Sony announces trio of take-anywhere gear

The theme of the day is “compact yet uncompromising.” Sony’s latest announcements include two significantly improved entries into the α7C line and an impressive updated version of an already highly-rated wide-angle zoom G Master lens. Read on for the highlights and links to pre-order the α7C II, α7CR, and FE 16–35mm f/2.8 GM II. (Of course, you can always do so at your local brick-and-mortar Mike’s, as well.)

α7C II – the adventuRe is not over

I really enjoyed 2020’s α7C (click here to see that hands-on review) and version two features some promising upgrades. Right off the bat, the deeper front grip with additional control dial and extra Custom button on the rear of the camera promise to make the α7C II a bit more intuitively usable. Other than those changes (and the addition of Sony’s S&Q shortcut switch around the control ring), the body looks to be about the same as the original’s (which is good). So what’s new under the hood? Here are some of the biggest bullets:

  • 33 MP BSI CMOS full-frame sensor (up from 24.2)
  • BIONZ XR processor (upgraded from BIONZ X)
  • 4K 60p or 4K 30p oversampled from 7K
  • 5-axis IBIS rated for 7 stops (up from 5 stops)
  • A revamped, more-accessible menu system with “”natural” touch gesture control
  • In-camera time-lapse

Another huge step up is the α7R II’s auto-focus system—accurate down to -4.0 EV—and the latest AI-powered features Sony has developed. Real-time Recognition AF uses subject form data to identify and track select types of subject, even backlit or when taking up a small part of the frame. Real-time Tracking AF makes video or quick-moving subject photography a (relative) breeze. The α7C II has 759 PDAF points covering 94% of the frame, so there’s always plenty of data to feed the processor!

That processor can help enhance and accelerate your own creativity, too. The 10 presets with 8 adjustable parameters of “Creative Look” allow a broad variety of styles in-camera, while the S-Cinetone profile makes beautifully toned video footage possible straight from the memory card.

Of course, the α7C II won’t stop you from having a more involved post-processing workflow. With 10 bit 4:2:2 color and S-Log3 support, Sony’s claiming 14+ stops of dynamic range latitude. Conveniently, you can shoot in S-Log3 while previewing your footage with a custom LUT applied. Yow! Makes me think I could be a director of photography after all… Active Mode IS and breathing compensation (for certain lenses) round out the package. This could be a very capable video machine.

Still file handling is a little more versatile in version 2. HEIF compression is available, and “RAW” can be scaled to different image sizes or compression rates.

Like its brethren, the α7C II is dust- and moisture-resistant and is protected by a magnesium alloy chassis. Unlike others (except the α7CR), the α7C II features a new anti-dust protective system which includes a charge protection coating on the filter, a sensor-shift mechanism cleaning protocol, and the option to have the shutter close when the camera is off.

If you’re looking for an eminently packable camera with the bulk of the same features as Sony’s high-end full frame bodies, this is it. The α7C II will be available toward the end of next month, either on its own or in a kit with the FE 28–60mm f/4–5.6 lens. Click here for full specifications or to pre-order.

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α7CR – compact size, extreme resolution

Want something compact but have more demanding needs than the α7C II could meet? Sony’s got just the thing for you! The α7CR features the same processor, AI processing unit, IBIS, creativity-enhancing modes, svelte form factor, and more as the α7C II, but has a number of distinctions that might make it the better choice for you…

First and foremost, as you might have guessed from the “R” distinction, the α7CR has a much higher pixel count—a massive 61 MP, in fact! The R is also capable of 6.2K oversampling on 60p 4K footage, a slight edge.

The α7CR should offer comparable autofocus performance (including the AI-powered features), though this sensor “only” has 693 PDAF points. Burst mode also operates slightly more slowly (8 fps instead of 10) but the buffer is large enough to capture 1000+ JPG files at a time.

The body appears to be almost identical to that of the α7C II, but the α7CR includes a screw-on grip extension for an extraordinarily stable hold without compromising the portability of the device.

The power to size ratio here is really unbelievable. The α7CR is slated for mid-October delivery, and we can hardly wait!

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FE 16–35mm f/2.8 GM II

Finally, Sony announced the second iteration of a pro-favorite lens. The FE 16–35mm f/2.8 GM II is sharper, closer-focusing (0.73′ across the range), 20% lighter, shorter, and should have less aberration than the already-excellent version one. In fact, this is the smallest, lightest f/2.8 wide-angle zoom in the world: a very specific distinction, to be sure, but an unparalleled one if that’s your need!

Naturally, you can expect the famed G Master sharpness from edge to edge. Multiple XA and ED elements plus the Nano AR Coating II promise ever-improved accuracy. Four ultra-quiet linear XD motors power a smooth, precise, and extremely responsive AF assembly. On the video side, Sony claims stability at up to 120 fps, with bare-minimum focus breathing. At only 19.3 ounces and with minimal extension when zooming, the lens should remain stable for gimbal or handheld operation.

Physically, an aperture ring with optional detent and two customizable focus hold buttons offer seamless human integration, and—of course!—dust and moisture resistance make for relatively fearless photography.

For a tip-top professional wide-angle zoom, this one’s going to be hard to beat for a long time. Reserve yours today, and you’ll only have to wait about one month! This bad boy should be finding its way into photographers’ hands at the end of September.

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