Sony Alpha SLT-A77V review: Sony Alpha SLT-A77V


  Canon EOS 7D Nikon D300S Nikon D7000 Sony Alpha SLT-A65V Sony Alpha SLT-A77V
Sensor (effective resolution) 18-megapixel CMOS 12.3-megapixel CMOS 16.2-megapixel CMOS 24.3-megapixel Exmor HD CMOS 24.3-megapixel Exmor HD CMOS
22.3 x 14.9mm 23.6 x 15.8mm 23.6 x 15.6mm 23.5mm x 15.6mm 23.5mm x 15.6mm
Bit depth 14-bit 14-bit 14-bit n/a n/a
Focal-length multiplier 1.6x 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x 1.5x
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 6400/12,800 (expanded) ISO 100 (expanded)/ 200 - ISO 3200/6400 (expanded) ISO 100 (expanded)/ 200 - ISO 3200/6400 (expanded) ISO 100 - ISO 16,000 ISO 50 (expanded)/ 100 - ISO 16,000
Continuous shooting 8fps
94 JPEG/15 raw
7fps
100 JPEG/n/a raw
6fps
n/a
8fps (10fps with fixed exposure)
13 raw/17 JPEG
8fps (12fps with fixed exposure)
13 raw/14 JPEG
Viewfinder
magnification/ effective magnification
Optical
100% coverage
1.0x/0.63x
Optical
100% coverage
0.94x/0.63x
Optical
100% coverage
0.94x/0.63x
Electronic OLED
0.5 inch/2.36 million dots
100% coverage
1.09x/0.73x
Electronic OLED
0.5 inch/2.36 million dots
100% coverage
1.09x/0.73x
Autofocus 19-pt AF
all cross-type; center cross-type to f2.8
51-pt phase-detection AF
15 cross-type
51-pt phase-detection AF
15 cross-type
15-pt phase-detection
3 cross-type
19-pt phase-detection
11 cross-type
Shutter speed 1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync 1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync 1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync 1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/160 x-sync 1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 x-sync
Metering 63 zone 1,005-pixel 3D color matrix Metering II 1,005-pixel 3D color matrix Metering II 1,200 zone 1,200 zone
Image stabilization Optical Optical Optical Sensor shift Sensor shift
Video 1080/30p/ 25p/24p; H.264 QuickTime MOV 720/24p Motion JPEG AVI 1080/24p/25p H.264 QuickTime MOV AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1,440x1,080/30p @ 12Mbps AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4 1,440x1,080/30p @ 12Mbps
Manual aperture and shutter in video Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Audio Mono; mic input Mono; mic input Mono; mic input Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input
LCD size 3 inches fixed
920,000 dots
3 inches fixed
921,000 dots
3 inches fixed
921,000 dots
3 inches articulated
921,600 dots
3 inches articulated
921,600 dots
Wireless flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Memory slots SDXC x 1 CF x 1, SDHC x 1 SDXC x 2 SDXC x 1 SDXC x 1
Battery life (CIPA rating) 640 shots 950 shots 1,050 shots 510 shots 470 shots
Dimensions (inches, WHD) 5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 5.2 x 4.2 x 3.0 5.3 x 3.9 x 3.3 5.8 x 4.1 x 3.3
Body operating weight (ounces) 29.8 34.2 27.3 22 (est.) 25.9
Mfr. price $1,699 (body only) $1,699.95 (body only) $1,199.95 (body only) $899.99 (body only) $1,399.99 (body only)
n/a $1,699.95 (est street, with 18-200mm lens) $1,499.95 (with 18-105mm lens) $999.99 (with 18-55mm lens) $1,999.99 (with 16-50mm lens)
n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Ship date October 2009 August 2009 October 2010 October 2011 October 2011

Though it's actually lighter than its competitors, the A77V is still a relatively heavy camera, especially when equipped with the also-heavy 16-50mm lens. It's sturdily built: the body is dust- and weather-resistant, with a magnesium alloy chassis and a competitive 150,000-cycle rating for the shutter.

As per Sony's usual design, the mode dial sits on the left shoulder. It has the usual selection of manual, semimanual, and automatic modes, plus a Memory Recall (MR) mode that holds three custom settings; dedicated movie mode, which allows manual adjustment of aperture and shutter speed; Continuous Advance Priority autoexposure mode, which fixes the exposure for a 12fps burst; and Sweep and 3D Sweep Panorama.

On the top right are direct-access controls for ISO sensitivity, exposure compensation, white balance, and burst modes, plus a somewhat awkwardly placed button for switching manually between the EVF and LCD. In the center are the excellent built-in stereo microphone and hot shoe. The shutter button has a soft, but not mushy, feel and it's easy to get used to the smoothness of no reflex mirror bouncing while you shoot. Almost of the back controls are reachable via your right thumb. The most important ones--AF/MF override, AE lock, movie record, quick adjustment menu access (Fn), and the navigation joystick--are positioned for easy reach without contortions. Ports and connectors include flash sync and wired remote terminals, a mic jack, and HDMI and USB.

Maybe it's my lack of gaming experience, but I find most joystick navigation controls on cameras awkward and imprecise to use. I've gotten used to them on some cameras, but I never really enjoy using them. The A77V's is no exception. That said, it's functional and I didn't find it excessively profanity-inducing. The placement of the preview button, just below the lens on the right side, is curseworthly, however. I accidentally press it on a regular basis, not while I'm shooting, but while I'm just holding the camera at my side. The focus-mode dial offers manual, single, continuous, and automatic AF options; it's large and prominently placed on the front left of the body, but difficult to operate without looking at it.

I have a love/less-love relationship with the EVF and LCD. The EVF is delightfully large and magnified compared with its dSLR competitors, and this type of electronic-level readout is the most effective I've ever used. It refreshes fast enough for comfortable continuous shooting as well. For the LCD, Sony created a fairly complex mechanism to enable its LCD to tilt as well as swivel. It's really useful, though I can never get it into the position I want quickly because of all the different twists and turns.

However, the OLED screens are almost too good. While the technology makes for great TVs because of the super blacks, they make every scene look higher-contrast than it is and saturate the colors almost surrealistically. Plus, the EVF and LCD don't match each other. We're getting to the point where we really need some gamma and color controls, plus possibly calibration tools, for the displays.

As for features, Sony doesn't provide lots of bells and whistles--the GPS for geotagging is probably the whizziest, along with the ability to register up to eight faces for face recognition--but it has an excellent, subtle set of useful capabilities. For instance, you can perform exposure bracketing in either a continuous burst or shot-by-shot, with up to a five-shot bracket. It offers +/- 5 stops of exposure compensation, as well as Sony's three-shot Auto HDR. For manual focusing it supplies peaking.

Conclusion
It's got some annoying quirks and feature lapses, but the Sony Alpha SLT-A77V is a fast, fluid, fun-to-shoot camera that delivers excellent photos and better-than-competing-dSLR video.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
JPEG shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim light)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon EOS 7D
0.2 
0.4 
0.3 
0.5 
0.3 
Nikon D7000
0.0 
0.6 
0.5 
0.5 
0.3 
Sony Alpha SLT-A77V
0.5 
0.6 
0.6 
0.6 
0.3 
Nikon D300s
0.3 
0.5 
0.4 
0.7 
0.3 
Sony Alpha SLT-A55
0.5 
0.7 
0.6 
0.7 
0.3 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Sony Alpha SLT-A77V
8.5 

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Nov 1, 2011
  • Digital camera type SLR
  • Optical Sensor Type Exmor APS HD CMOS
  • Sensor Resolution 24.3 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (SteadyShot INSIDE)
  • Optical Sensor Size 15.6 x 23.5mm