Sony a7C Compact Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Review
Looking for full-frame performance in a compact camera body? The Sony a7C packs a big punch for its size, making it a great travel/everyday camera.
By Marc Bergreen
Today I’m reviewing the Sony A7C, a small and compact full-frame camera. There are no more excuses for not bringing your full-frame camera with you everywhere!
This compact powerhouse of a camera impressed me with its full-featured design in a super-compact body. If technology isn’t getting better, it’s getting smaller and in this case, it’s both.
I’m excited to share my thoughts on this camera and why I think the innovation of taking Sony’s leading full-frame mirrorless cameras into camera bodies with similar dimensions to phones is so important.
Sony a7c Specs
- Sensor: 24MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
- Focusing: Autofocus system w/693 phase-detect points
- FPS: Up to 10 fps mechanical
- Viewfinder: 2.36M-dot OLED viewfinder
- Screen: 0.92m-dot flip out touch LCD
- 4K video: 4K30 Raw and 1080p 120fps 8-Bit Internal Video
- Wireless: Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
- Excellent autofocus (touch to track)
- Flip out screen
- Updated color science
- 4k video recording
- Only 1 card slot
- Only 2 dials to control exposure
- Small viewfinder eyecup
Build & Appearance
The Sony A7C is one of the smallest and most compact full-frame cameras on the market. For photographers who carry their gear on their backs for potentially long distances, that’s definitely something to pay attention to. Can we get everything we need in a smaller package?
Fortunately, despite its small size, the Sony A7C has a solid build quality, very similar to Sony A7III. It makes a few sacrifices to save space but generally offers almost everything the Sony A7III offers but in a more compact body.
It only offers one card slot, which stresses me out a little when it comes to having redundancy, but it has other improvements like a better touch screen. It also has a flip out screen and dedicated video record button on the top.
The Sony A7C now comes in two colors, black and silver, giving it a semi retro look if you’re into that. Clearly this camera is targeted toward travelers and vloggers with its compact size and ease of recording selfie style videos.
The back screen quality isn’t exceptional but it is adequate. A little more resolution would be nice for checking sharpness and exposure.
The viewfinder is now offset to the side of the body and has a smaller eyecup which makes composing your shot in bright sun a little more difficult. Despite the limitations, I still think this camera is fully featured and capable of professional work.
Ergonomics & Handling
This camera is a smaller, more compact version of the very popular Sony A7III. It fits in super small bags especially when paired with a small prime lens. Because of this, the Sony A7C makes a great backup camera.
Despite the downsizing, it still has a nice grip and feel. Obviously, it’s more compact so it won’t feel as substantial in your hands but it’s still adequate.
Similar to the a6000 series it only has two dials. Since it doesn’t have three separate dials for shutter speed, aperture, and ISO it’s somewhat slower to use. I find myself having to either use Auto ISO or one of the other auto exposure modes like shutter/aperture priority.
If you’re a full manual shooter you might be frustrated by this limitation but I think most people will be unencumbered.
Another downside of the compact size is that the viewfinder is smaller and the back screen isn’t very forgiving in bright sun.
The Sony A7C is still fully featured despite being more compact. Obviously, a few choices and compromises had to be made to make it more compact such as fewer dials and one card slot.
It would have been nice to see an upgraded menu system on this camera but it still uses the semi disorganized menu of the Sony A7III. I’ve been ok with this menu system but it sure does seem more organized when you pick up the newer generation cameras like the Sony A7IV.
Despite these revisions, I think it’s cool to see that the technology is being pushed towards more compact cameras. I love that you can choose to get a fully-featured body like the Sony A7III or a stripped-down version like the Sony A7C.
The Sony A7C uses a similar AF system to the A7SIII and puts it into the super-compact body. I appreciated this upgrade instead of just putting in an older AF system.
The camera offers touch to track which is an awesome way to follow a subject through a scene. And it now offers reliable video AF even when the subject briefly goes behind another object.
From my experience using the camera, I was able to achieve consistent focus results in both video and stills. Basically, the Sony A7C has improved focus features from the A7III in a more compact body.
Giving this camera the latest and greatest in terms of autofocus is a nice value add and I appreciate the improvements.
Low Light Performance
The Sony A7C uses the same sensor as the Sony A7III so if you’re familiar with that you can expect the same results. When paired with a low aperture lens this camera does well in almost any lighting situation.
Great image quality up to iso 3200 with tolerable noise up to iso 6400, 12800 works in a pinch but beyond that you’ll need to add some light to your scene.
Overall, I’ve been able to shoot with this camera with minimal limitations. It performs well in astrophotography and in dark interior rooms despite the fact that the sensor is from 2018.
When it comes to image quality, my assessment is that it’s excellent, the same as the Sony A7III. The images are sharp with good color, contrast, and saturation.
Some people take issue with the color that Sony Sensors produce but I think they are quite accurate and natural once you get used to editing the files.
There is a wide dynamic range, just over 14 stops. This results in RAW files that are very flexible and have a lot of range to be edited. I appreciate that you can capture scenes in bad light and still be able to recover the shadow detail in post.
When paired with a good prime lens, this camera also produces some incredibly sharp images. Overall, the image quality is excellent.
Sony A7C Sample Images
Here are some sample images taken with the Sonya7C, using various lenses I own.
Overall this camera has exceptional performance in such a compact body. It somehow retains almost all the features of the highly recognized Sony A7III and adds some small improvements: autofocus performance and a few minor add ons like the ability to shoot silent shutter at 10fps.
The camera will give you solid performance for both photos and videos. However, it only offers 8bit video quality and nothing above 4k 24fps. Regardless these are great specs considering it is among the smallest full-frame cameras on the market.
The camera is responsive and quick to use. It has a larger buffer of up to 115 images (likely due to only having one card slot). Regardless, it performs quite efficiently in a variety of situations.
Other Useful Features
Other features to note include the previously mentioned flip-out screen. With vlogging and the selfie culture, a flexible screen is a game-changer not to mention the benefits to our bodies to not have to contort quite so much to get the shot.
Shooting low angle vertical images is now much easier and shooting images from an overhead angle is even more accessible.
There’s a dedicated record button on top of the body for shooting video which I appreciate. I also mentioned touch to track autofocus which makes getting sharp images/video as simple as tapping on your subject.
As I mentioned, the super compact size would be great for things like travel or as a backup camera. It looks like a compact camera but the full-frame sensor allows for use of all Sony’s high-end lenses and the ability to get great bokeh.
Normally camera bodies this size are reserved for APS-C sensors but the Sony A7C offers the best image quality in a pint-size package.
Value for Money
This camera is good value for money, especially if you want something compact and lightweight. At the time of this article, it’s in the $1,800 range, compared to around $2,000 for the Sony A7III.
As far as value goes, the camera is almost fully featured. The main thing lacking is a way to control all three exposure settings with dedicated dials. However, the top-level autofocus makes up for some of the other cuts made to achieve a smaller size.
If compact size is a priority, this camera easily exceeds the value of the Sony A7III at a $200 savings. Other full-frame cameras in a similar size range include models from Sigma and Leica which just can’t compete on features and price respectively.
Sony a7c Review | Conclusion
In conclusion, the Sony A7C is a great camera for everyday use. It’s not as fast due to a lack of dials so if you need to be quick that’s something to consider but if you have time between compositions you can still get where you need to go.
The camera is very solid for both photo and video, a factor I’m considering more and more as I need to crossover between the two more often than ever in my work.
If you need a compact and lightweight camera that you can take everywhere and want to avoid leaving it behind due to the hassle factor, this camera is definitely something to look at. Sure you can always just take pictures on your phone, but do you want to?
Throw this baby in your bag, it has pretty impressive features for the size and is a solid value for the semi-pro level features and quality. I’ll likely be keeping this as a compact backup to my Sony A7IV.
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