Preview: Sony Alpha SLT-A77


Design and Handling

Top of Camera

 

On the left of the top plate sits the mode dial. The 12fps burst mode has its own position on the dial, separated from the Drive mode menu. For Auto+ mode, in the menu, you can turn off the option for the camera to automatically switch to continuous shooting, as well as have it save all the images instead of just one. Notice the silver built-in stereo microphone behind the popup flash. Sony says lens drive noise is effectively suppressed by a new noise reduction algorithm.

 

Despite the plethora of buttons, the A77 manages to squeeze in a small LCD status panel (with a cinnabar color backlight) at the top of the camera. Most of the key shooting settings such as ISO, white balance, drive mode and AE lock are within reach of either the thumb or index finger. The rear control dial and the AF/MF button (for quickly switching from auto to manual focus) also made a return on this mid-range, enthusiast camera.

 

Body Elements

 

The front and back of the A77 are made of magnesium alloy.

The shutter is rated at 150,000 releases and offers a top speed of 1/8000 second and a flash sync speed of 1/250 second.

By default, the A77 uses an electronic front curtain shutter; Sony claims a release time lag of about 0.05 second, as well as lower shutter noise and vibration. The mechanical front curtain shutter can be activated via the menu.

As usual, the A77 features Sony's sensor-shift, SteadyShot Inside image stabilization system to reduce image blur due to camera shake. Sony claims a 2.5 to 4.5 stop advantage.

The A77's built-in flash has a guide number of 12; a manual mode lets you set the intensity from full power to 1/16. In wireless flash mode, it can be used to trigger off-board flash guns.

The A77 has an LED AF illuminator (the one in red) and a remote control sensor on the grip. The aperture preview button near the bottom can be programmed to instead show a preview of the shot. This allows you to additionally see the effects of the selected shutter speed and the Dynamic Range Optimizer setting.

Unlike the A700/A850/A900, the A77 doesn't accept CompactFlash cards. The single memory slot fits either an SD card or a Memory Stick.

We're nitpicking here: The rubber that wraps around the grip and extends to the rear doesn't actually cover the card slot door. Instead, the plastic door has a printed texture. At a glance, you wouldn't notice.

Under the rubber covers on the left of the A77 are a flash sync terminal, a remote terminal, a DC IN port, a microphone jack, a USB port, and an HDMI terminal.

The A77 has a built-in GPS receiver to let you tag photos with location data. You can view the locations on a map by using the bundled PMB software on a PC, or on a Bravia TV that has a Photo Map function.

The A77 has gone back to using the NP-FM500H battery (11.8Wh) that first appeared with the A700. It's rated for about 470 shots with the EVF and 530 shots with the LCD monitor (using the CIPA standard). Movie recording duration is rated at 185 minutes.
The optional VG-C77AM vertical grip fits two NP-FM500H batteries, and touts dust and moisture resistance at the same level as the camera body. Sadly, due to the size difference, it can't be used on the A65.
Buttons and dials on the A77 are sealed to prevent water and dust entry. Measures are also taken to increase the dust and moisture resistance level of the new DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM lens, VG-C77AM vertical grip and HVL-F43AM (announced in April). That being said, this doesn't mean that they're dust and waterproof.