Digital Photography Review, perhaps the web’s most respected resource for all things digital photography, has just posted a full test of Sony’s A77 dSLR, The long-awaited (some may say long-overdue) replacement of the aging A700. Packed with high-end features but priced to suit amateurs, the A77 was marketed as the ultimate camera in its price range so, can the 77 live up to the hype?
Answer: yes and no.
Starting out with the good, DPR gives the camera a lot of praise for its advanced feature set (especially for its price range). These normally found in more expensive camera features include MKE A LIST. Another strength of the camera is its ergonomics as Sony designers were obviously thinking about real life shooting when laying out the controls and designing the body. Looking at some of the more recent dSLR innovations, the A77 is exceptionally good when it comes to the ‘viewfinder,’ a 2.4 million dot screen inside what used to be the prism chamber as well as class-leading video capabilities. Lastly, the A77 offers a 24Mp APS-C sensor, another class leading specification, and also the root of many of the camera’s problems.
First of all, squeezing 24Mp onto an APS-C sized sensor means for some really small pixels, which are not as effective at gathering light while preventing noise as larger ones. Result: the A77 is a noisy camera. By looking at the noise tests (page 14 of the review), one can see that the A77 lags behind the competition, showing noise in some color channels even at base ISO. Not good! Now, to offset the noise, Sony has implemented a rather strong anti-noise filter for JPG mode. Result: the grain is eliminated, but so are the fine details that the mega 24Mps are supposed to show. On the less vital side, there is some awkward menu navigation/mode changing involved, too.
Final opinion: According to DPR, the A77 is quite a camera, but one with an Achilles Heel: its noise levels. Ironically, what was used as the camera’s selling point is also its downfall and what, single-handedly prevented it from earning DPR’s coveted Gold Award. Still, there is a lot to like about the A77, but be warned about the picture quality, especially if you like to print huge photos or split pixels.
Want to buy the A77? Well, Cleveland-based Dodd Camera (along with its many Cleveland metro area stores) is the place to go in Northeast Ohio.
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