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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Big and sturdy

Top controls

Back controls

Transformer-like LCD

Ports and connectors

Focus modes

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. The built-in flash is one of the better implementations I've seen; though it seems to overexpose by default, it delivers even coverage.

One of the few annoyances I have with the design is the placement of the preview button, which you can see just below the lens. I accidentally press it on a regular basis.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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 is the excellent built-in stereo microphone and hot shoe.

Zoom photo.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
On the back, almost of the 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 contortion.

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 A77's is no exception.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Ports and connectors include flash sync and wired remote terminals, mic jack, and HDMI and USB.

Zoom image.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The focus-mode dial offers manual, single, continuous, and automatic AF options; it's large and prominently placed, but difficult to operate without looking at it.

Zoom image.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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