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, combining the compact body of the former with the full-frame sensor of the latter.
Now Sony have updated this range for 2023 with the launch of not one but two new models, the A7C II and the A7C R, but what exactly are the differences between them?
We’re bringing you this Sony A7C II vs Sony A7C R head-to-head comparison to help you choose between these two full-frame cameras.
You can also read our detailed Sony A7C II review and Sony A7C R Review to find out exactly what we think of each one in much more depth.
The image sensor is the single biggest difference between the new A7C II and A7C R full-frame cameras.
The A7C II has a 33-megapixel Backside Illuminated (BSI) Exmor R CMOS sensor that first made its debut in 2021’s Sony A7 IV camera.
The A7C R uses exactly the same 61-megapixel Backside Illuminated (BSI) Exmor R CMOS sensor as the one found in the Sony A7R V and IV cameras.
This sensor gives it a clear advantage in resolution over the A7C II by 46%, 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 will come down to the big difference in megapixel count and therefore the pixel size.
Both cameras use the very latest BIONZ XR processor, as featured in the A7R V, which offers a whopping 15+ stops of dynamic range.
It offers 8x more processing power than the BIONZ X processor found in the original A7C, which was itself no slouch.
The A7C II offers a native ISO range of 100-51,200 which can be expanded to ISO 102,400 and dropped down to ISO 50 if required (only when shooting stills, though, not video).
The A7C R offers a slightly narrower native ISO range of 100-32,000 which can again be expanded to ISO 102,400 and dropped down to ISO 50.
Pixel Shift Multi Shooting
The A7C R has a special multi-shot shooting mode in which it can take 16 different images which are then combined using the Imaging Edge Desktop software to produce a single, 241-megapixel image.
This new model can automatically detect and correct small movements in the 16 images, such as leaves in trees or people, greatly expanding where and when you can deploy the Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode.
The A7C II does not offer any form of Pixel Shift Multi Shooting.
The A7C R inherits the Lossless Compressed RAW format that was recently introduced on the flagship A1, which reduces the file size by 50-80%.
A brand new feature is the ability to choose 26 megapixel / Medium or 15 megapixel / Small versions of both RAW and JEPG/HEIF files.
Even better is the new ability to switch from 60 megapixel full-frame to 26 megapixel APS-C stills when shooting Lossless Compressed RAW or JEPG/HEIF, enabling you to instantly “zoom in” on your subject at the push of one customisable button without the need to change either focal lengths or lenses.
The A7C R offers slightly more advanced video recording specs and performance than the A7C II.
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.
The A7C R can capture 4K/60p full-frame video with a 1.2x crop and 4K/30p oversampled form 6.2K footage in Super 35mm mode, both at 10-bit 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 quality and in either H.265 and H.264 AVC file formats. It also allows 16-bit RAW output to an external recorder via an HDMI cable.
Both models support 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.
They also offer 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 R, but with slightly more phase-detection points and greater frame coverage.
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.
On the A7C R there are 693 phase-detection points that cover 79% of the frame, with the system working all the way down to -4EV low-light.
By far the biggest difference between these two models and the older A7C 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 and A7C R 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 and A7C R 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 / A7C R.
As well as humans and animals, both new models are able to recognise airplanes, cars, trains and insects. The A7C R cannot recognise any of these subjects.
The A7C II offers 10fps burst shooting with Full AF/AE tracking using either the mechanical or silent electronic shutter.
The A7C R can only shoot at 8fps with Full AF/AE tracking using the mechanical shutter or 7fps with the silent electronic shutter.
Sony have made a significant number of ergonomic improvements to the new A7C II and A7C R when compared to the original model.
At 525g the Sony A7C II / A7C R weighs slightly more than the A7C (509g), whilst being ever so slightly deeper (63.4mm vs 59.7mm).
They have a larger, more prominent grip than the one on the A7C, which we prefer. There’s also a new Extension Grip available which further improves the handling – this is an optional accessory for the A7C II but supplied in the box with the A7C R.
There is now a second command dial at at the top of the handgrip which makes it even easier to change the key exposure settings in conjunction with the rear command dial. There are also 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 new models. 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 and A7C R.
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.
Both models use the same 0.39″, 2.36million-dot XGA OLED electronic viewfinder which features 100% scene coverage, 0.70x magnification and a 120fps high frame rate setting to help track moving subjects more smoothly with virtually no lag.
Both cameras have the same 3-inch, 3:2 ratio LCD screen with 1.03-million dot resolution – we’d have expected to see a much higher resolution screen on a new camera released in 2023.
The screen has a fully articulating vari-angle design which means that you can flip it out 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,
Thanks to a newly redesigned stabilisation unit, both the new A7C II and A7C R now offer up to 7 stops of in-body stabilisation, making them two of the more capable Alpha camera in this regard.
They also benefit 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 R model.
The A7C II has a CIPA-rated battery life of around 540 shots when using the LCD screen and 510 when using the viewfinder, whereas the more power-hungry A7C R only offers 520 shots when using the LCD screen and 470 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 much cheaper at launch than the A7C R.
In comparison, the A7C R is priced at around £3200 / €3700 body only. Both models are available in black or silver.
Choosing between the new Sony A7C II and the A7C R really comes down to whether or not you want or need the much greater 61 megapixel resolution offered by the latter model, along with the other benefits of that particular sensor, such as pixel-shift multi-shooting, the multi-resolution modes and slightly better video performance.
On the flip-side, the A7C II offers faster burst shooting, wider AF frame coverage and longer battery life, not to mention a significant cost-saving.
So what do you think? Would you choose the cheaper Sony A7C II or the pricier A7C R? Leave a comment below!
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