The Sony a7c is the affordable camera you’ve been waiting for if you own Leica M Mount Lenses.
Pick it up, and the Sony a7c will trigger a feeling. It’s bound to feel like a Mamiya 6 or Mamiya 7 rangefinder camera. You’ll be pleasantly surprised if you’re a rangefinder-style camera lover the way I am. The nostalgia will hit experienced photographers hard. The Sony a7c is the company’s latest full-frame offering. What makes it so unique is a super small camera body. But there’s a big full-frame sensor at heart. Better yet, it pairs so well with Leica M mount lenses. M shooters are bound to be the ones who pick this camera up. Thankfully, it seems Sony improved the manual focus peaking function a bit. That means you’re going to get sharper images when you go about shooting.
Possible Improvements to the Biggest Problem: Focus Peaking
For a long time, Sony’s focus peaking has been awful. It started when they went to full-frame mirrorless. Accurately focusing Zeiss Loxia lenses could easily give you a headache. It seemed the company took what they had with APS-C and put it on full-frame. But they didn’t compensate for the larger sensor. When I was testing the Sony a7c, the camera begged to have M mount lenses attached. And that’s how I figured it out. This camera is arguably the most perfect one in the lineup for manual focus glass. There is no joystick on the Sony a7c. So you have to use the screen or a combination of buttons to choose focus points. With a manual focus lens, you just need to compose the scene, magnify the area, focus, and shoot. You can do this with the other Sony a7 camera models. Don’t get me wrong. But it feels so perfect and right with the Sony a7c.
What I found is that it’s also incredibly accurate. Of course, it gets more accurate when you stop the lenses down. In fact, that’s why I’m only saying that the focus peaking has improved. It’s still not perfect. Canon’s new rangefinder system in the RF mount still beats everything else. But this new Sony camera has stepped it up for focus peaking and accuracy. For the best results, set the focus peaking to low or medium. Attaching a Polarizing filter to the front of the lens adds extra contrast. This is what it seems the lens needs for the Sony a7c to focus more accurately. The process is a slower one. But if you have Leica M mount lenses you can adapt, you’ll want the Sony a7c. If you have the Zeiss Loxia lenses, the Sony a7c will breathe new life into them.
The Overall Package
Though the Sony a7 series cameras are pretty small, I felt they were still too big. To me, they never felt like real cameras. Instead, they felt like computers stuffed into a camera. But the Sony a7c is the closest thing that I’ve ever felt to a real camera from Sony since the Sony a900 DSLR. In this case, though, they’re going small. This camera is the closest thing that we have to a digital Mamiya 6 or a Mamiya 7 with a full-frame sensor. The grip is an excellent addition for anyone that has big hands. Hasselblad has excellent options with sensors larger than full frame. But with the Sony a7c, you get full coverage with your Leica M mount lenses. You’re missing a few things, of course. The shutter dial isn’t on top–instead, it’s on the top rear section. This camera could have used a front dial for its own native lenses. But that’s why the Leica M mount lenses pair so well to this camera. The ISO can be controlled using the back wheel. The camera’s Shutter speed can be assigned to the top wheel. And the lens controls the aperture. You’ll really get this if you’re a Fujifilm shooter. Those who own Sony’s lenses that have aperture rings will really understand the overall process.
You’ll Have So Much Fun.
With the Sony a7c in your hand, the best thing to do is to just go out and have fun. Mount a Leica M mount lens with a Fotodiox adapter to the camera and just go shoot. You can truly zone focus with this method. Set your lens to f8 and focus five feet away. Then just shoot. Keep your ISO on a higher setting. What we found is that the image stabilization isn’t as good as other Sony a7 camera models. But it’s still better than a Leica M with no stabilization. It’s overall just a slight evolution over how you’d use a rangefinder. That is, it will be if you’re using the EVF. But if you’re zone focusing, then go ahead and do just that! Think of it like a true Leica CL and Mamiya 6 digital fusion.