Overall, the A77 delivers a solid noise profile for its class. On JPEGs, you can see just a hair of degradation on edges at ISO 800, but casually noticeable noise-suppression artifacts don't kick in until ISO 1600. JPEG artifacts are another story (see next slide).
Photo by: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET
/ Caption by:Lori Grunin
You can see how the combination of noise suppression and sharpening both mushes up and emphasizes detail on Grace's fur and eye, producing a slightly special-effect-type look.
(1/100 sec, f2.8, ISO 800, AWB, pattern metering, 16-50mm lens at 35mm)
Without any noise reduction applied (in Adobe Camera Raw), this is what the two cameras produce. I think the size of the "grain" is what determines the type of noise-reduction artifacts you'll see. When processed, however, the images look extremely close.
For the most part, the camera does a good job of sharpening JPEGs without going overboard, at least at the default settings. The lens is nicely sharp as well.
(1/160 sec, f5.6, ISO 200, AWB, pattern metering, 16-50mm lens at 50mm)
Just a few examples of the A77's color rendering. Some were shot using the default Standard Creative Style setting--the two shots of roses on the left and bottom right tuber--and the others using the Neutral option.
I really like the new 16-50mm lens; in addition to being able to be bright, fast, and able to focus fairly closely, it produces lovely out-of-focus highlights.
(1/80 sec, f2.8, ISO 100, AWB, spot metering, 16-50mm lens at 26mm)