My A77 user report (long)

Started Jan 30, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Prognathous Veteran Member • Posts: 9,087
My A77 user report (long)

After 10 days of use, my initial impression of the A77 is generally positive. I don't regret buying the camera, and I don't intend to return it. It has many clear strengths, but also a few rather annoying usability issues. A few weeks ago I opened a thread summarizing the pros, cons and potential deal-breakers I managed to gather from the reviews:

In this thread I'll re-iterate many of these points but will add notes from my now actual experience with the camera. The following section lists the pros from that thread (mostly in comparison with the KM 7D):

  • Articulated screen. Just as useful as I expected (and more so than my other cameras with articulated screens), but somewhat less flexible than the pictures would lead one to believe. The main limitation is that when the screen is flat facing outwards, it's impossible to tilt it up for waist level shooting (at least not more than a few degrees). The way to overcome this is to pull both hinges out and move the screen above the hot-shoe. This is a reasonable workaround, but it's slower to perform than a simple tilt and it results in the screen obstructing the mode dial and some of the buttons.

  • Multiple cross-type AF sensors. Very reliable and it's a joy to be able to use local point AF point selection without the hunting. Unfortunately here too there's a catch:

Not all points are cross-type, and it's easy to mistakenly choose a linear point. Those points really are far more prone to hunting. I wish Sony would offer a custom function to disable the linear points whenever one is using local point selection. There's really no need for them. The cross-type points array provides more than reasonable coverage.

  • AF assist. Works perfectly. No if's or but's. Makes focusing in low ambient light without a flash extremely easy.

  • AF micro-adjust. Haven’t tried it yet, but I should. I see marked improvement in MF with many of my lenses compared to AF. On the plus side, the EVF with peaking or magnification makes MF such a pleasant practice, that I find I'm using it far more frequently than I did with the KM 7D (where the OVF is large and clear, but the focusing screen really lacks the required "snappyness" for MF)

  • AF-C performance and subject tracking. Too early to tell. I shot very few BIF, and all were with the wrong lens (I left my Tokina 100-300/4.0 ATX at home). The camera focused on the background in most of these shots. Hopefully it'll have a higher success rate when the bird takes up a more substantial part of the frame.

  • Wider dynamic range (2 stops better than the 7D). Easily visible. Made shooting in the snow so much easier.

  • Movie mode. Really fun to use, though I haven't had enough practice to learn how to best utilize the various modes. One thing that's odd (coming from many other digital cameras) is that instead of having the video files in the same folder as the stills, there's a very elaborate folder structure with many files that don't (at this time) make much sense to me. Even after formatting the card, there are 16 files/folders, and after videoing, the files are buried under \PRIVATE\AVCHD\BDMV\STREAM and have separate numbering than the stills. Another thing that doesn't make much sense is that switching in playback between videos and stills can require many key presses. Unless I'm missing something, here's how it goes: Press Menu button -> turn Rear Dial to Playback Settings tab #1 (requires 8 dial clicks if you happen to be in the wrong tab) -> Joystick Down -> Joystick Enter -> Select View Mode (one or two presses) -> Joystick Enter. This can't be right. Can it?

  • Higher resolution. Absolutely fantastic. If your lens is of reasonable quality and you get focus right (and use the optimal aperture), you'll witness those 24 megapixels populated with loads of detail.

  • 100% viewfinder. Pretty cool. Allows making full use of wide-angle lenses. No need for guesswork when composing.

(continued in the next post)

 Prognathous's gear list:Prognathous's gear list
Sony SLT-A77 Sony a77 II Tamron SP AF 60mm F/2 Di II LD IF Macro Tamron 18-270mm F3.5-6.3 Di II PZD Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM +11 more
Canon EOS 7D Pentax K-m (K2000) Sony SLT-A77
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