Sony α7C II (ILCE-7CM2)

      Photo Review 8.9

      In summary

      The Sony α7C II is as likely as the original model to be sought-after by travellers and anyone who wants high performance and extensive capabilities in a relatively compact and lightweight camera body.

      The upgraded camera offers a number of improvements on its predecessor, including a new, higher-resolution sensor, updated processors, a higher magnification viewfinder, improved autofocusing and front and rear control dials.

      Full review

      The Alpha 7C II (model ILCE-7CM2) is one of two cameras announced on 29 August, 2023, representing second-generation models of Sony’s Alpha 7C compact full-frame camera, which we reviewed in September 2020. Both models will be offered with all-black or black with silver top panel and dials and are similar in size to the original camera, although slightly deeper and five grams heavier. Both sport higher resolution BSI CMOS sensors, with the α7C II providing approximately 33 effective megapixels and the α7C R a significantly higher effective resolution of 61 megapixels. We received the α7C II, which is likely to be more popular with readers, along with two lenses, the FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens and the recently-released FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM2, which are reviewed separately.

      Angled front view of the Alpha 7C II with the new FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM2 lens. (Source: Sony.)

      The α7C II shares many features with the Sony Alpha 7 IV (ILCE7M4B), which we reviewed in December 2021. It has the same 33-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and Bionz XR processor and supports a native ISO range of 100 to 51200, with extensions down to ISO 50 and out to ISO 204800. Continuous shooting is supported at up to 10 frames/second with AF tracking and AE adjustment.

      The battery is the same NP-FZ100 rechargeable Li-ion battery as used in the original α7C, although its capacity has been reduced from approximately 740 shots/charge to 560 shots/charge (probably because of the camera’s additional processing power). But the new camera offers some worthwhile improvements, which are outlined below.

      What’s New?
      Physically, the new camera has much the same magnesium alloy chassis as its predecessor, although it boasts weather-resistant seals at critical buttons and dials and interlocking body seams. It also gains a front control dial just below the shutter button, which was lacking on the original α7C model, which enables users to adjust exposure settings with their thumb and index finger simultaneously, making the camera easier and more comfortable to operate.

      This diagram shows the positions of the weather-resistant seals in the Alpha 7C II’s body. (Source: Sony.)

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

      The two side panels of the α7C II with no lens fitted. (Source: Sony.)

       As before, the single memory card slot is located on the left side panel, along with the interface ports. The main change here has been to move the USB port up from below the card slot to above it, which makes it marginally more accessible.

      Although its resolution hasn’t changed, the EVF in the Mark II has an improved optical design that provides higher magnification (0.7x rather than 0.59x in the original α7C). It may not seem like much but it’s an improvement in usability.

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

      Similarly, there’s a new three-way selector below the mode dial, which lets users swap quickly between the stills, video and S&Q shooting modes. Otherwise, the main changes are internal, with the most noteworthy being an additional AI-based processing unit that improves autofocusing, particularly with respect to subject recognition.

      Real-time Recognition AF can recognise a wide variety of subjects, including birds, insects, cars, trains, and airplanes. In addition, its tracking accuracy is improved with a ‘Human Pose Estimation’ system that can pick up subjects whose face is partially (or almost completely) hidden. A new Auto Framing mode uses AI trained algorithms to simulate the ways in which most camera operators would choose to frame common subjects.

      Stabilisation performance has been boosted from five stops of shake correction to seven stops, thanks to improvements to the gyro sensors and camera-to-lens communication system. Increased processing power, coupled with updated algorithms also play a role, while the simpler shutter mechanism uses the sensor to initiate exposures, rather than the first-curtain mechanical shutter. This limits the top shutter speed to 1/4000 second and flash sync to 1/160 second, which shouldn’t faze many potential purchasers.

      On the video front, the α7C II can match most of the capabilities of the α7 IV by recording oversampled 4K 50p footage (for PAL system users) without pixel binning, condensing video data equivalent to 7K to produce 3840 x 2160 frames at selectable rates of 50p and 25p. Users can choose from the XAVC S (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264) and XAVC HS  (MPEG-H HEVC/H.265) codecs and select 4:2:0 10-bit, 4:2:2 10-bit or 4:2:0 8-bit modes. They can also decide between full-frame 4K with full pixel readout or Super 35mm crop modes.

      Log shooting modes are supported, including S-Log3, which supports an extended latitude of 14+ stops. In these modes, the LUT (look-up table) imported by the user can be displayed on the camera monitor image so they can check how the recording will look in post-production. The α7C II also provides the S-Cinetone setting for creating a cinematic look straight out of the camera without post-processing, along with customisable Creative Look settings. It can also stream 4K/30p via USB-C using the UVC/UAC protocols, which enables it to be used as a USB webcam without requiring drivers or specialist software.

      Who’s it For?
      The second-generation α7C model is as likely as the original model to be sought-after by travellers and anyone who wants high performance and extensive capabilities in a relatively compact and lightweight camera body. It also offers a number of improvements on its predecessor, including a new, higher-resolution sensor, updated processors, a higher magnification viewfinder, improved autofocusing and front and rear control dials.

      For those contemplating the purchase of a new camera, the α7C II has a few advantages over the α7IV model   that sits above it and has a higher price tag. Both cameras have the same 33-megapixel sensor and BIONZ XR processor, which means their recording capabilities are effectively identical.

      The α7C II’s optical stabilisation unit can deliver up to seven stops of shake correction, whereas the α7IV is restricted to 5.5 stops. However, the α7IV has better autofocusing with more selectable AF points and a joystick focus selector, although the α7C II comes with the latest subject-detections processing module.

      The α7IV has dual memory card slots, one for CFexpress Type A cards and the other for UHS-I/II-compliant SD cards, while the α7C II has a single SD card slot. But it is also a larger and heavier camera, measuring 131.3 x 96.4 x 79.8 mm and weighing 658 grams, whereas the α7C II weighs 514 grams and its body is much smaller at 124.0 x 71.1 x 63.4 mm.

      Subjective assessments of stills taken by the camera were made with several different lenses, although we relied on the Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens for our Imatest tests and the Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G lens for our video recordings.  We also used the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II lens for some test shots. All three lenses are reviewed separately.

      Our Imatest tests showed the review camera and FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens combination to be capable of exceeding expectations for the camera’s 33-megapixel sensor. Measurements taken mid-way out from the centre of the frame on JPEG files at ISO 50 and ISO 100 were well above expectations. They also came close to expectations with measurements taken three-quarters of the way to the periphery of the frame.

      ARW.RAW files recorded simultaneously with the JPEGs exceeded expectations across the entire image frame. Resolution remained high across the ISO range with a slow decline from about ISO 1600, although overall results for the raw files were higher across all sensitivity settings, as shown in the graph of our test results above.

      Low light exposures taken with the FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 lens showed the review camera to be an excellent performer. Noise was barely visible in shots taken at ISO 25600 and only just discernible at ISO 51200 in the form of slight image softening in JPEGs and visible grain in raw files.

      Both JPEG and raw images became increasingly noise affected as sensitivity was increased, with the softening effects of noise-reduction processing causing softness and blotches in JPEGs and increased granularity in raw files becoming very obvious at ISO204800 (the highest setting). Fortunately, colour reproduction was barely affected as sensitivity was increased.

      White balance performance was somewhat better than average for the cameras we’ve reviewed recently, particularly with the standard auto white balance setting.  Results from the other auto correction options – ambience priority and white priority – showed close to neutral colour rendition under fluorescent lighting, but some retention of the warm cast imparted by incandescent lights when the ambience priority settings were used, which is to be expected.

      The Incandescent preset provided a good level of correction under tungsten and warm-toned LED lights.  However, the various fluorescent lighting settings imparted slightly different colour casts to the daylight-balanced fluorescent light without bringing the image colours any closer to neutral. Fortunately, the camera provides easily-accessible settings for tweaking colour biases on the fly.

      Autofocusing was almost always fast and accurate when shooting stills and we experienced no incidences of hunting, even when shooting in very low light levels. Autofocusing in movie mode was quick and accurate, as long as the correct AF mode was used, and the system was able to keep track of moving subjects.  The lack of a joystick for moving the focus area was a minor irritant but, fortunately, the ability to shift focus quickly by touching the LCD screen proved valuable for keeping the focus on the main subject in crowded scenes.

      Video recordings were made with the FE 20-70mm f/4 G lens and performance was generally excellent, including in challenging lighting.  4K recordings at high bitrates sometimes appeared a little more contrasty than lower-resolution files with the default auto settings, although a lot depended upon how the clip was framed and the proportion of the frame in very bright sunlight.

      The audio quality from the camera’s built-in microphones was up to consumer-level standards.  (We weren’t able to test the camera with an accessory microphone or when recording video to an external recorder.)

      The camera’s built-in stabilisation was also very competent, although we were unable to fully challenge it with the Sony lenses we had access to. We recorded a series of low-light shots at ISO 50 with the camera hand-held and achieved consistently sharp images at 1/6 second with a 50mm focal length at f/4.

      We carried out our timing tests with a 32GB SanDisk Extreme PRO SDHC II card with a U3 rating and speed rating of 300MB/s. The review camera took just under a second to power-up, when the card had been used previously in the camera (which avoided the need to recover the image database). This is about average for current Sony cameras.

      Capture lag ranged from 0.4 seconds when the lens was seriously out-of-focus to an average 0.02 seconds when less focus movement was required. It was eliminated when shots were pre-focused. Shot-to-shot times ranged from about 0.3 to 0.5 seconds, depending upon how fast as we could keep pressing the shutter button.

      We used the LED indicator on the camera’s side panel to estimate processing times. Both JPEG and ARW.RAW files were processed in roughly one second on average and we found no significant differences in processing times for compressed and uncompressed raw files and even RAW+JPEG pairs.

      Because of the camera’s huge buffer capacity, we recorded bursts of approximately 10 seconds for our measurements. With the electronic shutter and the High-speed+ mode, the camera captured 98 frames in 10.1 seconds, which was close to the specified 10 fps frame rate.

      Swapping to the mechanical shutter reduced the burst to 72 frames, recorded in 10.1 seconds without pausing, which falls a little short of the 10 frames/second rate specified for the camera. We were unable to measure buffer clearance times as the indicator LED on the camera did not glow while frames were being processed in either recording mode.

      In the normal high-speed continuous shooting mode, the camera appears able to keep up a continuous capture rate of around six frames/second with all file formats for as long as there’s space to accommodate them, suggesting shots are processed on-the-fly.


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      Image sensor: 35.9 x 23.9 mm Exmor R CMOS sensor with approx. 34.1 million photosites (approx. 33 megapixels effective)
      Image processor: BIONZ XR
      Lens mount: Sony E mount
      Focal length crop factor:  1x
      Digital zoom: Clear image zoom approx 2x for stills, 1.5x for movies
      Image formats: Stills: JPEG (DCF V 2.0, Exif Ver. 2.32),  HEIF (MPEG-A MIAF compliant),  ARW.RAW (14-bit Sony ARW 4.0 format compliant), RAW+JPEG; Movies: 4K with full pixel readout and Super 35mm crop modes: XAVC S: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, XAVC HS: MPEG-H HEVC/H.265
      Audio: LPCM 2ch (48 kHz 16 bit), LPCM 2ch (48 kHz 24 bit), LPCM 4ch (48 kHz 24 bit)
      Image Sizes: Stills :  Movies (PAL system): 3840 x 2160 (4:2:0, 10bit, 4:2:2, 10bit, 4:2:0, 8bit) at 50p, 25p; 1920 x 1080 (4:2:2, 10bit, 4:2:0, 8bit) at 100p, 50p, 25p; Slow & Quick frame rate modes available
      Aspect ratios: 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1
      Image Stabilisation: Sensor-shift mechanism with 5-axis compensation, up to 7 stops pitch/yaw shake correction
      Dust removal:  Yes; shutter closes when power is turned off
      Shutter (speed range): Mechanical shutter (30 to 1/4000 seconds plus Bulb; Electronic shutter: 30 to 1/8000 seconds; flash sync at 1/160 s (35mm full frame), 1/200 s (APS-C crop)
      Exposure Compensation: +/-5 EV in 1/3EV, 1/2EV steps
      Exposure bracketing: images in 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV step, max. +/-3 EV, single/burst
      Other bracketing options: Aperture, Focus, White Balance
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay plus 10sec, 3 images and Custom settings
      Interval recording: Yes, for time-lapse
      Focus system: Fast Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF / contrast-detection AF), 627 points (phase-detection AF) with real-time subject tracking and breathing compensation
      AF  selection: AF Track Sens. (Still), AF Subj. Shift Sensitivity (Movie), AF Transition Speed (Movie), Switch V/H AF Area, AF Area Register, Circ. of Focus Point, Focus Map (Movie), AF Assist (Movie); Automatic Detection for Human, Animal, Bird, Insect, Car, Train, Airplane.
      Focus modes: AFS (Single) / AFC (Continuous) / MF
      Exposure metering:  1200-zone evaluative sensing system, EV-3 to EV20 (ISO100 equivalent with f/2.0 lens attached);  with Multi, Centre-weighted average, Spot and Highlight Weighted metering patterns
      Shooting modes: Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual Exposure plus Creative Video (P/A/S/M) / Slow&Quick / Custom 1, 2, 3 / Intelligent Auto
      Creative Look modes: 10 customisable presets with adjustments covering eight parameters
      Log recording: S-Log3 gamma curve with S-Gamut3 and S-Gamut3.Cine settings and customisable LUT (Look Up Table), S-Cinetone supported
      Colour space options: sRGB and Adobe RGB
      ISO range: Auto ISO 100-12800 (selectable lower limit and upper limit) with expansion to ISO 50 and ISO 204800; Movies: ISO 100 – 51200 equivalent (expandable to ISO 100 – 102400)
      White balance: AWB, AWBc, AWBw, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Incandescent, Flash, White Set (x 4), Colour temperature setting (x 4)
      Flash: External flashguns only
      Flash modes: Sony α System Flash compatible with Multi Interface Shoe, attach the shoe adaptor for flash compatible with Auto-lock accessory shoe (Pre-flash TTL)
      Flash exposure adjustment: +/-3EV in 1/3EV or 1/2EV steps
      Sequence shooting: Max. 10 shots/sec. with AF/AE tracking
      Buffer capacity: More than 1000 Large/Fine JPEGs, 44 compressed RAW files  (27 lossless compressed or 18 uncompressed RAW)
      Storage Media: Single slot for SD, SDHC, SDXC cards (UHS-I / UHS-II UHS compliant)
      Viewfinder: 1.0 cm (0.39 type) XGA OLED EVF with 2,359,296 dots; 0.7x magnification, 22mm eyepoint, -4.0 to +3.0 dioptre adjustment, frame rate selection: STD 50fps / HI 100fps
      LCD monitor: Adjustable (opening angle: approx. 176 degrees, rotation approx. 270 degrees)  7.5 cm (3.0-type) type TFT touch panel LCD with 1,036,800 dots
      Weather sealing: Dust and moisture resistant
      Interface terminals: USB 3.2 (SuperSpeed USB 5 Gbps), HDMI micro connector (Type-D), Multi Interface Shoe (with Digital Audio Interface), 3.5 mm Stereo mini-jacks for microphone and headphones
      Wi-Fi function: Built-in Wi-Fi; Bluetooth v4.2 (Bluetooth Low Energy)
      Power supply: NP-FZ100 rechargeable Li-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 560 shots/charge with monitor, 530 shots/charge with EVF; 100 min. movie recording
      Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 124.0 x 71.1 x 63.4 mm (excluding protrusions)
      Weight: Approx. 514 grams with battery and card

      Distributor: Sony Australia



      Based upon JPEG files recorded with the Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens


      Based upon ARW.RAW files recorded simultaneously and converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.



      The images below were captured with the Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens

      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.

      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting, ambience priority.

      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting, white priority.

      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.

      Auto white balance with warm-toned LED lighting.

      Auto white balance with warm-toned LED lighting, ambience priority.

      Auto white balance with warm-toned LED lighting, white priority.

      30-second exposure at ISO 50,  f/5.

      30-second exposure at ISO 100,  f/6.3.

      8-second exposure at ISO 1600,  f/9.

      5-second exposure at ISO 6400,  f/13.

      4-second exposure at ISO 12800,  f/16.

      3.2-second exposure at ISO 25600,  f/16.

      1.6-second exposure at ISO 51200,  f/16.

      1/2-second exposure at ISO 102400,  f/14.

      1/8-second exposure at ISO 204800,  f/9.

      The images and video clips below were recorded with the FE 20-70mm f/4G lens.

      Stabilisation test; 50mm focal length; ISO 50, 1/6 second at f/4.

      focal length; ISO 6400, 1/40 second at f/11.

      35mm focal length; ISO 51200, 1/500 second at f/11.

      35mm focal length; ISO 204800, 1/2000 second at f/10.

      Dynamic range; 35mm
      focal length; ISO 500, 1/40 second at f/11.

      40mm focal length; ISO 1600, 1/40 second at f/8.

      Still frame from 4K video clip recorded at 50p, 200M, 4:2:2 10-bit in the XAVC HS 4K format.

      Still frame from 4K video clip recorded at 25p, 75M, 4:2:0 10-bit
      in the XAVC HS 4K format.

      Still frame from 4K video clip recorded at 25p 140M, 4:2:2 10-bit in the XAVC S 4K.

      Still frame from 4K video clip recorded at 50p  200M 4:2:2 10-bit in the XAVC S 4K format.

      Still frame from 4K video clip recorded at 25p, 100M, 4:2:0 8-bit in the XAVC S 4K format.

      Still frame from 4K video clip recorded at 25p 60M 4:2:0 8-bit in the XAVC S 4K format.

      Still frame from FHD video clip recorded at 50p 50M 4:2:0 8-bit in the XAVC S 4K format.

      Still frame from FHD video clip recorded at 100p 60M 4:2:0 8-bit in the XAVC S 4K format.

      Additional stills samples can be found with our review of the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II lens, Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens, and the Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G lens.



      RRP: AU$3,278 (body only)

      • Build: 9.0
      • Features: 8.8
      • Ease of use: 8.8
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Still image quality JPEG: 8.9
      • Still image quality RAW: 9.0
      • Video quality: 9.0