Photography Reviews

Why the Sony Alpha77 Was Worth the Wait

slt-a77_wsal1650_1_med image 1. As the #2 camera manufacturer in the world, Sony must not only compete with Canon to “steal” some of its market share, but also keep Nikon from surpassing it from the third position. It hasn’t been easy for Sony in the higher-end of the DSLR range, but it appears to have a stronger contender in the new Alpha 77.

Read real customer reviews of the Sony Alpha77 here.

2. Like its baby brother, the SLT-A55, the 77 features Sony’s “translucent mirror” technology, which allows for an electronic, instead of an optical, viewfinder.

3. The 77’s viewfinder is 2.4M-dot OLED. It impressed many third-party testers so much that they declared it to have the highest resolution in any electronic viewfinder they’ve tested.

4. With its new 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, Sony’s most-advanced processor and an electronic first-curtain shutter, the Alpha 77 has a trio of performance tools that high-end enthusiasts and semi-pros will appreciate.

5. Because the Alpha 77 doesn’t have a typical penta-mirror/prism, Sony was able to place a phase-detection auto-focus (AF) sensor at the top of the mirror box. The AF sensor accepts light from the semi-transparent mirror continuously, for either stills or video, while you use the primary imaging sensor to compose your photos with the live-view feed.

6. The live-view capabilities of the primary sensor means it does an excellent job selecting which of the camera’s 19 points in its AF sensor is best to track objects crossing the frame. The AF sensor also has 11 cross-type points that are sensitive to detail in both the vertical and horizontal axis.

7. What will also attract photographers targeted for this camera is the Alpha 77’s 12fps continuous shooting with auto-focus. Again, the fixed-mirror design is the hero, as no mirror must move to make an exposure. Instead, it’s the speed of the shutter that determines how many frames can be captured at the camera’s fast shooting rate.

There is a cost-savings benefit to this configuration too. It takes less time and money to manufacture a shutter that will operate as quick as it does on the Alpha 77, compared to a fast mirror. The mirror technology in the Canon EOS-1D IV or the Nikon D3S will match this speed, but these Canon and Nikon DSLRs retail for twice as much as the 77.

8. The Alpha 77 has retained many of the video features and capabilities (and improved others) that made the SLT-A55 an exceptional still/video camera combination. Sony is obviously taking dead aim at serious photographers and semi-pros that record a fair share of video, when it gave the camera’s 1080p video a recording rate of 60p. Another video improvement is AVCHD 2.0 format, so now you can watch your videos on the newest Blu-ray players. Add the latest version of Sony’s PMB software and you can even write directly to Blu-ray media.

9. The Alpha 77 includes Sony’s SteadyShot INSIDE sensor-based image stabilization system, which is actually a technology Sony acquired when it bought Konica-Minolta. This means it has been tested by many photographers in virtually every shooting environment for many years; and it still proves its reliance in the 77. Third-party tests also confirm the 2-to-4-stops advantage of the camera’s IS.

10. Another feature the serious photographer will like is the built-in GPS. Not only does it help to organize photos, but also to tag them with their location.

11. For current Sony camera owners, upgrading to the Alpha 77 is a no-brainer. Switching from Canon and Nikon takes a bit more thought and analysis. For instance, the 77 won’t deliver the optimum quality and performance of Canon and Nikon’s high-end sports and action DSLRs; but if you don’t need the maximum, then the Sony Alpha 77 will prove to be a camera with which you will be very happy, and at half the price ($2,300), compared to the high-end Canon and Nikon at approximately $5,000.

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Photo from Sony Image Library. © 2010 Sony Electronics Inc.