Preview: Sony Alpha SLT-A77


Key Features

3-way Tilt/Swivel LCD

 

The A77 has a 3.0-inch, 921,600-dot LCD monitor. Sony is clearly trying to improve on the flexibility of the flip-down, tilt/swivel LCD found on the A65/55/33. While the latter is fully articulated, because it tilts downward, it's impossible to see the screen from the front when the camera is placed on a table or a tripod. Sony solves the problem by incorporating another plate to tilt the LCD upward. We've got to say, that's pretty clever.

 

With the new mechanism, the LCD can be tilted upward by 150 degrees. You can now mount the camera on a tripod and still do a self portrait. The swivel angle remains at 270 degrees.

 

XGA OLED Electronic Viewfinder

 

Both the A77 and A65 have a XGA, 2.36-million-dot OLED EVF. Sony claims that it has 10 times higher contrast than conventional EVFs. It has a diopter adjustment dial and an eyepiece sensor that controls the EVF/LCD switch and Eye-Start AF. It also has a high eye-point of 27mm.

The finder image is gorgeous: it's big, bright and very high-res. The color tearing issue that's plagued the A55/35/33 isn't present here.

A key advantage an EVF display has over an OVF one is the latter's ability to display vast amounts of shooting information (as much as the rear LCD monitor), making it possible to adjust settings without taking the eye off the viewfinder.

For example, effects (such as changes in exposure and white balance) can be previewed in real time, and focus can be checked and fine-tuned by enlarging a portion of the image.

You can decide the amount and type of information you want to see overlaying the image in the finder (a similar setting is available for the LCD).

For example, you can choose Display All Info. to show all the shooting parameters, Level to show the axis level gauge, or Histogram to show a histogram at the bottom right corner of the frame. 

 

Full HD Progressive Formats Video Recording

 

You can now record HD videos at 1920 x 1080/50p (60p for the NTSC model) with a maximum bit-rate of 28Mbps.

As with previous video recording-capable Alpha cameras, there are no convoluted steps to engage video recording mode; a dedicated red Movie button is located prominently to the right of the EVF. Press it to start recording, and again to stop.

Any of the P/A/S/M modes can be used for video recording. For aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual modes, you need to switch to manual focus. During manual focusing, the selected AF point will light up in green to signal that focus is achieved.

 

19-point AF System with 11 Cross-type Sensors

 

The SLT-A77 features a new 19-point AF system with 11 cross sensors (shown in purple in the image) and 8 linear ones. Especially under low light conditions, cross sensors are more sensitive and accurate, as they can detect both horizontal and vertical lines.

Four AF area modes are available: Wide (all 19 sensors), Spot (center sensor), Local (user selects any of the 19 sensors) and Zone (left, center or right zone). For Zone AF, only the sensors in the selected zone are used.
Tracking Focus allows you to lock on to your subject (press down the joystick, put the subject in the center of the frame, press the joystick again to confirm), track its movement and focus on it continuously across the 19 AF points.