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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 June 2014
Like many I toyed with the idea of the A77 for some time, having briefly used one a few years back it was nice, but the price was fairly heavy at the time.
Fast forward to 2014 and a newer model A77 MkII and we get some very good deals on this camera right now.
Having used the camera for a week or so I'll give you my honest impressions of it so far, and will update the review as required over time.

Quick fire good/bad points

+ Very good build, mag alloy front and back panels, weather sealing (dust moisture)
+ Excellent 19 point (11 cross type AF points) autofocus, it's very fast with good accuracy
+ Ability to AF "fine tune" lenses (so far I have not needed to)
+ Built in red LED beam "AF assist" very handy for low light, it puts a pattern out and you can focus even in complete darkness or on subjects with no contrast
+ Excellent details and tonality with very good dynamic range, 24mp is overkill for most, but the firepower is there if you need it
+ Extensive on body controls with direct buttons for WB, ISO, joystick control, front/rear dials, AF mode knob
+ Top LCD can be useful (it's backlit) for tripod shooting
+ Multi swivel LCD can be fully articulated, sharp high res 3" display
+ Very fast frames per second shooting rate up to 12fps (fixed aperture though) also has 8fps and 3fps cont shooting modes
+ Full metal mount (lower priced alpha bodies don't have this, just worth a mention)
+ Focus "peaking" can be use and a magnify focus check, this makes manual focus very easy
+ Ability to "save" 3 banks of settings on the dial (MR position)
+ Has a DOF preview, DMF (direct manual focus) option for AF
+ PC sync port, remote port, GPS built in, 3.5mm microphone
+ Quiet shutter sound (electronic first curtain) Shutter rated to 150k actuations
+ 1/8000 sec top shutter speed
+ Steady shot adds in body stabilisations to all lenses (even older Minolta and third party A mount lenses) for free

- Battery life is around 500 shots below comparable DSLR's
- Some limitations to movie mode, Auto ISO is limited to ISO 1600 max, the video also crops in more, AF is restricted to f3.5 even if you have faster lenses, cannot adjust audio levels (though sound quality is good - stereo with wind cut function) You do have manual controls though (just not AF)
- Jpeg noise reduction is too strong for my own tastes, ok at low ISO but higher ISO levels you are better off shooting raw (and you are best shooting raw at low ISO for max details)
- High ISO/Low light shooting requires more care with exposure (metering can underexpose) ISO 3200 is usable with decent exposures, 6400 is pushing things a little.
- LCD can't be seen properly if turned around facing you if there is a flash in the hot shoe
- ? Button is only useful for image deleting (you can bring up a guide mode with it - option in the menu)
- LCD screen coating is vulnerable to delaminating (there is an anti reflective coating) fit a screen protector it's a must

Other notes: (I will update this as required)

OLED EVF is good resolution wise and has some benefits (focus peaking and exposure simulation, big view) it does struggle with dynamic range in harsh lighting though, and there is some noise in low light in the viewfinder (not listed this as a pro or con like an optical finder it has advantages and disadvantages) The live view advantage due to the fixed mirror is that you get phase detect AF in live view full time (though the 70d has this off the sensor too), the mirror does take a bit of light though for the AF system (I estimate about half a stop)

Buffer depth is around 15/16 frames raw (shooting at 8fps) that's ok though the newer A77 II has a significantly bigger buffer, it's probably enough for most (quite a lot larger than the D7100 buffer, similar to the 70d's buffer), the A57 I have shoots around 23 frames at 8fps (buffer the same smaller raw files mean more shots)

Do get yourself a faster card if you shoot action, I tested the 80MB/s Sandisk in camera and it's clearing times are quick, likewise the Extreme pro is a touch faster, the 45MB/s Extreme is acceptable clearing times wise (longer than both but not bad) The A77 is UHS-I compatible so look out for cards that are compatible with that from various makers. A normal class 10 SD card is fairly slow to clear a big burst, one to watch for if you shoot higher frames per second. If you're a landscape shooter it's not really an issue.

Firmware it's running 1.07 out of the box (this is the latest update) this cured some lag issues and flash exposure problems (no issues here to report with flash so far) Menus are quite easy to use with good customisation, though not quite as comprehensive as similar Canon/Nikon bodies.

You can set various buttons to different functions such as the AEL button, the ISO button, AF/MF button on the back, some of those might be handy for other functions, it's a shame you can't customise the ? button though. Like the 7 series cameras from the past era (Minolta and Sony) you can set the rear dial to exposure compensation.

Operation and performance are snappy with fast autofocus, it does take a while to get used to the controls the rear joystick is handy for directly setting the AF points. You have wireless flash control via the built in flash (as you do on all Sony bodies), you can additionally set the A77's built in flash to manual output (1/16 min output) this can be useful for triggering optical flashes without the main flash influencing the exposure.

Exposure is good in most situations, even in harsh light it balances exposure well, but in lower light levels it can be a bit under, this won't do you any favours with high ISO shooting, so adjust the exposure if required underexposing at high ISO will increase noise. The A77 isn't as bad as some make out in this area (1600 is good, 3200 if done with care can yield good print sizes..above that all APS-C models tend to struggle at ISO 6400), but it's not quite up there with the Canikon's on this. Still you do have stabilisation built in, you might be able to compensate with that.

In terms of overall spec it's comparable to the D7100, and 70d in many ways. These bodies all have good and bad points, and are considered to be "semi pro" level ie they have enhanced build over lower priced bodies, faster max shutter speeds, more functions and customisation of controls (and many more direct controls)

The EVF is something you'll have to decide on yourself I have got used to it (to a point) it does have some advantages, and some downsides. Manual focus is very easy now, you get a real time exposure preview, it can gain up in very low light, and can have lots of information on the display. Downsides are clarity isn't as good as a good pentaprism optical finder (details) and it can struggle a bit in very contrasty light (shadows can be crushed a bit), following action is harder too (last image displayed rather than current one) and battery life takes a hit. A personal choice here worth trying one if you can in person.

On balance though, at this price a bit of a sleeper bargain if you are invested in A mount and were holding off on the A77 due to cost, well now it's a lot more affordable and wallet friendly. Will update the review with additional thoughts over time (with more extended field use)
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
First of all, check which supplier your camera will be coming from, as some may not be supplying UK stock. This may affect your ability to get Sony UK to undertake a warranty repair, so be vcareful.

Now, as for the camera: This is an immensely rewarding SLT camera to use - I have now owned the camera 9 months, and have previously used the Sony SLT-a57 and Sony's older a700 DSLR. This is a semi-pro model built to a high standard, which feels solid in the hand. Ergonomics are first rate with dials and buttons falling easily to hand, a good, solid grip, fabulous EVF, and plenty of physical controls, including both front and rear control dials, something you do not get with the cheaper a65 model which shares the same 24MP sensor.

Sony really did put a lot of great features into this camera. It has a blisteringly fast FPS burst rate, slightly limited by its buffer size, admittedly, but still very, very fast. That would be no good if it didn't have an excellent AF module to go with this, but it has the best AF module of any Sony SLT bar the pro-level slt-a99 full frame camera. The AF is fast, accurate and flexible in both single shot and continuous modes. Furthermore, micro focus adjust is available so you can tune the AF system to specific lenses (works best with primes but can be of value with zooms too). There are many menu options and settings to get to grips with, but I am a fan of Sony's no-nonsense straightforward interface, which I find quite intuitive. Help is at hand from Gary Friedman's excellent e-book - available here on Amazon or on his own web site - a real bible for a77 owners and well worth the price for a detailed description of all the many features. GPS is a nice feature - it's effective and doesn't drain the battery too quickly (it can of course be turned off). The a77 has the usual array of a range of focus and metering modes - I have found the metering to be pretty good much of the time though I often dial in a little positive compensation (more on this later). The battery is a relatively powerful one (same across my a57, a700 and a77) and good for around 400-500 shots typically. An excellent battery grip is also available for those doing extended shoots or studio work where vertical orientation may be used a lot (no tethering though, sadly).

Much has been written about the output from the 24MP BIONZ sensor in the camera (also shared in the Sony a65 and most likely in at least one Nikon and Pentax DSLR). At low ISO and when matched with a good lens, the IQ can rival that of medium format, at least in terms of resolution (not in gradations or dynamic range). It really can be breathtaking what can be achieved when you learn to get the most out of this camera and sensor. Don't think you have to use the most expensive Carl Zeiss branded or Sony G lenses either - old Minolta lenses can work very well with the a77 as can highly rated but affordable ones like Sigma's 10-20 and Tamron's 17-50, both of which I have found to perform extremely well with the a77 (watch out for compatability with some older Sigma lenses though - consult the web site Dyxum for further info). I have found the sensor to produce sharp images with wonderful color. I shoot in raw and process in either Adobe Lightroom/ACR or else in DXO Optics Pro version 9. The JPEG engine is only OK, being a bit heavy handed at times with high ISO images - it's hit and miss, sometmies being highly satisfactory, other times being not so good and smudging detail. Raw is the way to go if you have the time and the software to do it (avoid the bundled Sony raw converter as it is hideously slow to use).

The debate about this camera centres on whether or not the 24MP APS-C sensor at its heart is too noisy - it is true that this sensor will leap up and bite you if you under-expose your images - even at base ISO (200) you could get shadow noise in an under-exposed image, and more so than you might expect from other cameras. At high ISO owners have poured over 100% views of raws and complained about more noise than that generated by 16MP sensors. BUT, there are three points to note here: (1) learn to understand the metering on the camera and try not to under-expose unless doing it for artistic reasons; (2) learn not to obsess about 100% pixel peeping view with a 24MP sensor - high ISO images can look a bit worse for wear viewed at 100% magnification on a big monitor but this would equate to a massive poster or billboard size print - it has been demonstrated that when you downsize a77 images to 16MP equivalent they often look as good or better than 16MPimages at high ISO; and (3) shoot raw and use a decent noise cancelling strategy - DXO has automated noise reduction for example, that works very well with the a77 raws - LR is also good, or use NR plugins in Photoshop like Noiseware (very good with a77). I have no worries using ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 raws shot in low light for pro purposes as long as though they have been noise reduced in either DXO or in post processing plugins - if you need ISOs abobe 6400, sure, go for a Canon or Nikon full frame maybe (or tne latest Sony a7r camera). So, in sum, I think the bashing of the 24MP sensor has been over-played especially as almost everyone does some noise reduction in post processing or at raw conversion. I've become a fan of the sensor - shot with care and with a good (not neccessarily expensive) lens, it produces stunning colour and resolution very suitable for pro work.

So, I'm a fan of this camera. Is it perfect? No - it has quirks, such as no auto ISO in M mode, and I find the flash exposure with external flash units can be hit and miss at times (users report the most success with Metz units and the least with Sony units, though some have found firmware updates have solved this (didn't work for me). But it is a joyous camera to use - the immediate feedback you get from the classy EVF is fantastic - it is truly what you see is what you get territory. The EVF is big and clear with plenty of eye relief and is comfortable for wearers of spectacles. At the time it was the best available and is only now being trumped by Olympus in there wonderful micro four thirds cameras. Video is very nice (though capped at a lower max ISO than the 16MP Sony SLTs are) and the AF system excellent for sports, kids running around (much better than my a57 and a700 here) and wildlife. Handling is a dream - making using the camera a pleasure. At times my PC groans when handling the raws and TIFFs from the 24MP sensor so bear in mind your computing and hard disc space requirements! Alos note there is an excellent lens selection available for the Sony alpha mount including superb third party lenses by Tamron, sigma and Tokina, as well as full backwards compatability with the used range of Minolta AF lenses (extensive). Tilt and shift and exotic tele lenses are where there are some gaps in the lens line-up, but these gaps are being filled by third party manufacturers (e.g. Samyang/Rokinon and Sigma).

Writing this in November 2013 this camera is at the end of its life cycle most likely, with a rumoured replacement to be announced around Feb 2014. Current UK prices are around £740 for a genuine UK sourced model, body only. Cheaper prices are available via ebay and Hong Kong if you are brave enough to order from such suppliers. There are some good deals as well with the Sony 16-50 2.8 lens - a very, very nice lens by the way and well worth buying with an a77 if you get a good bundle deal. I recommend wholeheartedly the Sigma 10-20 (the earlier variable aperture version), or the Tokina 11-16, for wide angle needs, and check out the excellent low cost Sony 35 1.8 SAM and 85 2.8 SAM lenses. If money is no object then go for the Sony G pro lenses and Sony Carl Zeiss lenses - superb !

In conclusion - a superb, high performance SLT offering excellent results, especially when paired with good glass. Still a good performer in late 2013, though it has been bettered by Sony's flagship a99 full frame SLT model and anyone buying should be aware it may well be replaced in mid to late 2014 by a new model.

UPDATE, MAY 2014 - Sony have just announced the a77 Maqrk 2 - see the web site for full specifications. It is not a massive update, and they have even taken out some things, like GPS, but upgraded other things - there is now, in the mark 2, auto ISO in M mode, tethered shooting, wi-fi, a new AF module with more AF points and claims of improved AF tracking performance, claims that the EVF and sensor are better. There is no 4K video though, which is starting to be offered in some alternatives such as the Panasonic GH4 or the Sony a7S. I imagine the a77 mark 2 will start off about £1100 in the UK and that the a77 will start to be listed as discontinued soon - look out for some a77 bargains then, as it is still a great camera!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2012
I was aprehensive about the EVF before I bought it, but after using for several weeks it is brilliant. Much brighter than an OVF and being able to change ANY setting with it up to your eye is great. I now seldom use the rear screen atall! Overall this is a simply superb camera and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2012
My first photos on this camera were portraits taken with a flash indoors at home in the evening, as the weather had been wet and cloudy all day. I was stunned by the detail in the facial features like hair, eyelashes and cracks on the lips etc. The colours were a little purply, but I adjusted them more to my taste in Lightroom. Next day on a fishing trip I took a couple of outdoor shots in bright sunshine and the colours were very accurate using the daylight white balance setting. Like all EVFs I've used they don't work brilliantly in extremes of lighting, but they are good enough to frame a photo with. I'm using it on ISO 50 for the time being to compensate for the challenges faced by the highly populated sensor.

Given favourable conditions I think this camera is capable of producing amazing photos. And I look forward to doing just that with it for some years to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2014
I have had my eye on this camera body for about a year as I was in the market for a second body and had read good reviews of this model. The mk2 version of the A77 has just come out and knowing this was going to be the case I held off buying the camera until the new model had been released as this causes a price drop as sellers clear their 'old' stock.

This camera feels solid in the hand (even to me - my primary camera is an A850) and the buttons are well laid out. You can feel that the body isn't just plastic and has the Magnesium frame that the high end cameras have. I also suspect the buttons are weather sealed.

The thing that had me nervous about buying an DSLT was the loss of the Optical Viewfinder and having it replaced with a digital one - I need not have worried. The viewfinder on the A77 is excellent and I particularly like the 'Cant' indicator line that helps you to hold the camera straight a bit like a false horizon on an aeroplane control panel. Another good feature for me as I shoot on fully manual most of the time is that when you change the ISO, shutter speed or aperature, the viewfinder shows you how it is going to come out straight away as kind of a preview. I found this has meant that I have had to correct less shots' exposure when editing as it is easier to get it right first time particularly as shooting outdoors means you have to keep adjusting your settings as the light keeps changing.

Another boon with this camera is that being APS-C I get 'closer' to my subjects when using my long zoom lenses which is really handy for wildlife photography. When I first got a full frame camera I didn't think about the fact that it makes your 500mm lens just 500mm and not 750mm (equivalent) and you really notice it particularly when you are out for a photographic session with a friend who has an APS-C camera. The burst shot frame rate on this camera is impressive, up to 12fps in RAW with the special burst mode or 8fps with the normal drive mode, it does about 14 frames I think before hitting the buffer and slowing down. This is impressive considering the 24.3 megapixel resolution.

This camera is excellent and makes a great second body if you already have a 'pro' range camera, it also is a great step up if you are upgrading from an entry/mid range camera as it has got every feature you will ever seriously need and can produce superb images.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2012
So I recently purchased an A65 and returned it because there wasn't enough features to justify the price difference between the A57 & the A65. And the reason I originally purchased the A65 was because I didn't really think there was much in the A77 I would need.

I was wrong.

Only a few minutes after playing with the A77 the little things started to make me think "How did I live without that feature before!?!?" So for example, the ability to set a minimum & maximum ISO. This small feature has made my life much easier. More buttons to control things directly without fumbling through the menus.

The build quality is fantastic. It feels rock solid in your hand and the grip is very comfortable.

But let's be honest, this is a camera aimed at a semi-pro or serious enthusiast. If you are an amateur just looking for a good camera then the A57/A65 is probably good enough for you and save yourself some cash. But then if you are looking at this review for the body only then you are probably already one.

Noise performance was the biggest concern of mine after reading a lot of reviews. Yes it is noticeably noisier than the A55/A57 but I would argue that is because it is a 24MP sensor rather than 16MP. If you regularly take photos in low light then maybe look at the A57. For me I've found that anything below ISO 1600 is perfectly fine. ISO 3200 is the highest I will go. Noise is more noticeable on RAW files but nothing you cannot easily touch up in post-processing using Photoshop or Lightroom. I actually am surprised how little I am caring about noise. I honestly thought it would be a bigger issue than it is. And to put this into context I reckon we're talking about a marginal difference between say a D7000 and the A77 at the same ISO.

One thing I love about this camera is how quiet the shutter sound is. To be fair this is a feature of the electronic curtain first and is common across the latest SLT's. It's like having quiet mode of the Nikon's on all the time! It was utterly fantastic at a recent wedding I shot where it was nice & quiet and I wasn't feeling like I was interrupting the ceremony with the clacking of the shutter. Pair this with a SSM lens and it will be awesome.

Aside from the ISO noise issue, I honestly cannot think of any other negative. Perhaps the only other negative is that I worry if the price will drop once the full frame A88/A99 is released in a few months time. But then that's the same with any tech. If you wait for the next camera before buying you will never get one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 September 2015
I switched to the A77 after testing out Nikon's D3200, and boy am I glad I did. That was a fine camera, but it was clearly not being marketed for somebody of my interests. I'm interested in photography, but I primarily use my camera to take vacation photos. Not like the casual holiday snaps you're better off using a pocket camera for, but detailed photos of the places I visit for future reference. For that reason I rely very strongly on Live Mode (since I take a lot of photos from odd angles) and need a camera that can take good photos with a minimum of fuss. Having explained that, I'm going to focus on what this camera has that I need, for what else can you cover in a brief Amazon review? If my needs don't sound like yours then by all means skip this!

The biggest area where the A77 rises above the competition is in having an instantaneous Live Mode. This is something that most DSLRs lack since the mirror has to flip up when it takes a photo and this causes a delay of several seconds. For those not in the know, Live View means that you use the viewscreen on the back of the camera instead of sticking your eye right in the little viewfinder. Not being able to use it can be really tricky if you rely on fast photography or any of the features that come with a viewscreen rather than a mirror. For example, it means you have to constantly move your eye from right against the camera to about a foot back to check if you took the photo right or not and then back again to take another shot. Needless to say, taking lots of photos can get really tiring this way.

Using the A77 Live View on the other hand is a piece of cake. It takes pictures immediately and you can see what you're going to get before you take it. Since the viewfinder is an LCD display as well you don't have to take your eye away to see what your picture looks like. Some people don't like that the viewfinder uses an LCD, but I really like seeing the focus points and other features on there. You lose out on those if you have a regular viewfinder. The level of resolution is quite impressive so you're really not missing that much detail. Or you can use Live View and take advantage of the fully rotating viewscreen to get some extraordinary images you couldn't reach otherwise.

The second main thing I adore is the GPS. With this feature on it's simplicity itself finding where I took every photo so there's no need to hunt for ages finding the site manually. The GPS is very reliable too, usually locking on within twenty seconds or so. I've used it in fields and in cities with no problem. The only thing that seems to throw it off is cloud cover.

The camera has a number of other useful features you won't find in the competition. There's a digital level that makes lining up on the horizon simplicity itself, a joystick to make controlling menus easier, two dials so you can adjust aperture and shutter speed without switching back and forth, in-camera lens correction, and many more. The array of buttons is excellent, and any changes are only one or two clicks away. I also like the rugged construction. I feel like I can take this camera anywhere without worrying it will get wet or cracked.

That's not to say the camera is all strengths. The automatic levels are rather poorly judged. I find I consistently need to put the exposure compensation down by 0.7 in the day and up by 0.7 at night. Until you get that mix right all the photos will look washed out. I'm also not convinced it captures colors as well as the Nikon, and sometimes it's not as focused as it thinks it is. So it doesn't quite work as a camera you can just take out and shoot perfect photos with.

One thing that I really do miss about the Nikon is the nighttime quality. The A77 has a translucent mirror so it loses light every time it takes a picture. This means that the higher ISO levels are going to be pretty wretched. Anything over 1600 is going to be grainy and over 3200 is unusable. Fortunately, Sony has also worked out a way to compensate for this slightly. If you set it on twilight mode the camera takes six photos in rapid succession and combines them into a single non-grainy photo. It's more reliable than it might sound and lets you take good-looking photos up to 6400. It's still not as good as the Nikon (particularly in color depth) but it works and it helps compensate for blur as well.

No camera's perfect, but this one has more than its fair share of strong points. The camera may be a bit old now, but that just means you have a better chance of finding a good deal on it used. I think it's better than the A58 (which felt too plasticy and cheap to me) and offers more useful features than any comparable brands. If you want something a bit better than the entry-level model but can't afford the newer A77II then go for this. It's still good, and it has a GPS that that one lacks.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2013
The Sony SLTA77V is a very impressive camera. The focussing speed is incredible and the electonic viewfinder makes getting your shots just right a very simple task. The look and feel of the camera are of a good quality and despuite the initial outlay, I feel it will represent good value for money in the long run. It is still very early days, but I am very impressed with the camera.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2012
Was a Minolta fan and had their cameras so when they stopped making them and transferred their expertise and technical spec to Sony went for them have had 3 Sonys the a100, a350, a55 and now the a77 and am so pleased with it. Heavier than the a55 but that is to the good as it feels like a real camera. Already had 2 x sony lenses so kept to Sony and am still very impressed. I cannot believe the sharpness of photos taken through my 18-250 lens and when viewed on my Mac and zooming in, the detail that is revealed is phenomenal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2013
This is my second Alfa77, the original one I still own, so, I have 2 of them, for different applications . I am a semi-professional photographer and these cameras suit me down to the ground.
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