If Sony’s aim was to squeeze ‘full frame’ capabilities into a camera body that is similar in size to its APS-C models, the α7C has been highly successful.
Test shots showed a consistently high quality similar to the images from other Sony full frame cameras, although the compact camera size does have some ease of use issues outlined in the full review.
Since publishing a detailed First Look at the new Sony α7C camera last week we have been able to carry out some of our standard technical and user tests. This report has been prepared to complement the initial review, adding the results of our standard tests. Links have been provided to enable readers to jump between the two reports.
The Sony α7C, shown in the black version with the 28-60mm f/4-5.6 kit lens. (Source: Sony.)
As outlined in our initial report, 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. Our normal low-light exposure tests across the camera’s ISO range were featured in our original ‘First Look’ report and are not included here.
The Imatest test shots for this review were taken with the FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 (SEL2860) kit lens supplied with the review camera, which is reviewed separately. Test shots were similar in character to images from other Sony ‘full-frame’ cameras we’ve reviewed recently, although Imatest showed more ‘normal’ saturation levels and colour reproduction remained natural-looking.
Perhaps surprisingly, the best JPEG images in our tests slightly exceeded expectations for the camera’s 24-megapixel sensor. Equivalent ARW.RAW files converted with Sony’s Imaging Edge Desktop software were slightly above the expected resolution, as anticipated. The graph below shows the results of our tests across the camera’s default sensitivity range.
Long exposures at night showed no evidence of noise right up to ISO 6400 and very little noise thereafter. However, slight softening became visible at ISO 12800 due to noise-reduction processing. This softening increased progressively through the remaining sensitivity settings. By ISO 51200 contrast was also reduced.
The reduction in contrast increased progressively as sensitivity was raised and by ISO 204800 (the highest setting), images appeared rather flat and slightly fuzzy. Interestingly, colour reproduction remained constant throughout the sensitivity range and was generally quite close to the subject’s normal range.
Auto white balance performance was similar to other Sony cameras we’ve tested, particularly under incandescent lighting, where most of the warm cast was corrected. Shots taken under fluorescent lighting were virtually cast-free, while only traces of the cast produced by warm-toned LED light remained uncorrected.
For both incandescent and lighting fluorescent, the pre-sets tended to over-correct, while manual measurement delivered a neutral colour balance with all three types of lighting. In-camera micro-adjustment enables users to tweak image colours on-the-fly and white balance bracketing across three frames is available.
As far as we were able to determine, AF speed was similar to the α7M3 and we encountered few instances of hesitation in our low-light tests. In the AF-C mode with moving subjects, very low light levels could result in occasional hunting, although it was generally brief.
Our timing tests were carried out with a 32GB Lexar Professional SDHC U3 card with a speed rating of 300MB/s plus the FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 kit lens. With the inner barrel of the lens extended, the camera was ready to take an exposure within half a second, which is what we expected for this camera’s processor.
With the camera’s default settings, we measured an average capture lag of 0.1 seconds, which was eliminated when shots were pre-focused. Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.7 seconds.
High-resolution JPEGs took 3.1 seconds to process on average, while ARW.RAW files were processed in 2.1 seconds and RAW+JPEG pairs in 2.5 seconds.
In the Continuous Hi+ mode the review camera recorded 91 Large/Fine JPEG frames in 10.1 seconds, which represents just under 10 frames/second. Processing was completed within 20 seconds of the last frame recorded.
Swapping to raw file capture, the camera recorded 87 ARW.RAW files in 9.8 seconds before the first hesitation. It took 19.9 seconds to complete processing this burst. With RAW+JPEG capture, the buffer memory accommodated 74 pairs, which were recorded in 8.4 seconds. It took 28.3 seconds to process this burst.
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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
Distributor: Sony Australia; 1300 720 071
Based on JPEG files recorded with the FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6mm kit lens.
Based on ARW.RAW files captured simultaneously and converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Sony’s Imaging Edge Desktop software.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.
Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
Auto white balance with warm-toned LED lighting.
The video clips from which the frame grabs below were taken were recorded with the FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS lens.
Still frame from XAVC S 4K movie clip recorded with 25p/ 100M setting.
Still frame from XAVC S 4K movie clip recorded with 25p / 60M setting.
Still frame from XAVC S HD movie clip recorded with 50p / 50M setting.
Still frame from XAVC S HD movie clip recorded at 50p/25M setting.
Still frame from XAVC S HD movie clip recorded at 25p/50M setting.
Still frame from XAVC S HD movie clip recorded at 100p/60M setting.
Additional sample images can be found with First Look review as well as with our review of the FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6mm kit lens.
RRP: AU$3,299 US$1799 (body only); AU$3,899 US$2099 (with FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6mm kit lens)
- Build: 8.8
- Ease of use: 8.5
- Autofocusing: 8.8
- Still image quality JPEG: 9.0
- Still image quality RAW: 9.0
- Video quality: 8.8