Sony A77 II Review
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|Full model name:||Sony Alpha ILCA-A77 II|
(23.5mm x 15.6mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||50 - 51,200|
|Shutter:||1/8000 - 30 seconds|
|Max Aperture:||2.8 (kit lens)|
5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in.
(143 x 104 x 81 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Sony A77 II specifications|
A77 II Summary
The Sony A77 II hits most things right on target for a solid, high-performance, enthusiast-level DSLR. The image quality is very good, especially at lower ISOs and at higher ISOs from RAW, burst shooting performance is top-notch, and single-shot AF is blazingly fast. Unfortunately, for one of its biggest selling points -- continuous autofocus performance -- the camera stumbles somewhat when it comes to capturing fast action and other moving subjects, which is quite unfortunate for a high-framerate, seemingly high-performance flagship APS-C camera.Pros
Excellent image quality, especially lower ISOs; Improved high ISO performance when using RAW; Very good dynamic range; High-resolution images; Very fast single-shot autofocus; 12fps burst mode with C-AF; Good value for its class.Cons
Lackluster continuous AF performance; Strong NR processing in high ISO JPEGs; Sluggish buffer clearing; Short battery life compared to most DSLRs; Joystick control easy to press accidentally.Price and availability
Available from June 2014, the Sony A77 II debuted with pricing at US$1,200 body-only, or US$1,800 with a Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM constant-aperture zoom lens. Current body-only and kit pricing have dropped recently by about US$300.Imaging Resource rating
4.0 out of 5.0
$1517.47 (40% more)
20.2 MP (20% less)
Also has viewfinder
Sony A77 II Review
The Sony A77 II provides an upgrade pretty much across the board compared to the original "Mark I" model, especially with regards to the sensor, image processor and autofocus system. The A77 II keeps the same 24-megapixel resolution as the original A77, but the Mark II borrows the updated, well-regarded sensor from the Sony A6000. Coupled with a faster BIONZ X image processor, the newer model has a wider ISO range up to ISO 25,600.
The A77 II gets a substantial upgrade to its autofocus system, going from 19 points to a whopping 79, which cover about 40% of the frame. Couple that with some blazing performance specs, including a special 12fps continuous burst mode with continuous AF, and the A77 II is shaping up to be very well-rounded camera, with a particular nod to sports and action photographers.
So, how does the Sony A77 II perform? We've completed our full review of this flagship A-mount APS-C camera, and the results are rather interesting. To get the lay of the land with regard to all of the A77 II's new features and technological prowess, head over to our Tech Info section first, or you can jump right into John Shafer's in-depth hands-on Field Test. Of course, we put the camera through the paces here at IR as well, so check out our Optics, Exposure and Performance test results, as well as our Image Comparisons and Print Quality Analysis. And of course, for our IR verdict, jump over to our Sony A77 II Conclusion for our final thoughts.
Sony A77 II Field Test Part I
Pro-like DSLR with image quality & features to rival the competition.
Let me start this report by disclosing that I'm a long-time Canon SLR owner. I've been using Canon EOS SLR cameras since the mid-nineties. However, I'm also a big Sony fan. I love their out-of-the-box approach to camera design -- especially the SLT camera family, to which the new A77 Mark II DSLR belongs. I like it so much I was considering buying an A77 II, sight-unseen, to replace my Canon EOS 7D. The second-gen A77 features and specs make it look like an excellent replacement for my aging EOS 7D. The A77 II is a serious threat to non-Canon APS-C DSLR owners as well. With a crazy fast 12 frames per second burst rate, more AF points than any other DSLR (79), and improved continuous autofocus performance, it looks like an excellent choice for amateur sports shooters and professional action sports photographers on a budget. So when Imaging Resource offered me the opportunity to do an A77 II Field Test, how could I say no? A free test ride before I spend my hard-earned money? Yes, please!
Read John's A77 II Field Test Part I
Sony A77 II Field Test Part II
Great performance, but does it hit the mark on continuous AF?
Introduction. When I first saw Sony's Alpha A77 Mark II announcement, I thought it might finally be time to invest in a Sony DSLR system. I've been a big fan of their camera design and features for a long time, but there hadn't really been a camera that was a good fit for me -- until now. The A77 II looked like it was designed just for me -- an original Canon EOS 7D owner looking for better image quality, more speed, better video quality, and unique Sony features like an electronic viewfinder and sensor-shift image stabilization.
Speed, autofocus & Action Performance. With an updated autofocus system and lots of horsepower, the Sony Alpha A77 Mark II looks like an action shooter's dream camera. That's especially true for those of us who don't have a budget for $5000+ cameras like the Canon EOS 1D X and Nikon D4s. We can't all drive Ferraris, though - the rest of us need something more along the lines of a Subaru WRX -- an affordable, working man's performance car. Like the WRX, the A77 Mark II offers more performance than most of us actually need, in a very affordable, user-friendly package. There's no doubt the A77 II is a heck of a camera, but is it enough to compete with other cameras in the same category?
Does the A77 II have what it takes to be a killer sport/action camera?
Sony A77 II Image Quality Comparison
See how the A77 II's IQ compares to its competitors
We've prepared crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Sony A77 II against the Sony A77, Canon 70D, Fujifilm X-T1, Nikon D7100 and Pentax K-3. All of these models sit at relatively similar price points and/or categories in their respective product lineups. The only exception might be the Canon 70D, which sits below Canon's current flagship APS-C DSLR, the 7D. We chose the 70D in this comparison, however, due to its newer, high-resolution sensor and updated image processor.
These comparisons were somewhat tricky to write, as the cameras vary a great deal in resolution, so bear that in mind as you're reading and drawing your own conclusions. (We generally try to match cameras in these comparisons based on price, given that most of us work to a budget, rather than setting out to buy a given number of megapixels.)
NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses.
Read our Image Quality Comparison!
Sony A77 II Print Quality
But how does it look on paper?
The updated Sony A77 II is an impressive camera when it comes to print quality and resolution, especially at lower ISOs. At expanded ISO 50 and base ISO 100, the A77 II's 24.3MP APS-C sensor is able to produce prints all the way up to 36 x 48 inches and wall-mountable at 40 x 60. With a very high amount of fine detail and fantastic color reproduction, the prints at these low ISOs are excellent. Even at mid-range higher ISOs, like 1600, the A77 II produces a very good 16 x 20, and while the default level of noise reduction is quite strong and visible primarily in the shadow areas, it works very well as removing noise, while leaving most of the fine detail intact, especially high-contrast fine detail. It's only at very high ISOs levels that noise and heavy NR take their toll on fine detail, making ISO 12,800 the maximum sensitivity with an acceptable print at 4 x 6 inches.
Read about the Sony A77 II's Print Quality to see how large it can print at each ISO!
Sony A77 II Technical Info
Have a peek under the hood
Record-breaking autofocus. And my, what upgrades they are! From its previous 19-point autofocus sensor, the Sony A77 II has jumped to a record-breaking 79 autofocus points. No other dedicated AF sensor to date has offered this many autofocus points, and Sony is quick to point out that they span around 40% of the image frame, providing more coverage than in many competitors.
Of these 79 points, a total of 15 points are cross-types. Of these, only the center point works up to f/2.8. The new sensor is also more sensitive than before, able to work within a range of -2 to 18EV, where the A77's sensor stopped at -1EV. We're guessing the absence of a dedicated AF assist lamp is a mark of Sony's confidence in that figure, but if you do need to help things out, you can raise the built-in, popup strobe for a burst of assist flash.
Improvements beyond the sensor. As well as the new AF sensor, Sony has tweaked autofocus in other areas for improved performance and versatility. There's a new Eye AF function that recognizes and focuses on your subject's eyes. You can also specify a distance range within which the AF system will operate, and have five-step control over the speed with which the A77 II will react to sudden changes in focus distance.
Click to read detailed technical information!
Sony A77 II Conclusion
A well-rounded APS-C DSLR that gets most things right
The Sony A77 II provides an upgrade pretty much across the board compared to the original "Mark I" model, especially with regards to the sensor, image processor and autofocus system. Other tweaks and improvements include an improved EVF, higher-res multi-angled rear LCD and built-in Wi-Fi & NFC.
With regards to the APS-C sensor, the A77 II keeps the same 24-megapixel resolution as the original A77, but the Mark II borrows the updated, well-regarded version from the Sony A6000. Coupled with a faster BIONZ X image processor, the newer model has a wider ISO range up to ISO 25,600. In our testing, we found the image quality is excellent at lower ISOs, displaying a noticeable improvement over its predecessor. High ISO image quality is also visibly improved especially if you shoot RAW, however we felt the default high ISO noise reduction applied to in-camera JPEGs is still too heavy-handed.
In the Box
The Sony A77 II retail kit w/16-50mm f/2.8 package (as reviewed) contains the following items:
- Sony Alpha a77 II DSLR Body
- 16-50mm f/2.8 DT SSM Zoom Lens
- NP-FM500H InfoLithium Battery (7.2V, 1650mAh)
- BC-VM10 Battery Charger
- ALC-B55 Body Cap
- Shoulder Strap
- Accessory Shoe Cap
- Eyepiece Cup
- Micro USB cable
- Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. 16GB Class 10 should be a minimum.
- Extra battery pack NP-FM500H (~US$42.95)
- Sony Vertical Battery Grip for Alpha SLT-A77 Camera (~US$298)
- Sony external flash (~US$150-US$550)
- Large DSLR bag