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Sony Alpha A77 Digital SLRs
The Sony Alpha SLT-A77 is a solid prosumer DSLR-style camera, featuring Sony's transparent mirror technology, a 2.3-million-dot electronic viewfinder and a 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. It captures full HD video with stereo sound and it has a max burst rate of 12 FPS at full resolution. The LCD display is a 3-inch 3-way adjustable number and since it's designed for serious photographers, there are separate aperture and shutter speed control dials.
Submitted by Cody Sims a Expert
Date Reviewed: September 25, 2012
Strengths: - Seamless viewfinder/live view experience - When AF works just as well in live view as it does in the viewfinder, and you can switch between them seamlessly, it really takes the photography experience to the next level. Add the very flexible articulating screen of the A77, and it goes further still.
- EVF - speaking of the viewfinder, this EVF is far & away the best one ever made. No other even comes close. Not only is it great quality, but I'm a total convert to the benefits of EVFs.
- Very fast/accurate AF.
- Video AF that actually works - All other DSLR video AF seems completely laughable after you've seen this in action. I hear all the time that pros don't need video AF, and that is definitely true. But I'm not a pro, and for casual video capture AF is essential.
- 12 FPS with AF - enough said there.
- 1080p60 video - very fun to slow down 60p footage.
- Focus Peaking - Here's another feature that has totally transformed my photography. I used to completely ignore manual focus when using an APS-C sized optical viewfinder - just an exercise in frustration. But with focus peaking, now MF is easy & fun (and it works in both stills and video - and in the EVF, too)
- Electronic First Curtain Shutter - Very quiet shutter with a very very fast release time.
- 24.3 MP - I love the crazy amounts of detail at low ISO, and at high ISO it is still great (with the right amount of noise reduction)
Weaknesses: - Buffer size - Definitely too small, even with the fastest SDHC card available (Sandisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s) it still fills up in just over 1 second at 12 FPS.
- v1.04 firmware - This isn't an issue now since they fixed most of the problems in v1.05, but the firmware they released this camera with was a joke. I felt like I paid $1500 to be a beta tester for this camera for the first few months. I guess I'm still bitter even though it is fixed now ;)
I'm a total convert of SLT tech. So many people moan about the light loss to the pellicle mirror, but for a measly 1/3 stop of light, you gain so many next-level benefits. I've been having more fun with photography than ever since the A55 came out, and the A77 is better still.
Price Paid: $1400.00
Purchased At: Amazon
Similar Products Used: Sony A700, A900, A55, Nikon D7000
Type of photography: People
Submitted by NoKnees a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: January 9, 2012
Strengths: Choices! Many, many choices.
- EVF - You can set this to show you what exactly you see naturally, like an OVF (almost), or what your camera will capture based on your settings. You can also use this for image preview, which is great for shooting in a dark theater or concert where viewing on the LCD might be a distraction to those around you.
- Live View - You don't have to use it, but with the flexible swivel options, if you want to use it, it's the most flexible one that I've seen when it comes to viewing angles. And it feels remarkable solid, and can be used to flip the LCD towards the camera, protecting it from unwanted smudges or scratches when not in use.
- JPG or RAW - Despite the knocks seen written on forums, the out of camera jpegs were very, very good in most cases. I generally shoot raw+jpg, but found myself not worrying too much about post processing the raw's once I saw the jpg results. However, if you need to milk a little more detail, color, or dynamic range out of a shot, the RAW files still give you the best results. In camera HDR and Panorama photo stitching minimize the occasions that you will need to do this, but there will still be occasions that you just want the hands on tune ability of the final product that RAW gives you.
- Sport Shooting - Fast, or Crazy Fast. Fast gives you great focus tracking and adjusts to the lighting as needed, 8fps. Crazy Fast is just that. Locks initially for the light, and fires a 12fps burst... Yes, the EVF blinks while firing off it's bursts, but I didn't feel like I had much trouble tracking because of it.
- Movie Modes - Choices here too, but still might not be enough for some. Total control in manual focus modes, limited choices in the AF modes. Still, AF tracking was good and managed lighting changes well.
- Controls - Just about everything I wanted to get to quickly I could. Minor tweaks would be nice, but I like having the buttons there that I use the most.
- AF Speed/Accuracy - Best in a Sony DSLR yet, and best that I've used so far.
- Mid-High ISO - Don't believe the negative hype on this subject. It may not touch the latest low megapixel FF cameras out there, but it is very, very useable at 1600 and usually 3200 with some care.
- JPG shooting modes galore! HDR, Low-light image stacking, vertical and horizontal pano's, "shift" style selective focus areas, etc...
- Electronic First Curtain Shutter - Minimizes the vibration and time spent with initial shutter opening. Not sure why you would ever want to not use this.... Makes for VERY, VERY responsive shutter. When prefocused or in manual focus mode, virtually instant...
- Focus Peaking! - Shows contrast/focus areas on screen or in evf. Still or movie modes. Makes manual focusing a dream! Great, great tool for macro use, or with legacy MF only lenses...
Weaknesses: Not many, but some....
Buffer Size - It's too small! Great FPS does occasionally get limited by this. Additionally, a better buffer and caching system would improve performance "feel", and reduce the dependence on the fastest SD cards available.
EVF - Bright, extreme contrast situations are still the one flaw I see with these. It just does not have the dynamic range of your eye. However, you can work around this if you shoot in raw. Setup a shooting style with the contrast dialed down and set the camera's EVF to use this, rather than the default "as seen" type of EVF setting. This will "flatten" or "mute" the image a bit, but keeps you from missing details in the highlights and shadows that will show up in the final photo.
Bracketing Options: Needs a bit more customization in this area for avid RAW HDR shooters...
Controls - Would like to be able to reprogram some of the buttons secondary functions, especially that useless ? button.
Movie Manual Settings - If the situation allowed, I think you should be able to shoot wider than f3.5 with AF tracking if you want. Let the end user override this setting, don't take the decision out of their hands!
The build is substantially better than most, but not quite as solid as I hoped for after using my a900 for the last year. As the a900 cost twice what the a77 is "listed" at first release, maybe it's not a fair comparison. Still, time will tell how "weather resistant" and "rugged" the new build is.
I'm a long time Minolta SLR, now Sony DSLR user. Always just as a hobby, but I do like to get into the details and technical side of photography when I can...
I recently rented an a77 to see how Sony's new technology was maturing and to see if I needed to budget for an upgrade in the upcoming year. I currently use an a900, a700 before that, and Sony's first DSLR based on Minolta's work, the a100.
All of these are conventional DSLR's, mirrors, optical viewfinders, no video, no live view, just good'ol capture light in a box designs. I like a bright viewfinder that shows me what my eyes see and I liked the idea that the maximum amount of light for a given situation was going to reach my film, or in this case sensor. But, were these requirements for a good camera, or just things that I expected from a camera? All the knocks against these new SLT's seem focused on the EVF vs OVF and this translucent mirror stealing light away from your photo... I had to know if it really mattered to my shooting....
My use: Outdoor sports, winter and summer. Landscapes.
Did not test: Flash, on board, off board, or otherwise. No time....
Duration Product Used: 11-20 years
Similar Products Used: Extensively: Sony a100, a550, a700, a900.
A few minutes here and there: Canon TSi's & 5d's, Nikon d300, d3s, d700, d7000
Type of photography: Outdoor
Submitted by Greg McCary a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: November 5, 2011
Strengths: Easy navigation, fast focus, tilting LCD, awesome EVF with level, tons of lens choices, superior IQ with low noise levels, build quality, ability to change focus modes quickly. I could go on and on with this.
Weaknesses: None, time will tell.
First off let me say that I have been with Olympus since the beginning starting with the E500 and currently use the E5. I have never owned another DSLR other than Olympus.
On a whim I purchased a Sony Nex 3 because I was so intrigued with it. The DXO marks really put it up there with some high end cameras. From there I went to the 5n. I fell in love with the IQ and then started looking into Sony DSLRs. I almost picked up an a580 but decided to wait untill the release on the a77. After reading the specs on it I pre ordered one. I wanted my next upgrade to be a camera that would give me enough image quality that there would not be any need to upgrade again for a long time. This way I could focus more on my work and less on my gear.
I really liked the a77 out of the box. The first thing I noticed was the beefy build quality. Maybe not as beefy as my E5 but very close. The only weakness in the body I worry about is the joystick. It could possibly break off but who knows it may be there many years from now. The on off switch also looks as though it could easily get dirt in it over time. But again it may never give me a problem. I will do my best to watch these two issues in time.
The buttons are laid out very well and makes operating the camera a breeze. I like how I can switch focusing modes so quickly.
The tilting LCD is also very nice. This is one feature I really wanted because how much it helped me having this on my E5. Spin it around and put it away for safe keeping. This leads me to the EVF. What can I say here it is stunning. I had to check the specs again to make sure I was really looking at a digital image and not through a traditional finder. I see grainy noise in the finder only when I am looking in extreme low light. This makes me think I will not be using the LCD as much as I did on the E5 because what you see in the finder is going to be what you get in the final image. There is also a built in level in the finder that really comes in handy.
Focusing speed is very fast. I am really inpressed that the a77 focuses with so much speed with live view.
Navigating the menu is also very easy. It is laid out well. I have only had to refer to the manual a couple of times. Once to figure out how to fire a wireless flash.
I was almost tempted to go full frame and almost bought an a850 but chose not to because I felt the a850 was a very stripped down cameras as far as features. I am beginning to think that sooner or later with improvements in IQ of cropped sensors full frame cameras may become a thing of the past.
Image quality is also very good. I haven't went past 3200 iso yet but noise levels are where you would think they should be on a high end Sony. I read the 24mpix images might slow my computer down but haven't had any issues there at all. I can upload and process RAW files with the Sony as fast as my E5. I have noticed no lag times in processing. I run Windows 7 64 bit. I use Lightroom 3.5 and CS4. Storage is dirt cheap these days so no issues there either.
Finally, I really think Sony is the cutting edge in camera technology right now. They are innovative, progressive and march to the beat of there own drums. Pretty much like Olympus was years ago. If the other camera manufacturers are not carefull they are going to be playing catch up with Sony. I am very pleased with the a77 so much I am going to compliment it with the Nex7 when it is released.
I am certainly not giving up my Olympus E5. I love it to much.
Duration Product Used: 6-10 years
Price Paid: $2000.00
Purchased At: Amazon
Similar Products Used: Nex 3 and 5n
Type of photography: Other
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