I had the opportunity to shoot with the A7C II and A7CR to cover day one of our Digital Fest. These cameras are the latest in the new Compact (See what they did there?) camera line. The new entries offer a more affordable option to take advantage of Sony's latest technology in a deceptively small package. I do have to mention these are both pre-production versions of the camera so the final versions may be slightly different, and all photos were processed through Sony's own Raw converter, Imaging Edge.
Taken with Sony a7CR w/FE 20-70 f/4 G @ 34mm ISO 200 f/4 1/25s
First, let's get technical. The A7C II uses the same sensor and basic guts as the A7 Mark 4, whereas the A7CR uses the sensor of the A7RV. So, what are the major differences between these and their bigger siblings? The most obvious is the removal of the large viewfinder in favor of a rangefinder style. This viewfinder is a lower resolution than the larger models coming in about 2.3 million dots. Users coming from the A7RV will notice the most significant drop from the A7RV's 9.4 million dots. The other design difference is that there are no longer two card slots, there is only one SD card slot with no CFexpress Type A option.
Both have the same improved body over the A7C with a more substantial grip as well as an added front dial. And for those who buy the A7CR, you also get the grip extender accessory, which simply gives a longer grip to the body while still allowing you to access your battery and attach a tripod plate. A7CII users can also use the grip extender, but it is sold separately for them.
Okay so that's a lot of nitty gritty specs and stuff, so let's talk about how they perform. So having used some of Sony's other compact cameras like the ZV-E10, and even the previous A7C, what I like about these two new models is they still feel like pro-level cameras, just with a few things absent. With these, right out of the box you have just enough dials and buttons to access the most critical settings, and anything else you may need is very easy to access, or to program in. If you are a Sony user, the menus and control layout are going to be very familiar. Despite never using these cameras specifically I was up and running in seconds.
Taken with Sony a7C II w/FE 28-60 f/4-5.6 @ ISO 100 f/5.6 1/500s
Size and Weight
I also can't emphasize enough just how light these cameras are. I didn't get a chance to actually weigh either of them but they felt like they might be lighter than the Sony 6700, even with the grip extender which is wild. I was walking around with a lens, no strap or monopod or anything and I barely felt it.
And especially with the A7CR, it reminded me of the noisy cricket from Men In Black. Tiny, lightweight but creating massively detailed pictures. Pair that with the incredible Sony Autofocus and you are getting effortlessly beautiful images in either 33 or 61 megapixels. It's worth noting that on the A7CII the autofocus is an improvement over the A7IV, it has all the newest AI and algorithms baked right into the camera, as well as a dedicated AI Processor.
Video quality is again exactly what you'd expect from Sony, these have the latest codecs, though notably no 8k. But both cameras are capable of 4k 422 10-bit up to 60p. (Sensor is cropped in 60p). I did notice heat notices on both when shooting video outside in the sun for more than a little bit, so these aren't likely to be video powerhouses, but they are capable if you need them.
Something else I noticed particularly on the A7CR was that when using silent shutter mode, rolling shutter was a problem in photo. Now the mechanical shutter isn't exactly thunderous, but if you need to switch to a silent shutter you are going to want to make sure your shot is steady or your subject is still to avoid odd results.
And there are a few other small things that I could go in-depth on in relation to how these perform versus the core line, but just know that there are a few, I would say minor downgrades compared to the core line, things like the burst speed on the A7CR being a bit slower, as well as smaller buffers on both. However, there are also benefits. Both of these cameras have AI auto framing, a great tool we've tested that is awesome for solo content creators.
Who Are These Cameras For?
I feel like Sony is going after that sort of stylish but capable compact camera market that Fuji dominates so well. The Sony A7, A9 and A1 series are great professional cameras but despite being relatively small to their competitors, for leisure, or vacation photography they can feel like overkill. With these, they've taken the great image quality and performance of the core line, stripped away some of the nicer bells and whistles, and left us with the basic necessities.
Taken with Sony a7CR w/50mm f/1.2 @ ISO 400 f/1.2 1/100s
I see these being a very popular B-camera for photographers who already love the A7iv or A7Rv. Also, as a fun personal camera for the discerning Sony professional shooter. Basically, any Sony shooter who wants the power of the cameras they love, but can live without some of the extras. It's also a great stepping stone for those who want something full-frame, but don't quite have enough for the core line. It is weather resistant so it can take anywhere you need, like you would the non-compact versions.
For me, I loved using them so much that I'm literally going to buy one as a personal camera. I'm a Sony shooter normally and this reminded me of the things I like about smaller compact cameras, but with the full frame goodness and autofocus performance that I already love. Some people aren't going to like the EVF downgrade, but I'm someone who has been shooting so long, I put a lot of trust in my cameras, and I feel like I can do that with these.
Thanks for reading, and be on the lookout for our A7C II unboxing, as well as a comparison between it and the A7IV.
Don't forget to take your camera out today!