Sony Alpha 7C II Review

Sony Alpha 7C II
In-Depth Review

As made obvious by the "II" in the product name, the Sony Alpha 7C II succeeds the version I model. Like its predecessor, the a7C II is an ultra-compact, full-featured, full-frame camera, with an affordable price.

Two cameras were simultaneously introduced as the next iteration of the Alpha 7C. The Alpha 7C II got the Alpha 7 IV's 33 MP sensor and a lower price, while the Alpha 7C R got the Alpha 7R V's 61 MP ultra-high-resolution imaging sensor.

Both models have Sony's impressive latest AF tech, including the dedicated AI processor.

Summary of Sony Alpha 7C II Features

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  • Incredibly compact and lightweight, packed with full-frame performance
  • 33.0MP full-frame Exmor R back-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • BIONZ XR processing power for exceptional image quality
  • Dedicated AI Processor for advanced subject recognition and tracking
  • Outstanding 4K 4:2:2 10-bit movie recording up to 60p/50p
  • Advanced 5-axis optical image stabilization with up to 7 steps of compensation
  • Active Mode image stabilization supports handheld movie shooting
  • Consistently accurate exposure and color with new AE algorithm
  • High-resolution XGA OLED electronic viewfinder with 120fps display
  • Selectable RAW file types, including lossless RAW image compression and selectable RAW image sizes, HEIF (4:2:0 / 4:2:2), and JPEG Light quality settings
  • Continuous still shooting at up to 10 fps with AF/AE tracking
  • Advanced movie recording formats for simpler post-production
  • Log recording and LUT handling for powerful creative possibilities
  • S-Cinetone for a cinematic look without the need for post-processing
  • Breathing compensation for movies with a consistent angle of view
  • AI-based Auto Framing automatically adjusts framing to highlight your subject
  • In-camera Time-lapse creation to capture unforgettable moments
  • Wide-area, high-density autofocus with 759 phase detection AF points covering 79% of the frame
  • Tenacious Real-time Tracking lets you concentrate on composition
  • AI-based Human pose estimation for accurate subject recognition
  • Reliable recognition of a wider range of subjects
  • Accurate autofocus in low light situations as dim as EV -4.0
  • Focus bracketing to create images with incredible depth of focus
  • Focus Map and Peaking display assist for shooting video
  • Flicker suppression from artificial lighting for stills and movie recording, variable shutter
  • Enhanced shooting flexibility with vari-angle LCD monitor
  • Touch-capable LCD panel
  • Improved menu structure for quick access to frequently used menu items
  • Multi Interface (MI) shoe with digital audio interface for optional accessories
  • Image sensor anti-dust system
  • USB PD (Power Delivery) supports fast charging
  • Durable magnesium alloy chassis
  • Dust and moisture-resistant design
  • Easy and stable smartphone connectivity with Sony’s Creators’ App
  • Stream high-quality live content via UVC/UAC w/internal recording
  • Fast Wi-Fi for PC tethering

Sony Alpha 7C II Sensor-Unit

Sensor and Image Quality

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New with the a7 IV was a 33.0MP full-frame Exmor R back-illuminated CMOS sensor, which is now shared with the a7C II.

Here is a chart showing imaging sensor-relevant specs.

ModelFOVCFSensorPixel SizePixels/MegapixelsDLA*
Canon EOS R31.0x36.0 x 24.0mm6.00µm6000 x 400024.1f/9.7
Canon EOS R51.0x36.0 x 24.0mm4.39µm8192 x 546445.0f/7.1
Canon EOS R6 Mark II1.0x36.0 x 24.0mm6.00µm6000 x 400024.2f/9.6
Canon EOS R81.0x36.0 x 24.0mm6.00µm6000 x 400024.2DLA
Sony a11.0x35.9 x 24.0mm4.2µm8640 x 576050.1f/6.7
Sony a9 II1.0x35.6 x 23.8mm5.9µm6000 x 400024.2f/9.6
Sony a7R V1.0x35.7 x 23.8mm3.76µm9504 x 633661.0f/6.1
Sony a7 IV1.0x35.9 x 23.9mm5.1µm7008 x 467233.0f/8.2
Sony Alpha 7C R1.0x35.7 x 23.8mm3.76µm9504 x 633661.0f/6.1
Sony Alpha 7C II1.0x35.7 x 23.8mm3.76µm9504 x 633661.0f/6.1
Sony a7C1.0x35.6 x 23.8mm5.9µm6000 x 400024.2f/9.6
Sony Alpha 67001.5x23.3 x 15.5mm3.76µm6192 x 412826.0f/6.1
* Learn more about DLA (Diffraction Limited Aperture)
View the full Sony Alpha 7C II specifications to compare additional cameras.

Because the a7C II shares the a7 IV image quality, it was not worth days of lab work to produce new test results. Instead, the previous camera's test results represent the a7C II's image quality in this review.

Let's emphasize the full-frame format imaging sensor size as it is a big deal. Here is a sensor size comparison illustration:

Imaging Sensor Format Size Comparison

With equivalent technology, the larger the sensor, the more light captured and the lower the noise levels. The larger image circle requires a longer focal length for the same composition, and the longer focal length creates a differentiatingly stronger background blur that isolates a subject, making it stand out from a nondistracting background.

While not the highest resolution available, 33 is a considerable number of full-frame megapixels, providing significant detail in images.

Using the site's image quality tool, we can compare the a7C II to the a7 III. You will readily notice this difference in real-world images.

For those also considering the Sony Alpha a7C R, here is that comparison.

Like the other Sony Alpha cameras, the a7C II imaging sensor has a native 3:2 aspect ratio. Other aspect ratios available are 1:1, 4:3, and 16:9.

The a7C II has the ISO 100–32000 range available, and expanded ISO settings from ISO 50 to ISO 102400 are available, with the entire range selectable in 1/3-stops.

Let's take a closer look at noise and dynamic range.

Sony Alpha 7 IV ISO Noise Comparison

The smoothly colored Kodak color patches test chart subject combined with no noise reduction processing (this is a key point) makes noise especially noticeable compared to detailed scenes that better hide noise levels. As always, noise reduction processing can improve upon the noise level seen in these images, but noise reduction can be applied to images from every camera, reducing its differentiation. So, avoiding noise reduction in the comparison levels the playing field. Unless otherwise noted, the Sony RAW-captured noise test images utilized the non-lossy compressed RAW setting and were processed in Capture One with the natural clarity method and the sharpening amount set to 30 (on a 0-1,000 scale).

These results show the normal outstanding performance we have come to expect from a modern, high-resolution full-frame Sony imaging sensor. As the ISO setting increases from 100 through 800, noise levels grow slowly. Still, noise levels remain quite low and still relatively low at ISO 1600. At ISO 3200, noise levels become noticeable though images retain a high quality at these settings. By ISO 6400, images begin to show noticeable degradation from noise, and by ISO 12800, the noise is bothersome. ISO 25600 through 51200 results look bad unless significantly downsized, and ISO 102400 through 204800 results look terrible (bragging rights only?).

Low-resolution cameras (if I can refer to the a7 III's 24 MP imaging sensor as low resolution) are often referred to as being ideal for low light. With a higher signal-to-noise ratio, the larger photosites on lower-resolution imaging sensors produce lower noise levels at the pixel level, primarily noticeable when photographing at high ISO settings and when directly compared at the pixel level, the low-resolution cameras typically show less noise. However, to equalize the comparison, the higher resolution image should be reduced to the lower resolution image's pixel dimensions (or vice versa if the higher resolution is required). Reducing image dimensions brings the advantage of oversampling, a benefit often touted by manufacturers when describing video recording capabilities. The higher resolution camera typically performs at least similar to the lower resolution camera in an equalized comparison, placing it on par with the camera thought by many to be the low light king.

That said, here is the Sony a7C II vs. a7 III noise comparison. Primarily, it appears the a7C II's noise pattern is enlarged similarly to its resolution increase.

One way to look at a camera's DR capabilities is to over or under-expose images and adjust them to the correct brightness in post-processing.

Increase the exposure by 3 stops and pull it back by the same in Capture One to get an idea of the dynamic range available. In that comparison, the a7C II appears to deliver the same dynamic range as the a7 III — excellent performance. The similarities remain in the a7C II vs. a7R IV dynamic range comparison. Try higher ISO comparisons to see that these cameras produce similar results and retain excellent dynamic range at high ISO settings.

Images from these cameras have lost the color information in the brightest color blocks, with the colors becoming gray, but all appear to have lost a similar amount of color detail. At higher ISO settings in this comparison, notice the reduced noise advantage of this form of oversampling.

View the ISO 50 vs. ISO 100 comparison to see the reduced dynamic range available at the lower expanded setting.

Images from these cameras look outstanding when the chart is overexposed by two stops (impressive ISO 12800 performance).

It is similarly interesting to look at underexposed images with brightness increased by the offsetting amount. In the -3 EV comparison, the a7C II turns in very slightly higher noise levels than the a7 III, though the a7C II has additional resolution available for oversampled downsizing.

Underexposing when using the a7C II involves little noise penalty vs. selecting a higher ISO setting in the first place. A strong advantage of this capability is that shadow details can be pulled out of a very high dynamic range scene that is otherwise properly exposed and when an HDR technique cannot be used or is not desired. Still, getting the exposure right in the first place delivers a lower noise image if a longer exposure and the same ISO setting can be utilized.

The Sony Alpha 7C II does not feature Pixel Shift Multi Shooting.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Landscape Sample Picture

Sony's imaging sensors are among the best available.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens Waterfall Sample Picture

Overall, and like the models preceding it, the Sony Alpha 7C II produces exceptional image quality, featuring relatively high resolution, modest noise levels, and excellent dynamic range. From a predecessor upgrade standpoint, reduced noise and increased dynamic range are not differentiators, but the increased resolution is a significant one.

Sony Alpha 7C II IBIS

In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)

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Camera shake directly impacts image quality for both still images and movies, and Sony's 5-axis Optical In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) is a difference-maker, providing up to a 7-stop shutter speed advantage (vs. 5.5 in the a7 IV and 5 in the a7C), and the stabilized viewfinder is also quite advantageous.

Many of Sony's lenses, including the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens, have image stabilization included, OSS (Optical Steady Shot), and in-lens stabilization can be better tuned to the focal length in use. However, IBIS also has advantages. For example, in-lens stabilization cannot correct for rotation as IBIS can.

With select OSS lenses, the a7C II features image stabilization with Body–Lens Coordinated Control when specific lenses are mounted. At review time, these four lenses, with their latest firmware versions installed, are on this list:

Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS Lens
Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens
Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens
Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens

File Size and Media

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Not so long ago, Sony introduced an efficiently compressed non-lossy raw image format, delivering a significant file size reduction. The new lossless raw file format retains the ultimate image quality while dramatically reducing memory card and drive storage requirements for a win-win.

The lossy compressed file format available on previous Sony cameras is still a good option, and it remains available, as does the massive uncompressed RAW option. In addition, the Alpha 7C II includes the HEIF (High Efficiency Image File) format for smooth 10-bit gradations.

The following table shows comparative RAW file sizes for a photo of a standard in-studio setup with a moderately high amount of detail captured with the referenced camera. Reference the a7 IV results to represent the a7C II.

Model / File Size in MB @ ISO:(MP)100200400800160032006400128002560051200102400204800
Canon EOS R5(45.0)51.653.153.655.657.760.163.066.470.575.179.5 
Canon EOS R5 CRAW(45.0)28.129.329.931.533.335.536.235.936.036.937.7 
Canon EOS R6 II(24.2)28.729.430.231.132.133.334.536.238.240.343.043.2
Canon EOS R6 II CRAW(24.2)16.216.717.318.018.819.719.819.319.018.819.417.8
Sony a1(50.1)102.2102.2102.1102.1102.2102.5102.4102.6103.4103.4104.4
Sony a1 Comp(50.1)64.064.765.767.169.171.674.478.280.896.093.9 
Sony a1 Lossy(50.1)54.454.454.354.254.454.654.554.755.655.656.4 
Sony a9 II(24.2)47.147.147.147.147.147.147.147.147.147.147.247.2
Sony a7R V Lossy(61.0)65.765.665.665.765.866.266.867.568.170.171.4 
Sony a7R IV(61.0)117.0117.0117.0117.0117.0117.0117.0117.0117.0117.0117.0 
Sony a7R IV Comp(61.0)59.159.159.159.159.159.159.159.159.159.159.1 
Sony a7R III(42.4)81.981.981.981.981.981.981.981.982.082.082.0 
Sony a7R II(42.4)82.882.882.882.882.882.882.882.882.882.882.8 
Sony a7 IV(30.0)43.143.444.144.946.147.750.052.555.958.660.764.6
Sony a7 III(24.2)47.147.147.147.147.147.147.147.147.147.247.247.2
Sony a7C(24.2)47.147.147.147.147.147.147.147.147.147.247.247.2
RAW file sizes increase with 1. Resolution 2. Bit Depth (more is better/larger) 3. Detail (noise adds detail, so high ISO file sizes increase) 4. Lack of compression. Memory and disk are cheap – buy more.

RAW file sizes increase with: 1. Resolution 2. Bit Depth (more is better/larger) 3. Detail (noise adds detail, so high ISO file sizes increase) 4. Lack of compression. Memory and disk are cheap – buy more. As shown in the above chart, the a7 IV's non-lossy compressed RAW file format results in smaller file sizes than the significantly lower resolution a7 III produces at the lower ISO settings. The scales tip in the other direction at higher ISO settings as noise detail does not compress efficiently.

Expect the lossy compressed file size to be modestly smaller than the non-lossy compressed file size. However, I do not find this difference large enough to incent selecting the lossy option.

Prefer less resolution, perhaps for a smaller file size? The RAW M and RAW S have 14 MP and 8.2 MP, respectively, via downsampling.

The Sony Alpha 7C R has a single media slot supporting SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II).

A (minor-for-most) memory card performance-related issue to mention is the SD memory card format time. Sony's format process is relatively long, taking about 4 seconds with a V90 256GB card. Consider formatting your Sony-destined memory cards before a shoot.

Frame Rate, Buffer Depth, Shutter

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Not long ago, a camera capable of 10 fps would be touted as a sports and action camera. While many cameras far surpass that rate, 10 fps is still the same fast rate it always was, and 10 fps still provides good coverage of subjects in motion.

The 10-fps speed is quite fast and adequate for even sports action. However, the 8 fps rate requires H+ mode, and the "+" usually indicates that deficits are present. Minimally, H+ challenges tracking a moving subject in the viewfinder due to the blackout during image capture.

ModelFPSMax JPGMax RAWShutter LagVF Blackout
Canon EOS R512/2035087/18050msn/a
Canon EOS R6 Mark II12/401,000+11050-84msn/a
Sony a110/3040023820-42ms0ms
Sony a9 II10/2036123920-33ms0ms
Sony a7R V101000+583 n/a
Sony a7 IV10Full1,000+  
Sony Alpha 7C R8483620ms 
Sony Alpha 7C II10884420ms 
Sony a7C10213+115+20ms 
Sony Alpha 67001110005920ms 
View the full Sony Alpha 7C II specifications to compare additional cameras.

The a7C II's 44 image RAW buffer spec means action photographers will have a reasonable 4.4 seconds to capture the peak action. However, this spec requires the lossy compressed file format. The lossless compressed file format reduces the spec to 27, and the uncompressed format takes the number down to 18.

With the full electronic shutter selected, this camera does not produce sound during image capture. The electronic shutter is perfect for use during quiet events such as weddings, when photographing skittish wildlife, and during audio capture.

With no mechanical shutter used, there are no moving parts, there is no shutter vibration, shutter failure is highly unlikely, and the camera operates in near silence.

With no sound or other haptic feedback, knowing precisely when the image is being captured can be problematic, and adding a "beep" is counter to the goal of the silent shutter. This camera solves the primary problem by providing a light click the moment the shutter release triggers image capture. Still, this haptic feedback does not account for the subsequent image capture in continuous shooting modes.

In many modes, the a7C II has a viewfinder display blackout that makes the shutter release obvious. However, in H+ mode, there is no indication of continuous frame capture.

Some features are disabled when the full electronic shutter is selected.

Additional downsides of an electronic shutter are related to the current technology line-by-line reading of the imaging sensor. Fast side-to-side subject or camera movement can result in an angular-shifted image with vertically straight lines becoming noticeably slanted (with the camera in horizontal orientation). Understand that the second curtain of a mechanical shutter chasing the first curtain can produce the same effect. However, the difference between mechanical shutter (with electronic first curtain shutter, about 3.5ms) and electronic shutter performance in this regard has historically been big.

The Sony a7C II's tested imaging sensor readout speed is a long 66.5ms which will show strong rolling shutter effects when the camera or subject is moving during the image capture. Here is a table of imaging sensor readout speeds.

Model (times in ms)Electronic1st Curtain Mechanical
Canon EOS R516.33.5
Canon EOS R6 Mark II14.53.4
Sony Alpha 13.82.4
Sony Alpha 7R V99.33.5
Sony Alpha 7 IV66.53.5
Sony Alpha 7C R99.33.5
Sony Alpha 7C II66.53.5
Sony Alpha 670025.03.2

Shutter speeds up to a fast 1/8000 sec. are available (up to 1/4000 with mechanical second curtain shutter), and X-sync speeds are relatively slow, 1/160 sec. (full-frame) and 1/200 sec. (APS-C).

Autofocus

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Precise focusing is mandatory for the ultimate image quality, and the latest MILC AF systems are showing massive improvements over cameras even a few years old. Headlining for the a7R V was a new AI processing unit driving AI-based image recognition and working with the fast BIONZ XR image processing engine. "State-of-the-art AI processing uses detailed information about human forms and postures to dramatically improve the camera's subject recognition accuracy and make full use of its potential resolution." [Sony]

Despite is considerably smaller size, the a7C II gets the same advanced AI processor-powered AF system as the a7R V.

This system features impressive subject detection and tracking capabilities, equaling Sony's best AF performance to date.

Recognizable subject selections are Human, Animal, Bird, Animal (including facing backwards) or Bird, Insect, Car or Train, or Airplane, and the range of subjects can be limited. The human pose estimation capability is especially interesting.

Detailed settings for each recognition target are configurable.

Tracking Shift Range restricts the subject recognition distance from the tracking frame (1-5).

Tracking Persistence Lvl "Sets the sensitivity for whether to continue tracking around the subject or shift the focus to another subject that is closer in shooting distance when a recognized subject is lost. When set to 5 (Locked On), even under conditions where a recognized subject is lost, such as when the subject you want to shoot is temporarily hidden by another object, the camera continues to track the area around the subject. When set to 1 (Not Locked On), under conditions where the camera cannot continue to track a recognized subject, such as when the subject is moving fast, the camera cancels tracking and quickly shifts the focus to another subject that is closer in shooting distance." [Sony]

Recognition Sensitivity (1-5) sets the sensitivity of subject recognition. Lower settings prevent false recognition and higher settings recognize subjects that are normally difficult.

Recognition Priority Set. enables subject type prioritization when animals and birds are recognized at the same time.

Note that only [Recognition Priority Set.] is available in movie mode.

The a7C II can be limited to recognize only specific parts: Eye/Head/Body, Eye/Head, Eye, or Follow Individual, and recognition Part Select can be assigned to a custom key. A subject recognition frame can be enabled to show the eye, face/head, or body of the subject (only entire body of insects and front of car, train, or airplane).

Up to seven faces can be registered for optional priority detection and tracking. Pressing the multi-selector changes the face to track when multiple options are present. Auto, right eye, or left eye can be selected for human and animal subjects, with the switch available as a custom key function.

Many other autofocus parameters are available.

The Sony Alpha 7C II's AF system is remarkably good at identifying even small-in-the-frame subjects and tenaciously stays on its target.

Focus bracketing is available with step width (1-10), number of shots (2-299), and order (current focus distance to far or current focus distance plus a closer and a farther image captured (3 shots, number of shots parameter ignored) parameters.

The a7C II's phase detection AF point count is 693, and the low light AF capability is to EV -4 (very dark, but not as dark as some other MILCs support).

Does the a7C II always defocus and refocus in single shot mode (AF-S)? Yes, but focusing is fast.

As mentioned, I appreciate the slight haptic feedback on the shutter release press. As with the a6700, I find that activating AF via the shutter release half-press state requires slightly more pressure than my muscle memory expects, initially leaving me wondering why the camera is not focusing. I'm still acclimating.

Movies

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The a7C II gets a solid set of movie options, though the a7R V's 8K capability is dropped. Here are the details:

Recording Format: XAVC S, XAVC HS

Video Compression: XAVC S: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, XAVC HS: MPEG-H HEVC/H.265

Audio Recording Format: LPCM 2ch (48 kHz 16 bit), LPCM 2ch (48 kHz 24 bit), LPCM 4ch (48 kHz 24 bit)

XAVC HS 4K
3840 x 2160 (4:2:0, 10bit) (Approx.): 59.94p (150Mbps / 75Mbps / 45Mbps), 50p (150Mbps / 75Mbps / 45Mbps), 23.98p (100 Mbps / 50Mbps / 30Mbps), 3840 x 2160 (4:2:2, 10bit) (Approx.): 59.94p (200Mbps / 100Mbps), 50p (200Mbps / 100Mbps), 23.98p (100Mbps / 50Mbps)

XAVC S-I HD
1920 x 1080 (4:2:2, 10bit) (Approx.): 59.94p (222 Mbps), 50p (185 Mbps), 29.97p (111 Mbps), 25p (93 Mbps), 23.98p (89 Mbps)

XAVC S 4K
3840 x 2160 (4:2:0, 8bit) (Approx.): 59.94p (150Mbps), 50p (150Mbps), 29.97p (100Mbps / 60 Mbps), 25p (100Mbps / 60Mbps), 23.98p (100Mbps / 60Mbps), 3840 x 2160 (4:2:2, 10bit) (Approx.): 59.94p (200Mbps), 50p (200Mbps), 29.97p (140Mbps), 25p (140Mbps), 23.98p (100 Mbps)

XAVC S HD
1920 x 1080 (4:2:0, 8bit) (Approx.): 119.88p (100Mbps / 60Mbps), 100p (100Mbps / 60Mbps), 59.94p (50Mbps / 25Mbps), 50p (50Mbps / 25Mbps), 29.97p (50Mbps / 16Mbps), 25p (50Mbps / 16Mbps), 23.98p (50Mbps), 1920 x 1080 (4:2:2, 10bit) (Approx.): 59.94p (50Mbps), 50p (50Mbps), 29.97p (50Mbps), 25p (50Mbps), 23.98p (50Mbps)

XAVC S-I 4K
3840 x 2160 (4:2:2, 10bit) (Approx.): 59.94p (600Mbps), 50p (500Mbps), 29.97p (300Mbps), 25p (250Mbps), 23.98p (240Mbps)

USB Streaming: MJPEG, YUV420 at3840 x 2160 (15p / 30p), 3840 x 2160 (12.5p / 25p), 1920 x 1080 (30p / 60p), 1920 x 1080 (25p / 50p), 1280 x 720 (30p), 1280 x 720 (25p), Audio Data Format: LPCM 2ch (16bit 48 kHz)

Slow & Quick Motion modes are supported.

Additional features:

  • Real-time Recognition AF
  • Advanced movie recording formats for simpler post-production
  • Log recording and LUT handling for powerful creative possibilities
  • S-Cinetone for a cinematic look without the need for post-processing
  • Breathing compensation for movies with a consistent angle of view (via a small crop)
  • AI-based Auto Framing automatically adjusts framing to highlight your subject
  • In-camera Time-lapse creation to capture unforgettable moments
  • SteadyShot Active mode image stabilization
  • AF Assist, Focus Map

The biggest a7C II movie drawback is the slow imaging sensor readout speed, showing rolling a shutter effect with panning and subjects moving across the frame.

Exposure/Metering System

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All current Sony Alpha cameras calculate exposures accurately, and Sony shares that the a7C II's AE algorithms have been improved. 1200-zone evaluative metering remains the choice. AE functions within EV -3 – EV 20, and +/- 5.0 EV exposure compensation is available.

The a7C II also features optional anti-flicker shooting, and a variable shutter rate is manually or automatically selectable.

Available metering modes are Multi, Center, and Spot (standard and large), Entire Screen Average mode (stable auto-exposure through composition changes), Highlight (detects the brightest area in the frame to (strongly) avoid blown highlights).

Viewfinder and LCD

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The Sony Alpha a7C II features a big view in a compact 0.39" (1.0 cm) 2.35 million dot (XGA) OLED electronic viewfinder. The image displayed by EVF is very nice.

The magnification is .70x, the eyepoint is 22mm, and the refresh rate options are 120 or 60 fps.

This is not a blackout-free EVF implementation, and tracking a moving subject in the viewfinder while shooting is challenging.

Sony Alpha 7C II LCD Open Front

The a7C II's rear LCD is a 2.95" (7.5cm) TFT, vari-angle touch screen, with approx 2,359,296 dots. The opening angle is approx. 176°, and the rotation angle is approx. 270°.

The vari-angle feature makes self-recording especially easy.

"Touch-responsive main and function menus with menu tabs on the left of the display, and related parameter groups and parameters on the right, make for easy navigation and tracking control." [Sony]

Until recently, Sony's LCD touch capabilities were limited to touch AF point selection when the rear LCD was active and touchpad functionality for AF point selection when using the EVF. Now, use tap, pinch, swipe, etc., to navigate the camera.

Sony's menu systems used to be awkward to use, but they are continuously improving, and the a7C II's menu iteration is the best yet.

"The menu provides a subset of the camera’s shooting settings related to the selected shooting mode, facilitating settings for stills and movies." [Sony] This feature makes switching between stills and movie mode settings efficient.

I find the viewfinder graphics, especially the level indicator's two large superfluous semi-circles and the AF point box's thick sides, consuming too much space. These features sometimes cover subject details. For example, it is sometimes difficult to see if a catchlight is present in an animal's eye when graphics are in the way.

If reviewing an image, fully pressing the shutter release does not start an exposure. A half press must be momentarily held, or a second shutter release press is required to capture the picture. Please make the camera shoot priority, Sony.

Tour of the Sony Alpha 7C II

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To visually compare the Sony Alpha 7C II with many other camera models, use the site's camera product image comparison tool.

Overall, Sony maintains an efficient, relatively squared design across their Alpha line-up, and many of the provided controls are shared, making migration and multi-model use easy. The a7C R incorporates some changes from the a7C, but most controls remain the same.

Sony Alpha 7C II Back

Back of the Camera

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The primary feature on the back of the camera is always the LCD, and an LCD change on the back of the a7C II is the slightly widened and shortened vari-angle LCD, with the pick opening moved from the top right to the right bottom. The shorter LCD makes room for a slightly larger viewfinder, and the LCD now opens from a better leverage position. The LCD's newly added touch capabilities greatly enhance this display's usability.

The EVF positioned in the top left corner provides complete nose clearance for right-eye shooters. However, this position makes vertical orientation use on a tripod awkward.

A second custom function button is now available, with the C1 function located beside the Menu button.

The rear control wheel has 4-way button press functionality, and Sony should limit the press to those 4 directions. Better for AF point positioning would be 8-way capability. The dial's periphery design affords an opportunity for a better grip surface.

Notably missing on Sony's most compact camera designs is a joystick. Learn to use the LCD's touch and drag functionality.

Sony Alpha 7C II Top

Top of the Camera

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Only the mode dial rises above the camera's top, but only by a slight amount, with the other controls remaining nearly flush and protected.

While the power on/off button remains in the same location, the small lever for using it moved toward the right, from about 12:00 to about 2:30 — where it is more awkward to reach.

The new stacked mode dial is a great upgrade, enabling the camera's capture mode to be changed independently from the exposure mode. However, with fewer modes on the dial, it is possible to position the dial between the clicks. The lever makes the lower selector easy to use.

The Exposure Compensation dial lost its numbers, enabling the dial to be repurposed.

The Movie start/stop button remains top-located, where it is easy to reach, including when self-recording.

The a7C II's Auto mode takes complete control, allowing beginners to create quality images, and the three custom modes let advanced photographers program immediately accessible setups.

Sony Alpha 7C II Left Side

Side of the Camera

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The left side of the camera features mic, headphone, micro HDMI, and USB-C ports, with the SD slot positioned in the center.

Sony Alpha 7C II Left Side

The right side of the camera is primarily the grip.

Sony Alpha 7C II Right Side

Front of the Camera

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The front of cameras tends to be featureless aside from the grip and lens mount. The a7C R's front shows a new dial added to the grip.

Sony Alpha 7C II Front

While the dial is a fantastic addition, making the camera considerably easier to control, I find this dial awkward to reach while firmly gripping the camera. Moving the dial inward and up, or angled up, would make it easier to use (though perhaps easier to inadvertently change).

Sony Alpha 7C II Bottom

Size of the Camera

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Sony Alpha cameras, featuring a squared design, are compact and lightweight, and the a7C II is considerably smaller than the a7 series models.

The a7C II grew a tiny amount from its predecessor and is slightly heavier, but the changes will not be noticeable.

ModelBody DimensionsCIPA Weight
Canon EOS R55.5 x 3.8 x 3.5"(138.0 x 97.5 x 88.0mm)26.0 oz (738g)
Canon EOS R6 Mark II5.5 x 3.9 x 3.5"(138.4 x 98.4 x 88.4mm)23.6 oz (670g)
Sony a15.1 x 3.9 x 3.3"(128.9 x 96.9 x 80.8mm)23.7 oz (673g)
Sony a9 II5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1"(128.9 x 96.4 x 77.5mm)23.7 oz (673g)
Sony a7R V5.3 x 3.8 x 3.3"(131.3 x 96.9 x 82.4mm)25.6 oz (723g)
Sony a7 IV5.2 x 3.8 x 3.1"(131.3 x 96.4 x 79.8mm)23.0 oz (650g)
Sony Alpha 7C R5.0 x 2.9 x 2.5"(124.0 x 71.1 x 63.4mm)18.0 oz (509g)
Sony Alpha 7C II5.0 x 2.9 x 2.5"(124.0 x 71.1 x 63.4mm)18.0 oz (509g)
Sony a7C4.9 x 2.8 x 2.4"(124.0 x 71.1 x 59.7mm)18.0 oz (509g)
Sony Alpha 67004.9 x 2.8 x 3.0"(122.0 x 69.0 x 75.1mm)17.4 oz. (493g)
View the full Sony Alpha 7C II specifications to compare additional cameras.

While small is great in many respects, the small grip is a detriment when actively using this camera with one of the larger lenses. The body of Sony's medium-sized FE lenses, including the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens, uncomfortably contacts the first joint of my two grip fingers.

While I can keep three fingers on Sony's larger (though still small) camera grips, my pinky comfortably slides under the a7C II grip. When greater camera control is desired, the optional grip extension GP-X2 brings the third finger comfortably onto the grip.

Sony Alpha 7C R Grip Extension

The right side of the grip extension unlocks and pivots down to provide access to the battery door. While I like the grip a lot, its shape around the tripod insert does not accommodate tripod plates, and it has a slight amount of flex. It is also expensive.

Sony Alpha 7C II Magnesium Frame

Ergonomics, Build Quality, and Durability

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Built on a lightweight, high-rigidity magnesium alloy chassis, the Sony Alpha 7C II is solidly built, with a high-quality feel — like other recent Alpha models. The buttons, dials, and switches have nice haptic feedback.

Sony Alpha 7C II Weather Sealed Front

The a7C R has a level of dust and moisture resistance.

Sony Alpha 7C II Weather Sealed Back

Additional Features

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"Sharing and connectivity with Sony's Imaging Edge Mobile app is now even easier and more powerful. Quickly configure camera Wi-Fi settings using the low-power Bluetooth connection, and enjoy greater control over automatic image transfers." [Sony]

The a7C II's wireless LAN functionality includes the faster 5GHz band in addition to the conventional 2.4GHz band.

Background FTP file transfer enables sending files to a remote FTP server over a wireless LAN, high-speed wired LAN (compatible USB Type C to Ethernet adaptor cable required), or a USB-tethered smartphone.

An imaging sensor anti-dust system is provided.

A battery/vertical grip is not available for the a7C II.

Battery

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Highly convenient is that the a7C II shares the Sony NP-FZ100 battery pack power source with many other recent Alpha series models. This relatively compact battery is rated for approx. 530 shots (viewfinder) or 560 shots (LCD monitor) (CIPA standard). Real-life experience is that battery life usually exceeds CIPA ratings and dramatically exceeds CIPA ratings when shooting in continuous modes.

Unusual is that no provision for charging the battery is included in the box. You will need the Sony BC-QZ1 Battery Charger or a cable supporting USB PD (Power Delivery) plugged into the camera.

The a7C II can be powered via a USB connection to a computer or mobile battery, the same connection used to charge the battery.

As usual for Sony Alpha cameras, the battery door is spring-loaded, but the switch is not. It must be slid into the locked position after closing the door.

What is the Best Lens for the Sony Alpha 7C R?

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The lens plays a major role in the final image quality, and Sony offers an extensive range of lenses.

The a7C II is available in a body-only kit (all black or with silver accent) or in a kit that includes the Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 Lens, a lens that complements the camera's compact size and light weight.

From an optical performance perspective, most will find the Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G Lens, FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM II Lens, or the FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS Lens to be the best general-purpose lens option for the a7C II. For the longer focal length needs so often encountered, the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens is a great choice, and the Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens is an excellent option for wide-angle needs.

The site's Best Sony Lenses page is a great starting point for the latest advice, including more affordable options. The Best Sony General-Purpose Lens, Best Sony Telephoto Zoom Lens, and Best Sony Wide-Angle Lens pages feature recommendations for these top 3 lens types.

Check out the site's Sony Zoom Lens Reviews and Sony Lens Reviews for in-depth coverage of all of Sony's lenses.

Price

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The Sony Alpha 7C II is a moderately-high-priced camera, higher priced than the a7C. However, the features, including the outstanding AF system and exceptional image quality, make this camera a good value.

Wrap Up

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Keeping a review of the incredibly feature-laden a7C II concise but complete is a difficult balance to find, and this review is not a complete description of every feature available.

The owner's manual (link at beginning of this review) is worth browsing to understand the extensive features available in this camera.

The Sony Alpha 7C II used for this review was online/retail acquired.

Alternatives

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Which is better, the Sony a7C II or the a7C R? The easy answer is that the a7C R is the better camera, primarily for its significantly higher resolution, but it costs noticeably more than the a7C II. So, the decision comes down to the value of the advantages to the photographer making the decisions.

Check out the a7C R vs. a7C II specification comparison along with the visual comparison of these cameras. Here are the primary advantages of the Sony Alpha 7C R over the II.

  • 61.0 MP resolution vs. 33.0
  • Has Pixel Shift Multi Shooting with 240 MP resolution
  • Has grip extension GP-X2 in the box

Here are the primary advantages of the Sony Alpha 7C II over the R.

  • Lower price
  • 10 fps continuous shooting vs. 8 for 44 RAW images vs. 36
  • The II's ISO setting extends to 204800 vs. 102400 (but both settings are extremely noisy)
  • Slightly longer battery life: 530 vs. 490 (viewfinder)
  • Slightly better video specs: 4K to 30 fps oversampled vs. sub-sampled

So, the list of differences is short.

The a7C R and II are both significant upgrades from the a7C. The bulleted features list at the top of this review includes most of the significant ones. Check out the a7C II vs. a7C specification comparison along with the visual comparison of these cameras.

The Sony Alpha 7 IV, featuring the same imaging sensor, is worth comparing to the a7C II.

View the a7C II vs. a7R IV specification comparison along with the visual comparison of these cameras. What are the Sony a7R IV advantages over the a7C II?

  • Larger, higher-resolution viewfinder
  • Dual memory card slots, both additionally supporting CFexpress A
  • Has a joystick
  • Mechanical shutter to 1/8000 vs. 1/4000
  • Faster X-sync: 1/250 vs. 1/160 s
  • Has 4 Custom buttons vs. 2
  • Larger grip is more comfortable and offers better control
  • Has a compatible battery grip

Here are the Sony a7C II advantages over the a7R IV?

  • Higher resolution rear LCD: 2,359,296 dots vs. 1,036,800 dots
  • Smaller: 5.00 x 2.88 x 2.50" vs. 5.17 x 3.80 x 3.14" (131.3 x 96.4 x 79.8 vs. 124.0 x 71.1 x 63.4mm)
  • Lighter: 18.2 vs. 23.2 oz (514 vs. 658g)
  • Modestly less expensive

If the a7C II's primary advantages, small size and light weight, are favorable to you, that is the camera to choose. Otherwise, the a7R IV will be preferred by those using the camera

Sony Alpha 7C II Angle

Summary

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The a7C II is an ultra-compact, full-featured, full-frame camera with an affordable price. The technology implemented in this camera is impressive.

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