The Sony Alpha range of Digital SLR / SLTs all feature built in "anti-shake" / Super steady shot sensors, as a continuation of the Konica Minolta DSLR heritage. The Anti-Shake / AS name was featured on Konica Minolta DSLRs, but canned in favour of Sony's SteadyShot INSIDE name.
Sony Alpha A77 front
The new Sony Alpha A77 is available with a new DT 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM lens and produces 24.3 megapixel images from an APS-C sized CMOS sensor. Full HD video with continuous auto focus is also available. 12fps shooting is possible at the full 24.3 megapixel resolution with continuous auto focus. The Sony Alpha A77 was introduced with the more compact Sony Alpha A65 - to find out how they differ, have a look at our full Sony Alpha A65 SLT Review.
Sony Alpha A77 SLT Features
The 24.3 megapixel A77 sits at the top of the Alpha SLT range, with the A65 above the 16.2 megapixel A55 and the new 16.2 megapixel A35 the entry level model.
Sony Alpha A77 Sensor and Shutter, rated for 150,000 Actuations.
Both the A77 and A65 share a lot of features such as the high resolution 24.3 megapixel sensor, high speed shooting, high resolution OLED viewfinder and lens shading and aberration compensation but they also differ in a number of ways. Some of the benefits of the Sony Alpha A77 include quicker continuous shooting (12 vs 10fps), weather sealed body, AF fine tuning, expandable ISO range, longer shutter ratings, vertical grip compatability, top LCD, more tilt-able / movable rear screen, additional focus points, alloy body and additional buttons and controls.
24.3 megapixel APS-C Sensor
Translucent mirror technology
12fps Continuous Shooting
Full time continuous AF
11 cross / 19 point AF
Magnesium alloy body
Dust and Moisture protection
ISO50 - ISO16000
150,000 Shutter actuations
1/250 flash sync speed, wireless (IR transmitter),
Front / Rear dials / AF dial, rear joypad
Vertical grip compatible
Illuminated Top LCD
Tilting / Rotating / Floating rear screen
Sony Alpha A77 SLT Handling
OLED EVF: The A77, A65, NEX-7 and NEX-5N EVF all use a new OLED electronic viewfinder developed by Sony, with a 2.359 million DOT resolution. The new OLED technology, compared to traditional LCD EVFs, does not show chromatic aberrations at the pixel level, as the pixel level does not have to show RGB at each level, while traditional EVF do (for example, the Sony OLED can leave red and green off, if it only needs to show blue). There is a slight flicker noticeable and the view does not give as much dynamic range as the human eye or optical viewfinders, this is most noticeable when using it indoors where there are a lot of windows.
Sony Alpha SLT-A77
Menu System: The menu system is well laid out with the menus starting with photo options and then spread over a number of pages are the playback, setup and more advanced options. With the A77 having a number of external controls and buttons you rarely need to access the menus, as the option is 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.
Sony Alpha A77 side-ports
GPS: The camera has a built in GPS receiver this works well automatically adding GPS co-ordinates to images in the EXIF data. It can also be used to update the cameras time and date setting automatically which will be useful if shooting at 12 fps!
Controls: The A77 with rear dial, front focus dial, top LCD and rear joypad makes it more suited to someone who likes to quickly switch modes and someone who uses manual controls more often than automatic or program modes. A focus dial on the front lets you switch between single, adaptive, continuous and manual focus.
Sony Alpha SLT-A77
Battery Life: With between 470 shots per battery charge, the camera should provide enough for two or three days shooting (depending how trigger happy you are and how many photos you take each day). The A77 shares the battery with the A65 which is a nice feature. Using the A77's continuous shooting mode, at 12fps, we took around 1000+ photos in one day and the battery was still not flat, although with such a high speed shooting mode and 24.3 megapixel photos, it's easy to quickly fill a memory card. Testing the camera again we took over 500 shots before the battery went flat.
Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Memory Card Slot and Screen
Build Quality: The A77 has a deep hand grip and may be more suited to someone with larger hands - it also features a rubber grip that goes the whole way around the camera from the back thumb grip to the front. With the optional vertical hand grip the camera becomes much larger again and thanks to the magnesium alloy weather sealed body, it feels very well made and very strong. The Sony Alpha A77 without the grip feels extremely comfortable to hold even with one hand, although not recommended, it is a sign that the design and ergonomics are well thought out.
Speed - We tested each camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot to shot time, continuous shooting etc and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced, we also made sure to test all the cameras at the same time to ensure the cameras were being tested under the same conditions.
*10/12fps mode selected on the mode dial. The camera has extremely fast focusing and shutter response and combined with the extremely quick continuous shooting mode this camera is extremely rapid in operation, only slowing down when you want to use the flash. Continuous shooting with continuous focus appears to be just as quick, able to shoot at 12fps.
Sony Alpha A77 SLT Performance
Click to view larger or click "Hi-Res" to view full size sample photos. Additional photos and product shots can be found in the Equipment Database for the Sony Alpha A77.
Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Sample Photos
Sample Photos: The camera delivers bright punchy JPEG images straight from the camera, with very good flash performance.
Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Lens test images
Lens Test Images: There is some barrel distortion at the wide end which can be fixed by switching on distortion correction in the camera. There is very little pincushion distortion at the telephoto end meaning that switching on distortion correction made very little difference to the image. Purple fringing and chromatic aberrations can be seen in the photo of the trees. The lens appears to be very resistant to flare helping keep images contrasty and sharp.
Sony Alpha SLT-A77 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance: The A77 allows the ISO to be set from ISO50 which gives slightly lower noise at than ISO100. Noise is low at ISO100 to ISO400 with colour, detail and noise control appearing very good. At ISO800 noise becomes more noticeable as it starts to creep into images. At ISO1600 chroma noise starts to become more visible. At ISO3200 / ISO6400 noise continues to increase with ISO3200 producing usable results. It's at ISO6400 and above that you will need to pay closer attention to noise and whether further processing will be required as detail is lost, particularly in darker areas.
Sony Alpha SLT-A77 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance: The camera performs well using auto white balance under fluorescent lighting, however under tungsten lighting we got better results using the tungsten preset. Detail and colour are both good.
1/200 sec | f/10.0 | 16.0 mm | ISO 100
The camera lets you take panoramic shots that are automatically stitched together with the camera shooting continuously while you sweep the camera around. The options are standard or wide in any direction as long as it's up, down, left or right.
Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Digital filters
Digital Filters - There are a variety of colour options and creative effects including HDR painting and Rich Tone Monochrome - both of these take 3 photos and merge them together for greater dynamic range. The colour options let you customise contrast, saturation and sharpness.
Video Sample: The camera records Full HD video, with continuous auto focus available while recording. Wind noise reduction and optical steady shot is available as well as a number of compression options, including AVCHD, MP4, 50i, 50p, 25p. ISO can be set to a maximum of ISO1600 for video recording.
Sony Alpha A77 Verdict
The Sony Alpha A77 is an enjoyable camera to use that is capable of producing some excellent photos, with great colour, detail and extremely solid exposure performance. Reds are extremely vibrant and colourful and the camera produces excellent JPEG output straight from the camera, even on default settings. Noise control is very good with low noise right up to high ISO settings. The cameras also offer continuous focus when using the video mode. The camera is also extremely quick in use, with the camera simply not getting in the way of you achieving the shot.
The A77 body only is £1099, this puts it in direct competition with the 18 megapixel Canon EOS 7D. The A65 body only is £699 making the A77 £400 more expensive than the A65. Both cameras have high speed shooting and focusing with a 24.3 megapixel sensor. They both feature a new OLED EVF that is excellent - although in extremely contrasty situations an optical viewfinder may be preferred.
Looking at the recently introduced competition there are a few things missing from the A77 that you would see on a higher end camera, such as dual card slots, ethernet socket and Wi-Fi support, although this can be solved by using an Eye-Fi card and other cameras with these features tend to cost double the price (at least). However, considering the price and bucket full of other features such as GPS and high speed specifications built in to the camera, the Sony Alpha A77 represents excellent value for money.
The Sony Alpha A77 is feature packed and produces excellent photos at an extremely high speed.
Sony Alpha A77 Pros
Built in GPS
Extremely fast continuous shooting (12fps)
Stunning OLED EVF (has to be seen to be believed)
Excellent image quality
Continuous focus during videos
Weather sealed magnesium alloy body
Wide strap and printed manual included
Sony Alpha A77 Cons:
Higher than expected PF/CA
16-50mm kit lens increases price by roughly 50%
Non-standard flash hot-shoe