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Sony Alpha A77 with 16-50mm lens review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1669
inc VAT

Packed with features and impressive strengths including a superb kit lens, but high noise levels and lethargic controls aren’t acceptable at this price


23.5×15.6mm 24.0-megapixel sensor, 3.1x zoom (24-75mm equivalent), 1.2kg

The A77 is Sony’s new top-of-the-range enthusiast SLR. It uses the same APS-C sensor size as entry-level SLRs rather than the full-frame sensors found in professional SLRs, but while we can’t expect the absolute highest image quality money can buy, it’s hard to imagine a camera with a better range of features.

There’s 12fps shooting with continuous autofocus, AVCHD video capture up to 1080/50p, sensor-based stabilisation, HDMI, microphone and flash sync sockets, built-in GPS, a digital spirit level and Sony’s usual collection of advanced shooting modes for capturing 3D panoramas, HDR photos and so on. Typically at this price, it’s bulkier and heavier than entry-level SLRs, but it is comfortable to hold and the magnesium alloy body is tougher than cheaper plastic bodies. It’s littered with controls, including dual command dials, lots of single-function buttons, a mini joystick that replaces the usual navigation pad and a top-mounted passive LCD screen for displaying settings. The main 3in screen is hinged at three points and can be positioned above or below the camera and pointed in virtually any direction.

Sony Alpha A77

The controls are generally well laid out, although we prefer the way the Nikon D7000‘s are designed for two-handed operation. Unfortunately, apart from the shutter release, the A77 took half a second to respond to button presses and dial adjustments. This is a big disappointment, undermining the benefit of having so many physical controls that should deliver quick operation. On a more positive note, there’s ample scope to customise camera settings, and we’re delighted that you can adjust the Auto ISO mode’s upper and lower limits – an extremely useful feature that’s notably absent from other Sony cameras.

Sony Alpha A77

Reviewing shots was awkward because photos, AVCHD videos and MPEG-4 videos are stored in separate folders which have to be selected separately – there’s no option to browse them all chronologically. This also made copying files off the card a little cumbersome, although that’s true of any AVCHD camera. However, we really didn’t like how deleting individual ACVHD files on a PC caused a playback error on the camera because it couldn’t find the file, but wiping the card on a PC caused another error when it was reinserted into the camera without the expected folder structure. Restoring these folders took about 15 seconds – a ridiculous amount of time – and often meant we missed a photo opportunity. It’s a common problem with all recent Sony cameras, and frankly, it’s really beginning to get on our nerves.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ***
CCD effective megapixels 24.0 megapixels
CCD size 23.5×15.6mm
Viewfinder electronic, 2.4 megapixels
Viewfinder magnification, coverage 1.09x, 100%
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 921,600 pixels
Articulated screen Yes
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 3.1x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 24-75mm
Image stabilisation optical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution 6,000×4,000
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 50fps
File formats JPEG, RAW; AVCHD, MPEG-4


Memory slot SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 470 shots
Connectivity USB, mini HDMI, microphone, DC in, flash sync, wired remote
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material magnesium alloy, plastic
Lens mount Sony Alpha
Focal length multiplier 1.5x
Kit lens model name Sony SAL1650
Accessories USB cable, lens hood, neck strap
Weight 1.2kg
Size 107x140x158mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £1,669

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 30 to 1/8,000 seconds
Aperture range f/2.8-22
ISO range (at full resolution) 50 to 16000
Exposure compensation +/-5 EV
White balance auto, 9 presets with fine tuning, 3 manual presets, custom
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction, lens compensation (shading, chromatic aberration, distortion), AF micro adjust, colour space
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 30cm
Auto-focus modes 19-point with face detection and tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, smile detect, HDR

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Reviews | DSLRs