Great APS Enthusiast Camera!

Started Nov 28, 2013 | User reviews thread
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PeteC21 Contributing Member • Posts: 893
Great APS Enthusiast Camera!

I've been shooting with the a77 for 1 year now and it still puts a smile on my face every time I get an opportunity to use it

Years ago I had a Minolta 450i with a Sigma 28-80 & Sigma 70-300 combo.  I tried going past Auto mode a few times.  Most shots were severely over or under exposed and when I did get a decent picture I had no clue what I had done right   I quickly went back to the safe confines of Auto mode and the security of quickly composing and pressing the shutter and getting generally reliable and consistent results. And if the lighting was poor I mounted a flash.

That's what I did until the 450i failed.  I wanted a dSLR but couldn't afford it. Years later I did pick up a Panasonic FZ5 superzoom.  Initially I used it in Auto mode too but since it was my first digital camera I tried Aperture priority, Shutter priority, and Manual modes and got an idea of what learning and understanding photography was all about.

Eventually I was able to afford the Sony a300 kit with the 18-70.  The best feature of the a300 for me was Live View.  I could simultaneously see what I wanted to capture while composing in real time.  And immediately view the result and its settings to self critique.

During the 2 years I had the a300 I learned a lot about photography through self study and this forum as well as a couple of similar Sony based sites.   I held onto the a300 despite the criticism of its small OVF, poor build, and other entry level short comings that were frequently discussed on these forums.  The APS-C bar at the time was the a700 so my next camera was a used a700 that I initially paired with a Minolta 28-105 and 100-200 and later paired with the Sony 16-105 and 70-300G.   The a700 lived up to its hefty reputation of solid build, great ergonomics, premium OVF, and intuitive operation via Quick Navi.  This was my first enthusiast/semi-pro level camera and I was a bit overwhelmed by its customization features.  Although I got good results it was just not as intuitive as the a300 was for me. 

After about a year with the a700 I opted for the a580.  Some would view the move from the a700 to a580 as a step down as the numbering would suggest but for me it was a step up.  The a580 was released alongside the a55 SLT and being mostly traditional I opted for the OVF a580 instead of the EVF and smaller body a55.  While there were many praises for the a580 the a55 got considerably more attention.    The a580 took my photography experience up a notch and I would rate myself as an enthusiast.

The a580 was a very competent camera but after a couple of years I had the itch to move on and decided upon the a77.  I picked it up last holiday shopping season when the kit with the 16-50 was reduced by $300 from it's initial $1998 offering.  To get the a77 kit I sold off the a580 and a number of lenses.  That's another point that I did not bring up previously.  Photography is a hobby of mine that competes with the needs and wants of my wife, and teenage son and daughter with college right around the corner.  So every move that I've mentioned required selling the existing body to move to the next and then selling and buying desired used lenses on eBay.

If you've read this review up to this point I thank you for your patience.  What I've been trying to say about the a77 by detailing my previous cameras is that it satisfies nearly all my needs.  I can not say ALL my needs because that would refer to a perfect camera, which I do not believe exist.  However, I do believe that for most of us there exist a camera that near perfectly meets our needs, if we take an earnest look.  And for me that camera is the a77.

Buiid Quality = Great

Image Quality = Great (ISO <= 1600)

Ergonomics = Great

Dynamic Range = Great

EVF = Great

I could go down a detailed spec sheet but the major points with the a77 are High ISO noise and the EVF/OVF debate.  I opted for the detail and dynamic range of the 24 MP and use fast glass, restrict iso to 1600, and love using the EVF although I appreciate a large OVF too.  When using the a77 I am confident when I see an image I want to capture in quickly adjusting the settings and see the result PRIOR to depressing the shutter and as a result have many more keepers.

The a77 enables competency and confidence in my ability to get the shot.  My gear looks professional and onlookers view me as professional, even though I'm just a hobbyist/enthusiast.  Would I like to have the greatest dSLR with all the greatest lenses.  Sure, but given the a77, my assortment of lenses, and the monetary investment that I would have to make to move upward, I'm very satisfied.

Thanks again for taking time to read my review of the a77.  Nothing technical here.  Just an extremely personal and opinionated review.  Am I a fan boy?  Probably.  The LV and IBIS and existing lenses, albeit dogs, are what got me to the A-mount and I have been loyal and will continue to be.  I like what I see with the NEX, a7/a7R, a3000, a10, and anticipate the announcement of the a77 replacement.  I plan on using the a77 for another couple of years and as the extended warranty nears expiration and more advanced models are released I will take a look then.  For now, it's get out there and enjoy using a great APS enthusiast camera.

"If I knew how to take a good photograph, I'd do it every time." - Robert Doisneau

 PeteC21's gear list:PeteC21's gear list
Sony a6000 Sony a7R II Sony a6300 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Carl Zeiss Touit 1.8/32 +12 more
Sony SLT-A77
24 megapixels • 3 screen • APS-C sensor
Announced: Aug 24, 2011
PeteC21's score
Average community score
bad for good for
Kids / pets
Action / sports
Landscapes / scenery
Low light (without flash)
Flash photography (social)
Studio / still life
= community average
Sony a7 Sony Alpha DSLR-A300 Sony Alpha DSLR-A580 Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony SLT-A55 Sony SLT-A77
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