Photography / Hands-on Review

The New Sony alpha SLT-A77


With the introduction of the SLT-A77 and SLT-A65, Sony is making it perfectly clear they are proceeding full speed ahead with the fixed, translucent mirror technology cameras introduced last year. The top gun of the two new DSLRs is the Sony alpha SLT-A77, which in addition to a hefty, weather resistant, magnesium-alloy body, features an all-new 24.5MP APS-C CMOS sensor, making it the highest-resolution DSLR among APS-C format DSLRs.

In addition to watershed levels of resolving power, the A77 is also capable of firing off up to 12 full-resolution frames per second with shutter-lag times as short as 0.05-second, an ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 16,000, and is expandable to a slower ISO 50 and a high of ISO 25,600. The new camera’s 19-point /11 cross-sensor continuous phase detection autofocus system isn’t too shabby either, and it remains fully active in both Live mode and Movie mode in either a horizontal and vertical position.

The A77’s 2,359,000-dot (that’s two million, three hundred and fifty-nine thousand dots, folks!) OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF), which all but equals the clarity of optical viewing systems, pretty much shatters the (up till now) second-class status of EVFs. The A77’s dual-hinged, 3-way tilt/shift, 921,000-dot LCD is equally unique in its ability to be set in almost any position you need in order to view the action, which is an attribute that should greatly appeal to those who plan on shooting video with the A77.

In addition to being able to view 100% of the lens coverage on both the EVF and LCD, because the image is electronic, the image you see reflects any exposure or white balance changes you may apply to the image for true WYSIWYG viewing. Our only (minor) gripe with the camera’s viewing system was a small degree of blur (only in the camera’s EVF) when panning left or right, which according to Sony is a pre-production bug and will not be noticeable in final production cameras. Regardless, it wasn’t enough to spoil the experience of an otherwise bright and snappy viewing system.

In addition to stills (JPEG, RAW or JPEG+RAW), the SLT-A77 also captures HD video in a choice of truly smooth AVCHD 1080/60p, a standard 60i and a more cinematic 24p with full manual control over focus and exposure. As for the audio portion of your video capture, the A77 features stereo mics, albeit with zero manual overrides. Those wishing to go beyond these limitations will have to resort to an auxiliary stereo mic, which most videophiles will opt for regardless of how good the camera’s built-in sound system may be.

The Sony A77 has a serious, low-profile look about it and feels as solid as it looks. Included among the new camera’s physical features is a molded grip that affords the user a secure handle on the camera when shooting, as well as control dials with knurled, sure-grip rubber treads around their circumferences. There are also two command dials—one where your thumb rests and the other within easy reach of your index finger.

The left-hand side of the A77 is where all of the camera’s connection ports are located and they include ports for a remote control, DC-Power, a 3.5mm stereo mic and an HDMI port for playing back stills and video on compatible HDTVs.

Many of the unique imaging modes found in Sony’s first-generation SLT DSLRs have been carried over to the new camera, and several of them have been improved upon. Included among these features are Handheld Twilight mode; a six-layer HDR process that combines a half-dozen rapidly-captured, bracketed exposures and merges the best portions of each into a single, optimized (and noise-suppressed) image file; a 5-range (plus Auto) Dynamic Range Optimizer; and Sweep Panorama mode, which allows you to capture ultra-wide panoramic scenes by capturing 60-plus images into a single image that encompasses a field of view wider than 226°, in-camera, in a matter of seconds. In addition to standard panoramas, the A77 can also capture 3D Sweep Panorama images that can be played back in 3D on compatible HDTVs. And for times you just want to snap pictures, the A77 has an AUTO+ mode that allows you to simply point and shoot.

Other features found in the Sony alpha SLT-A77 include a built-in GPS unit; a 1200-Zone exposure metering system; Advanced Anti-Dust technologies; SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization, which allows for sharp low-light imaging; a built-in flash (GN12), an upgraded BIONZ image processor; 11 picture modes; dual memory card slots (Memory Stick PRO Duo/PRO-HG Duo and SD/SDHC/SDXC, Class 4 recommended); and up to 530 shots per battery charge.

The Sony alpha SLT-A77 is clearly intended to challenge the similarly-priced Canon EOS 60D and 7D, as well as Nikon’s D300s and D7000, and the camera certainly contains enough assets to make it a worthy consideration for anyone who might wish to purchase a camera of this caliber.


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Thast was the love of my life and I enjoyed it so much.  I used it in my art work and when I traveled. And then...a kid walked into my house and stole it.  It's an on going case and it hasn't been and probably never will so I give on up on that subject.  

However, I am now working on acquiring a new one and there seems to be plenty of possilities. Thank you, Sony. I won't have any other make. I even had a small Sony that I called my 'scram' camera. I always took it with me, you know, put it in the car and 'scram'.

My friend got ahold of one of the very few of these that were released in the U.S. before the flood in Thailand wiped out Sony's entire production run.  We've been using it on shoots for about a month now and it more than lives up to the hype.  He's been a professional photographer for 20 years and he says this is the first camera he's ever used that was like an extension of his hand since the very first film camera he learned on.

We shot two short videos with it and the video quality is great.  We also shot a video that was made up of jpeg stills shot on continous shooting mode, which I then rendered into mpeg format.

The auto focus is kind of amazing and VERY fast.  However, I've heard that the motors in the camera might be too much for older Minolta and compatible lenses and that overtime you might grind down the gears in them -- they're just not designed to stand up to the new autofocusing speeds this camera is capable of.  The new lens Sony came up with for the camera is amazing, though.  The gearing feels quite stiff because it has to deal with the new autofocus, but it produces remarkable images.  The word my friend heard is that Sony flew out some Zeiss guys to help develop the lens and set up the factory, so essentially it's a Zeiss designed lens produced exclusively by Sony

What type of lens mount this camera has??  Is it proprietary SONY?  (I hope not) How come I don't see this anywhere mentioned??

Can I have one?

I can not wait for the release of this camera ---well I guess I will. 

I love the spec's of this camera, but there's still a MAJOR problem with it..... and anyone who shoots with studio lights will HATE it!  Due to the electronic viewfinder, shooting on MANUAL with a remote trigger for studio lights will only display a dark image on the screen AND viewfinder.  It makes the camera useless for any serious studio work (senior pictures, portraits).

I've contacted Sony about this problem and their response is the same as it's been for the SLT55.... it's not going to work.

If you're ONLY shooting outside and/or NEVER plan on using studio strobes, then this camera rocks.  But, if you need flash (not on-camera), it's just a glorified point-n-shoot.

Unfortunately this is not true for th A55 also.  This is somewhat of a design flaw with their cameras.  The issue has existed with previous Alpha models, however before all of the TMT cameras there was an optical viewfinder one could work with.  Hopefully moving forward in future models they will alleviate this problem and make the cameras more studio friendly. 

Yes, at least that's my understanding is that it's been addressed with the A77.  I too purchased the A55 and had the same problem because I shoot a LOT of studio work.... I had to return the unit.

Before upgrading to the 77, I'd verify that you can indeed turn off the feature of wysiwyg.  Good luck!

Get David Busch's Sony SLT-A77 guide to digital photography. Anything you want to know about this camera is there. Yes, including how to use in the studio, page 100 live view display: setting effects ON, setting effects OFF and he tells us why the setting effects has to be off to use with studio strobes.

...there's been a lot of criticism of the 24 mega pixels,any one know why sony need 24 mega for and aps-c 


The folks at Nikon and Canon had better take a hard look at this new Sony camera!  I believe Sony is going to give them both a real run for the money, especially in the professional market.

Spectacular camera based on spec's but does the camera have a crop zoom mode like the GH-2 or a variable zoom mode like the T3i when shooting video.  With these specialized zoom modes there is no video quality reduction at all. These modes are so useful that I now consider them a must have option on all future cameras that I invest in, so its a no deal for me and perhaps many others interested in the video stage if the A77 doesn't have it.

Bravo Sony!  Now that some raw files are being leaked out (early jpegs looked poor) - the image quality looks fantastic.  So many features and ways to customize the a77.  Powerful camera for $1399.

Should be a big seller for them and a great way to showcase TMT while they continue development of Full Frame TMT.