The Sony a7C II and a7 IV look very different at first glance. Most people would probably see them and wrongfully, though understandably, think they are very different cameras, but much like humanity, they have much more in common than they don't. Indeed, their differences are largely skin deep so to speak. One card slot, a viewfinder in a different place, but if you were to rip out the guts of these cameras, they would be indistinguishable. That is except for one key difference.
Now we will get into the handling differences in a moment but as far as features go, the a7C II has, according to Sony, a dedicated AI processor to assist with autofocus. So, when comparing these two I set out to determine just how much that A.I. processor makes. So, to that end, I enlisted the help of one of our staff here, Taylor, to put these cameras through some autofocus tests to see who would break! (cue thunder).
For each test both cameras were set to AF-C, with human priority and eye detect on, and both used the same lens for each individual test. Now I will share the results and my analysis of these tests, but I highly recommend watching the video on YouTube. There we captured the screen so you can see what the autofocus is doing and how it behaves in real time. We also have a discussion with Taylor about the feel of each camera.
Our first test was a dark, overly colorful scene. Here we used a 50mm 1.2 set at the widest aperture to really stretch the limits. After a couple tests, I decided to up the ante with using the "Cop Chase" effect on our Aputure NOVA P600C. Making the scene a dark and strobey mess.
Needless to say, it was very difficult for both cameras in this situation, so we moved on to our extreme backlight test. We just used a massive Apurture 1200d and a giant soft box to create a scene that was an avalanche of light into the lens, with our subject in near darkness. Here we used the 70-200 GM f/2.8 II.
And last of all was our control, nice lighting with a moving subject, and some simple face reveals with the 24-105 f/4 G. After Taylor and I discussed the performance, and importantly the handling. Again, the video is going to be enlightening, but the cliff notes are that from a performance standpoint, these two cameras are neck and neck, with maybe a slight advantage to the a7C II. After scrubbing the screen recordings and viewing the photos, I can confirm this assessment. It is very, very, close, And in good lighting, it seemed no different at all.
Design and Handling
From a handling standpoint, it's pretty clear that the a7 IV really feels good in the hands. It looks professional, and it feels professional. The a7C II, while not uncomfortable, isn't as ergonomically inclined. It is designed to be lightweight, while not terribly uncomfortable, I could see if you are using larger lenses for a long time without a strap this is going to get annoying. I know, I have done just that. However, if you are using it more as a travel camera, or b-camera, its size and weight are going to be beneficial, giving you all the awesome Sony quality and features you love, in a small travel-friendly package.
And that is really the point. They are the same tools with different dressing to suit different needs. Even the viewfinder, which sports 50% more resolution on the a7 IV, doesn't seem to be all that noticeable. So, the question is not "Which one is better," so much as "which one LOOKS and FEELS the best." If you want something lighter and less conspicuous, the a7C II is going to work great. If you want to look like a professional, and you plan on using large lenses for a long time, the a7 IV is going to be your camera.
From a feature standpoint the only major reason you might want the a7C II, is the extra A.I. modes for autofocus, (planes, trains, automobiles, & insects), or if you prefer a full-sized HDMI. But you really can't go wrong with either. Even if you buy the a7C II and find yourself wanting better handling, they do have the grip, and it's only a matter of time before someone creates other third-party grip accessories.
But what do you think? Do you prefer a more professional look and feel or are you excited to have cool looking cameras that you can show of to your Fuji friends? Also don't forget to check out the full comparison video over on our YouTube.
Don't forget to take your camera out today!