PUSH­ING THE LIMIT WITH THE SONY ALPHA 77 II

SONY ALPHA 77 II

HWM (Malaysia) - - APERTURE - by Bryan Chan

For many pho­tog­ra­phy en­thu­si­asts, there’s no need to pur­chase a full-frame dig­i­tal cam­era as there are nu­mer­ous flag­ship APS-C dig­i­tal cam­eras that of­fer image qual­ity that come re­ally close to that of full-frame cam­eras. In this re­view, we take a look at Sony’s Alpha 77 II (A77 II), which is the com­pany’s flag­ship DSLT cam­era with an APS-C sen­sor.

If you’re on the mar­ket for a pow­er­ful APS-C dig­i­tal cam­era that’s packed with fea­tures and of­fers great image qual­ity, then you may have heard of Sony’s orig­i­nal Alpha 77. This cam­era has a mag­ne­sium al­loy body, the abil­ity to shoot up to 12 frames per sec­ond in burst mode, of­fers 19 AF points and has a 24MP APS-C sen­sor. The only is­sue with this cam­era is that it’s three years old. While it’s still a solid choice for en­thu­si­asts, the A77 II makes for a bet­ter choice at this point in time.

The up­dated Alpha 77 II of­fers roughly the same fea­tures as its pre­de­ces­sor, ex­cept that it’s AF mod­ule has been up­dated, of­fer­ing a whop­ping 79 AF points! Apart from that, this cam­era also sports a new image pro­ces­sor, the BIONZ X. In terms of de­sign, both cam­eras are pretty much iden­ti­cal, save for the fo­cus as­sist lamp for A77 II, which is now in­te­grated into the built-in flash. Other no­table fea­tures of this cam­era in­clude built-in Wi-Fi and NFC func­tions.

In terms of us­abil­ity, there are plenty of phys­i­cal con­trols on this cam­era, so per­form­ing quick ad­just­ments is easy. Nav­i­gat­ing through this cam­era’s menu is also easy, thanks to a very re­spon­sive joy­stick. The one is­sue we have with this cam­era is its overly-sen­si­tive

shut­ter but­ton. On sev­eral oc­ca­sions, we ac­ci­den­tally took pho­tos when all we wanted to do was half-press the shut­ter but­ton to fo­cus.

As for the de­sign, we found the A77 II to have a very com­fort­able re­cessed grip. This makes the cam­era easy to hold and carry around for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time. By it­self, it weighs pretty much the same as its com­peti­tors, but slap on the very im­pres­sive SAL1650 lens and it be­comes a pretty heavy pack­age. Add a flash­gun, and you’d prob­a­bly be able to build some mus­cles car­ry­ing this kit around.

The SAL1650 lens is ac­tu­ally the kit lens that’s bun­dled with this cam­era. As its name sug­gests, it has a fo­cal length of 16 to 50mm, but more in­ter­est­ingly, it of­fers a con­stant aper­ture of f/2.8 through­out this range. With this lens, there’s lit­tle need to pur­chase any other lens as it can be used for vir­tu­ally any type of pho­tog­ra­phy.

To test this cam­era, we at­tached the SAL1650 and did a lit­tle walk­a­bout. We found that the AF per­for­mance is truly re­mark­able, as it was able to get a lock-on nearly in­stan­ta­neously, even in­doors. In terms of gen­eral per­for­mance, this cam­era gives per­for­mance that’s on par with any other flag­ship APS-C dig­i­tal cam­era, and to a cer­tain de­gree, out­per­forms them thanks to its burst mode, which shoots at up to 12 frames per sec­ond. Image qual­ity is solid, and as with any other cam­era, shoot­ing in RAW cap­tures slightly more de­tail.

For a bet­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the ISO per­for­mance of this cam­era, we once again headed to our cam­era test area and shot pic­tures through­out the ISO range. Based on what we’ve seen, the BIONZ X pro­ces­sor is mighty im­pres­sive – even at ISO 6,400, pic­tures are print­able with a good amount of de­tail re­tained, with noise level be­ing no­tice­able but not an eye sore. The high­est we’d push the cam­era is to ISO 8,000, but this would only be in sit­u­a­tions where flash­guns aren’t al­lowed. It’s best to keep ISO to about 4,000 for a good bal­ance be­tween de­tails and noise lev­els.

To sum it up, the Sony Alpha 77 II is a very im­pres­sive APS-C dig­i­tal cam­era, It’s re­spon­sive, easy to use, and has all the fea­tures you’d need if you’re an ad­vanced user. It’s also solidly built and the image qual­ity is in­cred­i­bly good. ISO per­for­mance is also re­mark­able, es­pe­cially if you’re us­ing the SAL1650 kit lens. In all re­gards, the Alpha 77 is a su­perb cam­era and should be on top of your buy­ing list if you’re up­grad­ing from an en­try-level DSLR, or look­ing for a se­condary body.

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