|α77 with 18-135 lens|
image by Kenneth Dwain Harrelson (Image rights)
The Sony α77 (SLT-A77) was introduced in late summer of 2011 as the new flagship of the Sony α system. It was announced one year before at the Photokina in Cologne as the coming 'advanced model' of Sony's special SLT system camera class.
The announcement caused worries in the community of α system camera owners. The first SLTs of 2010 didn't convince many α users since the people were used to have reliable DSLR bodies with optical reflex viewfinders for their α system lenses and their compatible older Minolta AF lenses and Konica Minolta AF lenses. Indeed Sony refused to introduce any new DSLR in 2011. Three SLTs were introduced instead, among them the α77, and an adapter to change a Sony NEX into an SLT for the α lenses.
The expectations were high since the early announcements of the coming products weren't detailed and the main communication was made thru an odd website called SonyAlphaRumours. Thus people began to believe the rumours that a camera with ISO light sensitivity 104.000 would be delivered as the advanced model, and a 3 Megapixel OLED EVF was expected to come with it.
Official communication resumed on Aug 24th 2011 when the camera was officially introduced thru the media. What people get since is a camera with "only" max. ISO 26.000 and only 2.3 Megapixel OLED viewfinder. Of course one of the first things checked by the community was the high-ISO capabilities. Images published in RAW-format were taken under the loupe. Result: Good raw images made with ISO setting upto 6.400 could be developed into nice JPEG images. Official tests by the photo press proved that the camera makes very proper images with ISO settings 400 to 1.600. That's unusual because other cameras give their best images with ISO settings 50 to 200. Thus the α77 seems to be a quite good camera for "available light" photography, but in normal high-ISO range instead of heavenly high-flying 100.000 ISOs or more.
More in focus of Sony's advertising was the frames per second rate of the camera. With its steady phase detection autofocus even in video mode the camera promised to be highly capable for shooting high-frequency image series. But with aeroplanes seen from the side the limit of a combination of EVF camera with tele lens seems to be reached ("plane-spotting").
|prototype shown mid-2011|
image by Howard Stanbury (Image rights)
Soon after its introduction some main distributors of the US delivered the camera. Accidentally Sony had started delivery too early, so that cameras were delivered with the firmware version 1.02 which still had beta-test quality. From Sep 30th 2011 the version 1.03 was available. Sony Canada even unpacked cameras from sealed original packages to update the firmware before delivery to avoid customer complaints.
The camera is produced in Thailand. Maybe the heavy rain falling there in 2011 hindered a faster delivery.
The camera is designed splashproof, as well as the new 16-50mm α zoom lens.
- Former topic 30464 A77-Tester in Mi-Fo.de about failing to shoot planes with EVF
- Test institutions say that in most cases image sensor/image processor combinations don't deliver 1:1 the number of sensor pixels as real image resolution. Testers have methods to measure the real image resolution.