a. 24p 50M Approx. 50Mbps
      100p 100M 120p 100M Approx. 100Mbps
      100p 60M 120p 60M Approx. 60Mbps

      If you want to record 4K movies at a bit rate of 100 Mbps or higher a card that is UHS Speed Class 3 rated is required. With camera’s default settings, continuous shooting is possible for approximately 29 minutes at normal temperatures.

      The Kit Lens
      The FE 28-60mm f/4.5-5.6 kit lens appears to have been designed specifically for the α7C and is the first in what is rumoured to be a set of compact lenses for Sony’s ‘full frame’ cameras.  It’s not particularly fast and has a restricted zoom range that makes it less than ideal for travellers – and totally unsuitable for sports and wildlife photographers.

      Angled view of the FE 28-60mm f/4.5-5.6 kit lens that will be offered with the α7C. (Source: Sony.)

      But it’s well-built, with a metal lens mount and since it weighs only 170 grams, it will likely appeal to photographers who want a lightweight full frame system. When retracted, it protrudes only 50 mm in front of the camera body, which makes the camera and lens a very compact kit.

      With a minimum focus distance of 30 cm at 28mm or 45 cm at 60mm, it provides few opportunities for shootign close-ups of small subjects but is fine for medium-sized flowers and larger insects, arachnids or reptiles. The retracting design means it takes slightly longer to get the camera up and running than a non-retracting lens.

      While it supports the camera’s fast focusing capabilities, we found the kit lens was incompatible with the Clear Image Zoom and Digital Zoom functions provided by the camera. But, aside from that, it was generally a good performer.

      If that lens doesn’t suit you there are plenty of alternatives that can be used with the new camera, with 26 FE and E-mount lenses that can be used on ‘full frame’ cameras listed on  Sony’s Australian website and a further 46 lenses from manufacturers like Carl Zeiss, Sigma, Tamron, Laowa, Samyang and Tokina readily available in local camera stores.

      We hope to be able to publish the results of our Imatest and timing tests within the next week.



      Image sensor: 36  x 24  mm BSI CMOS  sensor with   million photosites (24.2  megapixels effective)
      Image processor: BIONZ X
      A/D processing: 14-bit
      Lens mount:  Sony FE
      Focal length crop factor: 1x
      Clear Image zoom: Still images: approx. 2x, Movies: approx. 1.5x (4K), approx. 2x (HD)
      Image formats: Stills: JPEG (DCF 2.0, EXIF 2.3), ARW.RAW (v.2.3), RAW+JPEG; Movies: XAVC S (4K and HD modes); Audio: LPCM 2CH/ MPEG-4 AAC-LC, stereo
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2 aspect: 6000 x 4000, 3936 x 2624, 3008 x 2000, 16:9 aspect: 6000 x 3376, 3936 x 2216, 3008 x 1688 (APS-C crop available); Movies: XAVC S: 3840 x 2160 (25p/100M, 25p/60M); 1920 x 1080 (50p/50M, 50p/25M, 25p/50M, 25p/60M, 100p/100M, 100p/60M); slow and quick settings for HD recording
      Aspect ratios: 3:2, 4:3, 16:9, 1:1
      Image Stabilisation: 5-axis in-body image stabilisation with 5.0 stops of shake correction
      Dust removal:  Charge protection coating on optical filter plus image sensor shift mechanism
      Shutter (speed range): Compact electromagnetic-drive shutter (60-1/4000 seconds)
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 5EV in 1/3EV or 1/2EV steps (+/-EV for movies)
      Exposure bracketing: 3 or 5 frames in 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps across +/-5EV
      Other bracketing options: WB – 3 frames, H/L selectable; DRO – 3 frames, H/L selectable. flash exposure
      Self-timer: 2, 5 or 10 seconds delay plus continuous (3 frames with 2, 5 or 10 seconds delay), bracketing self-timer
      Interval recording: Yes, for time-lapse
      Focus system: Fast Hybrid AF (Phase-detect + Contrast-detect AF) with 693 phase-detection AF points covering 93% of image area, 425 contrast AF points; EV-4  to EV20 range
      AF  selection: Wide (693 points PD plus 425 points CD) / Zone / Centre / Flexible Spot (S/M/L) / Expanded Flexible Spot / Lock-on AF (Wide / Zone / Centre / Flexible Spot (S/M/L) / Expanded Flexible Spot); Real-time Eye AF [left/right eye select human (still & movie) / animal] and Real-time Tracking (adjustable sensitivity 1-5)
      Focus/exposure aids: Focus magnifier (5.9x, 11.7x), Peaking display (white/red/yellow, high/mid/low levels); zebra pattern (selectable level & range)
      Exposure metering: 1200-zone evaluative metering with multi-segment, centre-weighted, highlight-weighted, average and adjustable spot metering patterns
      Shooting modes: Auto, P, A, S, M, Scene Selection (Portrait, Sports Action, Macro, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Night Portrait) , Slow & Quick Motion, Movie
      Picture Effect modes: Posterisation (Colour), Posterisation (B/W), Pop Colour, Retro Photo, Partial Colour (R/G/B/Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera (Normal/Cool/Warm/Green/Magenta), Soft High-key, Rich-tone Monochrome
      Creative Style modes: Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Clear, Deep, Light, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Autumn leaves, Black & White, Sepia, Style Box (1-6), (Contrast (-3 to +3 steps), Saturation (-3 to +3 steps), Sharpness (-3 to +3 steps)
      Picture Profile settings: Black Level, Gamma (Movie, Still, Cine1-4, ITU709, ITU709 [800%],S-Log2, S-Log3, HLG, HLG1-3), Black Gamma, Knee, Colour mode, Saturation, Colour Phase, Colour Depth, Detail, Copy, Reset
      Colour space options: sRGB and Adobe RGB
      ISO range: Auto, Native ISO 100-51200 for stills and movies with expansion to ISO 50 and ISO 204800 for stills; 15-stop dynamic range at low-sensitivity settings
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, (Warm White / Cool White / Day White / Daylight), Flash, Underwater, Colour Temperature (2500 to 9900K); AWB Micro Adjustment – G7 to M7(57-step), A7 to B7(29-step), Custom
      Flash: Hot shoe for external flash only
      Flash modes: Flash off, Autoflash, Fill-flash, Slow Sync., Rear Sync., Red-eye reduction (on/off selectable), Wireless, Hi-speed sync.
      Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 3.0 EV (switchable between 1/3 and 1/2 EV steps)
      Sequence shooting: Max. 10 frames/sec. with AF/AE adjustment
      Buffer capacity: Up to 223 frames (in continuous Hi+ mode with UHS-II compatible SDXC card)
      Storage Media: Single slot for SD, SDHC, SDXC cards (UHS-I / UHS-II UHS Speed Class 3 standard compatible)
      Viewfinder: 0.39-type colour XGA OLED EVF with 2,359,000 dots, 100% coverage, 0.59x magnification, -4.0 to +3.0 dioptre adjustment
      LCD monitor: Side-opening vari-angle LCD monitor with 921,000 dots, 5 steps of brightness adjustment, Sunny Weather mode; Touch controls include touch shutter, touch focus, touch pad and touch tracking
      Interface terminals: Multi/Micro USB 3.1 Gen 1, HDMI micro connector (Type-D), 3.5 mm Stereo mini-jacks for microphone and headphones, PC remote terminal, Multi-Interface shoe with digital audio interface
      Wi-Fi function: Built-in 5 GHz/2.4GHz Wi-Fi; Bluetooth v4.2 (Bluetooth Low Energy), NFC Type 3 Tag compatible
      Power supply: NP-FZ100 rechargeable Li-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 740 shots/charge with monitor,  680 shots/charge with EVF; 140 minutes of movie recording
      Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 124 x 71.1 x 59.7 mm (excluding protrusions)
      Weight: Approx. 509 grams with battery and card

      RRP: AU $3,299 (body only); $3,899 (with kit lens)
      Distributor: Sony Australia; 1300 720 071



      30 second exposure at ISO 100, 37mm focal length, f/4.

      13 second exposure at ISO 800, 37mm focal length, f/5.

      5 second exposure at ISO 6400; 37mm focal length, f/9.

      4 second exposure at ISO 12800; 37mm focal length, f/13.

      2 second exposure at ISO 25600; 37mm focal length, f/13.

      1 second exposure at ISO 51200; 37mm focal length, f/11.

      1 second exposure at ISO 102,400; 37mm focal length, f/18.

      1/2 second exposure at ISO 204,800, 37mm focal length, f/16.

      Close-up at 28mm; ISO200, 1/500 second at f/4.

      Close-up at 60mm; ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/5.6.

      28mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/7.1.

      60mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/5.6.

      60mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/6.3.

      60mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/6.3.

      60mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/50 second at f/8.

      60mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/7.1.

      50mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/80 second at f/6.3.

      60mm focal length, ISO 1000, 1/50 second at f/5.6.

      60mm focal length, ISO 2000, 1/50 second at f/5.6.

      60mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/125 second at f/5.6.

      60mm focal length, ISO 1000, 1/250 second at f/5.6.