What we like What we don't
  • Excellent image quality
  • Impressive and easy-to-use AF system
  • Class-leading battery life
  • Solid video set for most photographers
  • Collapsible kit zoom keeps the overall package small
  • USB charging adds convenience
  • Includes 5-axis stabilization, despite compact size
  • Hasn't sacrificed the sense of build quality in its downsizing
  • All three dials controlled with your thumb
  • Viewfinder is very small with no real eye-cup
  • Menus are unavailable while the camera writes to a card
  • Menus are complex and less easy to navigate than Sony's newer cameras
  • Kit zoom reach and aperture ranges aren't especially ambitious
  • Video AF requires settings changes to activate tracking
  • A built-in flash would boost flexibility
  • Most settings persist across stills and video, making it necessary to change multiple settings when switching
  • No full mechanical shutter, risking distortion of movement (e-shutter) or of bokeh at very high shutter speeds with bright lenses (standard mode).
  • Raw files are either huge or have destructive compression applied
  • Many of Sony's better lenses under-cut the benefit of a small body
  • Some rivals offer more flexible 10-bit video for more demanding projects

From a performance perspective, the a7C is essentially an a7 III with better autofocus, which is enough to keep it competitive, but not much more than that. But the key appeal of the a7C is its size, and how little it's had to give up to achieve it.

Paired with the retractable 28-60mm F4-5.6 lens, it creates a package that's meaningfully smaller than its predecessors or peers, creating a camera that lets you get full-frame image quality in circumstances where you might not have previously have taken a camera.

There are downsides, though: the kit zoom's focal length and aperture ranges mean you don't have much wide-angle capacity and you don't get the full low-light or shallow depth-of-field ability of the camera unless you buy a larger zoom or carry an additional prime lens. This under-cuts, but doesn't totally undermine, its go-anywhere appeal.

Low light is handled pretty well. Straight out-of-camera JPEG
Sony FE 35mm F1.8 | ISO 10,000 | 1/40 sec | F2.8
Photo: Richard Butler

The tiny, compact camera-like viewfinder is another obvious trade-off, as is the lack of AF joystick (not that you'll need it, too often). But in return you get a camera that's smaller than its rivals, similarly capable and has better battery life, which is hugely valuable when you're out and about.

Although the video feature set is reasonable, the a7C's interface makes it much more time-consuming to switch between stills and video than its peers if you want to select optimal settings. You may find it necessary to change exposure, color and even touchscreen-behavior settings when switching from one way of shooting to the other.

The a7C does a nice job of both autofocus and color rendition in a wide range of circumstances
Sony FE 35mm F1.8 | ISO 100 | 1/50 sec | F3.5
Photo: Richard Butler

The a7C gets a lot of things right: the 'What we like' column above may be short, but it includes most of the key considerations. However, along with its often impressive capabilities, it's also inherited many of the a7 III's shortcomings, which are looking more awkward as time goes on (especially as Sony has addressed some of them in the a7S III, but not applied those improvements here).

This, and its reliance on everything being controlled with your thumb means it's not a camera you shoot for the joy of photography, but the a7C is a travel companion without equal. It's one of the easiest full-frame cameras to just keep with you and one that will then excel in pretty much any situation, social to sports, that you then expose it to. The more you use it, the more it makes sense.


What we think about the Sony a7C


Barney Britton
Senior Editor

The a7C's appeal can really be summed-up in a single phrase: 'full-frame image quality in a compact body'. When using the a7C it's easy to forget the size of the sensor that Sony has packed inside it, and while there are frustrations (the viewfinder experience is adequate but not amazing, and I wish there was a front control dial) having this kind of quality in a genuinely small camera is extremely attractive.


Compared to:

Sony a7 III - The aging a7 III is still a very capable camera and much of the difference between these two models comes down to what you want the camera for. The a7C has the better AF system, with eye-AF better integrated into the system, and improved subject tracking in general. But beyond that, it's really a question of whether you prioritize the convenient package of the 7C or the nicer controls and viewfinder of the a7 III. If you're unsure, we'd opt for the better AF in the newer model.

Nikon Z6 II - The updated Z6 model offers a broadly similar feature set to the a7C and again is a bigger camera that uses the extra bulk to offer more comfortable ergonomics and a better viewfinder. The Sony's AF system is more effective and easier to use, but the Nikon does a better job of letting you jump from video to stills and back without having to constantly re-adjust settings. The Z6 II also lets you output 10-bit HLG or Log footage to an external recorder, so might be the better camera if you're interested in video.

Panasonic DC-S5 - At the risk of repeating ourselves, the S5 is a more comfortable (and, perhaps, enjoyable) camera to shoot with, but it's also significantly less portable. The Sony beats the S5 for autofocus, but the Panasonic comes out way ahead as a hybrid stills/video camera.

Canon EOS R6 - The R6 is considerably more expensive than the Sony, and considerably larger, too. The Canon gives a very DSLR-like experience, and offers the best-looking video feature set in its class (though rolling shutter somewhat undermines this). There's little to call between the two cameras in terms of autofocus or image quality, so it's primarily a question of priorities. The Canon is nicer to shoot with, but with its smaller size and better battery life, the Sony is easier to take with you.


Sony a7C scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Sony a7C
Category: Mid Range Full Frame Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Sony a7C is gives up very little in the way of features in order to achieve its small size. Its image quality is very good and its AF is excellent, but its small viewfinder takes away from the experience a little. Its video and menus aren't as polished as its rivals but its size and battery life make for a powerful combination.
Good for
Travel photography, an always-with-you family camera
Not so good for
Dedicated videographers
86%
Overall score