The very moment when Sony teased that a compact Full Frame Mirrorless camera is about to hit the market, the infamous Japanese brand caught a lot of attention out there with so much rumors and leaks going on – just figuring out what it would be. When they did announce the camera and for the most part, general consumers thought that it’s pretty much identical to what we have seen with the A7III but after using it, I disagree because the Sony A7C brings a whole new possibilities to the game that they have started.
How Compact? It’s A6000 Series Compact
Before we get into the whole fact on how compact it is – I have to say that the A7C comes in a really nice colorway to give it a change of sorts. That said we got ours from Sony Malaysia with this black and silver finish which looks pretty cool. That out of the way, in terms of how compact this camera is – we put it side by side with our very own A7II and pretty much every A7 series has this mountain or an extra outward notch on top which you’d see in every single camera – now that is completely shaved off on the A7C. But don’t worry, the hot shoe mount is still there and so is the viewfinder which is positioned in an off-centered, more to the left side of the body.
The camera does share a lot more similarity in the design with the A6000 Series but the A7C is slightly thicker and has a better grip feeling as compared to the A6000 series – the last time reviewed was the A6300 – so, we were pretty confident that the dimensions were pretty much identical. It’s shocking how Sony has re-engineered their full frame mirrorless into a much compact body and its not just as easy as you think as they need to modify every single component which we have seen on the A7III to be specific into a system that so small and compact and even a little more.
If you are concerned about the body construction, fret not as they didn’t compromise on the build quality of the A7C as it gets a rigid and lightweight magnesium-alloy chassis – on the top, front and the back – in fact we have been seeing this particular material in a lot of product these days like the ASUS ExpertBook B9 which feels very robust and light.
It’s same as the A7III on Paper, but in reality, only better
The very fact that the A7C has the same specification as the A7III is undeniable, in fact when you look on the paper, it is very identical but there are minor tweaks which makes the A7C a compelling camera. It has a newer BIONZ X processor for all that good image processing. A modified IBIS to fit in the compact body and a 24.2MP sensor that’s capable of shooting up to 4K footage – which is pretty cool. You can check the rest of the specification below.
Unlike the A7III, the A7C has an interesting sensor built into the body. It’s the Gyroscope Sensor which tracks the body in the X and Y axis, then saves it into the metadata and users can later then use the app called Catalyst to take advantage of the Stabilization as it uses the data and stabilizes the footage with a certain degree of crop but none the less, that is an interesting technology under the hood.
A Lot of Versatility for Users
There are certain frustrations that Sony users in general has faced, which includes myself too. But there are some features that has always made up for it but not the best so to speak. One of them is the display which I personally wasn’t a fan of in previous cameras as they offer limited angle of tilt but the A7C breaks the barrier and brings the Variangle display over to the A7C which is the exact one we noticed with the A7SIII. Honestly, this alone solved a lot of problems creator face on a day to day basis – especially users like myself who needs to see and keep in check if we are in the frame, aligned as we shoot our A-Rolls. On top of that the touch interface on the display is an added touch. Note that you won’t be able to navigate via touch but use the Pad and the wheels, but you can use the touch screen for focusing and even for tools like A-B Point focusing.
Sony didn’t ditch their universal Alpha Mount for something else and I was a little worried if they might do that since it’s a compact camera and might go through some compromises but to my surprise Sony has constructed in a beautiful manner. Starting off with a new kit lens crafted just for the A7C – which they loaned us for this review to happen – their new kit lens – the 28-60mm lens which you can of course pickup if you want a lens to go with the A7C.
We tried our A7II kit lens and it works fine as you’d expect and pretty much any Sony lens will work simply fine with the A7C – be it G MASTER or Zeiss. Afterall, it’s a Full Frame Mount. Although based on the construction, the sensor is noticeably closer to the mount, so you better be extremely cautious as you mount, and you don’t want to hit the sensor and make things complicated.
We shot some pictures with the A7C and bear in mind, as of this point of time – we didn’t have the update for Lightroom to show or even play with the NEF file as it takes a while for ADOBE to add the camera support. But that said, you can feel free to look at the sample shots we took with the Kit lens.
A Gimbal’s BFF
One of the struggles we always go through with any camera – is using with a Gimbal. Mirrorless cameras brought in a lighter form factor and it’s a lot easier to use on Gimbal, but it still is heavy and kind of gets complicated when you add extra gears and try to balance it. The A7C does everything on a Gimbal without breaking a sweat. At the time of this content happening here at VesperLab, our Crane 2S from Zhiyun wasn’t in. So, we loaned the Zhiyun Weebill S from our friends at Nasi Lemak Tech to test things out.
Using the Sony A7C made me realize one thing – how beautifully synergistic the combination is with the Gimbal itself. At certain point, every gimbal gives up but since the A7C is petite, the Weebill S didn’t hold back and offered the best experience there is. Which only goes to prove that this camera is capable of bringing more ideas and capability to the table for a content creator to explore and that very fact made me love this camera more.
Quite the Powerhouse
Another thing Sony didn’t compromise on – it’s the Battery. Up until a certain Sony models, they were using the InfoLithium W Battery which we all know – doesn’t offer the best battery life so to speak. They improved the battery with the A7III by introducing the new InfoLithium Z, which is bigger, better and holds quite the battery capacity. They brought that same big battery over to a compact body – which again is nice move. Now even with the compact body, its nice to know that having the extra power can last you for more than a day. During our rough test, as we only had for like 4 days – we were able to end on the 4th day with 32 percent charge and on the first day we collected it, the camera had 98%.
In that 4 days, we didn’t charge but shot sufficient pictures, some video clips. Its decent. I’d consider this a light use but if you are a heavy user, then you will have to pickup extra battery or battery pack but again, it’s going to offer better experience than the InfoLithium W, that’s for sure.
Little things Matter
Sony’s attention to detail is admirable. In order to give users a better long term run and generally people or consumers who opt for such cameras are in for a long time, they replaced the flimsy flaps found on the previous Sony A7 systems for a better seal with easy to open and close mechanism like a door and snaps in place with the clip on it. It also has the camera loops on the side, so worry not as you can flaunt the camera with a strap that suits your style. Oh, and these seals combined with the build of the camera does offer a certain extent of dust and moisture resistant. Although a complete weather proofing would have been a nice touch.
What Sony did here with the A7C is an interesting power move. From a normal consumer standpoint, they would go “It’s expensive and it has the same thing as the A7III”. But what people are missing out is the engineering and the whole concept of bringing everything the A7III has over to a body that’s compact, easy to bring around wherever you want to go and still offers the best versatility, power one would want. They do market it towards more for content creators who’d like to VLOG and for the most part the Sony ZV-1 is able to do that. Which begs the question: Who is this Sony A7C for?
Sure, anyone and everyone can use it but a Pro Creator’s weapon in disguise. See, coming from someone who has spent years shooting videos – it can be an absolute hassle to deal with bigger body cameras when mounting on a Gimbal as some motors may not be able to handle the payload or say if you have a battery grip to a camera like the A7II, it would give up. The A7C brings more charisma and the potential to push a creator’s creativity and reducing the hassle by miles. During my time, I could throw this camera on to the Zhiyun Weebill S without thinking twice because I know this camera can handle it and just as I expected, the gimbal was even able to do Vortex shot without breaking a sweat.
The Sony A7C opens up to a whole new possibility to shoot a video or creating content in general. It goes head on with Nikon’s Z5 and Z5 has stripped down features whereas Sony retained everything. This is more than enough to answer everything.
Obviously, the A7C isn’t all perfect – starting off with the Settings which is a nightmare to use. I thought the new Settings from the A7SIII would be the new standard for even camera like the A7C but nope, not sure why Sony did this but I’d like them to release some kind of firmware update to change the menu to a much organized one. Some are bothered by the lack of two SD Card slots, it doesn’t bother me too much but if you want the dual slot for fail safe measures, then the A7III is a better choice. The lack of extra custom Function button also means that very limited room to customize the buttons to remap to your liking.
The Sony A7C started a competition which they are leading ahead: Versatile Compact Full Frame camera. And for pro creators, this camera is going to open a whole new horizon on how to shoot amazing content with almost little to no frills to go along with it. It’s a gamechanger, mark our words. And for that, we give the Sony A7C a Gold award here at The Adventures of Vesper.
Special thanks to the lovely folks at Sony Malaysia for arranging and letting us have a good time and make this hands-on review happen with the Sony A7C.