Sony Alpha 7C R Review

Sony Alpha 7C R
In-Depth Review

When you want incredible image quality, including ultra-high resolution, and outstanding AF performance in a compact, lightweight, moderately priced camera, the Sony Alpha 7C R is a superb choice.

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

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

You are going to like the significant price difference between the a7C R and the a7R V.

Summary of Sony Alpha 7C R Features

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  • Unparalleled resolution in a compact and lightweight camera
  • Full-frame 61.0-megapixel Exmor R image sensor featuring ISO 100 to 32000, extended 50 to 102400
  • BIONZ XR processing power for exceptional image quality
  • Dedicated AI Processor for advanced subject recognition and tracking
  • Advanced 5-axis optical image stabilization with up to 7 steps of compensation
  • Pixel Shift Multi Shooting
  • Consistently accurate exposure and color reproduction
  • Mobility for advanced, high-performance movie recording
  • Active Mode image stabilization supports handheld movie shooting
  • 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 shooting with AF/AE tracking at up to 8 fps
  • 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 R Sensor-Unit

Sensor and Image Quality

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Hyped for the Sony a7R IV was a brand new, record-setting "61.0" MP back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor creating 9504 x 6336 px images. The Sony Alpha 7R V then co-held that record, and now the a7C R shares this record-setting title.

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 a7R IV1.0x35.7 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 R specifications to compare additional cameras.

Because the a7CR shares the a7R IV and a7R V 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 R'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.

This camera's resolution is another big deal. Those currently using a 24 MP camera, such as the Sony a9 II, will see a dramatic increase in resolution.

Those stepping up from a 33 MP sensor, such as that in the Sony a7 IV and Sony Alpha 7C II, should expect to see a moderate increase in resolution. Does everyone need 61 megapixels of resolution? No, but from an image quality perspective, I can't think of a negative reason for having too many pixels. All other aspects remaining equal, more is better. It takes no more effort to press the shutter release on an ultra-high-resolution camera than on a low-resolution camera.

Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens Triangle Falls Sample Picture

61 MP a7C R landscape images are especially impressive.

Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens Log in Waterfall Sample Picture

Still, there are some negative aspects to ultra-high image resolution. More specifically, higher resolution magnifies things you don't want to see, including:

  1. Lens aberrations (high-quality lenses will make the best use of the resolution available)
  2. Subject motion (an increased pixel density means that details will cross over individual pixels at a higher rate of speed, meaning that a slightly faster shutter speed will be required to avoid increased blur at the pixel level)
  3. Shortcomings in your technique, including camera shake (you will need slightly faster shutter speeds for sharp handheld images — image stabilization and use of a tripod becoming more necessary)
  4. Focusing errors are magnified (the tech in the latest cameras mitigates this issue)
  5. Environmental issues such as heat waves are magnified
  6. Diffraction

The details of diffraction do not need to be understood. However, all photographers should be aware that, as the aperture opening decreases (higher f/number), images become less sharp at the pixel level beyond the approximate aperture we refer to as the Diffraction Limited Aperture ("DLA", included in the table above). As resolution increases, that point of visible degradation occurs at a wider aperture, slightly negating the higher resolution advantage. While you will want to use apertures narrower than the DLA at times, the decision to do so should happen with the understanding that pixel-level sharpness becomes a compromise. Those wishing to retain maximum sharpness in their ultra-high resolution, very deep DOF images may decide that tilt-shift lenses and focus stacking techniques are especially attractive.

I've mentioned "pixel-level". I want to emphasize that when the 61 MP final output size matches that from lower-resolution imaging sensors, the entire list of magnification issues just presented is negated, and the oversampling that comes with downsizing to a lower resolution has benefits.

Large file sizes require high storage capacity, cause increased file transfer/load times, and require increased compute cycles. Buying higher-capacity memory cards and drives and getting a faster computer, if necessary, are the ideal ways to mitigate the drawbacks of larger file sizes.

The advantages of the increased detail captured by a higher resolution imaging sensor abound and include output at a larger size or retaining high resolution after cropping. I often find myself using the entire image dimensions to frame the final composition, attempting to have the most detail for viewing or printing large. While this strategy is usually a good one, sometimes that tight framing gets me in trouble, such as when I clip wingtips, need a bleed edge for printing, or need to format the image to a non-3:2 ratio, such as for an 8x10 print. Having significant resolution available provides the freedom to frame subjects slightly looser, better accommodating such needs with high resolution not being sacrificed by moderate cropping. Birders especially will love that ultra-high pixel density imaging sensors effectively increase the "reach" of all lenses. With this much resolution, there is often the potential to crop a variety of final compositions from a single image.

Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens Multiple Waterfalls Sample Picture

Need more than the 61 megapixels delivered by RAW L? Pixel shift multi shooting delivers up to 240.8 MP via a 16-image composite. I'll explore this feature below. Prefer less resolution, perhaps for a smaller file size? The RAW M and RAW S have 26 MP and 15 MP, respectively, via downsampling.

Low-resolution cameras (if I can refer to 24 MP imaging sensors 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. This difference is primarily noticeable when photographing at high ISO settings and directly comparing at the pixel level. However, to equalize the comparison, the higher resolution image must be reduced to the lower resolution image's pixel dimensions (or the lower resolution image must be increased to the higher resolution). Reducing image dimensions includes the benefit of oversampling, a benefit often touted by manufacturers when describing video recording capabilities. The higher resolution camera typically performs at least similarly to the lower resolution camera in an equalized comparison, placing it on par with the camera thought to be the low light king.

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

The a7C R has ISO 100–32000 available, with expanded ISO settings from ISO 50 to ISO 102400 available in still image mode. The entire range is selectable in 1/3-stops.

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

Sony Alpha 7R V ISO Noise Comparison

With the Sony Alpha a7C R noise test results (again, the predecessor's test results illustrated) from 180 different test images available, much can be discerned. The smoothly colored Kodak color patches test chart subject combined with no noise reduction processing (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 Lossless 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).

As the ISO setting increases from 100 through 800, noise levels grow slowly, from negligible to modestly noticeable, as expected from a modern, high-resolution full-frame imaging sensor. At ISO 1600 through ISO 3200, noise levels become more obvious though images retain a high quality at these settings. By ISO 6400, images show noticeable impact from noise, and by ISO 12800, the noise is strong. ISO 25600 through 51200 results look bad unless significantly downsized, and ISO 102400 results look terrible.

Do not expect pixel-level noise performance from an ultra-high-resolution imaging sensor to match that from the same size, similar generation low-resolution imaging sensors such as that in the Sony Alpha 9 II. However, if the lower resolution works for you, the higher-resolution images can be considered oversampled and processed to smaller dimensions.

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 amount in Capture One to get an idea of the dynamic range available. In that comparison, the a7C R appears to deliver the same dynamic range as the a1. Try higher ISO comparisons to see that these two cameras produce similar results and retain excellent dynamic range at high ISO settings. Images from both cameras have lost the color information in the brightest color blocks, with the colors becoming gray, but both 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. Also, look at the ISO 50 comparison to see the reduced dynamic range available at this expanded setting. Both cameras are looking outstanding, with the chart overexposed by two stops.

It is similarly interesting to look at underexposed images with brightness increased by the offsetting amount. In the -3 EV comparison, the a1 turns in very slightly lower noise levels than the a7C R, though the a7C R has additional resolution available for oversampling. Underexposing when using the a7C R involves little or no noise penalty vs. selecting a higher ISO setting in the first place. A real 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 it is also important when an HDR technique cannot be used or is not desired.

Noise reduction can make a huge difference in the results, but not all of it is positive. Noise reduction is destructive to fine details and must be applied carefully for optimal results. The same applies to sharpening, and a stronger amount of sharpening may be needed when noise reduction strength is increased, boding well for Sony's default over-sharpening.

Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens Behind the Waterfalls Sample Picture

Sony's imaging sensors are among the best available.

Sony FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM II Lens Rocks and Waterfall Sample Picture

The a7C R delivers outstanding image quality, including ultra-high-resolution, modest noise levels, and excellent dynamic range.

Sony Alpha 7C R IBIS

Pixel Shift Multi Shooting

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So, this camera's 61-megapixel resolution likely has your attention, but how does 240.8 megapixels sound? This camera has that option.

With the Pixel Shift Multi Shooting feature enabled, the camera rapidly captures 4 or 16 images to be composited together during post-processing. The big deal is that the sensor shifts between each image capture, resulting in the pixels moving in a square pattern.

Each pixel on the Bayer sensor is filtered to capture either red, green, or blue light (only). The 4-image shift allows each pixel in the final composited image to have input from a pixel well filtered for each color (green gets double coverage), without demosaicing. While the native sensor resolution is retained, the result is a considerably sharper image, with noticeably lower noise and moiré essentially eliminated.

With the 16-image option selected, the sensor shifts 1/2 pixel in each direction between images. This technique provides the benefit of clarifying the Bayer sensor while substantially increasing the resolution. Process the 16 images into incredibly high-resolution 240.8 MP images. The difference is dramatic.

Pixel Shift Multi Shooting is a great concept, but not one without downsides. The first and perhaps biggest downside is that both the camera and subject must remain motionless while capturing the 4 or 16 images. Essentially, PSMS requires tripod-based shooting and still subjects, without environmental issues such as heatwaves. That said, the latest Sony Imaging Edge version better resolves movement between images.

Pixel Shift Multi Shooting creates either 4 or 16 normal RAW image files that can be individually utilized. Processing is required to combine these files into the enhanced or enhanced and enlarged result. At review time, processing options I am aware of are Sony's Imaging Edge (formerly named Image Data Converter) and PixelShift2DNG. PixelShift2DNG was easy to use, but I need to spend more time working the results up to the sharpness I want.

Hours spent processing Pixel Shift files taught me that some editing prowess is required, especially related to sharpening. If the source files are over-sharpened, the result will show jaggies and other artifacts. If the source files are under-sharpened, the result will not be sharp.

I'll share some comparison examples from the a7R IV below.

Sony a7R III

60 MP | 240 MP   60 | 240 MP

It is not hard to see the Pixel Shift Multi Shooting advantage in the 100% crops. Look closely at the lettering on the small round label on the candle and at the stitching detail in the flag fabric. The increased resolution is outstanding.

The difference made by the Pixel Shift capture and processing is dramatic. If shooting a scenario with no moving subjects, consider using the 4 or 16-image Pixel Shift Multi Shooting options. Aside from some storage space, there is little to lose. If the result does not work out, simply delete all except one of the RAW files as would have been otherwise captured.

Those with advanced processing skills can utilize 4-shot Pixel Shift Multi Shooting more frequently, such as when some subjects move (such as tree branches). The shifted image can be processed and layered in editing software along with one of the source images. Show the single-source image (try using layer masks in Photoshop) in sections having movement problems to potentially salvage most of the shifted image quality. Utilizing this technique for 16-shot capture is more challenging, requiring the up-sizing of a base image.

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. 8 in the a7R V 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 R 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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With its non-lossy raw images weighing in at 117.0MB, the Sony a7R IV had a voracious appetite for memory cards and drives. Since that camera introduction, Sony has 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 R 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 a7R V results to represent the a7C R.

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(61.0)124.0123.0124.0124.0124.0126.0126.0126.0128.0129.0132.0 
Sony a7R V Comp(61.0)80.775.976.978.580.483.186.991.196.299.2105.0 
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 mentioned before, shooting a smaller overall resolution is another a7C R option, with RAW M (26 MP) and S (15 MP) sizes available.

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 8 fps would have been among the better choices for sports and action. While many cameras far surpass that rate, 8 fps is still the same reasonably fast rate it always was, and 8 fps still provides good coverage of subjects in motion.

While the 8-fps speed is adequate for even sports action, this 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 R specifications to compare additional cameras.

The a7C R's 36 image RAW buffer spec means action photographers will have a reasonable 4.5 seconds to capture the peak action. However, this spec requires the lossy compressed file format. The lossless compressed file format reduces the spec to 16, and the uncompressed format takes the number down to 14. The max frame rate drops to 7 when the full electronic shutter is selected.

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 R 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 R's tested imaging sensor readout speed is a long 99.3ms which will show significant 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 its considerably smaller size, the a7C R 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 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 R 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 the entire body of insects and the front of cars, trains, or airplanes).

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

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

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), 1920x 1080 (4:2:2, 10bit) (Approx.): 59.94p (50Mbps), 50p (50Mbps), 29.97p (50Mbps), 25p (50 Mbps), 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)

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)

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.

4K video is oversampled at 6.2k.

Additional features:

  • Real-time Recognition AF
  • Active Mode image stabilization supports handheld movie shooting
  • 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
  • Focus Map and Peaking display assist

The biggest a7C R movie drawback is the slow imaging sensor readout speed, showing a rolling 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 R'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 R also features optional anti-flicker shooting when the mechanical shutter (only) selected, 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 R 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 R LCD Open and Tilted Front

The a7C R'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.

Sony Alpha 7C R LCD Open Front

"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 R'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 R

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To visually compare the Sony Alpha 7C R 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 R 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 R 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 R 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 R'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 R Left Side

Side of the Camera

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The left side of the camera features mic, headphone, micro HDMI, and USB-C (3.2 Gen 1) ports, with the SD slot positioned in the center.

Sony Alpha 7C R Left Side Ports

The right side of the camera is primarily the grip.

Sony Alpha 7C R 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 R Body

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 R Bottom

Size of the Camera

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

The a7C R 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 R 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 R grip. When greater camera control is desired, the included 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.

Sony Alpha 7C R Magnesium Frame

Ergonomics, Build Quality, and Durability

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Built on a lightweight, high-rigidity magnesium alloy chassis, the Sony Alpha 7C R 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 R Weather Sealed Front

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

Sony Alpha 7C R 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 R'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 R.

Battery

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Highly convenient is that the a7C R shares the Sony NP-FZ100 battery pack power source with many other recent Alpha series models. This relatively compact battery is rated for approx. 490 shots (viewfinder) or 530 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 R 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 R 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 R. 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 R is a moderately high priced camera. However, the features, including the outstanding AF system and exceptional image quality, for a price significantly lower than the a7R V make this camera a good value.

Wrap Up

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Keeping a review of the incredibly feature-laden a7C R 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 R 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 R vs. a7C specification comparison along with the visual comparison of these cameras.

The imaging sensor sharing Sony Alpha 7R V is the next comparison we'll look at. View the a7C R vs. a7R V specification comparison along with the visual comparison of these cameras.

What are the advantages of the Sony a7R V over the a7C R?

  • Mush larger viewfinder: 0.64" (1.6 cm) with 9.44 million dots vs. 0.39" (1.0 cm) with 2.35 million dots
  • Dual memory card slots, both additionally supporting CFexpress A
  • Has a joystick
  • 4-Axis Multi-Angle LCD vs. Vari-Angle
  • Mechanical shutter to 1/8000 vs. 1/4000
  • X-Sync of 1/200 s vs. 1/160 s
  • 10 fps for 583 RAW images vs. 8 fps for 36
  • 8K video vs. 4K
  • 10 Gbps USB vs. 5
  • Has 4 Custom buttons vs. 2
  • Has a compatible battery grip
  • Larger grip is more comfortable and offers better control

Here are the advantages of the Sony a7C R over the a7R V?

  • Significantly lower price
  • Battery life of 490 vs. 440
  • Smaller: 5.00 x 2.88 x 2.50" vs. 5.25 x 3.79 x 3.25" (124.0 x 71.1 x 63.4mm vs. 131.3 x 96.9 x 82.4mm)
  • Lighter: 18.2 vs. 25.6 oz (515 vs. 723g)

I find the a7R V a much more attractive camera for high use, but the a7C R's advantages are significant for those on a budget and those who prefer a compact model. The image quality is the same.

Sony Alpha 7C R Angle

Summary

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When you want incredible image quality, including ultra-high resolution, and outstanding AF performance in a compact, lightweight, moderately priced camera, the Sony Alpha 7C R is a superb choice. The technology implemented in this camera is impressive.

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