At the top end of Sony's SLT camera range sits the A77, oozing "semi-professional" vibes from every one of its magnesium-alloy and plastic pores.
Design and features
Sony's strength in the camera arena has long been adding a range of class-leading features that leave the other manufacturers scratching their heads. The A77 is no exception in this regard, being one of the first high-end cameras to have a GPS locator built in to automatically tag images.
The innovation isn't just limited to geotagging; there's also a 3-inch flip-down LCD screen, resplendent with a 921,000-dot resolution. Given that this camera uses translucent mirror technology (for more on this, see our review of the), there's an electronic, rather than optical, viewfinder. It's an OLED version with XGA resolution, and provides 100 per cent frame coverage.
The body itself also feels particularly pro-like, with chunky grips flanking a myriad of dials and buttons. A small joystick at the back helps you to navigate the menus, while there is a front and rear scroll wheel for adjusting exposure values and other options in manual modes. A dual-axis level gauge helps orient shots either through the viewfinder or on the LCD screen. The body is weather and dust sealed.
At the top of the camera is a display panel that shows all of the key data, so you don't have to look at the LCD screen: shutter, aperture, ISO and so on. The mode dial looks just like that found on the A65, the companion camera to the A77 with a few less features. Full PASM control is supplied, as well as two automatic modes, sweep panorama in 2D and 3D, scene modes and movie modes.
The A77 has the same picture modes as those found on a range of other Sony cameras, such as monochrome, toy camera and partial colour to name a few. Aspect ratios are limited to 3:2 (at full resolution) and 16:9. Like all other Sony SLT cameras, the A77 features in-body image stabilisation, meaning that any lens mounted on the front (including old Minolta lenses) is stabilised.
The A77 has a range of artistic filters that produce the same effects as those on other Sony cameras like the
There are more than enough connectivity options to keep just about anyone happy, from remote port to an external mic port to mini-HDMI and a remote port.
|Sony Alpha SLT-A77||Canon EOS 7D|
|12.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor||24-megapixel Exmor APS-C sensor||18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor|
|51-point AF, 15 cross-type||19-point AF, 11 cross-type||19-point AF, all cross-type|
|3-inch fixed||3-inch, flip-down||3-inch fixed|
|Full HD video (1080p)||Full HD video (1080p)||HD video (720p)|
|800 shots battery||470 shots battery||950 shots battery|
General shooting metrics (in FPS)
- Time to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- 0.30.20.1Nikon D7000
- 0.20.40.3Canon EOS 7D
- 0.30.50.3Nikon D300s
- 220.127.116.11Sony Alpha SLT-A77
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed
- 12Sony Alpha SLT-A77
- 7.3Canon EOS 7D
- 6.8Nikon D300s
- 6Nikon D7000
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The A77 slows down to process shots after the initial 12-frames burst, but still continues to take full-resolution shots at approximately two frames per second thereafter.
Thanks to the resource-intensive features, like the EVF and GPS, the battery of the A77 does tend to drain a lot more quickly than other SLRs. We found that when fully charged, the A77 averaged around 150 shots and 10 short HD videos before the battery was three-quarters empty. Like the A65 before it, the A77 lags just a tad in menu selections and when waking up from sleep modes. It's something that can hopefully be resolved by a simple firmware upgrade in the future.