Sony A7C II vs Sony A7C - Which is Better?
When it was launched back in 2020, the hybrid A7C camera attempted to bridge the gap between Sony's APS-C A6000-series models and their full-frame A7-series cameras.
Now Sony have updated it for 2023 with the launch of the A7C II, but what exactly has changed, is it worth upgrading and ultimately which one should you buy?
We're bringing you this Sony A7C II vs Sony A7C head-to-head comparison to help you choose between the two cameras.
The image sensor is one of the bigger differences between the new A7C II and the older A7C.
Both cameras have a 35mm full-frame sensor rather than an APS-C sensor.
The original A7C has a 24.2 megapixel Backside Illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor that delivers great stills image quality and 4K video.
The 2023 A7C Mark II also has a Backside Illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, but it uses the same higher-resolution 33 megapixel one that first made its debut in 2021's Sony A7 IV camera.
This 33mp sensor gives it the edge in resolution over the previous A7C by 27%, allowing you to apply more aggressive crops or make bigger prints.
Both cameras have a BSI (backside illuminated) sensor, which is better at collecting light than a normal CMOS sensor, so any differences in image quality may come down to the megapixel counts.
The new A7C II uses the very latest BIONZ XR processor, as also found in the A7 IV camera, which offers a whopping 15+ stops of dynamic range.
It offers 8x more processing power than the BIONZ X processor found in the A7C, which was itself no slouch.
Both cameras offer a native ISO range of 100-51,200.
The ISO on both cameras can be expanded to ISO 102,400 and dropped down to ISO 50 if required (only when shooting stills, though, not video).
The A7C II offers more advanced video recording specs and performance than the older A7C.
The A7C supports 4K/30p video recording in the XAVC-S format at 4:2:0 color depth in 8-bit to the inserted memory card or 4:2:2 in 8-bit over HDMI to compatible third party recorders.
It supports the HLG, S-Log3 and S-Log2 profiles and can record Full 1080 HD at up to 120fps, with the dedicated Slow and Quick motion mode offering frame rates ranging from 1fps to 120fps at 1080p quality.
There is no 4K 60p or 10-bit recording on this camera.
The A7C II can capture oversampled 4K/30p video from 7K full-frame and also 4K/60p in Super 35mm mode at 10-bit 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 quality and in either H.265 and H.264 AVC file formats.
It additionally supports M-LUT and Log recording with LUTs and can record Full 1080 HD at up to 120fps, with the dedicated Slow and Quick motion mode offering frame rates ranging from 1fps to 120fps at 1080p quality.
The newer A7C II also offers the clever Auto Framing feature which uses the camera's AI-based subject recognition technology to automatically crop the frame to keep the subject in a prominent position when shooting movies, even when the camera is mounted on a tripod.
Both models support the newer Digital Audio Interface (via the Multi Interface Shoe) to enable use of the ECM-B1M digital shotgun microphone or similar.
The new A7C II has the same hybrid autofocus system with phase detection and and contrast detections points as the A7C, but with more phase-detection points and, most importantly, greatly expanded subject recognition.
On the A7C there are 693 phase-detection points and 425 contrast detection points that cover 93% of the frame, with the system working all the way down to -3EV low-light.
On the A7C II there are 759 phase-detection points and 25 contrast points that cover 94% of the frame, with the system working all the way down to -4EV low-light.
By far the biggest difference between the two models in terms of their auto-focusing performance is subject recognition.
Sony has added an AI deep learning processing unit to the newer camera which enables it to recognise far more subjects than the previous model, and also greatly improves the detection of humans and animals/birds.
The A7C can only recognise the eye and face of a human, and the eye of an animal or bird.
The A7C II can recognise a human via its pose as well as its eye and face. So if the person's head is turned away from the camera, the A7C II will still accurately detect the subject as human based on its AI deep learning.
Animal and bird detection has been expanded from just being able to recognise the eye on the A7C to the eye, head and body on the A7C II.
As well as humans and animals, the A7C II also has the ability to recognise airplanes, cars, trains and insects. The A7C cannot recognise any of these subjects.
Both cameras offer 10fps burst shooting with Full AF/AE tracking using either the mechanical or silent electronic shutter.
There is one significant difference between them though that has more of an impact on burst shooting performance - the buffer size.
The Alpha 7C is able to shoot at 10fps for up to 223 JPEGs or 115 compressed RAW images in one high-speed burst.
The A7C II has a much larger buffer than the A7C, at least when it comes to JPEGs, being able to shoot at 10fps for over 1000 Fine JPEGs. It actually has a smaller buffer for RAW files, though, taking 44 RAW images or 20 RAW and JPEGs in one high-speed burst.
The 10fps shooting rate on both cameras is available with either the mechanical shutter or the completely silent electronic shutter, which could be the difference between capturing that candid moment or distracting your subject and missing the shot.
Sony have made a significant number of ergonomic improvements to the new Mark II version of the A7C.
At 525g the Sony A7C II weighs slightly more than the A7C (509g), whilst being ever so slightly deeper (63.4mm vs 59.7mm).
The A7C II has a larger, more prominent grip than the one on the A7C, which we prefer. There's also a new, optional Extension Grip available which further improves the handling.
There is now a second command dial at at the top of the A7C II's handgrip which makes it even easier to change the key exposure settings in conjunction with the rear command dial. It also has two Custom function buttons, which many people like.
The handy Still/Movie/S&Q switch from the A7 full-frame series has made its way onto the A7C II. The older A7C lacks both of these key controls.
The much clearer although still lengthy main menu system from the ZV-E1 camera has been included on the A7C II.
There are also a greater number of touch controls including the ability to operate the menu system and swipe up to open the Function menu.
These are joined by a new array of onscreen touch icons that are specific to the stills and movie modes.
The A7C has a very similar 0.39", 2.36million-dot XGA OLED electronic viewfinder to the one used by the new A7C II.
It features 100% scene coverage and a 120fps high frame rate setting to help track moving subjects more smoothly with virtually no lag.
Crucially, though, it offers a lower magnification of 0.59x, versus 0.70x magnification on the A7C II.
The eyepoint is also different - 23mm on the A7C II but only 20mm on the A7C.
The A7C II has a slightly higher-resolution 3-inch, 3:2 ratio LCD screen than the A7C - 1.03 million versus 922,000 dots - but we'd have expected to see a much higher resolution screen on a new camera released in 2023.
Both models have a fully articulating vari-angle design which means that you can flip out the screen to the side, rotate it forwards for easier operation when pointing the camera at yourself, and fold it flat against the back of the camera to stop it from getting scratched.
Both cameras have 5-axis optical in-body image stabilisation that corrects for pitch and yaw shake,
This is rated for up to 5 stops of compensation on the previous A7C model.
Thanks to a newly redesigned stabilisation unit, the new A7C II now offers up to 7 stops of in-body stabilisation, making it one of the more capable Alpha camera in this regard.
The A7C II also benefits from having a special Active Mode that increases stabilization for hand-held movie shooting by using the BIONZ XR processors.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given their compact size, both cameras only have a single memory card slot.
Both support the faster SD UHS-II memory card standard and both have a dedicated memory card port that's hidden behind a lockable door on the left-hand side of the camera.
The Sony A7C II uses exactly the same large capacity NP-FZ100 battery as the A7C model.
The A7C has a CIPA-rated battery life of around 740 shots when using the LCD screen and 680 when using the viewfinder, whereas the more power-hungry A7C II only offers 540 shots when using the LCD screen and 510 when using the viewfinder.
Both cameras can also be powered and charged via a USB connection, which is useful if you're out and about and have a compatible powerbank to plug the camera into, and both use the newer USB-C variant.
A price-tag of around £2100 / €2400 body only or £2400 / €2700 with the FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 kit lens makes the new Sony A7C II slightly more expensive at launch than the A7C.
In comparison, the A7C was priced at £1900 / $1800 body only or £2150 / $2100 with the FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 kit lens when it was first released in September 2020.
Choosing between the new Sony A7C II and the previous A7C (which continues in the range) is something of a no-brainer - if you can afford the newer model, then go for it, as the Mark II version out-performs its older sibling in a lot of significant ways.
So what do you think? Would you choose the Sony A7C II or the original, now cheaper A7C? Leave a comment below!