Sony Alpha a7C Mirrorless Digital Camera Overview
Recently, Sony unveiled the ɑ7C, a full-frame camera in a very compact body. And it was quickly entitled by many (including Sony) as the "world's smallest and lightest full-frame camera" made to this day. Something we felt to be both a marketing tool and a very quick call, especially after reckoning Sony's DSC-RX1R II (which is 4.5 grams lighter, and just a bit bigger with 113.3 x 65.4 x 72 mm counting its lens). But, it is a true statement if we think about the futuristic looking Zeiss ZX1 Digital Camera. More accurately, even after considering Sigma's FP camera, the Sony ɑ7c should be seen as a conveniently small and lightweight full-frame mirrorless camera with interchangeable lens capabilities; making it one of the most versatile cameras on the planet so far.
So, What's this Camera All About?
Sony is famous for pulling out innovations so big that they almost feel like coming out of a mad-scientist's mind. Both the aforementioned cameras are clear examples of that, and even the insane RX0 II project could be considered as part of that eccentric repertoire.
In reduced and short terms, we could understand the ɑ7C simply as an ɑ6000; but with a state of the art full-frame sensor and image processor. But unlike the odd RX1R II project, the ɑ7C is also a budget friendly solution ($1,798.00 body only, or $2,098.00 with a 28-60mm f/4.0~5.6 lens) after considering that we will get all the benefits of a full-frame camera (without compromising image quality performance) a very lightweight body, perfect for using it anywhere we need or like. In brief, we can say that this is very interesting set-up that combines the versatile nature of the Sony ɑ6000 with the extraordinary image power of the Sony ɑ7 and ɑ9 series. 2020 is not all about bad news!
Decoding Sony's Promotional Video
Beyond Sony's disclaimer, about how the ɑ7C is the world's smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera among full-frame interchangeable-lens digital cameras with optical in-body image stabilization mechanism, what else can we pick from their beautifully crafted promotional video?
Lets dig deeper into it!
- Mobile and Versatile: Camera manufacturers have been badly struggling to cope with mobile phone brands, and the logical way to go is producing small and lightweight pieces of gear. Cameras are still kings of the hill when it comes to imagery for two simple reasons, optics and sensors. But not everyone needs so much imaging power. Therefore, a compact camera like this one will appeal to people with active lifestyles, and content creation interests. Pretty much every millennial and centennial on the block. This categorization of course includes vloggers and Instagramers, but also serious newcomers to photography too! Having a full-frame camera for that price was an unreachable dream a couple of years ago.
- Full-frame high image quality: There is not much to say about this but that the camera comes with a 24.2 megapixels and that it will deliver the expected image quality.
- Impressive Bokeh: Many people forget that full-frame cameras are able to render more impressive bokeh quality due to the larger image covering area. Lenses are fundamental in the nature of bokeh, but thanks to the specs on this camera, you'll be able to get more bokeh even when using slower lenses. And if you prefer to invest in high quality optics rather than bodies, then the friendly price of the ɑ7C will definitely be of interest to you.
- Low-light Performance: Cameras have become so powerful, that ISO is now a true lifesaver. Especially when compared to what ISO meant in terms of image quality just a handful of years ago. No one will dare to shoot above ISO 800; and now, cameras like this one can produce good looking images at ISO 1600 without paying anything in terms of image quality or color cast. The standard ISO range on this camera runs from 100 to 51,200, and it can be expanded to 50 (from 100) and to 204,800 (from 51,200). Although, we still think that shooting with a fast and luminous lens is the best way to go when shooting under low-light situations, but it is nice to have that extra something thanks to Sony's unbeatable sensors.
- 15-Stop wide Dynamic Range: For a camera under $2,000.00, such a wide scope of dynamic range is something worth-mentioning. If you are not quite familiar with DR, you might be thinking that pixel count is the only thing to look at when reading specs from a camera. But no, Dynamic Range is what rules the most. Basically, DR is what the sensor of your camera is capable of doing, no matter its size and pixel count. 15 stops of DR will allow you to register a huge range of tones within a single frame, meaning that you could be able to retain detail from both shadows and bright zones in every single shot, even when combined. This is a very much appreciated quality among landscape photographers, but anyone can benefit from having 15 stops of DR.
- 5-Axis Optical Image Stabilization: One of the main positive features of bulky cameras (especially DSLRs) is the firm image results one can get due to their massive weight. This is quite odd, but when cameras are extremely lightweight, images tend to be more prone to shakes produced by our hands. The true power of the ɑ7C relies on the in body image stabilization which produces impeccable results despite the cameras weight and size. This is perfect for long lenses, which regularly come with built-in image stabilization technologies as well.
- On the Lenses: As many of the other Sony cameras available today, the ɑ7C comes with an E-Mount, meaning that we can attach any of those focal lengths line-up.
- AI-Based Real Time Tracking: From humans to animals, this camera is capable of doing precise trackings thanks to its built-in artificial intelligence. Meaning that we won't have to worry about messy back-focus problems. Also, the camera is capable of shooting 10 frames per second with AE/AF tracking, which is sufficient for general purposes. And last but not least, it has a wide auto-focus coverage area of 93% of the frame thanks to its 425 contrast and 693 phase detection points.
Why It's Autofocus is so Good?
By default, as in all cameras, mid-pressing the shutter button activates the auto-focusing system. But in the ɑ7C, this mere action takes things even further thanks to the artificial intelligence drive functions. With them, the camera retains precise focusing wherever you determine, which can be any of the phase detection points, or specific faces (human or animal).
The convenient "Touch Tracking" mode works perfectly for both movies and stills, but it has to be activated. Otherwise, the camera will rely just on its own AI to decide where to focus. For extremely high tracking precision, make sure to turn the Face/Eye Priority in AF on for human subjects.
By doing this, the camera will lock its focus on the person's eyes, and it will follow as it moves. Sony cameras can be overwhelming, so you better read the manual to use your camera at all its potential.
Beyond precise auto-focus, the ɑ7C comes with both brand new developed shutter unit and image processing system, enabling the camera to shoot bursts of continuous photographs up to 8 frames per second when using the live-view mode with minimal lag. It basically has the power of rendering approximately 223 JPEG (Fine L) files, 115 compressed RAW files, or 45 uncompressed RAW files to be captured in one continuous burst.
The Theme on Video
We are not quite sure about what this means, so we are going to translate it in the best way we can. According to Sony, this camera uses the complete frame for video recording without the need of pixel binning. Therefore, it is possible for this compact beast to capture more than twice of the required data for 4K video (QFHD: 3840 x 2160). Internally, the ɑ7C oversamples the data to produce extraordinary footages with exceptional detail and incredible depth. It also supports HDR (HLG21) & S-Log/S-Gamut profiles, Slow & Quick motion, high-speed full HD recording at 120 fps and some other advanced video goodies for the most creative users.
Finally, a Versatile Screen
In a diverse number of forums and comments sections across the web, we've stumbled into one particular discourse among potential users, everyone is quite happy with the side-opening vari-angle LCD monitor. Apparently, Sony users have been demanding a proper "from the side" screen for video purposes (especially for vlogging and other self-oriented videos). This is a great feature, and people have thanked Sony for hearing them out. The movie button has been ergonomically positioned on the top of the camera so hand held self-recording could be more comfortable to perform.
Beyond high quality video, this camera is also aimed for in-depth high-quality audio recording also. In Sony's words, the camera comes with a digital audio interface, which has been added to the camera's Multi Interface Shoe (or the hot-shoe for seasoned photographers like ourselves), allowing the ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone or XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit to be connected to input digital audio signals directly for crispier audio recordings.
The screen is a 3.0" LCD monitor with 921 thousand dots, giving optimal visibility even in the brightest outdoor conditions, just be careful not to confuse its own glow with the photo being overexposed. Hence the importance of the histogram when exposing our shots. It also comes with a high-quality view mode for finer, more natural detail in addition to a 2.35 megadot (approx.) XGA OLED Tru-Finder™ EVF, the real deal of contemporary mirrorless cameras. For a more intuitive experience, Sony has allowed us to use a Fn button to customize the overall layout, and last but not least, the camera is both dust and moisture resistant, so don't fear to use it under challenging environments. Who would have guessed that such a compact camera would be so capable? Only Sony can make this happen.
Oh, and don't let that small size fool you, it also comes with a high-capacity NP-FZ100 battery which provides enough power for shooting 680 images while using just the viewfinder, or 740 when shooting through the LCD monitor.
On the FE 28-60mm f/4.0~5.6
It doesn't seem like much, but this lens is quite something and it deserves a mention. So far, it can only be acquired with this camera, and it will be available in the near future (early 2021, with a price of approximately $499.99) as well. This is the world's smallest and lightest standard (kit) lens made so far, and it delivers high optical quality across its whole focal spectrum. Therefore, it is a true full-frame 28-60mm 35mm equivalent, perfect for general (and especially for street) photography purposes.
With three spherical lens elements, this tiny beast effectively suppresses chromatic aberrations from 28 to 60mm, and from corner to corner without a problem. It has a minimum focus distance of 0.99'/300mm, and with its small size (2.6" x 1.8"/66.6mm x 45mm) and its lightweight (5.9oz/167g) it is the perfect companion for such a compact full-frame mirrorless camera.
From everyday shooting, to portraiture, commuting, traveling and more, this lens fits perfectly within the concept of the ɑ7C. Take a look at the promotional video here, and see it in action for yourselves!
Wrapping it Up!
Despite being targeted to content creators, we think that the Sony ɑ7C could also be the perfect camera for people interested in finally reaching the dreamed full-frame format, and due to its price, its appeal could reach out even some DSLR users which are finally considering the mirrorless transition.
Photography is best experienced when one is able to carry a camera by our side in every situation of our daily lives, so don't forget to take a look at our useful leather messenger bags and straps so you never miss a shot when getting away from home or studio.