Sony Alpha 77, a Close Encounter

I was out having dinner with a group of cool friends. Everything was fine until a Sony Alpha 77 popped out of Jack's camera bag. Then I realize my saliva was dripping all over not because of the food, but for obvious camera lust.

The Sony Alpha 77 is a beast. The electronic viewfinder is fluid, and very clear. At 2.4 million dots resolution, and very high refresh rate, I must say it was rather astonishing. The autofocus was very fast, though we were in a dimly lit Old Town Cafe, and the high ISO shooting performance up to ISO1600, tested and previewed on location was rather impressive. Overall handling of Alpha 77 was very good, the grip was substantial enough for good balance even with larger lenses (there was a Minolta 70-200mm F4 AF lens), and the weight of the body was lighter than my own Olympus E-5. Oh my did you see how the LCD monitor screen can tilt and turn? This camera is truly an interesting package, showing how ambitious and how forward thinking Sony truly is. Just a brief encounter with this latest camera from Sony can tell you why Sony has had a strong history and steady footing when it comes to electronics market and branding. Their innovation is unquestionable, and they know how to push the right buttons on the consumer demands.

All images (unless otherwise mentioned) was taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 25mm F2.8 pancake lens.

The design, appearance and look of the camera, very sexy. Yes, I said sexy !!

Check out the tilt screen, interesting !!! Say hi to Jack !!

Yap, an avid Olympus PEN user,  giving the Alpha 77 a go.

The live view is brilliant !! Sony AF on the Live View, as fast as any phase-detect AF on advanced DSLR.

I like the size and balance of the camera, perhaps some will complain its too hefty and bulky, but hey, if size and weight are your concerns, there are NEX series for your consideration.
Don't expect durian trees to give you rambutans !!

My dinner at Old Town Cafe, some spicy chicken chop rice and side dishes. I did say I will take more food photos right? Working on it, really.

Jack, the proud owner of the A77, thanks mate for letting me molest your gear !! In case you guys did not notice, he is the same dude who appeared in my Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 Lens Review Part 2 (click).

Photo of me and E-5, taken with the new Sony Alpha 77 !!

I have not brought home any image samples for my scrutiny and side by side comparison with any other image files, but hey, lets not go too far from here. Again, this was a very short encounter with the Alpha 77, and I am glad Jack was kind enough to let me molest his new baby this much. I will only write full user experience review if I have had a full-on shooting session with the camera, at least for half a day walk on the street. Nonetheless, I do admit my first impressions on this Sony was a hell lot better than initial expectations. To say I was impressed was an understatement.

Perhaps by mere luck I will have a chance to truly try this camera out and write more about it.

Any of you beautiful people own a Sony A77? Or any Sony system users (old alpha DSLR lines or current NEX mirrorless series) Do share some thoughts !! I would love to hear from you.


  1. Hi Robin, thanks for the sexy shot of a77 :)

    I'm 3 years Sony a200 user and looking for upgrade recently. Have to agree that Sony is an very innovative company to come out with this SLT idea.

    If by any chance you can do the review on this beast, I'd love to see how will you rate the image quality of the JPEG at high ISO shot such as 3200 and 6400 compare to Olympus 4/3 system. I know E-5 may not be the low light king but it has the best JPEG engine I've seen so far. However, I find the noise pattern of E-5 looks great to me. A real life example that you shoot shall give a better idea whether the image quality is usable when scaled down to 12MP or not.

    Example shot (high ISO JPEG) posted so far that I've seen smeared. I expect a semi-pro camera like a77 shot would be able to perform at least up to ISO 6400.

    Just to clarify that I'm neither high ISO freak nor pixel peeper but I do love to have a low light capable machine. I'm sure it'll come into handy when important assignment such as wedding always encounter low light situation.

  2. The Sony lens attached to the alpha 77 sure looks like Minolta lens of the past. But its not a surprise since Sony acquired Minolta some time ago and all their alpha lineup has been base on Minolta Dynax/Alpha series.

    It sure is nostalgic since i was previously an avid Minolta fan and user.

  3. hello js chong,
    glad to find a sony user such as yourself!! I almost purchased the a200 as my first dslr, the reason i went for olympus was because its cheaper.
    It would be great if i can bring the sexy a77 out for a spin on the streets. I cannot promise anything as the camera belongs to a friend, and its not so nice to just grab it off him and click merrily away. Im sure you wont want others to overuse your equipments especially when you just newly purchased it. But i will see what i can do.

  4. hello calex,
    yes thats a minolta lens in the photo!
    Do you still keep any of the minolta stuff?

  5. What a coincident, that time E-520 (E-420 no more stock) and a200 was the DSLRs on my top list. These 2 offered twin lens package and in the end I got myself a200 because it was cheaper. (RM2,099 v.s RM2,499)

    Regarding the test, totally understood. I'd say Jack is really kind to you and he let you molest his new sexy babe. Anyway, no technical test are required. I'm just curious how would a street photographer say about this tool.

    I'll hold my upgrade for now until there's improvement on the JPEG (maybe through firmware) or maybe until the next announcement of another SLT model.

    By the way, what do you think of the articulated screen? I think the design is pretty awkward. I find the side hinge (e.g: Olympus or Canon) work best for me.

  6. js chong,
    no promises but i will see what jack can do.
    About the screen i think it has videographer planned in mind. Photography wise you do not need to twist and turn so much.

  7. Ah, the A200 - for me, it just came out and but I had already researched the E-510 - I went up and down Megamall - the A200 had this in-body motor that would make the kit lens go zing, zing, whilst the E-510's kit lens had bigger focus ring and was quiet. Then I forgot about dioptre adjustment and thought the viewfinder on the A200 was not clear. So I went to E-510

    Robin, Sony makes bling that are really sexy to hold and to look at. That's what they do. However, if you look at their Carl Zeiss and then think of total cost, their stuff is not meant to be cheap and cheerful - if you have money, come and see us - kind of attitude.

    Olympus makes quietly workmanlike tools - the bling on the A77 looks marvellous but your E-5 is robust, magnesium body job, weather sealed, pro class camera. The A77 is a premium enthusiast and it's still not cheap.

    Sony has money and a predictable future, Oly is shivering financially and management wise at the moment, very sad.

  8. Hello Ananda,
    I know about the A200 motor AF thing !! It was annoyingly noisy and it kept rattling and whimpering around before locking on focus. Not exactly very good first impression using the camera.
    I understand Sony's stand, as a consumer oriented brand, and they are very sensitive towards what the overall market demands, hence they always tick all the right boxes. Olympus is more conservative, not necessarily a bad thing, but they are playing safe most of the time, not willing to venture too far out into the unknown.
    My faith and support never wavered for Olympus, even throughout all the current dramas happening in Japan. I honestly have enjoyed using Olympus all this time (my blog is the living testimony to that) and I hope they can go a lot further in the future.

  9. Hi Ananda,

    You're right most of it, but are you sure about the CZ "a" mount lens is much more expensive than Zuiko len$e$?

    I'm not familiar with Zuiko lens lines up but I know the workmanship of Zuiko lens are superb! Just now I try to compare CZ's Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm f2.8 with Zuiko's 14-35mm f2.0 Digital ED SWD on Shashinki it was tagged RM5,495 vs RM8,050! Zuiko 35-100mm f2.0 EZ Digital Zoom Lens also not cheap at RM8,490 and Zuiko 7-14mm f/4.0 E-ED at RM6,625. But it does worth the value! ;)

    Comparing those equivalent with CZ you may surprised that actually CZ wasn't that "expen$ive" anyway... :D

    @Robin, probably the zing* zing* noise will scare off your macro subjects... :D Definitely not good for your macro photography works...

    P/S: I'm not here to start a "gear war", just some sharing of thoughts. :) Probably you can get cheaper lenses elsewhere that I do not know.

  10. js-chong,
    Dont worry, you wont start any war. Ananda is an excellent friend and photographer, so open discussion is encouraged. As long as everything is carried out in polite and orderly manner of course.
    I think most Olympus users will argue that F2 is a whole world of difference when you compare it with F2.8, and I must admit this to be very true. Being one stop (hmmm, I still cant get around the stop calculations right, I could be wrong) advantage would have cost a lot more.

  11. Thanks Robin,

    I'm not that good in calculation as well, but I think is one stop different too... :D But seriously, with the price ratio... ... argh.. just forget about it, I don't want to go into that numbers again... hahah... :D

    Anyway, Zuiko lens no doubt produces superb image quality. This I've seen on Brandon Eu's 7-14mm and 35-100mm, stunning I must say. And when he pulled out his E-3 + 35-100mm last time when I first met him at a fashion show, I dare to say that could be the most sexiest combination I've ever seen in my lifetime... :D

    Of course, not forgetting your almighty 50mm prime! ;)

  12. hello JS Chong,
    Oh my, you were in the Kuching fashion show, in the Spring? I was there too !! I got Brandon to come into the stage, by invite only.
    I sure think it should be the same one. I don't think we talked though !!

  13. Hi JS-Chong, Robin,

    Those Super Quality Zuikos - the 7-14 (I have by the way, it was a special age pressie to myself and I will not have that kind of justification of cash ever unless photography becomes pro-income for me), the 150mm f/2, the 35-100 f/2, the 14-whatever f/2 - the holy trinity of tuna - these are ALL very expensive high class lenses. Brandon will point out that you are paying so much, you need to pay so much because Four Thirds needs tuna for the shallow DOF and if you compare that to Nikon D700 full frame, the body is expensive and luxurious but you do not have to buy tuna.

    My point is,
    1. You don't have to go tuna for Oly unless you want "class". There is no shame shooting Oly DSLR kit lens - Robin shot that (until he got the 50-200, I still shoot both kit lens and yes, they are not the same class as tuna or CZ but there is no embarrasment shooting them.

    2. My perception, and sorry if this is wrong perception, Sony, Nikon, Canon guys would never be caught with kit lens the Canon guys always yearn for "L" and the Sony you know, CZ must be it. That's what I mean that Oly doesn't ask us amateurs to yearn for tuna or CZ, we can be happy with cheap lens.

    3. Due to familiarity with Oly DSLR, I can tell you the cheap and good lens. The two kit lens - small, light, sharp. The 9-18 - not the price of 7-14 but quite wide, short, light, small. The 35 macro.

    For the Sony, please tell me about cheap and good lenses that cover 18mm equivalent to 300mm equivalent that Sony guys would be proud to use.

    It would help if I ever change to A55/65 etc...

    And what about NEX lenses please.

  14. Hi AnandaSim, Thanks for the reply.

    Here're some recommendations which covered from the focal length 18-300mm:

    Sony SAL16-105mm AF DT f/3.5-5.6(D) @RM1,750
    This is the kit lens come with a700. The extra 2mm wide really come into handy as Sony's 1.5 crop factor give a real 24mm FX equivalent wide instead of 27.5mm at 18mm on APS-C.

    But if you have the budget, I recommend go for the new Sony a77 kit lens Sony SAL16-50mm f/2.8 SSM (D) @ RM2,650. It has constant aperture and best of all, it's splash proof which is not common in Sony lines up. (I know, Oly are expert in this. ^^)

    Sony SAL70-300mm G f/4.5-5.6 SSM @ RM2,695
    This one is FX compatible but slightly expensive.

    As for prime lens, this is the one that I MUST intro to you all the Sony 35mm f1.8 SAM (D) @ RM700. This is the cheapest and sharpest lens I ever had in terms of price ratio! (However, you still hear the *zing*) :D

    P/S: Price listed are from online store, actual street price might be cheaper (+/-RM100 or so)

    As for NEX system, the lens lines up are not that complete yet but the "E" system so far are quite impressive to me. The image quality is comparable to the SLT image! I'm considering to get one for my parents since they need a compact and versatile camera for their travel.

    But probably Olympus PEN E-P3 are much more user friendly in terms of its UI? Thanks for sharing.

  15. Thanks for the tips js-chong. 35mm prime for low price is nice idea.

  16. i thought sony A77 is using phase detection all the time due to their translucent technolgy, did they use contrast detection in their live view?

  17. I shoot with a E620 11-22mm and 50mm macro and love it.

    I have been thinking of upgrading cameras soon, but nothing from Olympus has interested me. The Sony A77 and 16-50mm is the only camera I have been considering.

    That is until the m43 EM5 was announced. Getting the 12-50mm kit, 48mm F1.8 lens, and a 14mm pancake could be a good option to the Sony A77 and 16-50mm.

    I plan on checking both out this summer. The EM5 is the first Olympus camera I'm excited about since my E620, and that makes me happy.

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