I wanted to check out the new Translucent mirror technology.

Here is my full review of the Sony Alpha SLT-A77V. I wanted to look at this camera because I like that Sony is willing to take risks and innovate with things like the translucent mirror. I hope Sony does well with this camera so they can keep Canon and Nikon on their toes a bit more.

I am reviewing this camera with the 1.03 firmware. One day after I finished this review the v1.04 version firmware came out.

  • It has one of the largest APS-C sensors
  • Same price range as Canon 7D.
  • Translucent mirror, fixed, some light gets reflected up and the rest passes through to the sensor.
  • Might for serious hobbyist, semi pro, it is weather sealed, magnesium body.
  • In camera stabilization.
  • 24.3meg pixel
  • 19 point AF system with 11 cross type points
  • 12fps stills.
  • How does this compare to the NEX5, I am not sure but check out Caleb Pike’s review I am sure he will compare them, since he has both right now.
  • It has other features like an in camera HDR mode, test shot shown below.
  • GPS works, sometimes you have to wait a very long time before it turns on check out the photo below, it was off by about 30 feet.

Things I don’t like

  • AGC can’t be turned off. It is a very subtle AGC compared to the Canon’s.
  • Don’t try to shoot video on video mode, use manual stills mode you get a ton more control over there.
  • It keeps settings like WB, aperture, ISO, picture style! It does have memory settings, but that is not cool.
  • Laggy in the controls, just move the shutter and wait 1/3 of a second to catch up.
  • Can’t go higher than ISO 1600 in movie mode! I compared the A77 to the Canon T2i at 1600 and as you can see A77 has a bit more noise in the blacks.
  • I like you can do 60fps at a full 1080. Not even the new $20k C300 can do that. It does not behave well within Premiere Pro preview window, it jumps and it does not conform down to 60->24fps well at all, not smooth.
  • I can’t get it to work with an 18% card, if I set exposure to 18% gray it makes the exposure too bright by 2/3 of a stop. As you can see here I keep having to turn it down to match what I had on the T2i.
  • The processor in this thing must be slow or not programmed well because it is really laggy to the point where it is really frustrating when ending a recording – wait, and then play – wait.
  • Using the electronic view finder in bright outdoor conditions. It is true that the view finder has so many pixels that you can’t see them and it might be the best EVF out there, but you can see the noise in low light conditions. When you have blown out highlights in the view finder they can change to a magenta color.
  • Lack of lens selection. The 16-50 seems dull.
  • Minor issue it doesn’t recreate the jpg thumbnail image so it is hard to compare shots.
  • Can’t zoom in to check focus in movie mode, you need to use manual mode.
  • It keeps re-numbering the videos back to 00000.MTS each time even though I have it set to Series.
  • As Kai over at DigitalRev demonstrated it appears to have a 1/3 of a stop loss of light through mirror.
  • It was not hard to find out how bad the rolling shutter or jelly effect is.
  • I had a hard time trying to find aliasing, it took awhile to find some in the vent grill at the pool.
  • Having 12fps is cool but I can only spray for 18 stills before the buffer fills up.
  • It doesn’t have a clean 1080p HDMI output while recording. It is 1080p unlike my T2i which is 480p.

Things I like

  • Watch how it reacts very smoothly when on auto exposure, really smooth.
  • The tracking focus is cool! But it is not continuous, I tried it on the 50mm prime but someone told me it works better on the zoom kit lens, I tried that as well but it was not continuous either. But it does seem to be pretty fast.
  • I really like the grip.
  • Focus peaking, but it only works on certain types of surfaces.
  • AVCHD at 28mbps, not great but good
  • I like the flip screen for low shots and when I am filming myself.
  • The fast continuous auto focus might be great for someone coming from a camcorder background where every thing is in focus.

Sony A77 HDR and GPS (Click on the photo to see the map)

Sony A77 Auto HDR In Camera

Sony A77 Makes the blown out highlights of the water magenta in View Finder

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24 comments

  • Rolling shutter is a non-issue if you shoot at 50p / 60p. You should definitely test that out. I think there is some bug in 24p/25p mode. I dont have problem in Premiere Pro since I am using european version 25p/50p. But I hate sony’s decision not to include NTSC/PAL switch.

  • And in european version, I can shoot 50p and use it as 25p with no almost no rolling shutter. even better than canon cameras in that matter.

  • Hi Dave,

    Thank you very much for review 🙂 (I think it was fantastic and I plan to post it to sony uk facebook page as they claim they listen to users opinions – they did listen to one of my bug reports but did not to another ), new firmware really speeds the cameras responsiveness so I am sorry that they did not put it out sooner so that you could have tested it.

  • got some response back : Paul Genge : Hi Jan, thanks for your post. I just watched Dave’s video, and he makes some interesting comments. There are clearly some aspects that we need to address, 12:48 I have noted the requirement of MF check in movie setting mode and the recreation of a movie thumbnail 12:05, both are excellent feedback.

  • Fantastic review Dave, you have clearly outdone yourself. This is one of the best reviews I’ve ever seen. I love the real world examples, because the lab test are often meaningless. Keep up the amazing work! Is the Canon C300 next? 😉

  • @jan thanks for sharing that on Facebook.

    @mike that would be cool to review the c300.

    @rizqi I finished my review with the most current firmware, the next day they updated it.

  • Hi Dave, first off thanks for the review but I feel I need to make some comments:
    – I find a few of your points rather directed to user issues and perhaps not giving yourself enough time with the camera? As with any brand switching it will take time to get use to the different system and once you do switching back can be a challenge again.
    – Things such as Lagy controllers should perhaps be edited as they have been vastly improved in the new firmware and should not take long to confirm by any means.
    – Lack of lens selection I would recommend you take a look at the line up and road map I don’t believe it’s a valid argument any longer. Also compared to the canon kit lens I think it’s rather superior?
    – Video in the canon is better than Sony? (I must be comparing different camera’s perhaps as reviews/samples I’ve seen so far I’m leaning towards the A77 for my next purchase, and NO I’m not a Sony lover I currently have the Canon 550D)
    – Burst mode sure can be improved and increased but when you do burst photography how often do you ever need more than 12 frames? Looking at my shooting even with sports when I use burst modes I tend to take a few during the action wait for the next moment take a few more..etc.etc. I personally have never had to hold my finger down on the shutter but always control it? Perhaps it’s just my style but I can’t see this being an issue (also from what I’ve seen get a decent 95MB/s card and the buffer clears really fast)
    – EVF you can see noise in low light however from what I’ve read (I still need to confirm this for myself) but people claim you can see more in low light with the EVF than you can with an OVF even if it has ‘noise’ at least it’s usable and you still get an idea what the picture will look like, no?

    I understand you like the Canons, I have one myself (sure it’s a lower end one) but I do like to look to give equipment a bit more of a fair chance, I’m by no means brand loyal and I agree the A77 is also by no meant perfect but I think it’s a better offering for my needs than the Canon at the moment so it’s can’t be all that bad… Look forward to your next Canon review in this same range as I think it will be an interesting one!

  • @John thanks for your comments. I had the camera for a full month and I had to give it back the day the new firmware came out. Even with a full month it was not enough time because like you said it is a whole new camera to me since I am not at all familiar with the Sony line.

    I have a feeling that Caleb Pike will have a better review than mine since he seemed to take to that camera much faster than I did.

    Sorry I am just an amateur. Also you might like DigitalRev’s review as well.

  • Thanks for this usefully review Dave. One thing I cannot agree with you though is your comment about lenses. Look at 2470 Zeiss, beating best Canikon lenses in most reviews, 70400, 70200, 300g, 1635zeiss, and the g series. You are well covered for any focal lenght with best glass avail out there. As to the kit lens…isn’t it one of better kit lenses avail? I mean kit lenses are dull by default, but this one is a constant 2.8 for 600 bucks.

  • A77 (and A65) no longer have inbody IS for video mode. These cameras still have inbody IS in still photography mode, but in video mode they use electronic stabilization.

  • Dave, I suggest to check Dpreview.com for ANY reviews really worth to be read. DigitalRev reviews contain mostly jokes and rubbish and I won’t suggest watching them to anyone.
    By the way, you can use with any Sony DSLR camera Minolta lenses dating back to 1980s, so the choice is as good as for Canon and Nikon. The system contains some special lenses that Canon and Nikon never had, including 135mm Smooth Trans Focus and 500mm AF Reflex. You should not talk about Sony lenses unless you read Dyxum.com. Many people that changed their film Minolta bodies to Canon DSLR still complain they cannot use their favourite glass.

  • Hey, thanks for the review! Very nice.
    I gotta point out a thing or two though, Sony bought out Minolta, so as far as lens selection goes, there’s MOUNTAINS of glass to pick from, and once you throw some third party glass like Tamron and Sigma, you’ve got well over 300 AF lenses to pick from. 🙂 Some really cool stuff!

    I was gonna mention the firmware update, but someone already beat me to it lol

    Also, a huge misconception that I’ve noticed all over the internet, the light loss from the mirror doesn’t actually affect the image, as the sensor has been calibrated for it. when shooting at ISO 100, it’s *actually* more like ISO 130, to make up for it. but the final product will read ISO 100, as that’s it’s final products equivalent exposure. So, on DigitalRev, in flipping the mirror up on the sony, he was actually shooting 1/3rd MORE light than a standard DSLR.

    I’m a little bummed by the low light performance though.. 🙁 I wish Sony would forget about the megapixel race. As far as 24 megapixels shoved into a crop sensor goes, it performs way better than I expected, but still, I’d much prefer low light capabilities over resolution. using this sensors technologies but spaced out over 16mp would have been AWESOME.

    The delay with switching to the EVF, although can be laggy, it IS faster than going from live view to OVF on any other camera. Doing that on any other body requires the flipping of a switch, and then even more lag for it to actually drop the mirror. The Sony A55 has the same EVF glitch, however it DOES have a longer proximity sensor, which is a bit of a pain as when shooting from the hip, anything getting infront of it, either the camera strap, thumb, whatever, will turn off the screen, rendering me shooting blind lol
    I usually just set the EVF switching to manual, so you can toggle between EVF and rear LCD. 🙂 It’s pretty comfy that way.

    Thanks for this great review, I can’t wait to try one of these things out first hand! and high fives for shooting it with the ol’ nifty fifty! still my favourite lens. <3
    Cheers!
    ~jesse

    @Bart: Though it IS one of the better kit lenses out there, it's still not deserving that price tag.. the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 for about 450$ stomps it, optically. However, it's not weather sealed, so I guess its a toss up lol

  • It’s not a objective and fair review in many aspects.
    The first thing is that it was based on firmware 1.03 which means many issues are already fixed in the meantime. That is important !

    The second thing is that there should be some more positive things to mention about that camera as can read in dpreview.com or whatever. the SLT principle comes witch many great new improvements. e.g. I love the best live view available with great and fast AF in Live View, Much faster than anything else available … and many more.

  • Oh come on guys, stop moaning !

    1. this kind of review will allways be subjective ( even the dpreview.com reviews are not 100% objective )

    2. if you replay it few times again and You try to be objective you will find plenty of valid things ( even sony rep. I’ve pased this video to addmited few improvement ideas )

    3. if you have never had sony camera before, you will struggle with it ( as I do struggle with my colleague’s canon and probably would struggle withnikon )

    4. he gives kudos to the things the deserve it (like gps )

    5. if you would like him to review a77 with 1.04 then lend him your own ( i actually would do that, but unfortunatelly i’m in europe ) and offer him advice

    Dave: Just occured to me. Are you comparing A77 to your T2i with canon firmware or with that magic lantern ( and if it is magic lantern, that should be stated explicitely )

    Jan

  • my sharpest lens in my Minolta 50mm. I got it used for $40. Those old 50mm lens are great for all brand.

    BTW, Sony isn’t “just getting started” with DLSRs.

    Thanks for the review.

  • Hello!
    I have a A77 😀 and I dont understand why in the Manual movie is not possible chosse auto- focus… Exist any software like magic lantern to A77?? If you can help I aprecieted! 😀

  • I think you did a wonderful job on the review.

    I am a Sony owner. I am looking at replacing my A700 with the A77. Your review helps me know some thing to look for.

    As for the Firmware updates. You cann’t keep reviewing every new update.

    Thank you for a great review and one that I personly enjoyed.

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