The Sony a9 and the Sony a7C are two cameras aimed at very different audiences. The Sony a9 is a high-speed professional machine meant for sports and wildlife photography, while the Sony a7C is a small, portable full-frame camera targeted at a more consumer audience. However, the a7C is substantially newer (more than three years, which is ages in the world of electronics) and it actually holds its own against the Sony a9 in many ways! Here’s what you need to know if you’re deciding between these two cameras.
Sony a9 vs Sony a7C Specifications Comparison
|Camera Feature||Sony a9||Sony a7C|
|Announced||April 2017||September 2020|
|Sensor Type||Stacked CMOS||BSI CMOS|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ X|
|Resolution||24.2 MP||24.2 MP|
|Sensor Dimensions||35.6 x 23.8 mm (Full Frame)||35.6 x 23.8 mm (Full Frame)|
|Sensor Pixel Size||5.93µ||5.93µ|
|Low Pass Filter||Yes||Yes|
|IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization)||Yes||Yes|
|Base ISO||ISO 100||ISO 100|
|Max Native ISO||ISO 51,200||ISO 51,200|
|Extended ISOs||ISO 50-204,800||ISO 50-204,800|
|High-Resolution Sensor Shift||No||No|
|Focus Stack Bracketing||No||No|
|Pre-Shoot Burst Mode||No||No|
|Fastest Shutter Speed||1/32000||1/8000|
|Longest Shutter Speed||30 seconds||30 seconds|
|Continuous Shooting (Mechanical Shutter)||5 FPS||10 FPS|
|Continuous Shooting (Electronic Shutter)||20 FPS||10 FPS|
|Notes for High FPS Shooting||Compressed 12-bit raw at 20 FPS (uncompressed 12-bit raw is available at 12 FPS)||Compressed 12-bit raw at 10 FPS (uncompressed 14-bit raw is available at 8 FPS)|
|Buffer Size (Raw)||241 frames (20 FPS)||115 frames (10 FPS)|
|Autofocus System||Hybrid PDAF||Hybrid PDAF|
|Low-Light AF Sensitivity (f/2 Lens, ISO 100)||-3 EV||-4 EV|
|Standard Flash Sync Speed||1/250||1/160|
|Curtain to Protect Sensor at Shutdown||No||No|
|Maximum Video Bit Depth (Internal)||8 bits||8 bits|
|Maximum Video Bit Depth (External)||8 bits||8 bits|
|4K Maximum Framerate||30 FPS||30 FPS|
|1080P Maximum Framerate||120 FPS||120 FPS|
|Additional Video Crop Factor||1.2x crop at 4K 30p (4K 24/25p has no additional crop)||1.2x crop at 4K 30p (4K 24/25p has no additional crop)|
|Chroma Subsampling||4:2:0, 4:2:2 (External)||4:2:0, 4:2:2 (External)|
|Video Recording Limit||30 min||780 min|
Physical and Other Features
|Slot 1 Type||SD (UHS-II)||SD (UHS-II)|
|Slot 2 Type||SD (UHS-I)||N/A|
|Rear LCD Size (Diagonal)||3.0 in||3.0 in|
|Rear LCD Resolution||1.44 million dots||0.92 million dots|
|Articulating LCD||Single Axis||Fully Articulating|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3.69 million dots||2.36 million dots|
|USB Type||Type B 2.0||Type C 3.2 Gen 1|
|Battery Life (Viewfinder)||480 frames||680 frames|
|Battery Life (Rear LCD)||650 frames||740 frames|
|Weight (Body Only w/ Battery + Card)||588 g (1.30 lbs.)||509 g (1.12 lbs.)|
|Dimensions (LxHxD)||127 x 96 x 73 mm (5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9″)1||124 x 71 x 60 mm (4.9 x 2.8 x 2.4″)|
|MSRP, Body Only||$4500 (Discontinued)||$1800 (Check Current Price)|
|Used Prices||Sony a9 Used Prices||Sony a7C Used Prices|
|1The Sony a9’s official dimensions do not include the depth of the protruding viewfinder. To match typical standards today, 10mm were added to the a9’s depth measurement in this table.|
On balance, the Sony a9 is the more advanced of these two cameras – but as you can see, the Sony a7C isn’t going down without a fight.
The biggest differences in favor of the Sony a9 are the faster frame rate (20 versus 10 FPS), significantly larger buffer, and dual memory card slots. All of these features will be very welcome among professional sports and wildlife photographers, or anyone photographing fast action.
To the Sony a7C’s credit, however, it basically matches the Sony a9 elsewhere. It even has a comparable autofocus system, which is definitely not a given on a consumer-oriented camera like the a7C! The Sony a7C even has some benefits of its own, like a fully-articulating rear LCD, longer battery life, and more portable form factor. This doesn’t mean it’s the better camera overall, but it shows how big of a difference three years can make in the photography world.
Summary and Recommendations
Considering that the Sony a9 came out all the way back in 2017, you’ll need to buy it on the used market if you’re interested in it. This may be a blessing in disguise, though – the a9 is selling for fantastic prices on the used market today. A used a9 is actually cheaper than a new Sony a7C! (Although if you buy the Sony a7C used, that would be the cheapest of all.)
For that reason, I wouldn’t write off the Sony a9 even though it’s on the older side. If you’re a sports or wildlife photographer, it would be a better choice than the a7C considering the buffer and frame rate advantages.
On the other hand, for most photographers reading this comparison, I’d lean toward recommending the Sony a7C. It’s true that it’s missing a few of the most advanced action-oriented features, but most photographers simply don’t need 20 FPS. If you’re happy with 10 FPS and a 115-frame buffer – which is plenty for most situations – you can save money and weight and go with the Sony a7C.
What does the Sony a9 offer over the Sony a7C?
- Two card slots, which is better for redundancy and backup
- Higher resolution rear display and electronic viewfinder, which makes photography more enjoyable
- Faster maximum frame rate of 20 FPS rather than 10 FPS, and a bigger buffer
What does the Sony a7C offer over the Sony a9?
- Better battery life with both the viewfinder and rear LCD
- Lighter weight (79 g lighter)
- Lower prices, generally speaking
Want to discuss these two cameras with other photographers? If so, head on over to our forum to start a conversation!