PUSHING THE LIMIT WITH THE SONY ALPHA 77 II
SONY ALPHA 77 II
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.