The Sony α7C

A mini-review after renting the camera and using it for almost a week back in July.

Assumed audience: People interested in photography and photography gear.

Back in July, knowing we were going to be spending some time traveling as a family, we rented the Sony α7C to use as a second body. The idea was that it would free me up to use the 100 – 400mm lens and 1.4× teleconverter I also rented for the trip with my α7R IV, without needing to swap lenses constantly.

I didn’t end up using the telephoto lens nearly as much as I expected to: I could get plenty close for a 35mm or even a 20mm lens to be useful and effective. I did end up using the α7C extensively, though, as did my wife… and 9- and 7-year-old daughters!

Over the course of the couple days we were traveling, we had both cameras with us most of the time, and if Jaimie wasn’t borrowing one or the other I had them both slung around my neck, with different lenses attached so different kinds of shots were readily available. I had never really understood why professional photographers often have multiple camera bodies on hand; now I do. I can particularly see how a good zoom on one body and a good prime on the other could be a fantastic combo.

The α7C is light and small, and those are by far its best selling points within the Sony family. Having a full-frame sensor in a body that’s roughly the same size and shape as Sony’s APS-C cameras is quite lovely. It doesn’t come without compromises though. The thing that I noticed most was that there are simply fewer physical controls on it: fewer buttons and one fewer dial. Although I am by no means a power user of the buttons on my α7R IV (I don’t even have all the custom function buttons mapped!) having one fewer dial meant that shooting in full manual mode as I usually do was much more difficult.

Going back and forth between the two bodies also made it more difficult. My muscle memory for one would regularly interfere with my attempts to use the other, especially because dials in the same spot are, out of the box, mapped to different functions. It’s possible I could have overridden that somewhere in the labyrinthine nightmare that is Sony’s menu system, but I didn’t go down that route.

The net was that the tradeoffs the α7C offered didn’t quite work for me. I enjoyed the decreased weight of the body a great deal. The smaller size was a mixed bag: one of my favorite things about the α7R IV is its size and feel in the hand, which fits wonderfully in my grip. The decreased on-body functionality is the kind of thing I noticed a lot and Jaimie didn’t notice at all: background matters! If we were going to get a dedicated camera for her, this would be at the top of my list. (We aren’t: an iPhone camera is in general a much better fit for her needs!)

All of that being said, when I packed up the camera to send it back to LensRentals, I thought: But I don’t want to send it back! The experience of having a second camera body was delightful, as was this camera body specifically, those quirks notwithstanding. I’m going to wait to see what the rumored α7 IV is like, because I suspect I will like its compromises better than the ones the α7C makes, but in the meantime, I’ll miss shooting with this fantastic little body — and if you’re in the market for a good and small camera, I might just recommend this one.