Sony Alpha 7C, analysis and opinion

The Sony Alpha 7 Mk III released in 2018 has become the workhorse in sales for Sony for its excellent performance. How could Sony take the success of its A7 III even further? Well, making it more compact. This is how the Sony A7C was born.

Few were expected in 2018 that a single camera would reach the sales heights that Sony has achieved with its Sony Alpha 7 Mk III, a technology-well-endowed full-format sensor camera. Sony repeated its feat in its APS-C range with the Sony Alpha 6600.

Faced with the step forward of the APS-C range, the next step we expected was for the A7 range to take a step down to approach that border between the two ranges. That's precisely what the Sony Alpha 7C provides that we are about to analyze. In it, we find all the features and technologies of a Sony A7III in the compact body of an Alpha 6600 that we analyzed a few months ago.

The new concept of a compact camera with Full Frame sensor is endorsed with a new lens 28- 60 mm f / 4- 5.6 of very contained dimensions and weight that perfectly matches the philosophy of the format.

Contained dimensions and a very attractive retro aesthetic

One of the first things that catch the eye in this little Full Frame is its somewhat unusual aesthetic in Sony models, which tends to be very purist in this of camera designs, and they tend to dress up their new cameras in a rigorous black.

In the Sony A7C, on the other hand, the most attractive option is that formed by a two-colour finish in which the top of the camera and a small part of the front is silvery that makes a nod to the vintage, but that does not neglect that sober and elegant aesthetic characteristic of Sony cameras.

The texture that coats the handle has also been endowed with a new finish that draws a pattern of small dots and offers great safety in grip by conveying a slightly gummy touch that feels safe in the hand.

It's 124 x 71.1 x 59.7 mm and 509 grams also help convey the feeling of maintaining constant control of the camera as it is a very manageable body.

The ergonomics of Sony's camera are really good for its size and follow the path we saw in our analysis of the A6600 with a generous handle that served as a cover to accommodate a larger capacity battery.

The grip is very comfortable with the new compact lens presented by Sony, but also with larger lenses since, despite its small dimensions, we must not forget that it is a full format camera with all the law and, in it, any lens of the Sony bayonet E can be mounted.

Despite its compact size, different details in its design reveal that we are not faced with a new member of the A6000 family. One of the most striking is the entire top, which not only brings changes to the finish, available in the beautiful bicolour that the unit we are analyzing sports, and completely black for the more traditional ones.

On top Sony plays with the optical effect produced by this metallic finish and, instead of offering a flat surface, as in the A6600, draws different steps and the chrome area does not cover the entire thickness, visually suggesting that the camera is narrower than it really is.

Here stands out the presence of the multi-device active shoe for flashes, sound systems and microphones, located in a centred position. On your right, on a somewhat lower level, we find the mode wheel, the cut-out exposure dial in the corner, a new, more accessible video recording button and the trigger button with the built-in power switch.

If we go to the back, the first thing we find is the electronic viewfinder moved to the left corner in the purest A6600 style. The Sony A7C repeats with the 2,359,296-point OLED electronic viewfinder we've already seen on the Alpha 6600.

The experience of using this viewfinder has been one of the least convincing points of this new camera. We have not finished finding ourselves comfortable with him in various respects. The first is from an ergonomic point of view with the absence of a rubber visor that does not help to accommodate the eye when looking through the viewfinder as it does on both the Sony A7 and even the A6600.

The OLED viewer offers good image quality but, again, the size of the viewfinder is somewhat small and not as easy to read as it is on the A7 III. The case is compounded if you wear glasses, as the visor is more removed from the eye and forces you to "peek" into the corners of the viewfinder to see the information.

The arrangement of the A7C buttons is maintained on the same line as the A6600 with two revision and erase buttons on the lower right equine, the circular pad that allows you to configure different parameters when using this wheel as a crosshair.

Swiping the ring allows you to change and select configuration settings from the menus. An Fn button and the AF focus button complete the buttons in this section. On this button is the only adjustment wheel that allows you to control basic settings such as shutter speed or aperture.

After launching the Sony ZV-1, which has already passed through our hands, and the new version of the A7S III for video, Sony seems to have caught the liking of the articulated and rotating screens that allow the user to see each other while recording or taking selfies, something we can only applaud. It's about Time Sony!

This is a 3-inch display with 920,000 resolution points. It is clearly identical to the one Sony has been riding on its cameras, so few new features in this regard, offering a well-defined preview and with a remarkable brightness even in full sun.

What this display has not integrated are the touch functions of selection beyond the focus functions. It is something that already incorporates the Sony A7S III into its new iteration, making its use much more intuitive.

Some users would have liked to find a joystick on the back from which to control the focus system like the one we found on the A7 III, however, this Sony A7C uses the same system as its younger sister on APS-C, and can control the focus point from the touch screen while looking through the viewfinder as if it were the trackpad of a laptop.

Being somewhat thicker than the A6600, Sony has been able to redesign the left side where all connections are concentrated in different compartments that allow these connectors to be better protected when not in use.

When opening the central gate we find the slot for a single SD card, instead of the two slots that the A7III integrates. Details like that show that Sony hasn't thought of this Sony A7 C as a camera with a profile as professional as the A7 III in which the two slots provided additional support.

In the upper door, we find the microphone jack, while at the bottom is the 3.5 mm headphone jack with which to monitor the audio captured by the camera. Also, we find a micro HDMI connector and a USB C with charging functions.

At the bottom, we find the np-FZ100 battery compartment that offers a really impressive battery life. The rubbers and insulators that we find at different points reveal that the body of the camera, like the new lens, is sealed against dust and splashes.

On the front, the prominence is carried by the new lens with focal 28-60 mm that achieves very tight dimensions, but which does not transmit the premium quality of the other objectives by the materials in which it has been manufactured to achieve the lowest possible weight.

A step back to Sony's labyrinthine menus

We know that creating a menu in which as many functions and settings as this Sony camera allows are accessible should not be easy. However, we do not ask for something that has not already been done in models like the A7S III that was introduced a couple of months ago.

In this model, Sony reorganized its menus more intuitively and equipped them with touch options that allowed the user to navigate to the setting they wanted to modify with just a few taps on the screen.

Everything pointed out that this A7C was going to continue with that line, but we feared that, because of incompatibilities with the BIONZ X processor mounted by the Sony A7C, this could not have been possible.

For this reason, the user of this Sony A7C should continue to deal with labyrinthine Sony menus that can be a nightmare for less experienced users.

It gives us the feeling that in this camera Sony has taken a step back in that evolution towards easier-to-use menus.

The menu layout is one of Sony's historical weaknesses and having reduced the number of shortcut buttons to settings forces you to navigate these menus more frequently or make use of on-screen function panels.

Luckily, the latest versions of these menus include a brief description of the function of that setting when you press the Delete button. The problem is that sometimes the description is as uns enlightening as the statement.

Sony's approach remains in top shape and its sensor is up to the task

Without going on to analyze how the performance of this Sony A7Chas been, although the truth is that few new features to comment around here. The Sony A7C is not a camera in which Sony has been thoroughly used to revolutionize its focus system or add disruptive features.

What you would expect from this camera is the same good behaviour offered by the Sony A7 III, but with a more compact and lightweight format. And that's exactly what we found in this Sony A7C.

When it comes to quality, the Sony A7C's sensor shares the same features as the Sony A7 III, but it's not the same sensor, as here we find a 24.2 megapixel BSI (Back-Side Illuminated) CMOS sensor or backlit sensor.

This technology is basically about changing the position of the sensor circuitry so that the light impacts directly on the photosensitive surface of the sensor, so its low-light behaviour should be significantly better than its acronym built into the A7 III.

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