SONY AL­PHA A77

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

Sony, $1899 sony.com.au ★★★★

CAM­ERAS make a lot of prom­ises. Barely a week passes with­out a new shooter pledg­ing to be the light­est, slimmest, fastest or great­est.

But Sony’s new ‘‘ pro­sumer’’ cam­era makes prom­ises its body can cash. When this cam­era says it has the ‘‘ world’s fastest con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed’’, you can be­lieve it.

This cam­era re­ally does shoot 12 full-size pho­tos ev­ery sec­ond, mak­ing a sat­is­fy­ingly pro­fes­sional shut­ter noise and fill­ing your mem­ory card with im­ages as fast as you can say, ‘‘ Would you like a new hard drive with that?’’

To re­ally test it, Switched On took this cam­era to the Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix, point­ing it at ridicu­lously fast For­mula One cars and even a night-time Rick Ast­ley per­for­mance.

In both in­stances, the Al­pha A77 ex­celled.

This cam­era achieves its speed with two hard­ware ad­di­tions: a pow­er­ful new Bionz im­age pro­ces­sor and, more im­por­tantly, Sin­gle Lens Translu­cent (SLT) tech­nol­ogy.

As de­scribed above, the use of this see-through mir­ror lets this cam­era use the more ac­cu­rate phase-de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus tech­nol­ogy, al­low­ing it to de­liver sharper im­ages even in high-speed mode or when cap­tur­ing video.

In prac­tice, and with­out a fence in the way, this means you can con­fi­dently sweep the cam­era around a For­mula One track, car in your sights, and let the aut­o­fo­cus lock on to its body. Al­ter­na­tively, a Fo­cus Peak­ing mode will show you when the edges of your sub­ject are sharp in man­ual fo­cus mode.

The A77’s SLT tech­nol­ogy also works to de­liver sharp fo­cus when cap­tur­ing videos. Its abil­ity to record Bri­tish pop singer Ast­ley at a night-time per­for­mance proved im­pres­sive – for exam-

ple, as it sought out faces in low light­ing and con­tin­u­ally ad­justed fo­cus (bit.ly/nlxHku).

This cam­era’s high-speed 12 frames-a-sec­ond mode cap­tures pho­tos in their full 24.3- megapixel glory. A slower 8fps mode is avail­able for less de­mand­ing sit­u­a­tions.

Other bonuses in­clude a three-way tilt­ing LCD screen, a weath­er­proof body and kit lens, light sen­si­tiv­ity up to 16,000 ISO, GPS tag­ging and sen­sor-shift im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion.

In­vestors should be aware that they’ll have to trade off an op­ti­cal viewfinder to make use of the A77’s SLT tech­nol­ogy, how­ever, even though they will be trad­ing it for an ef­fec­tive, full-frame, OLED model.

Per­haps its big­gest fail­ing is that the pro­cess­ing buf­fer is quite small, which lim­its the num­ber of pho­tos you can take at full speed.

This Al­pha is a re­fresh­ing en­trant to the pro­sumer cam­era cat­e­gory, how­ever. JEN­NIFER DUD­LEY

NICHOLSON

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