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Sony Alpha 7C review: ready for anything


25 / May / 21 Homer Barton Visitors: 61 Rating:

The most compact and lightweight full-frame mirrorless camera Sony Alpha 7C appeared in Russian retail in December 2020. We received it complete with a standard zoom lens and tested it in practice to see what opportunities it offers to an amateur photographer, traveler and blogger.

Compact and ambitious

The first time you see the camera it surprises you with its size. A full-frame sensor with five-axis stabilization the manufacturer managed to fit in a body a little larger than the size of the "cropped" mirrorless 6000-series. To achieve this, the design was completely overhauled so that all functions of professional models "fit" into the given framework. But the compact model doesn't sink in your hands, and is comfortable to use even when wearing leather or thick fleece gloves in winter. The buttons have been made large and difficult to miss, and thanks to the medium-sensitivity shutter release the camera does not strive to make an extra shot when accidentally touched. The Sony Alpha 7C comes in two colours: a stark black and silver-black for retro enthusiasts.

The electronic OLED viewfinder (2.36MP, 0.59x) is built into the body in line with the form factor. Its performance is sufficient for judging focus precision and scene brightness, and when shooting on a clear day it is the most convenient tool for framing. An optional LCD monitor with a swivel mechanism is also included. It also allows you to change settings and use the on-screen focus function. It even works when you use gloves, but you have to buy special gloves with fingertip inserts. That's the way touch displays work though.

The compact and foldable Sony FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 kit zoom lens makes it a small and lightweight kit - it fits easily into any bag and even your jacket pocket. We tested the camera's performance with it, and it handled a wide variety of subjects from landscapes to portraits with no problems. In addition, the lens proved capable of pulling back light well. If desired, the creative potential of the Sony Alpha 7C is easily scaled with a wide range of branded interchangeable optics for the Sony E mount, including the premium GMaster range. Third-party lenses are also available.

The small size of the Sony FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens is the reason for its low aperture. However, with a full-frame sensor this doesn't prevent it from getting a shallow depth of field.

On the back of the body is a three-inch LCD display with a swivel mount. It allows you to shoot from a variety of angles - from above, below and even from a corner - as well as flip the screen towards the shooter. The latter makes the device especially handy for recording video blogs - but more on that later.

The Alpha 7C has a surprisingly large battery. You can get up to 680 shots with the viewfinder or up to 740 shots with the LCD monitor on a single charge. The CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) of Japan also confirms these figures. The promised video recording time under the same conditions is up to 220 minutes and up to 215 minutes respectively. In addition, the camera can be recharged via a USB port without interrupting filming - for example, from a power bank. In practice, more than 300 outdoor shots drained the battery by about 40 percent - and that in twenty-five-degree frost. In addition, the camera not only goes to sleep mode very quickly but also comes out of it: very convenient when you need to make a picture, as they say, "from the hip".

For the internet savvy, the Sony Alpha 7C offers a wide range of interfaces for quickly transferring memory card content to external devices. The compact camera gets Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi (2.4GHz + 5GHz) and NFC. Paying for coffee with the latter won't work, but it will pair with other gadgets in an instant. Quickly and easily "share" your video footage with the Imaging Edge Mobile app, while Imaging Edge Webcam turns into a quality webcam for online streaming and videoconferencing.

There's only one memory card slot on board - a detail worth considering for camera-lovers who like to take long photo shoots and have a hot-swappable drive at the ready. All common SD cards, including SDHC/SDXC, will do for shooting, while the UHS-I/II standard is also supported.

The camera has one of the most advanced autofocus systems in its class. The in-house 4D Focus technology uses 693 phase-phase autofocus points and 425 contrast-type autofocus points on the sensor covering about 93% of the frame. This allows fast and stable tracking of the subject over a wide area. You'll just have to get used to shooting difficult compositions - but who's to say there's even a "make good" button? When framing through the viewfinder, you can move the focus point by touching the screen with your finger while still looking through the eyepiece.

When taking full-length photos of people, the camera is confident in recognising faces and figures. And if you press and hold the AF-ON button, the camera will keep a moving subject in focus. At close range, face detection triggers eye AF, which significantly reduces the likelihood of blurred portraits. This useful function also works when shooting animals (dogs, cats, birds) - just switch to the appropriate mode in the settings menu.

Top quality in any situation

The full-frame 24-megapixel sensor gives you a wide dynamic range of 15 EV. In other words, it captures every tone, from brightest to darkest, in high contrast scenes. This capability is useful for a wide variety of scenes - on the beach in the glaring sun, on a sunny winter day, or at night under bright lights. Holding a wide range of sensitivities, it performed well at ISO 6400 and maintained excellent overall colour reproduction with no ghosting at ISO 2500.

In bright natural light, colour reproduction is as you would expect from a professional camera. It delivers a true-to-life palette even at nightfall, during twilight, and in well-lit rooms. At night the Alpha 7C often produces more saturated colours than in real life - especially during times when the sky is not yet blackened - but that only adds to the beauty of the photo.

Both the full-frame backlit (BSI-CMOS) sensor itself and the powerful Bionz X processor, which provides effective noise reduction, play a huge role in achieving high-quality images in low-light conditions. This tandem produces good detail without digital noise or colour degradation, down to the highest ISO setting available for automatic (ISO 12800). If you want to shoot photos for social media or other online sites where you want to keep the resolution down, you can forget about the ISO setting of your camera and just work on your creative idea. The camera will not only be able to shoot handheld in very dark locations, but also to report a dynamic event in low light by slashing the shutter speed by raising the ISO.

An important feature that enhances photographers' abilities and mobility is the camera's advanced five-axis stabilisation system. This is based on sensor shift, so it works with almost any lens attached to the Sony Alpha 7C. Its claimed efficiency of 5 exposures (EV) allows you to shoot without a tripod at slow shutter speeds. Not only does it help improve the photo quality (by lowering the ISO) but it also makes for some interesting visual effects.

Video recording

As a video recording tool, the Sony Alpha 7C is of interest to general photographers and vloggers alike. Compact and lightweight, it won't drag your hands away for a day's work. The free rotatable screen lets you control first person video shooting so you don't have to hire a separate cameraman. Another big plus for creative professionals is the ability to mount almost any lens with manual focus and aperture control via adapters.

On the fly, a highly effective stabilization system keeps your shots steady, and responsive phase-assisted autofocus helps you frame the main subject. This feature is particularly useful for blogging or portrait photography: the camera is clearly in focus on the face and eyes of the model without throwing off focus. 4K video can be recorded at a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels, at bitrates of 100 or 60 Mbps and 24, 25 or 30 frames per second. Full HD video is created at the same high bitrate at up to 120 fps to capture "Hollywood" slo-mo with quadruple time lag.

The Alpha 7C is ready for professional sound work. You can plug in Sony's in-house stereo microphone via the top panel jack and plug in external headphones or a headset via the 3.5mm jack. Sound can also be monitored via the indicators on the LCD screen. The micro-HDMI port allows you to output video to external media. When shooting video, autofocus reacts very quickly to object movement and adjusts against interference, and even more importantly for . The tiltable screen allows you to shoot from all angles.

The bottom line is

The Sony Alpha 7C is a compact and lightweight mirrorless camera. It is ideal for the traveller or YouTube channel author for vlogging or live streaming in high quality. A full-frame sensor, powerful image processor and Image Stabilizer provide smooth and efficient camera performance in all conditions. Rotatable LCD screen, external microphone and a large array of compatible lenses provide photographers with the freedom to shoot in all situations. A pleasant bonus is the high-capacity, hot-swappable battery, which keeps up even with winter outdoor photo shoots.

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