Sony Electronics introduced this week the Alpha 7C full-frame camera (model ILCE-7C), billed as “the world’s smallest and lightest” full-frame mirrorless camera body.

At the same time, the company announced the addition of the full-format FE 28-60mm F4-5.6, model SEL2860, compact zoom lens that measures just 45mm long retracted, and a compact HVL-F28RM flash.

The Alpha 7C mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera goes on sale next month for $1,799 or $2,099 with the new kit zoom lens.

Key features include a new advanced auto focus (AF), high-resolution 4K video capabilities, a 24.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS full-frame sensor with in-body image stabilization, BIONZ X image processing engine with high sensitivity and a standard ISO range of up to 51,200. It can shoot up to 10fps with auto exposure, and captures video at up to 4K/30fps or 1080p/120fps, both at up to 100Mbps.

The camera measures measures 4.88 x 2.79 x 2.35 inches and weighs 1.12 pounds. Sony said that when paired with the new FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 standard zoom lens, the Alpha 7C maximizes portability and versatility while continuing to offer the advanced picture quality afforded by Sony full-frame image sensors.

The Sony Alpha 7C introduction follows by just days Panasonic’s introduction of its first compact full-frame mirrorless camera, the $1,999 Lumix S5. It will also go up against Nikon’s $1,399 Z5 and Canon’s $1,299 EOS RP, which are also compact full-frame offerings, though a bit larger than the Sony Alpha 7C.

Other features in the Sony Alpha 7C include a USB-C input, Wi-Fi connectivity and a vari-angle 3-inch 921,000-dot LCD monitor screen. For advanced photography and videography the camera affords up to 15-stops of wide dynamic range and high-speed image data processing and will support the HLG HDR video profile.

Sony is also introducing the HVL-F28RM flash offering new levels of compact size and powerful performance. It includes intelligent light intensity control linked to the camera’s face detection circuitry. Together, the Alpha 7C, FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 zoom lens pack and SEL2860 flash are said to present “the smallest and lightest full-frame camera and lens system in the world.”

Sony said the camera’s reduced the dimensions achieve APS-C-like camera proportions. Yet, it includes upgraded 5-axis in-body stabilization and shutter units that are said to enable previously difficult handheld snap shots.

In addition, the camera includes a high-capacity NP-FZ100 battery offering enough power for long shooting duration of up to 740 images using the LCD monitor, or 680 images when using the viewfinder.

The Alpha 7C offers high resolution, low noise images “at all sensitivities,” to yield high quality photography and movies such as nature, portraits, sports, street photography and other subject matter.

For low-light shooting the standard ISO extends up to 51,200 and is expandable from ISO 50-204,800 with minimal noise. The Alpha 7C also supports 16-bit processing and 14-bit RAW output with natural gradations.

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The new camera employs a number of AI-driven functions, including Real-time Tracking that maintains accurate focus automatically while the shutter button is half-pressed.

In addition, “Tracking On + AF-On” is now assignable to a custom key and can be activated at once while the AF-ON button is pressed, Sony said. Users can target the intended subject in frame by touching it on the monitor when “Touch Tracking” has been turned on via the camera’s menu system. This is available for both stills and movies, Sony said.

Other AF functions also feature Real-time Eye AF for both humans and animals. When using Real-time Tracking while “Face/Eye Priority in AF” is on with a human subject, the subject’s eye and face is detected and locked on in real time with what Sony calls “extremely high tracking precision.”

The wide, fast, AF was developed to lock onto the intended subject instantly without losing focus, using a 693-point focal-plane phase-detection system covering approximately 93% of the image area. This includes an an additional 425 contrast-detection points for reliability even in busy environments.

Other features include up to 10fps continuous shooting with AF and auto exposure by using a newly developed shutter unit and refined image processing system. Sony said the Alpha 7C makes it possible to shoot continuously at up to 8 fps in live view mode, with minimal viewfinder/monitor display lag even with intense subject motion.

The Alpha 7C allows up to approximately 223 JPEG (Fine L) images, 115 compressed RAW images, or 45 uncompressed RAW images to be captured in one continuous burst, and achieves highly accurate and reliable AF precision in light down to EV-4. These features make it easier to capture fast moving subjects in challenging environments.

For video work, the Alpha 7C offers full-frame full-pixel readout without the need for pixel binning to capture more than twice the amount of data required for 4K video (QFHD: 3840 x 2160), which is then over sampled to produce extremely sharp and detailed 4K footage. For HDR work, the Alpha 7C supports Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) and S-Log/S-Gamut profiles, Slow & Quick motion, high-speed full HD recording at 120fps and other advanced video features for additional creative freedom.

The Real-time Eye AF (human) for video shooting automatically tracks on a subjects eye with high precision and reliability so that the operator can concentrate on the content rather than focus operation, Sony said. This can be customized with AF Transition Speed in seven settings, and AF Subject Shift Sensitivity in five settings. Touch Tracking functionality is also available for movie shooting.

The vari-angle side-opening LCD monitor adds flexibility to shooting positions including selfie work and overhead or low-angle shots.

Perfect for YouTubers, Sony said it is put the movie button on the top of the camera to make it easier to operate while recording in selfie mode. Audio capture can also be enhanced using a digital audio interface as part of the camera’s Multi Interface (MI) Shoe, to carry the optional ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone or XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit to input digital audio signals directly to the MI shoe for cleaner, clearer audio recordings.

Like other MI shoe accessories, no cables or batteries are required, providing unrestrained freedom for Alpha system movie making. Headphone and microphone jacks are also provided to accurately monitor recorded sound, and metadata attached to movie footage shot vertically on the camera allows the footage after transfer to the smartphone or similar device, to also be replayed and edited in the vertical position.

The camera’s touch panel LCD monitor measures 3-inches and contains approximately 921 thousand dots, providing optimal visibility even in bright outdoor conditions, and supporting touch focus, tracking and shutter operations. The Alpha 7C also features a high-quality view mode with finer, 2.35 megadot (approx.), XGA detail from the OLED Tru-Finder EVF.

Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity enables the camera to wirelessly transfer images and movies directly to a smartphone or tablet for rapid sharing, viewing or saving. In addition the 2.4GHz 802.11/AC system also allows transfer via 5GHz band (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac) to find the most stable high-speed transfer link without interference.

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By Greg Tarr

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