SONY ALPHA SLT-A77
Being part of the Sony DI Challenge, we were bestowed with their current semi-professional DSLT, the Sony Alpha A-77. I previously mentioned in one of my challenge blog that I will make personal view about it and let all of you know the experience that I had. Many of us photographers always talks about the brands of Canon and Nikon, it is an endless debate that which among them is superior.
I started my study of the craft way back summer of 2009 and my first DSLR is a Canon and then made my crossover to Nikon after 3 years. So I can say that I had the feel of both system and I can at least make my assessment and comparison this time with Sony. I’m sporting the Alpha A-77 for a month now and most people who see me carrying it out around my neck would ask me, is Sony a good brand?? I’ll tell you my unbiased review with it.
The camera is powered by 24mp CMOS Sensor, currently the largest megapixel in the semi-pro level on the market to date. It brags a 12fps continuous shooting with 19 autofocus that makes them on top of other models. There are other good stuffs that you will find amusing like the 2.4M dot OLED viewfinder, Pull-out three-hinge tilt/swivel 920k dot LCD screen and built-in GPS to name a few. If you haven’t checked out the full specs of it, click here for more.
Let me begin with built of the A77, it has a chunky solid look but its exterior has a plastic feel on it. The grip handle is pretty good providing nice ergonomic on the unit that you will not feel it can slip out of your hand. The unit body looks patterned on a Nikon body (no pun intended) where you have two wheel dials, on the front and back where you can adjust your aperture and shutter speed respectively. The placement of their buttons is a bit confusing, a lot to toggle and familiarize, but getting the hang of it makes you realize that they made it all to ease up the burden of going into the menu button.
The pull-out three-hinge tilt/swivel 920k dot LCD screen is a gem because you can preview your photo anytime in an open area even the sun is shining at its brightest on the day. Unlike the conventional LCD screens where you need a dark cloth and go underneath it just to preview your shots. The tilt and swivel feature is a big help for the user to take top and bottom angle shots a breeze. The built in GPS is a nifty feature where you can embed the location of the photos you have taken, Thank you Sony for graciously including it and not having it as an external accessory.
Now I’ll talk about the image quality, having a 24mp sensor onboard its body does raise a question, did they excel? All I can say is that it gave me goose bumps when I took my first photo. The marriage of the 24mp CMOS sensor and the BIONZ processor chip gives out outstanding richness in colors and details. I can say that they even surpass their competitors at the semi-pro level in terms of image output quality because you can feel the pixel per pixel details of it. Comparing it with Canon where photos are having noticeable hue of redness and Nikon with yellow, the Alpha A-77 have a nice balance of hues and tone.
The technology of the translucent mirror made the focusing so accurate as if you’re a sniper locking a target on every subject you take, so you won’t worry to miss a shot. A dead-on tack sharp images on every click of the camera.
If you do sports photography then you’ll go “loco” with the 12 fps feature of it. Immediately you’ll notice the difference with a conventional DSLR were usual clunking sounds that you hear in the shutter mechanism and while the A77 was built with a translucent mirror make sounds so smoothly just like a .45 caliber pistol with a silencer. The camera literally shoots fast and can track its subject with accuracy thanks to its AF system. Imagine it as a high end mid level camera at par to those pro cameras with its speed.
I am done with the good part, now let’s turn our attention on the flaws that I observed while using it. During the presentation of Sony on our kick-off meeting, we learned that the camera functions 100% electronically. That time I had a doubt in my mind that it will consume the battery power faster. I was correct all along; the battery gives out more power because of 2.4M dot OLED electronic viewfinder unlike the conventional DSLR’s optical viewfinder which doesn’t need electricity to run. So it means that if the camera is turned off you can’t peep on the viewfinder because it will not work unless power is on.
The firmware has lag on its wheel dials; it doesn’t respond precisely every time you need to adjust things immediately, a delay of fraction of a second. If you’re going to ask me, is it a big deal? The answer is yes, for moments or events that you want to catch and you need to set a proper exposure, then probably you may miss it, unless you are going to photograph a non-moving subject then the delay will not matter. Photographers always looks for a responsiveness of their gears, they are like dancing partners doing a Tango or Rumba act, so the camera must correspond with its user accordingly. Sony I hope a firmware upgrade can give a remedy for this.
I am a confessed beauty and glamour photographer so most of my photos are being shot in the studio. I know that Alpha A-77 was purposely made for people in action (Sport photographers) but having a 24mp sensor I can’t resist trying it for my forte. I felt downhearted when I saw that Sony doesn’t have the standard ISO hot-shoe, that’s the bust of the deal right there. Most of photographers nowadays like to recreate lights whether indoor or outdoor shoots, without a chance to slide on a PW plus II transceiver it gave me a hard time hanging it on my wrist while connecting it through the sync port just to make it work on the studio light.
Lastly, OLED electronic viewfinder is counterproductive for studio use. The viewfinder turns pitch black due to the use of high number of apertures like, 8, 10 and 14 while compensating it with low level of ISO, an ordinary settings for a studio shoot. It is contradicting to the saying “what you see is what you get” you don’t see anything when you peek onto it, so you need to put the camera in a tripod, dial down the shutter until you can envision the subject, set your focus while dialing back to the set shutter speed then click. It is an agonizing experience for a studio shoot.
If you guys are an outgoing person who loves the outdoors then this camera is for you. Landscapers would love to have this on their arsenal because it really gives superb colors and details without the help of colored filters. This camera plays along with the ambient light very well and the GPS will be an advantage to embed the right coordinates of your shots.
Sports and nature enthusiast will embrace it with its high 12 fps and accurate focusing if they want to freeze their subject at its best. Pairing it up with a telephoto lens is a sure fire combo.
If you are a strobe person who likes to play with artificial lights, I don’t recommend it even you buy the additional stuffs you need to enable the trigger device of your lights. You’ll just have an excruciating experience with it.
My final verdict.
It is not an all around camera that you can use on every type of shoot but with it's performance it deserves to be on a high level along with its competitors. All cameras have their limitations and by careful research and knowing the strength of it will be beneficial to your advantage. This is still must have on the bag.
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