Today we take a look at the Sony Alpha 7C ( for brevity sake in this sharing, the α7C) which was released recently in Oct 2020 and marketed as Sony’s smallest full-frame interchangeable lens camera (which, it truly is)
*the Sigma fp is indeed slightly smaller than the α7C, but the Sigma lacks even a basic mechanical shutter, optical stabilisation and does not have an EVF nor a hot-shoe so I rest my case.
Not just compact but technically a marvel in itself, as Sony somehow managed to not only fit a 24 megapixels full-frame sensor but also 5 axis optical image stabilisation into a body that is 124×71.1×59.7mm in size and 509 grams.
A new retractable pancake zoom, the FE28-60mm f4-f5.6 at167 grams comes together in a bid to really maximise the “size-minimus”, giving one a full frame 28 to 60mm kit coming in less at 700 grams.
The full-frame α7C FE28-60mm kit weighs as much as approximately 1 Venti sized Starbucks drink.
Sony has obviously invested effort into making this one of the smallest full frame cameras available, while at the same time ensuring no one complains about any lacking in the features set. In fact, the α7C does 4k video (oversampled up to 30p, including 8-bit S-Log and HLG) and even comes with the ‘Real-time tracking’ AF system with human and animal eye recognition that has propelled Sony forward as a camera maker.
And to add to the damage to competitors, the α7C uses the larger capacity ‘Z-type’ battery, rated to 740 shots per charge and frankly for the duration of the review, I never once ran out of juice with one single battery.
- The Alpha 7C camera and FE28-60mm lens was a loan from Sony Singapore for the review and returned.
- The camera was running version 1.00 and lens version 0.01 firmware. (oops, for once I actually forgot to update the firmware for them)
- All samples shared were edited from raw format to my preference in LR CC Classic.
- Sony does have an excellent lens collection for its full frame mirrorless mount, but for this review I only used the FE28-60mm.
Before going on, for the sake of meaning-fullness in your time spent, I am going to refer detailed specification readers to Sony’s official page here to allow me to jump into sharing of performance and image samples.
Performance and handling wise, I did take a bit of time to learn to work with the α7C‘s button placement. Coming from the Leica M and Fujifilm X-Pro, X-E series, I had little issues using the EVF placed at the left instead of the usual center but do note that the EVF though sharp and bright (its OLED) is much smaller than what you might expect coming from other cameras.
Fact is once the menu settings are set up properly, the α7C is frankly a very easy going camera to operate and use as the ‘Quick’ menu allows one access to the most common settings.
The above shot was heavily cropped in and at the point of shooting, assumed by me to be a ‘to-be-thrashed’ shot by me but actually turned out a hit with focus. The details from the kit zoom was surprisingly decent. In fact, the optical design of the FE28-60mm comes in eight elements in seven groups and includes three aspherical elements to suppress common aberrations. Amazingly this lens is also weather-resistant. All in 167 grams.
It might be a mistake to write off the FE28-60mm too fast.
Chromatic aberration is present but slight, distortion is indeed noticeable at the widest 28mm and quickly disappearing at 35mm onwards. The lens comes in a 7 bladed design with an interesting 40.5mm filter size.
Carrying the α7C kit was an easy-affair too, down to the point where I could simply strap it on for my biking trips. In fact, my biggest problem was probably me forgetting to twist the lens to unlock it and missed a few moments.
Unlike some brands which scrimp on the ports side to make up for compactness, the α7C comes with a full set of ports (a mic port, a headphone jack, a micro HDMI port, a USB-C port, and of course the sole UHS-II SD card slot for this speedy camera. ). Sony somehow even squeezed in a swivel flip-out screen for the selfie and vloggers group – and yes, the screen’s movement is not blocked when i plugged in a microphone.
This said, it was not all smooth sailing. Personally I still find Sony’s menu user interface a mess to handle, but then for current Sony users, they will simply jump into it easily so this is really user dependent.
Though there were a few misses user interface and buttons placement wise (for me), the α7C easily makes up for them with its strengths.
Another point to share is until now I still find the positioning of the ‘MENU’ button which is directly under the hot-shoe area a perplexing affair too. There were many times I had accidentally pressed it thinking it was the PLAY/Review delete button.
Colour science wise Sony has really improved a lot since I last properly shot one of their cameras. Fanboy or not I think it is very important to acknowledge credit where due, and honestly I am pretty tired of this my brand vs your brand childishness that some still indulge in. One thing for sure is that Sony is working their way there colours wise.
Where edited right, images are punchy and crisp with good details and frankly, more than sufficient for the enthusiast that the α7C is targeted towards. Let’s remember above this α7C, we have the (oh my) α7 III, α7R IV, α7S III, α9 II and of course the insane α1 camera tending to every possible level of user one can even start to imagine.
In all, what I can firmly say about the α7C as a camera is that it comes with Sony’s real-time autofocus system, which is one of the best autofocus systems available. Include the ability to shoot up to 115 RAW images at up to 10 frames per second, speed is one of the biggest draw of any Sony αlpha series camera.
The full frame sensor aided by the optical image stabilisation makes this an extremely versatile camera. But above all and all the issues that I mentioned earlier, what really makes the α7C special is that one gets all of this from the alpha full-frame series in an A6600 sized body so compact that it’s mind boggling and I have to say, Sony has proudly earned the right to flex this round.
*I’ve received a few inquiries about the newly released Sony trio of compact primes, namely the FE24 f2.8, FE40 f2.5 and FE50 f2.5. Unfortunately they were not available to me at the time of the review (it’s obvious I am not a big name like DpReview etc) so let’s hope I get to try them one day.
Thank you for reading.