Sony a77 Review

Although review units for Sony’s long-awaited replacement for the Alpha A700, the Sony Alpha A77, have finally made it to the coasts of the United Kingdom, the camera’s official introduction into the market has been delayed as a result of the most significant flood disaster to affect Thailand in the past 50 years.

In the meanwhile, we are glad to be able to provide our opinion on Sony’s most recent technological advancement. Photographers in the UK may have some time to wait before they can buy one of these powerful new cameras, but in the meantime, we are pleased to be able to do so.

It has been four years since Sony began focusing its attention on the semi-pro segment of the camera industry; nonetheless, the latest product of Sony is a monument to the hard work that has been going on over that period thanks to the unique technology and expanding feature-set that it possesses.

2007 saw the launch of Sony’s first attempt at producing a semi-professional digital single-lens reflex camera, the Alpha A700. The A700 was successful in gaining a certain number of followers, but it was not able to create a significant dent in the market shares of the “big guns,” which are Nikon and Canon.

Sony a77 Build Quality.

The Sony Alpha A77 seems and performs every bit the part of a semi-professional camera. It features a tough plastic-clad exterior shell that is wrapped around a magnesium alloy chassis, and it has seals around critical knobs and dials to assist in protecting against the intrusion of water and dust.

It is comparable to other cameras in its class, such as the Canon EOS 7D, the Nikon D300S, and the Sony A850, both in terms of design and the quality of its construction.

The front grip of the Sony Alpha A77 is large and ergonomically formed, and it has grooves that have been carefully carved out so that your digits may rest securely inside them. You can retain a strong grasp on the camera thanks to a sizable rubberized region curved slightly outward on the back panel. This area also provides a place for your thumb to rest, which helps you preserve your grip.

Sony a77 Performance

The new version of the Sony Alpha A77 incorporates 11 cross-type sensors and is designed to show off the capabilities afforded by the SLT design. The previous version of this camera, the Sony Alpha A77, only had an 11-point phase-detection AF sensor. The new sensor has 19 points, an improvement over the 11 points.

The quickness of the camera is truly where it shines, thanks to the latter. The autofocus technology is quite fast in acquiring a lock, and in most lighting scenarios, focusing is virtually instantaneous.

A pleasant addition that expands this quick camera’s capabilities even further, the brilliant AF-assist lamp on the front of the camera prevents the camera from slowing even when the lighting conditions are poor.

Keeping with the general idea, the Sony Alpha A77’s class-leading 12 frames per second Burst mode is a delight to use and has no trouble keeping up with fast-moving action. The trade-off that you have to make in this situation, though, is giving up whatever manual control you had over the settings.

Sony a77 Image Quality

As part of our examination of the Sony Alpha 77’s picture quality, we took photographs of a resolution chart when the camera was equipped with a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM lens.

Look at our crops of the middle section of the resolution chart at 100% (or Actual Pixels). You will see that the Sony Alpha 77 is capable of resolving up to approximately 28 (line widths per picture height x100) in the JPEG files that have the highest quality. This is the case when the ISO is set to 100. However, there is considerable disturbance beginning at around 24 LW/PH x100 and continuing forward, even though the resolution lines are easily discernible.

Sony a77 Specs

Body materialMagnesium alloy and high-grade plastic exterior
Sensor• APS-C “Exmor” HD CMOS
• 23.5 x 15.6 mm
• 24.7 million total pixels
• 24.3 million effective pixels
• RGB (Primary) color filter array
Anti-dust systemCharge protection coating on low-pass filter and Image Sensor-Shift mechanism
Image sizes• 6000 x 4000 (3:2)
• 4240 x 2832 (3:2)
• 3008 x 2000 (3:2)
• 6000 x 3376 (16:9)
• 4240 x 2400 (16:9)
• 3008 x 1688 (16:9)
Sweep Panorama• Wide: horizontal 12416 x 1856 (23M), vertical 5536 x 2160 (12M)
• Standard: horizontal 8192 x 1856 (15M), vertical 3872 x 2160 (8.4M)
3D Sweep Panorama• Wide: 7152 x 1080 (7.7M)
• Standard: 4912 x 1080 (5.3M)
• 16:9: 1920 x 1080 (2.1M)
Image sizes (Video)NTSC:
• AVCHD: 1920 x 1080 (60p/ 28Mbps/ PS, 60i/ 24Mbps/ FX, 60i/ 17Mbps/ FH, 24p/ 24Mbps/ FX, 24p/ 17Mbps/ FH)
• MP4: 1440 x 1080 (30fps/ 12Mbps), VGA: 640 x 480 (30fps/ 3Mbps)

• 1920 x 1080 (50p/ 28Mbps/ PS, 50i/ 24Mbps/ FX, 50i/ 17Mbps/ FH, 25p/ 24Mbps/ FX, 25p/ 17Mbps/ FH)
• MP4: 1440 x 1080 (25fps/ 12M), VGA: 640 x 480 (25fps/ 3M)
Aspect ratios• 3:2
• 16:9
• Variable (Sweep Panorama & 3D Sweep Panorama)
File formats• RAW
• JPEG – Standard
• JPEG – Fine
• JPEG – Extra Fine
File formats (Movie)• AVCHD 2.0 (Progressive) / MP4
• MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)
Lenses• Sony A-mount
• Konica-Minolta AF mount
Focus modes• Auto Focus (19-point phase-detection AF system)
• Manual focus
• Direct Manual Focus,
• Face Detection
• AF Tracking
AF modes• Single-shot AF (AF-S)
• Continuous AF (AF-C)
• Automatic AF (AF-A) selectable
AF assist lampYes, dedicated lamp
Image stabilizationSteadyShot INSIDE
Exposure modes• Program AE
• Aperture priority AE
• Shutter priority AE
• Manual
• Auto
• Auto +
• High-speed mode (10-fps)
• Sweep Panorama 3D
• Sweep Panorama
• SCN (see below)
• Continuous Advance Priority AE
Scene modes• Portrait
• Sports Action
• Macro
• Landscape
• Sunset
• Night view
• Hand held Twilight
• Night portrait
Picture Effect• Posterization (Color, B/W),
• Pop Color
• Retro Photo
• Partial Color (R,G,B,Y)
• High Contrast Monochrome
• Toy Camera
• Soft High-key
• Soft Focus
• HDR Painting
• Rich-tone Monochrome
• Miniature
Sensitivity• Auto
• ISO 50 (Expanded setting)
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1600
• ISO 3200
• ISO 6400
• ISO 12800
• ISO 16000
• ISO 25600 (multi-shot NR mode – JPEG only)
ISO steps1/3 or 1.0 EV
Metering range-2 to 17 EV
Metering modes• 1200-zone multi-segment
• Center-Weighted
• Spot
AE Lock• AEL/AFL button
• With shutter release half-press
AE Bracketing• 3 or 5 frames
• 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 2.0, 3.0 EV steps
Exposure compensation• -5 to +5 EV
• 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps selectable
Shutter speed• 30 -1/8000 sec.
• Bulb
• Flash X-sync 1/250 sec
White balance• Auto
• Daylight
• Shade
• Cloudy
• Incandescent
• Fluorescent (Warm white /Cool white/ Day white/ Daylight)
• Flash
• Kelvin temp (2500 – 9900K, 100K steps)
WB fine tuningYes (magenta/green bias)
WB Bracketing3 frames, H/L selectable
Color space• sRGB
• Adobe RGB
Image parameters• Standard
• Vivid
• Neutral
• Clear
• Deep
• Light
• Portrait
• Landscape
• Sunset
• Night Scene
• Autumn leaves
• Black & White
• Sepia (Contrast (-3 to +3 steps)
• Saturation (-3 to +3 steps)
• Sharpness (-3 to +3 steps)
Drive modes• Single
• Continuous Hi (8 fps)
• Continuous Lo (3 fps)
• 12 fps via high-speed mode
Continuous buffer• 13 JPEG Extra Fine images
• 18 JPEG Fine images
• 18 JPEG Std images
• 13 RAW images
• 11 RAW+JPEG images
Self-timer• 2 sec
• 10 sec
Flash• Auto pop-up
• ADI flash / Pre-flash TTL / Manual flash
• Guide no. 12 (ISO 100)
• Flash off, Autoflash, Fill-flash, Rear sync., Slow Sync., Red-eye reduction (On/Off), Wireless
• Flash exposure compensation: Up to +/- 3EV in 1/3, 1/2EV steps
Flash X-sync speed1/250 sec
External flash• Hot shoe
Viewfinder• Eye-level fixed XGA OLED, 1.3 cm (0.5″ type) electronic viewfinder
• 2,359,296 dot resolution
• Magnification approx.1.09x
• 100% frame coverage
Live view• Display Real-time image adjustment display (reflects exposure compensation, white balance, Creative Style )
• Focus Magnifier: 5.9x, 11.7x
DOF previewYes
Orientation sensorYes
LCD monitor• 3.0″ TFT tilt-LCD monitor
• Xtra Fine LCD with TruBlack technology
• 921,600 dots
• Approx 100% frame coverage
• Auto / Manual (5 steps between -2 and +2) / Sunny Weather
Playback functions• Single (with or without shooting information)
• RGB histogram and highlight/shadow warning
• 4/9-frame index view
• Enlarged display mode (L: 13.6x, M: 9.9x, S: 6.8x)
• Auto Review (10/5/2 sec., Off)
• Image orientation (On/Off) Slideshow
• Panorama scrolling
• Folder selection (Still)
• Forward/Rewind (movie)
• Delete
• Protect
Connectivity• USB 2.0 (High Speed)
• HDMI type C
• external microphone
Print compliance• Exif Print
• Print Image Matching III
• DPOF setting
StorageSD/SDHC/SDXC/MemoryStick Pro Duo
Power• NP-FM500H Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (1650 mAh)
• Battery charger included
• Optional AC adapter
• Battery life Approx 470 shots with viewfinder,530 in Live view mode (CIPA standard)
Dimensions143 x 104 x 81 mm
Weight (camera body)Approx. 653g (1 lb 7 oz)
Weight (camera body, card and battery)Approx. 732g (1 lb 9.8 oz)

Sony a77 Verdict

Canon and Nikon, two industry titans, have maintained their dominance in the semi-pro DSLR segment of the camera market for a considerable amount of time. Although we wouldn’t go so far as to say that Sony has produced a DSLR killer with the Sony Alpha A77, the manufacturer has succeeded in throwing something unique into the mix that most certainly paves the way for future developments. At the same time, we wouldn’t go so far as to say Sony has produced a DSLR killer.

The Sony Alpha A77 is distinguished from its competitors by a feature set that includes a 12fps Burst mode, a Sweep Panorama feature, the ability to shoot in 3D, and the incorporation of a built-in GPS unit. However, the battery life of the camera suffers as a result of the inclusion of the GPS unit, which is at the expense of the other features.

Although several of these models, such as the Nikon D300s, are overdue for an upgrade, the balance may change once again if/when this occurs. The Sony Alpha A77 meets or betters the specs of its key competitors in many areas.

Sony a77 Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Extremely high-quality images throughout the board
  • A phase detection AF that is blisteringly quick
  • Numerous controls that are exclusively yours +A full complement of features
  • Weatherproofing and solid construction.
Need improvements
  • Start-up time that is noticeably longer compared to a similar DSLR
  • A shorter lifespan for the battery
  • The EVF might not be suitable for everyone.
  • Strong noise reduction applied to JPEGs captured at high ISOs
  • Delays while switching between the electronic viewfinder and the LCD

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