This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
The new Sony α7C (Alpha 7C) compact single-lens reflex camera, which has been a big rumor among camera lovers for the past few days, has been officially announced in Japan.
The release date is October 23. The estimated market price is around 210,000 yen (excluding tax) for the body alone and around 240,000 yen for the lens kit (which includes the FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 lens, which was announced at the same time). Two body colors are available: silver and black.
Prior to the announcement, there were rumors that it would be more expensive than the already released α7 III, but they were just barely wrong (the estimated price of the α7 III at the time of the announcement was around 230,000 yen for the body alone).
The α7C's main feature is that it is small and lightweight for a camera with a so-called 35mm full-size image sensor. Sony's announcement states that the α7C is "the world's smallest and lightest digital SLR camera with a full-size CMOS image sensor and built-in optical in-body image stabilization".
Its lens mount is, of course, the E-mount, which it inherited from the NEX series and the α7/9 series.
The actual dimensions of the body are approximately 124.0 mm x 71.1 mm x 59.7 mm (W x H x D) and it weighs approximately 509 g. Sony says it's "about the same size as the Alpha 6600, which has an APS-C sensor".
Compared to the current α7 III (126.9 x 95.6 x 73.7 mm/approx. 650 g), which is the closest in performance to the current model, the α7C is more than one size smaller. The weight difference is also quite significant, at 141 grams.
In detail, the α6600 measures about 120.0 x 66.9 x 69.3 mm and weighs about 503 grams, so the α7C is about 10% more by volume and about 1% more by mass (as described exactly in the release).
This reduction in size and weight is supported by the development of a new unit, the heart of the camera. In particular, the newly designed optical 5-axis in-body image stabilization (nominally 5.0 stops), which is one of the requirements for the world's smallest and lightest cameras, and the newly designed shutter unit are exciting to see how they affect actual shooting.
In terms of body material, the top, front and rear covers are made of magnesium alloy, which is advantageous in terms of weight. The monocoque structure supported by by the outer panels ensures sufficient robustness.
Like the α7 III and other models, the α7C's image sensor has approximately 24.2 million pixels. The α7C is equipped with a unit belonging to Sony's signature Exmor R back-illuminated CMOS image sensor.
Its partner, the latest-generation BIONZ X image processing engine, has been adopted.
With a maximum dynamic range of about 15 stops in still images and a regular ISO sensitivity of 100-51200 (50-204800 when extended), this camera has reasonable performance for a current 35mm full-frame mirrorless camera. It also carries on the α7 series' strengths of high-sensitivity shooting with low noise even in dark areas and low-breakup rendering performance in light and dark conditions.
Despite its compact size, the α7C has been designed with battery life in mind: it complies with CIPA standards and is capable of taking approximately 680 shots with the viewfinder and 740 shots with the LCD monitor, claiming "the industry's highest stamina performance for a full-size mirrorless camera". The NP-FZ100, the so-called "Z Battery," is compatible with this camera.
Another feature of the α7C is the richness and high performance of its autofocus (AF) functions.
The "Real-time Eye Detection AF" function, which has been highly acclaimed in previous models, is of course included. It uses an object recognition algorithm based on machine learning to show off its high performance in real-time tracking of targeted subjects.
In terms of hardware, the image phase-detection AF sensor has 693 measuring points, covering about 93% of the imaging area, and a large number of contrast-detection AF frames with 425 points. The camera's performance in dark environments is also touted as being capable of autofocusing at a nominal -4 EV (equivalent to ISO 100 when using an f/2.0 lens).
Thanks to these AF-related performances, the α7C's continuous shooting speed in AF/AE tracking is approximately 10 frames per second. In silent mode, which uses the electronic shutter, continuous shooting at 10 frames per second is also possible.
As for the video recording function, which has become increasingly competitive in recent years, the new model supports high-resolution 4K video recording, which condenses the equivalent amount of information into 6K. It also supports functions such as Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) HDR shooting which Sony has pioneered, and S-Log support.
Storage media is a single-slot full-size SD card, compatible with UHS-II and capable of recording 223 consecutive shots when using the same standard card.
The FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 (SEL2860), which is also included in the lens kit, is a small E-mount standard zoom lens. It will be available for sale at an MSRP of 60,000 yen (excluding tax) and is scheduled to go on sale in the spring of 2021, which is a bit further away.
This is the world's smallest and lightest interchangeable zoom lens for digital cameras with 35mm full-frame sensors. Thanks to its retractable mechanism, the length of the lens can be reduced to 45mm when transported.
In terms of its basic performance, the new lens features a focal length of 28mm-60mm, which is suitable for everyday use, high-resolution performance up to the periphery of the screen, and "a fast, accurate, quiet autofocus drive that maximizes the autofocusing performance of the latest full-size mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras".
Thus, the α7C can be called "a compact 35mm full-frame image sensor with image quality and functionality similar to the α7 III condensed into a body the size of the α6600", just as it was rumored to be.
The "C" in the model name comes from the word "Compact," and it seems that the engineers not only prioritized miniaturization but also focused on balancing contradictory performance and features.
Combined with the two colors of the body, a first for the α7 series, it is clear that the company wanted to create a model that was different from previous and current models.
Contrary to the rumors, the price is slightly lower than the price of the α7 III, so it will be interesting to see if this is the model that will further accelerate the success of the series.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.