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Sony Alpha A77-II SLT-DSLR Review

Sony Alpha A77-II SLT-DSLR Review - The Sony Alpha A77 Mark II offers high speed shooting, built in Wi-Fi, improved auto-focus as well as improved image processing. Find out how it performs in our full review.

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Category : Digital SLRs
Product : Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II
Price : £989
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sony Alpha A77 II DSLR (3)

The Sony Alpha A77 Mark II DSLT camera is an update to the A77 launched in 2011. The A77 II features a new 79 point phase detection AF system with 15 cross points, which Sony claims features the world's highest phase detection AF point count. It also incorporates 12fps shooting for up to 60 shots, and an expanded ISO range of 50-51200, along with built in Wi-Fi and NFC. It has a 24.3 megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor, and a 3-way tiltable LCD screen.

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Features

Sony Alpha A77 II DSLR (4)

The new 79 point phase-detection AF system gives an approximately 2x wider coverage area than the A77 (Mark I), and is a big increase over the 19 focus points on the A77, and features 15 cross points within the central area of the sensor. There is a central, dedicated f/2.8 AF point in the centre of the sensor, and the camera can focus down to -2EV. There is a new Eye AF function that focuses on the subject's eyes when photographing people, great for portrait work, and there is also AF Range Control letting you limit the AF to a specified range, which can be useful if you know your subject is at a certain distance.

The 24.3 megapixel Exmor APS-C CMOS sensor features the same gapless on-clip lens structure as used in the Sony Alpha A7R and A6000, giving improved sensitivity, and an expanded ISO range of ISO50 to ISO51200.The camera features a new BIONZ X image processor as featured in the A7 and A7R. This is said to be around three times faster than Sony’s previous BIONZ engine. This features detail reproduction, diffraction-reducing and area-specific noise reduction technologies to improve both stills and Full HD video. The camera shoots at 12fps, at full resolution, whether shooting JPEG or raw images.

On the back is a 3inch WhiteMagic (RGBW) screen, with 1,288,800 dot resolution, that tilts a number of ways for high or low angles shooting. There is an XGA OLED Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) Tru-Finder, with a 2,359,000 dot resolution, with eye-detection sensor to automatically switch to the EVF when you hold the camera up to your eye. You can also adjust brightness and colour temperature.

The A77-II features the same tough magnesium alloy body as the A77, with dust and moisture resistant seals, with double-layered protection around all opening including media slot and terminals. The shutter unit is rated for 150,000 activations, which should give a very good life span, depending how much you shoot.

The camera records full HD 60p, and 24p video, with full-time phase-detection AF, Zebra function, audio level metering, clean HDMI output without compression for recording to an external device. A new addition to the A77-II is built in Wi-Fi (instead of built in GPS in the A77), with one-touch sharing, as long as you have a compatible smartphone, and smart remote control also available. An optionalVG-C77AM battery grip is available that is also weather-sealed.

Sony Alpha A77 II DSLR (6)

Key Features

  • 24.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Sony Alpha lens mount
  • 79-point phase-detection focus
  • SteadyShot Inside, image stabilisation sensor
  • 3inch tilting screen,1,228,800 dots
  • Electronic Viewfinder (EVF),1.3cm (0.5" type),2,359,296 dots
  • Weather-sealed body
  • FullHD video recording, stereo sound
  • ISO50 to ISO51200
  • Wi-Fi/NFC connectivity
  • HDR / Panoramic shooting

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Handling

Sony Alpha A77 II DSLR (7)

As an update to the A77, the A77-II has the same body shape and styling as the A77, and this is no bad thing, the camera has a comfortable rubber grip, as well as controls in all the usual places, as you would expect. Build quality is good, and the camera feels very well built with a magnesium alloy body, and with weather sealing you can comfortably use the camera in a variety of weather.

The A77-II features a 2,359,000 dot OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF), with 100% frame coverage, and the view through the electronic viewfinder is very good, with clear detail and a quick refresh rate. At times the view can seem quite busy, due to the fact that there are so many focus points, covering such a wide area of the screen, however the display can be customised resolving this issue. The camera has an eye-detection sensor, so that when you hold the camera up to your eye it will automatically switch from the rear screen to the EVF and vice versa. You can fold the screen away from you to protect it when not in use, and the screen is bright and easy to see in most conditions. You can face the screen towards the subject above or below the camera.

The A77-II has a number of external controls and buttons, so you rarely need to access the menus, as the options are displayed on the LCD while changing it. Using the function button it's also possible to get access to most controls on the rear screen, and the options available here can be customised giving you access to your favourite settings. In total, 11 buttons can be customised, and there are 51 functions that can be assigned to either the customisable buttons or the function screen. A focus dial on the front lets you switch between single, adaptive, continuous and manual focus.

The mode dial has been updated, so that it is now a locking mode dial, with 3 custom user modes. There is also a new C (custom) button, as featured on other recent Sony cameras, and the flash hot-shoe has been updated to a standard ISO / multi-interface hot shoe.

Sony Alpha A77 II DSLR (14)

The menus are clearly laid out into several sections, including: Camera settings, Custom Settings, Wi-Fi, Playback and Setup. Pressing the Fn (Function) button on the back of the camera brings up a quick control panel where you can set the most commonly used options. You can also customise these so that you have direct access to your own favourite settings.

To use the Wi-Fi features with your smartphone you need to download the Sony PlayMemories Mobile app for Android or iOS. The app lets you remotely trigger the camera, and set a self-timer, or send photos to the smartphone for sharing on social networks. You can also use NFC to setup the connection if your smartphone has NFC built in. Selecting photos can be done on the camera or the smartphone, and the app has options to set the image size transferred, from full size, 2 megapixels, and VGA.

Sony Alpha A77 II DSLR (12)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 480 shots (using the LCD screen) according to Sony / CIPA test results, this is good and is similar to the battery life you would expect from a Digital SLR camera.

Sony Alpha A77 II DSLR (13)

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.1secs*
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.1secs*
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 0.8secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.5secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 0.7secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
12fps (59 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 0.8s
Continuous Shooting - RAW 12fps (25 shots)


Focus and shutter response are both extremely fast, and the camera offers quick shot to shot time. Continuous shooting is impressive at 12fps, for up to 59 shots when shooting JPEG images, or 25 shots when shooting raw images. *Tested with 16-50mm lens, centre focus point. With continuous AF the speed was 9-10fps.

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Sample Photos


Sample Photos - The camera takes photos with good colour, with good saturation levels, without being overly saturated. Exposure is reliable, and the camera records a good level of dynamic range when DRO (Dynamic Range Optimisation) is left on Auto. This can be altered, or you can use the HDR shooting mode for additional dynamic range.The eye detection focus worked really well ensuring the camera focused on the models eye in the portrait photos taken.

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Lens test images


Lens Performance - The Sony 16-50mm lens performs well with high levels of detail, and good control of lens flare. There is little distortion, and the camera has options to correct this in camera. Chromatic aberration and purple fringing is well controlled, with only a little visible towards the corners of the frame when shooting subjects with high levels of contrast, such as trees against bright skies. The lens also gives decent macro performance, and with a bright aperture, it's possible to get pleasing out of focus backgrounds and bokeh. As the camera features built in SteadyShot image stabilisation, with an anti-shake sensor, image stabilisation works with any lens attached to the camera.

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO50 to ISO800/1600, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail.For lower light situations ISO3200 to ISO6400 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced.At ISO12800 and ISO25600 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web.ISO51200 is best avoided altogether as noise is extremely high with white dots appearing, and detail is very low.

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II White-balance test images


White Balance Performance -Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a warm colour cast under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving an accurate result. AWB performs very well under fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset giving a magenta colour cast.

Panoramic | 1/160 sec | f/6.3 | 16.0 mm | ISO 100

Panoramic | 1/160 sec | f/6.3 | 16.0 mm | ISO 100

Panorama mode - The camera features a panoramic sweep mode where you simply press the shutter button and pan the camera in the direction you want to take the photo. You need to move the camera from one direction to the other at a quite specific speed, otherwise the camera will fail to create the panoramic or alternatively produce a panoramic with a black edge, which will need cropping off later. Results are quite good, with good detail and a fairly high resolution result.

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Digital filters


Digital Filters - When using the picture effects, the camera records the altered JPEG but does not let you use this feature with raw enabled. There are also colour options available which can be customised, letting you set contrast, saturation and sharpness.

Video - The camera records full HD video at 1920x1080 resolution, at an improved frame rate of 60p/24p with full-time AF and stereo sound recording. On the side is a microphone socket for improved audio quality when using an external microphone. Video quality is good and the camera offers P/A/S/M exposure modes.

Value For Money

The Sony Alpha A77 Mark II is available for £990 body only, which makes it good value for money, and is one of the fastest shooting APS-C Digital SLRs available. Alternative weather sealed Digital SLR cameras to consider:

Pentax K-3, 24 megapixel no AA filter, weather sealed, 8.3fps, £895 body only
Nikon D7100, 24 megapixel no AA filter, weather sealed, 6fps, £765 body only
Canon EOS 70D, 20 megapixel, weather sealed, Wi-Fi, 7fps, £969 body only

Weather sealed Digital SLR style mirrorless cameras:
Olympus OM-D E-M1, 16 megapixel no AA filter, 10fps, IS, weather sealed, Wi-Fi, £1179 body only
Panasonic Lumix GH4, 16 megapixel, 12fps, weather sealed, Wi-Fi, £1299 body only
Fujifilm X-T1, 16 megapixel no AA filter, 8fps, weather sealed, Wi-Fi, £1099 body only
Sony Alpha A7, 24 megapixel full-frame sensor, 5fps, weather sealed, Wi-Fi, £1150 body only

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Verdict

The Sony Alpha A77-II is one of the fastest shooting APS-C Digital SLR cameras available, with 12fps still leading the pack, although this is being matched very closely by the Panasonic Lumix GH4, which also shoots at 12fps. Everything else about the camera is also very quick with a quick switch on time, extremely quick focus and shutter response and the good ergonomics and design makes the Sony Alpha A77-II an enjoyable cable to use.

The A77 II delivers impressive image quality with very good colour and detailed images, that are noticeably sharper than its predecessor the A77. Focus performance is very fast, and when you shoot with the camera it is impressive how much of the frame is covered by the 79 point focus system. Focus tracking is also very good. Built in Wi-Fi connectivity makes it possible to remotely shoot with the camera, or send images to a compatible smartphone. The Sony Alpha A77 II is one of the quickest shooting DSLR / ILC cameras available for the price, making it very good value for money and Highly Recommended.

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Pros

12fps continuous shooting
Excellent image quality and colour
Wi-Fi connectivity
79 point phase-detection focus
Weather-sealed body
FullHD video at 60p, with continuous AF
ISO 50 available

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Cons

Raw not avilable when shooting with effects
White dots when using ISO51200

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Sony Alpha A77-II delivers impressive image quality with high speed focus and continuous shooting.

 

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Specifications

ManufacturerSony
Lens
Effective Magnification1.5x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels24.3Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)6000
Pixels (H)4000
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)23.5mm
Sensor Size (height)15.6mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution1228800
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • AF Fine Tuning
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity50 - 51200
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-5
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting12fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS60p, 50p, 50i, 25p
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • Memory Stick
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeNP-FM500H
CIPA Rating470
Box Contents
Box ContentsSony Alpha SLT-A77-II Body, Lithium Ion Battery, Battery Charger, USB Cable, CD-ROM, Shoulder Strap
Dimensions
Weight726g
Width142.6mm
Height104.2mm
Depth80.9mm

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Photographs taken using the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II

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Comments


16 Jul 2014 4:46PM
Well done! Sony leads the way in technology.

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