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Sony α7C Camera Review

Tested using Methodology v0.12
Updated Jan 12, 2023 at 02:22 pm
Sony α7C Picture
8.4
Travel Photography
8.5
Landscape Photography
8.2
Sport & Wildlife Photography
8.6
Vlogging
8.7
Studio Video
6.1
Action Video
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The Sony α7C is the compact option in Sony's Alpha 7 lineup of full-frame mirrorless cameras. First released in 2020, it shares a lot of the same features as 2018's Sony α7 III, including the same 24-megapixel backside-illuminated sensor and processor, in-body image stabilization, and 10 fps burst shooting. However, it also offers some improvements, including an updated autofocus system and a fully articulating screen. Its compact size does come with a few trade-offs, though—namely, a much smaller and more uncomfortable viewfinder, fewer buttons and dials, and just a single SD card slot.

Our Verdict

8.4 Travel Photography

The Sony a7C is great for travel photography. It's fairly lightweight and portable, especially for a full-frame camera. It captures incredibly high-quality images and performs well in low light, and it has a fantastic battery life that's sufficient for long days on the go. It also has an excellent autofocus system that reliably keeps moving subjects in focus. It isn't the most comfortable to use, with somewhat cramped ergonomics and a tiny viewfinder. Its menu system can also be a bit of a hassle to navigate.

Pros
  • Relatively compact and lightweight.
  • Remarkable image quality.
  • Exceptional RAW noise handling capability.
  • Fantastic autofocus performance.
Cons
  • Handgrip can feel a bit cramped.
  • Menu system is somewhat hard to navigate.
  • Terrible viewfinder.
8.5 Landscape Photography

The Sony a7C is excellent for landscape photography. Its image quality and RAW noise handling capability are fantastic, and it has excellent dynamic range to bring out a wide array of detail in high-contrast landscape shots. It's also weather-sealed to protect against rain and humidity. Overall, the camera feels very well-built and is very portable for a full-frame camera, but its design leaves less room for a comfortable handgrip, especially for those with larger hands.

Pros
  • Relatively compact and lightweight.
  • Remarkable image quality.
  • Exceptional RAW noise handling capability.
  • Fantastic autofocus performance.
Cons
  • Handgrip can feel a bit cramped.
  • Menu system is somewhat hard to navigate.
8.2 Sport & Wildlife Photography

The Sony a7C is great for sport and wildlife photography. It captures remarkably high-quality images with minimal noise in low light. It also has a relatively quick continuous shooting speed and a decent-sized image buffer, although it takes a while to empty if you manage to fill it, which can interrupt your shooting at a critical moment. On the other hand, it has an excellent autofocus system with a fantastic AF tracking feature that works well even with faster subjects. It also includes both human and animal eye detection, meaning you can tailor it to your particular subject.

Pros
  • Relatively compact and lightweight.
  • Remarkable image quality.
  • Exceptional RAW noise handling capability.
  • Fantastic autofocus performance.
  • Good continuous shooting speed.
Cons
  • Handgrip can feel a bit cramped.
  • Menu system is somewhat hard to navigate.
  • Buffer empty time is a bit long.
  • Terrible viewfinder.
8.6 Vlogging

The Sony a7C is good for vlogging, though this isn't its main intended use. While it's relatively compact and portable for a full-frame camera, it's still on the larger and heavier side for walk-and-talk vlogs. In-body image stabilization can help reduce camera shake, but it isn't as effective as some competitors. Still, the camera has a fully articulated screen so you can monitor yourself while recording, as well as an exceptional autofocus system to ensure your face stays in focus. Video quality is excellent, and there's no recording time limit. It has a fantastic battery life and isn't likely to overheat, even during extended recording sessions.

Pros
  • Relatively compact and lightweight.
  • Great overall video quality.
  • Fantastic autofocus performance.
  • Fully articulated screen.
Cons
  • Handgrip can feel a bit cramped.
  • Menu system is somewhat hard to navigate.
  • Video stabilization is disappointing.
8.7 Studio Video

The Sony a7C is excellent for studio video. Its video quality is impressive, whether shooting in 4k or 1080p, and it has good internal recording capability, though its recording format options are a bit limited, and its menu system can be hard to navigate. It supports several S-Log and HLG picture profiles to get a wider dynamic range in video. However, it's limited to 8-bit capture, giving you less flexibility to edit your footage. On the upside, its battery life is fantastic, it doesn't have a recording time limit, and it won't overheat, though this can vary with real-world conditions. It also comes with a full array of inputs and outputs, including a headphone jack and stereo microphone input, and a micro HDMI port to connect an external recorder. It only has one SD card slot, though, which is unfortunate if you prefer to keep a running backup while recording.

Pros
  • Relatively compact and lightweight.
  • Full array of inputs and outputs.
  • Great overall video quality.
  • Fantastic autofocus performance.
Cons
  • Handgrip can feel a bit cramped.
  • Menu system is somewhat hard to navigate.
6.1 Action Video

The Sony Alpha 7C isn't meant for action video. While it's compact relative to other full-frame mirrorless cameras, it isn't designed to be mounted on a helmet or other action cam rig. It's weather-sealed but not fully waterproof. On the upside, it can record and playback FHD video at up to 120 fps, which is good for generating slow-motion footage, but its 4k frame rate options are more limited for high-speed recording.

Pros
  • Relatively compact and lightweight.
  • Can shoot in FHD at up to 120 fps.
  • Great overall video quality.
  • Fantastic autofocus performance.
Cons
  • Handgrip can feel a bit cramped.
  • Menu system is somewhat hard to navigate.
  • Limited 4k frame rate options.
  • Video stabilization is disappointing.
  • Not waterproof.
  • 8.4 Travel Photography
  • 8.5 Landscape Photography
  • 8.2 Sport & Wildlife Photography
  • 8.6 Vlogging
  • 8.7 Studio Video
  • 6.1 Action Video
  1. Updated Jan 12, 2023: Added full text to review and rewrote existing text for clarity.
  2. Updated Jan 03, 2023: The original 'Photo RAW Noise' test scene image was slightly out of focus, so we reshot and reuploaded it.
  3. Updated Dec 14, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.12.
  4. Updated Nov 21, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.11.
  5. Updated Sep 16, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.10.
  6. Updated Aug 17, 2022: After running into issues with RawTherapee during retesting for Test Bench 0.9, we decided to process the 'Photo RAW Dynamic Range' test scene in Lightroom instead. The test scene photo has been reuploaded.
  7. Updated Jul 29, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.9.
  8. Updated Apr 22, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.8.
  9. Updated Sep 10, 2021: Review published.
  10. Updated Sep 03, 2021: Early access published.

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Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Sony Alpha 7C comes in two color variants: 'Black' and 'Silver'. We tested the black model, and you can see our unit's label here. You can buy the camera in a bundle with the Sony FE 28–60mm f/4–5.6 lens, the Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS lens, or others, depending on the retailer. You can also buy it without a kit lens.

Let us know if you come across a different variant or if your Sony a7C doesn't correspond to our review, and we'll update it.

Compared To Other Cameras

The Sony a7C is one of the most compact full-frame camera bodies on the market. It offers a lot of the same great features as the Sony a7 III, including a high-resolution full-frame sensor, in-body image stabilization, and 10 fps burst shooting, but in a more portable form factor. That comes with some tradeoffs, namely fewer buttons and dials, as well as a much smaller viewfinder. However, if you want portability without sacrificing image quality, this is a great option.

For more choices, check out our recommendations for the best full-frame mirrorless cameras, the best cameras for travel, or the best cameras overall.

Sony α7 III

The Sony α7C is essentially a more compact version of the Sony α7 III. Being newer, it offers a few improvements, including an upgraded autofocus system with a better AF tracking algorithm, plus a longer battery life and unlimited video recording time. That said, the α7 III has better ergonomics, with more custom buttons and dials, along with a significantly larger viewfinder and dual SD card slots. The α7 III also has a tilting screen, while the α7C has a fully articulated screen, one of which may suit you better than the other depending on your needs and personal preference.

Sony α6600

The Sony α7C performs similarly to the Sony α6600, although it has a slight edge thanks to its backside-illuminated full-frame sensor, as opposed to the a6600's APS-C sensor. As a result, out-of-camera image quality and high-ISO performance are a bit better on the α7C. The cameras are similar in size, although the α6600 has a couple of extra custom buttons and a larger, more comfortable EVF. Both cameras are weather-sealed, feature in-body image stabilization, and use Sony's highly effective autofocus system; however, the α7C uses a newer version with more settings to fine-tune AF performance.

Nikon Z 5

The Sony α7C is a bit better overall than the Nikon Z 5, especially for hybrid and video shooters or those who want a more portable camera. The a7C offers better video specs, with a much smaller crop on 4k video. It also has a more reliable and effective autofocus system and faster burst shooting. That said, both are full-frame cameras with roughly on-par image quality, though the Nikon does have some advantages, including better ergonomics, a much larger, higher-resolution viewfinder, and dual SD card slots.

Sony α7 IV

The Sony α7 IV and the Sony α7C are both enthusiast-level mirrorless cameras from Sony. They share some similarities, including incredibly sophisticated autofocus systems that reliably track moving subjects, as well as high-resolution full-frame sensors that deliver sharp, detailed photos and perform well in low light. However, the α7C is much more compact, making it easier to travel with but means it has fewer physical buttons and dials, a much smaller viewfinder, and just a single SD card slot. The α7 IV, meanwhile, has a higher-resolution sensor, giving you more leeway to crop and edit. It also has better internal video recording specs than the α7C, making it a better option for more advanced video work.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
6.9
Design
Portability
Height
3.2" (8.1 cm)
Width
5.6" (14.2 cm)
Depth
2.5" (6.3 cm)
Volume
44.2 in³ (724.0 cm³)
Weight
1.12 lbs (0.51 kg)

The Sony Alpha 7C is very portable for a full-frame camera. It's among the most compact full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market, surpassed only by the modular SIGMA fp L. Though it's a bit bulkier than APS-C alphas like the Sony a6600, it's closer in size and appearance to those cameras than full-frame Sonys like the Sony a7 III.

9.0
Design
Build Quality

Build quality is superb. The body is made out of magnesium alloy and feels sturdy. The buttons provide great physical feedback, and the screen mechanism feels solid. It's a slight step up from the Sony a7 III, with more robust weather-sealing and more secure input/output covers.

Design
Body
Body Type
SLR-Style
Water Resistance
Weather-Sealed
Mirrorless
Yes
Rugged
No
Hot Shoe
Yes
Customizable Button
Yes
Command Dial
2
Tripod Mount
Yes
Lens Mount
E-Mount
Built-In Flash
No
Fastest Shutter Speed
1/4,000 s
Design
In The Box

  • Sony a7C camera body
  • Sony FE 28–60 mm F4–5.6 lens
  • Lens cap
  • Rear lens cap
  • Sensor cap
  • Hot shoe protection cover
  • Shoulder strap
  • NP-FZ100 battery
  • AC adapter
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • User manual

7.0
Design
Ergonomics & Comfort
Hand Grip: Small Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Medium Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Large Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Extra-Large Hand
No

The Sony a7C has decent ergonomics given its compact size, though it isn't nearly as comfortable to shoot with as the Sony α7 III or the Sony α7 IV. There aren't as many custom buttons and dials, so it's a bit more of a hassle to adjust settings when shooting in manual mode. The buttons provide good physical feedback, and the textured grip feels nice and provides a secure hold. The camera is suitable for most hand sizes, but those with very large hands may find it a bit cramped, especially in the space between the grip and the lens.

Design
Viewfinder
Viewfinder Type
Electronic
Advertised Coverage
100%
Advertised Resolution
2.36 million dots
Advertised Magnification
0.59

The EVF is a lot smaller than the one found on the Sony α7 III, which is a compromise to help keep the size of the body down. It's even smaller and less comfortable than the EVFs on Sony's APS-C cameras like the Sony a6600. There's no rubber eyecup, and the plastic can get uncomfortable.

8.6
Design
Screen
Screen Articulation Type
Fully-Articulated
Screen Max Brightness
725 cd/m²
Advertised Resolution
0.92 million dots
Size
3.0" (7.5 cm)
Touchscreen
Limited

Unlike the Sony α7 III, this camera has a fully articulated screen. That makes it a little more convenient for video work or vlogs, but some may still prefer a tilting screen for waist-level photography. The screen has a decent resolution and gets quite bright, making it easier to see on brighter days. Unfortunately, touch functionality is mostly limited to selecting focus points, meaning you can't use it to navigate the menu.

6.5
Design
Menu System
Guide Mode
Yes
App Name
Imaging Edge Mobile

The menu is okay to use, but it isn't very intuitive, with many submenus and pages that aren't very clearly organized. It makes it harder to find more complex settings, and it isn't helped by the lack of touch navigation. That said, the camera includes a ton of customization options, including the option to create a custom menu for the specific settings you use most. The quick menu ('Fn' menu) also gives you access to commonly used settings while shooting.

not tested
Design
Built-In Lens
Maximum Aperture
No built-in lens
Max Aperture (Full-Frame Equivalent)
N/A
Minimum Focal Length
N/A
Maximum Focal Length
N/A
Max Focal Length (Full-Frame Equivalent)
N/A
Optical Image Stabilization
No
Luminance
N/A
Light Falloff
N/A
Design
Sensor
Sensor Type
BSI CMOS
Advertised Effective Pixels
24.2 MP
Sensor Size
Full Frame
Processor
BIONZ X
Extended ISO Minimum
50
Native ISO Minimum (Base ISO)
100
Native ISO Maximum
51,200
Tested Firmware
Ver.2.0
9.6
Design
Battery
Battery Type
Sony NP-FZ100
USB Charging
Yes
Use When Charging
Yes
Advertised Battery Life In Photo
680 photos
Tested Battery Life In Video
140 min

The Sony a7C has a fantastic battery life. With a 680-shot CIPA rating, it's one of the highest-rated mirrorless cameras we've tested for photos, though that still falls far short of many high-end DSLRs. The number of shots you get in real-world usage can also vary greatly depending on your settings and how you use your camera. Still, you can expect to get plenty of photos out of this camera before having to recharge.

When it comes to video, the camera also performs incredibly well, lasting for over two hours of continuous 4k video recording in our testing with no overheating interruptions.

Photo General
7.3
Photo General
Photo Shooting Speed
Low Speed Continuous
4 fps
High Speed Continuous
10 fps
Silent Shooting Continuous
9 fps
Raw Buffer Size
46 Photos
JPEG Buffer Size
170 Photos
Buffer Empty Time
10 s

Continuous shooting is decent. The camera can shoot at a reasonably quick max burst rate and has a slightly larger buffer capacity than the Sony a7 III. However, if you do manage to fill it up while shooting, it takes quite a while for it to empty, which isn't great when the timing is critical.

9.0
Photo General
Photo AF-C Tracking
Autofocus Tracking Shots
Perfect Focus Hit Rate
81%
Usable Focus Hit Rate
95%

The AF tracking on the Sony a7C is fantastic. It uses a sophisticated hybrid phase detection autofocus system, with Sony's 'Real Time Eye AF', which seamlessly switches between eyes, faces, and general subject tracking, and it can predict and keep track of moving subjects with high accuracy. Even with faster subjects or in trickier environments, it's very likely to nail focus and leave you with plenty of keepers.

10
Photo General
Photo AF-C Center Point
Autofocus Center Point Shots
Perfect Focus Hit Rate
100%
Usable Focus Hit Rate
100%

When using center point AF, along with a lens that has a good focusing motor, the camera very smoothly stays with subjects that are in the focus point. All in all, it's an incredible reliable autofocus system that's well-suited to almost any shooting situation.

8.3
Photo General
Photo Image Stabilization
Minimum Shutter Speed Achieved
1/8 s
In-Body Image Stabilization
Yes

The Sony a7C includes in-body image stabilization, which Sony calls 'SteadyShot'. It works in tandem with the Optical SteadyShot in Sony lenses. It works very well, allowing you to capture clear photos at very slow shutter speeds. That said, stabilization performance can vary depending on your lens, focal length, and even the steadiness of your hands.

Photo Image Quality
8.8
Photo Image Quality
Photo RAW Dynamic Range
Dynamic Range At Base ISO
11.1 f-stops
Dynamic Range At 1/500s Exposure Time
9.8 f-stops
Dynamic Range At 1/2000s Exposure Time
7.6 f-stops
Dynamic Range At 1/4000s Exposure Time
7.0 f-stops

The Sony a7C has excellent dynamic range, allowing you to capture a wide array of highlight and shadow detail. It does drop off when there's less available light, but it's still very good overall.

8.6
Photo Image Quality
Photo RAW Sharpness
Vertical Edge MTF50 At Base ISO
1,905 LW/PH
Horizontal Edge MTF50 At Base ISO
2,184 LW/PH

This camera is excellent at resolving fine detail thanks to its high-res full-frame sensor. Even when punching in or cropping, you can expect plenty of detail and resolution.

8.8
Photo Image Quality
Photo RAW Noise
SNR 18% At 1/8 Exposure Time (125 ms)
34.5dB
SNR 18% At 1/125 Exposure Time (8 ms)
29.1 dB
SNR 18% At 1/1000 Exposure Time (1 ms)
20.9dB
SNR 18% At 1/4000 Exposure Time (0.25 ms)
16.9dB

Noise handling is amazing. This camera is well-suited to taking photos in low light at higher ISO settings. Noise is inevitable with less light and shorter exposures, but you can push the camera far without getting overly noisy images.

Pictures Sample Gallery
Pictures Sample Gallery
The Skate Park Picture
JPEG Skate Park Picture Download
RAW Skate Park Picture Download
Pictures Sample Gallery
The Polish Church Picture
JPEG Polish Church Picture Download
RAW Polish Church Picture Download
Pictures Sample Gallery
The Studio Picture
JPEG Studio Picture Download
RAW Studio Picture Download
Pictures Sample Gallery
The Stairway Picture
JPEG Stairway Picture Download
RAW Stairway Picture Download
Video General
Video General
Video Features
Full HD Video
Yes
4k Video
Yes
6k Video
No
Clean HDMI Output
Yes
Advertised Max Chroma Sampling Over HDMI
Not Advertised
Advertised Max Bit Depth Over HDMI
8 bits
Log Picture Profile
Yes
Recording Light
No

The camera supports S-Log2 and S-Log3, which capture a "flatter" image to record a wider range of detail. That said, it's limited to 8-bit video output, meaning you'll have a harder time getting the most out of Log profiles when color-grading your footage.

Video General
Audio
Audio Test Sample
Audio Recording
Stereo
Microphone Level Display
Yes
Video General
Video File Format And Compression
MP4 H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
No
MP4 H.265 / HEVC
No
MOV H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
No
MOV H.265 / HEVC
No
AVCHD H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
Yes
All-I Compression
No
4k Video
7.2
4k Video
4k Video Frame Rate
240 fps In 4k
No
120 fps In 4k
No
60 fps In 4k
No
30 fps In 4k
Yes, with a Crop
24 fps In 4k
Yes
4k Crop At Max Available fps
1.16 x
8.2
4k Video
4k Video Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In 4k
100 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In 4k
60 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In 4k
4:2:0
Bit Depth In 4k
8 Bit
Record Time Limit In 4k
N/A
Overheat Recording Interruptions in 4k
0

Internal recording capability is great. There's no recording time limit, which is nice. Bit rates are decent, meaning the camera can capture a fair amount of information for high-quality video files, but it falls far short of what the newer Sony α7 IV is capable of. Unfortunately, it's also limited to 8-bit 4:2:0 recording, which gives you less leeway to color grade and edit your footage.

9.8
4k Video
4k Video Autofocus Performance
Object Tracking In 4k
9.7
Face Tracking In 4k
9.9
Face Detection In 4k
Yes
Eye Detection In 4k
Yes

Autofocus is incredible when recording 4k video. Unlike the Sony a7 III, eye AF is available in video mode as well as photo mode, meaning you can get more precise focus on a subject's eyes. The tracking feature works very well overall, so you can generally rely on it to keep your subjects in focus, even when they're moving faster or more erratically.

8.5
4k Video
4k Video Quality
Low Light Capability In 4k
8.0
Test Scene Extract In 4k
8.9

4k video quality is excellent overall. Details are sharply rendered, and the camera performs well in low light. You don't get too much noise, and the camera captures plenty of shadow detail.

6.8
4k Video
4k Video Rolling Shutter Effect
4k Rolling Shutter
4.7°

Rolling shutter effect isn't too bad. There's some noticeable skewing with faster camera pans, but it could be worse. Slower movements won't be too distracting.

Full HD Video
9.5
Full HD Video
FHD Video Frame Rate
240 fps In FHD
No
120 fps In FHD
Yes
60 fps In FHD
Yes
30 fps In FHD
Yes
24 fps In FHD
Yes
FHD Crop At Max Available fps
1 x
8.3
Full HD Video
FHD Video Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In FHD
100 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In FHD
16 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In FHD
4:2:0
Bit Depth In FHD
8 Bit
Record Time Limit in FHD
N/A

1080p internal recording is great. As with 4k, there's no time limit on recording. Unfortunately, it's still limited to 8-bit 4:2:0, so it can't capture as much color information, giving you less latitude to edit and manipulate your videos.

9.9
Full HD Video
FHD Video Autofocus Performance
Object Tracking In FHD
9.8
Face Tracking In FHD
9.9
Face Detection In FHD
Yes
Eye Detection In FHD
Yes

In 1080p, autofocus is just as fantastic as in 4k. The face and eye tracking feature work incredibly well, so you can rely on the camera to keep moving subjects in focus.

8.3
Full HD Video
FHD Video Quality
Low Light Capability In FHD
8.0
Test Scene Extract In FHD
8.5

FHD video quality is impressive overall. As with 4k, details are rendered with relative clarity and sharpness. There's minimal noise in dimmer lighting conditions, too.

8.2
Full HD Video
FHD Video Rolling Shutter Effect
FHD Rolling Shutter
2.0°

Distortion from the rolling shutter is much less noticeable in 1080p. There's still a bit of skewing with very fast camera movements, but overall, the rolling shutter won't be too distracting.

Storage And Connectivity
Storage And Connectivity
Storage
Card 1 Slot
SD Card UHS-II
Card 2 Slot
No 2nd Card Slot

Unfortunately, there's only a single SD card slot, unlike the dual slots you get with the Sony a7 III. On the upside, the SD card slot is well-placed on the side of the camera, so you can easily switch out memory cards when shooting on a tripod.

9.5
Storage And Connectivity
Inputs / Outputs
USB
USB-C
HDMI
Micro (Type D)
Headphones
Yes
Microphone
Stereo
Wi-Fi
Yes
Bluetooth
Yes

There are plenty of inputs and outputs to connect peripherals like headphones, a microphone, or an external monitor. There's also a USB-C port for charging. The flaps that cover the inputs feel a lot more secure than those on the Sony a7 III, with hinged doors and gaskets.

Discussions