Sony SLT-A77 In-depth Review
Like its predecessor the A55 the A77 is capable of recording full 1080p video, but new in this model is the ability to record at 60p. The new AVCHD 2.0 format is now compatible with the newest Blu-ray players, as well as many older players after a firmware update. The newest version of Sony's PMB software allows for lossless editing of your movies, and can write your 60p movies directly to a Blu-ray disc.
Full manual control of shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation is possible when shooting video but there are some restrictions. You can only take manual exposure control in the A77's dedicated movie exposure mode (found on the main exposure mode dial), and this is incompatible with AF. If you want to take advantage of the A77's full-time AF during video, you'll have to shoot in program AE mode, at which point the camera will not select an aperture smaller than the lens's maximum (or f/3.5, in lenses with a maximum aperture of greater than f/4). This simply reflects the fact that the AF system will stop working properly if the aperture is set smaller than f/5.6.
Pressing the Movie button when shooting in one of the PASM modes on the A77 will begin recording video in program AE mode, with AF operating continuously. AF can be locked using the AEL button (assuming it is so assigned in the custom menu), while ISO, AF area and object tracking can all be adjusted during recording. A wind cut option is available.
Video quality options
1920 x 1080 60i/50i Avg. 24 Mbps (high quality)
1920 x 1080 60i/50i Avg. 17 Mbps (standard quality)
1920 x 1080 60p Avg. 28Mbps (highest quality)
1920 x1080 24p/25p Avg. 24Mbps (high quality)
1920 x 1080 24p/25p Avg. 17Mbps (standard quality)
1440 x 1080, 1080p (30/25fps), Av. 12Mbps
640 x 480 (30/25fps)
|Audio||• Dolby Digital Audio
• Stereo audio capture via optional external mic.
|Format||AVCHD / MPEG4|
|Max file size per clip||2.0 GB for Motion JPEG, card capacity for AVCHD (new file is created automatically after file size has reached 2.0 GB)|
|Recordable time||Approx 29 minutes (around 13 min when temperature exceeds 40 degrees C)|
Handling in Video modeThe A77 handles very well in video mode. Putting aside the limitation of not being able to control exposure settings and use AF at the same time, it offers a very fluid shooting experience. Compared to a conventional DSLR, the convenience of being able to compose video using either the viewfinder or LCD screen with equal ease cannot be overstated, and we love having full-time phase-detection AF available during movie shooting too, albeit only in program AE mode.
Just as the original SLT-A55 was, the A77 is one of our favorite stills cameras for casual video work. The addition of a 60p capture mode might not mean much to the average consumer, but it has the potential to make the A77 more interesting to more 'serious' video professionals, although the complicated method of setting and using manual exposure during filming might take the shine off a little.
This short clip shows the A77's video performance in good light. The motion is smooth with vibrant colors. Image stabilization is doing a decent job at keeping things steady but, as you can hear, the built-in microphones are picking up a lot of background noise.
|1920x1080 60p, MTS, 12 sec, 35.6 MB Click here to download original file|
This is another clip in good light conditions and with some faster motion. Continuous focus is performing well, and keeps the subjects in focus while panning.
|1920x1080 60p, MTS, 13 sec, 40.59 MB Click here to download original file|
In this panning shot you can see the very slight exposure 'jumps' as the camera adapts to changing brightness levels of the scenes. Image stabilization does a decent job and 'rolling shutter' effects are not visible at this panning speed. However, the internal microphone picks up a lot of wind noise.
|1920x1080 60p, MTS, 12 sec, 35.9 MB Click here to download original file|
Continuous AF keeps good track of the subject in this clip. However some lens operating noises are being captured by the internal microphones.
|1920x1080 30p, MTS, 17 sec, 33.19 MB Click here to download original file|
Again the focus tracking works very well in this clip (which was recorded at a longer focal length), and the fast-moving subject slips out of focus only very briefly. The motion is very smooth and, considering the quick panning motion, Sony's SteadyShot system performs very well.
|1920x1080 30p, MTS, 13 sec, 24.38 MB Click here to download original file|
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