The Sony Alpha SLT A77 is Sony’s first enthusiast focused DSLR in a span of over four years since the last A700 camera. For that matter, the Alpha series has changed quite a bit for the better – and the Sony Alpha SLT A77 employs a translucent mirror technology which replaces the mirror and prism technology of the traditional DSLR. Sony is aiming it at serious photographers and hobbyists, as well as the semi-pros. Without further ado, here is our review of the Sony Alpha SLT A77 DSLR camera.
The body of the Sony Alpha SLT A77 is constructed from tough magnesium but most of the exterior is covered in high-impact plastic with a high-end splatter effect. Needless to sya, it feels pretty solid in the hand, and key buttons and controls are also protected from moisture. Within the magnesium alloy chassis of the Sony Alpha SLT A77 hide a load of good features. The semi-transparent mirror on the lens semi-hides a 24 Megapixel CMOS sensor. Also in there is a 19 point AF system with 11 cross-type points.
You may be wondering how the new translucent mirror system works – the system is quite sophisticated so say the least, and it operates when two-thirds of the light coming in from the lens through the mirror travels to the center while the rest falls upon the AF sensor. The benefit of this that the auto focus can remain in action even when the shutter is fired whereas on a traditional DSLR, the mirror is lifted and the AF system is interrupted when the shutter is triggered, therefore the Sony Alpha SLT A77’s burst frame rate can also be improved – often drastically.
As is the case with this camera, the AF system offers a continuous 12 frames per second of auto-shooting, but this does mean though that the optical viewfinder of a traditional DSLR is sacrificed and replaced by an EVF (Electronic View Finder). And this is one of the big question marks over the Sony Alpha SLT A77 – but we have to say that it is very good indeed. It has got the highest resolution of an EVF that you will probably see in the market – an astounding 2.4 million dots. The EVF is thus crystal clear in use and while it may not be as good as an optical viewfinder, for day to day use, you will find that the EVF on the Sony Alpha SLT A77 morre than meets your needs and you will most likely forget about the optical viewfinder.
On top of the EVF, some other changes have taken place over the Sony Alpha SLT A77. The main one being the 24.3 Megapixel APSC sensor which has eclipsed every other thing in the market as far as resolution goes.
As far as image quality is concerned, detail and sharpness are both excellent from the new processing chip in the camera, but it is worth keeping in mind that you will not get exceptionally high resolving power compared to results from a 12, 16 or 18 Megapixel chip.
With this kind of pixel count, image noise and high ISOs are always a concern, but the Sony Alpha SLT A77 performs very well. From the base of ISO to 3200 results in very minimal levels of noise in image display. Only above high levels of ISO ranges do the noise creeps in images really start to become noticeable.
As we mentioned before, the Sony Alpha SLT A77 can achieve an impressive 12 frames per second in continuous shooting and paired to that is a sophisticated 19 point face detect AF system. Though the ultimate point count on the AF system may not sound as impressive as the competition from Nikon and Canon, it performs very well, and is great for sports and fast paced action shooting.
Tracking is very good on this DSLR, which is helped by the SLT technology that happens to be really quick and very precise at focusing.
On the back of the Sony Alpha SLT A77 is a very ingenious flip-out screen. It can be pulled outwards and angled through a range of positions for different shooting situations. Because the Alpha A77 uses the SLT technology, while using Live View you can use the camera’s face detect AF system rather than the slower contrast detect systems that are found in a lot of DSLR cameras in the market. Also, this means that you can use the face-detect system during video recording as well. On top of that, the A77 can shoot video at full 1080p HD resolution.
As you would expect from a camera aimed towards the enthusiasts, the A77 is sprinkled with quick access controls which means that very little time needs to be spent by the user in the main menu of the camera.
Battery Life And Capacity
The Sony A77 uses a custom rechargeable NP-FM500H lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a charger. Battery life is a below average compared to an SLR using an optical viewfinder, but pretty good for one equipped with an electronic viewfinder. According to CIPA results, you can expect to take anywhere from 470 shots to more than 530 shots depending upon whichever mode you are in – either the Electronic Viewfinder or the Live View LCD.
Price And Availability In Australia
The Sony Alpha SLT-A77VQ Lens Kit with 16-50mm f2.8 Lens is featured on the online Australian store TopBuy Australia where it presently retails at an attractive price of AU $1,339.65, down from a massive AU $2,457.99, with quite impressive discounted savings of 45%.