Sony A77 II Review
|Full model name:||Sony Alpha ILCA-A77M2|
|Kit Lens:||3.13x zoom
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Dimensions:||5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in.
(143 x 104 x 81 mm)
|Weight:||47.9 oz (1,357 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Sony A77 II specifications|
Sony A77 II Review -- Now Shooting
by Mike Tomkins with Eamon Hickey
Preview posted 05/01/2014
If you've been watching Sony's ever-more-impressive mirrorless camera launches with concern, wondering whether the company's commitment to its Translucent Mirror camera line was wavering, you can worry no more. The Sony A77 II makes clear that the company is still pumping development dollars into its fast-focusing DSLR camera alternative. The A77 II debuts a brand-new, record-setting autofocus system, among quite a few other changes.
Design and controls. Externally, the 24-megapixel Sony Alpha ILCA-A77 II looks a lot like its predecessor. We got the chance to handle it briefly prior to launch, and quite liked its feel and handling. The body is little-changed from the earlier A77, and our sense of its handling mirrors what we wrote in our earlier review.
The A77 II is a bit bulkier than you might expect, but its grip shape, control placement, and tacky grip surface give it a very comfortable and secure feel. Construction of the weather-sealed body feels tight and solid, and the action of the buttons and dials is crisp and responsive. The most obvious difference from the earlier camera -- beyond the updated model number badge, of course -- is the absence of a dedicated autofocus assist / self-timer lamp. (More on that in a minute.)
There are also a couple more slight changes to the controls worthy of note. The Mode dial now has a locking button at its center like that of the Sony A99, and the previous In-Camera Guide button on the rear panel has been changed to serve instead as a Custom button. This brings the A77 II up to 11 customizable buttons, with 51 functions available for assignation to them.
Initial impressions. The Sony A77 II is not a small camera, but its shape and design is admirably functional. It's also undeniably swift. We got a feel for another of its upgrades in our hands-on time: a new, bigger buffer. There's no denying it: listening to a camera scream through 12 frames per second for a full 60 frames gives you a bit of a thrill!
We also tried panning around quickly, autofocusing on various targets with the Alpha A77 Mark II. As you'd expect given the serious AF chops of the original A77, single autofocus was super fast and decisive. But we'll have to try it out on some action subjects to really test the big upgrades in the Alpha A77 II's AF system.
Pricing and availability. Available from June 2014, the Sony A77 II will be priced at US$1,200 body-only, or US$1,800 with a Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM constant-aperture zoom lens. Both prices are US$200 below their equivalents for the Sony A77 when it first went on sale in October 2011.
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Sony A77 II Technical Info
Have a peak 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 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!
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.