Will a summer A77 firmware obviate the pending release of a new APS-C model A78?

Started Apr 16, 2013 | Discussions
Old Man River Regular Member • Posts: 251
Will a summer A77 firmware obviate the pending release of a new APS-C model A78?
1

I have to admit as a SONY Alpha aficionado, I am a sucker for rumors.

Today I read that the anticipated late 2013 release of the A78 has been permanently shelved in exchange for a hopefully significant summer/fall firmware update for the A77 and the promise of an all together different A77 successor that will contain the next generation of SONY wizardry.

If true, this feels like a birthday gift to A77 owners who couldn't get their hands on the camera due to supply shortages upon it's late 2011 release, saw their flagship status baton passed to the full frame A99, and fell prey to the news of a pending A77 replacement so soon in the ownership cycle.

I have had my A77 for just about one year now and the advanced learning curve on how to make this baby really hum is just starting to kick in.  I may have been a self-sufficient doubter before, but I picked up more usable tips than I could have ever anticipated by purchasing and downloading Gary Friedman's A77 e-book.

After enjoying the 1.5X crop factor for sports photography, I have turned my attention to wireless ratio flash portraiture.  I mention that shift because, if taken to its extreme, an A99 may well be in my future.

Mike Rose Soccer Complex   Memphis, Tennessee

Sony Alpha a99 Sony SLT-A77
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Stflbn Veteran Member • Posts: 3,445
Re: Will a summer A77 firmware obviate the pending release of a new APS-C model A78?
1

Unfortunately,  at this point all I'd expect an  update to do is add in more lenses for auto correction.   I'd be  VERY VERY surprised to get any real changes that the A77 needs to JPEG quality or such.

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OP Old Man River Regular Member • Posts: 251
Re: Will a summer A77 firmware obviate the pending release of a new APS-C model A78?

Stflbn wrote:

Unfortunately,  at this point all I'd expect an  update to do is add in more lenses for auto correction.   I'd be  VERY VERY surprised to get any real changes that the A77 needs to JPEG quality or such.

I think a better question would be to ask what theoretically can be done to improve the A77 functionality via a firmware update?

Or, alternatively, what are the design shortcomings that are beyond the aid of a firmware update?

I am not certain what is really possible, even though I have perused previous wish-list posts herein.

I remember when the ability to completely turn off high ISO noise control on my A700 came late in the model cycle.

Perhaps something of similar wow value will build sustained value and interest in the A77.

Allan Olesen Veteran Member • Posts: 3,391
Almost all my a77 complaints are firmware related, not hardware

In my opinion, my a77 is a fantastic piece of hardware which is limited by a mediocre firmware which doesn't fully utilize the options that SLT makes possible.

For example, why don't we have an option of self-calibrating AF micro adjust? The SLT concept is perfect for this, because the image sensor sees what the PDAF module sees in real time. So a finetuning of the PDAF module using contrast detect information from the main sensor would be an obvious advantage over classic DSLR cameras.

I would probably buy an a78 with the same hardware specs as my a77 if it had major firmware improvements - but I would feel cheated. So if they instead will try to make the a77 more competitive by improving the firmware, I will be very happy.

Some will probably say: "But we need better high ISO performance!!! And that is hardware!!!". Sorry, we will not get that in an a78 anyway, unless they get the mirror out of the way. The a77 sensor (like most modern sensors) is so close to theoretical perfect low light performance that future improvement will be marginal - probably unmeasurable.

So what is left of possible hardware improvements anyway? I only have imagination for a rather short list:

  • A lock on the program wheel, like its grandfather, the Minolta 7D, had. I doubt we would have seen that in an a78.
  • Better strap lugs, smooth with the surface (as the ones on the a77 battery grip). I doubt we would have seen that in an a78. Sony seems to reserve the best lugs for their cheap models.
  • A mirror which can be manually flipped up for mirrorless operation. I doubt we would have seen that in an a78.
  • Secondary image sensor for the viewfinder so we can get rid of the slide show effect in burst mode. I doubt we would have seen that in an a78.
  • More responsive operation. We would perhaps have seen that in an a78.
  • Tethering - if it even is a hardware limitation. None of us know for sure if it could be added in firmware. But since the a58 got it, the a78 would probably have had it too.
  • A better GPS. We would perhaps have seen that in an a78. Or at least an option of keeping it turned on for some minutes or hours after the camera enters standby so it doesn't have to get a new fix every time the camera wakes from standby. I don't know if that would require hardware changes.
compositor20 Senior Member • Posts: 1,655
Re: Almost all my a77 complaints are firmware related, not hardware

I think we will see tether support and maybe auto-iso in manual mode. An Improvement in jpg engine perhaps but I think its a good JPG engine despite what people say (my previous cameras were olympus so I know what is a quite good jpg engine). Maybe improvements in autofocus.

acdtech Contributing Member • Posts: 623
Re: Almost all my a77 complaints are firmware related, not hardware

I hope that Sony can add tethering to both the A65 and A77 since tethering will be available with the lower priced A58. Do think that feature could be done with firmware?

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VirtualMirage
VirtualMirage Veteran Member • Posts: 3,956
Re: Almost all my a77 complaints are firmware related, not hardware

Allan Olesen wrote:

So what is left of possible hardware improvements anyway? I only have imagination for a rather short list:
  • A lock on the program wheel, like its grandfather, the Minolta 7D, had. I doubt we would have seen that in an a78.

Odd, I would think that it would have been added seeing as Sony finally added it to the A99 after years of people asking for it.  Seeing it on the A99 made me believe that the next A7x would have it as well.

  • Better strap lugs, smooth with the surface (as the ones on the a77 battery grip). I doubt we would have seen that in an a78. Sony seems to reserve the best lugs for their cheap models.

I guess this is more a of preference than an actual improvement.  I don't think it would bother me either way.

  • A mirror which can be manually flipped up for mirrorless operation. I doubt we would have seen that in an a78.

They would have to redesign the mirror box as well as add back in a more complex setup similar to the old DSLRs.  The current design would hit the lens upon opening.

  • Secondary image sensor for the viewfinder so we can get rid of the slide show effect in burst mode. I doubt we would have seen that in an a78.

Then you would have to relocate the PD AF sensor.  Now you will have to split the light into three directions, taking even more light from the sensor.  This can be mitigated if on sensor PD AF matures enough to work well on its own.

  • More responsive operation. We would perhaps have seen that in an a78.

While no one will complain about a faster interface, I can say I am pretty happy with the A77's after it received the newer firmware updates.

  • Tethering - if it even is a hardware limitation. None of us know for sure if it could be added in firmware. But since the a58 got it, the a78 would probably have had it too.

Tethering would be nice.  Maybe a Wi-Fi tethering option?

  • A better GPS. We would perhaps have seen that in an a78. Or at least an option of keeping it turned on for some minutes or hours after the camera enters standby so it doesn't have to get a new fix every time the camera wakes from standby. I don't know if that would require hardware changes.

I have no complaints with my GPS.

This is what I was hoping to see in the A78 when it comes to feature/tech improvements (not performance) along with some of what you already said:

  • Remove the AA filter like the D7100 and the K5-IIs.
  • On sensor PD AF sensors, whether it is like the A99 and the features it brings or an improvement over the A99.
  • Larger buffer.
  • 5fps option between the current 3fps and 8fps.
  • Higher resolution OLED EVF.  Rumored to be in the NEX-7n.
  • RGBW rear LCD like the A99.
  • Ability to lock the articulating screen closed.  Once in a while it will catch and open up on me.  It's rare, but it does happen.
  • 14-bit RAWs.
  • More color options to choose from for focus peaking.
  • MFA adjustments for both ends of a zoom lens.
  • No crop mode for video with SSS is turned off.
  • Rotate the Fn menu when viewed vertically.  Not a big issue, but noticeable when using a vertical grip.
  • Ability to still take pictures using the built in effects and filters when shooting RAW+JPEG.  The JPEG will reflect the effect/filter used while the RAW is the untouched photo.  I very rarely use these effects, but I primarily shoot RAW.  To have to shoot JPEG only to take a few shots is annoying and it leaves me without an untouched original.
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Paul

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Allan Olesen Veteran Member • Posts: 3,391
Re: Almost all my a77 complaints are firmware related, not hardware

VirtualMirage wrote:

Allan Olesen wrote:

  • Secondary image sensor for the viewfinder so we can get rid of the slide show effect in burst mode. I doubt we would have seen that in an a78.

Then you would have to relocate the PD AF sensor.  Now you will have to split the light into three directions, taking even more light from the sensor.

Well, in another thread I was fantasizing about a sensor which used the space between the PDAF sensors. Some kind of a counterpart to on-sensor PDAF: An on-PDAF image sensor...

This would create an ugly image with lots of holes, but it might still be a better option for action photography.

gil Forum Pro • Posts: 16,735
The problem with this kind of thinking where it seems a future...(more)
1

firmware release will solve our photographic problem is taking away the fun and good attitude about photography. In spite of current limitations one seems to be seeing or experiencing, why not try to find a current workaround? That should be fun and more rewarding as one explore or experiments on one's tool, the more one will recognize the full potential or the full limitations. I learned a lot by pursuing this exploratory attitude rather than be a hostage to future firmware upgrade :-D.

If my current tools gives me 80-90% of photographic satisfaction or happiness, I shouldn't be worry about the rest. If one can't achieve a usable satisfaction from one's current tools in spite of the good intent on improving techniques; maybe it is time to move into another brand or a new hobby :-).

cheers,

gil

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Cheers,
gil - San Jose, CA
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Like happiness, photography is often better created than pursued.

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OntarioJohn
OntarioJohn Senior Member • Posts: 1,959
Re: Will a summer A77 firmware obviate the pending release of a new APS-C model A78?

I have a 77 and 99.  The 99 is way better as a camera.  For sports and long distances no.  I can put a 300 mm lens on the 77 and get far closer.  But the shots from the a99 are so impressive.

I'm of the mind to keep both.  the 77 for birds etc. and the 99 for other stuff.

You won't ever want to lose or misplace that 99 . It's my new appendage.

I can't tell you how much the 99 means to me.  It's just awesome.  And then get Gary's book for advanced users, LOTS of great stuff in the 600 plus pages.

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John D. Conley nemo me impune lacessit
Take some shots and SHARE...more fun that peeping at pixels at some crazy ISO!!!

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Chris Malcolm Senior Member • Posts: 2,053
Re: Will a summer A77 firmware obviate the pending release of a new APS-C model A78?

Why all this fuss about upgrades & new models? Don't you guys know anyone who is taking better shots than you are despite using years old obsolete technology? Be honest, how much of an improvement in your photographs did your last body upgrade buy you?

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Chris Malcolm

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Corelli Veteran Member • Posts: 3,125
Re: Will a summer A77 firmware obviate the pending release of a new APS-C model A78?

As a very satisfied A77 user I'm wondering if you have done any side by side comparisons of the A99 particularly on landscape shots. Can you quantify the improvements you see in the A99 photos?

I have been hesitant to consider going FF because of the cost for the body and appropriate lenses and so far I haven't seen compelling evidence to make me want to make the change.

Cheers,

GM

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Tom Harvey Senior Member • Posts: 1,489
Re: Will a summer A77 firmware obviate the pending release of a new APS-C model A78?
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Software focus limiter for me please

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Tom

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OP Old Man River Regular Member • Posts: 251
Re: Will a summer A77 firmware obviate the pending release of a new APS-C model A78?
1

Chris Malcolm wrote:

Why all this fuss about upgrades & new models? Don't you guys know anyone who is taking better shots than you are despite using years old obsolete technology? Be honest, how much of an improvement in your photographs did your last body upgrade buy you?

For sports photography (soccer), the A77 provided a significant boost to image quality.  The articulating rear LCD screen allowed me to follow fast action from a gimbal mount tripod in a fashion similar to my Sony HDR-FX1000 camcorder but with a higher quality image.

The higher ISO capability of the A77 allowed me to shoot at faster exposure speeds with my long G Alpha lenses relative to the A700.

A dark practice field with minimal peripheral lighting  (A77 + SAL-70400G)

digitalshooter
digitalshooter Forum Pro • Posts: 19,604
Why would Sony improve functions of the A77, when they can sell

a new camera?  Have never seen Sony do this, that would kill them.  I would not expect anything in a FW update other than minor tweaks and or a serious problem.

There are probably lots of things they could do, but Sony calls this a new model.

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Digitalshooter
PS: all posts are just my opinion!

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texascbx Contributing Member • Posts: 648
Re: Will a summer A77 firmware obviate the pending release of a new APS-C model A78?

Sony will put an extra lens or two for correction in camera. Other than that, Sony wants you to buy a new camera for any significant improvement.

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FernandoBatista Contributing Member • Posts: 820
Re: Why would Sony improve functions of the A77, when they can sell
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digitalshooter wrote:

a new camera?  Have never seen Sony do this, that would kill them.  I would not expect anything in a FW update other than minor tweaks and or a serious problem.

There are probably lots of things they could do, but Sony calls this a new model.

Didn't sony gave nex3 and 5 users focus peaking with a firmware upgrade? That was more than a tweak, it's a feature many would gladly pay for a new camera to get.

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Allan Olesen Veteran Member • Posts: 3,391
Re: Why would Sony improve functions of the A77, when they can sell

digitalshooter wrote:

a new camera?

And what new camera would that be when there is no a78? The a77, right?

Well, then they might want to continue improving the firmware for that model so it stays competitive.

Your argument only works against firmware improvement for old models which are not sold anymore, not against cameras which are the current model and still being sold.

Why do you think that Canon released a better firmware for the old 7D?

Answer: So it could stay competitive and they wouldn't have to develop a 7D Mark II to continue selling cameras.

Edward Sargent
Edward Sargent Veteran Member • Posts: 4,693
Re: Almost all my a77 complaints are firmware related, not hardware

VirtualMirage wrote:

This is what I was hoping to see in the A78 when it comes to feature/tech improvements (not performance) along with some of what you already said:

  • Remove the AA filter like the D7100 and the K5-IIs.
  • On sensor PD AF sensors, whether it is like the A99 and the features it brings or an improvement over the A99.
  • Larger buffer.
  • 5fps option between the current 3fps and 8fps.
  • Higher resolution OLED EVF.  Rumored to be in the NEX-7n.
  • RGBW rear LCD like the A99.
  • Ability to lock the articulating screen closed.  Once in a while it will catch and open up on me.  It's rare, but it does happen.
  • 14-bit RAWs.
  • More color options to choose from for focus peaking.
  • MFA adjustments for both ends of a zoom lens.

I think that would be a first for any camera but you would need a middle I would think

  • No crop mode for video with SSS is turned off.
  • Rotate the Fn menu when viewed vertically.  Not a big issue, but noticeable when using a vertical grip.
  • Ability to still take pictures using the built in effects and filters when shooting RAW+JPEG.  The JPEG will reflect the effect/filter used while the RAW is the untouched photo.  I very rarely use these effects, but I primarily shoot RAW.  To have to shoot JPEG only to take a few shots is annoying and it leaves me without an untouched original.

Maybe I misunderstand, the A77 does that now.

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Sarge
A99| A77| A700
|8mm & 14mm Bower|Sony 28-75 & 70-300 G|
|35-70 & 50mm 1.7 Minolta |
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Edward Sargent
Edward Sargent Veteran Member • Posts: 4,693
Re: Will a summer A77 firmware obviate the pending release of a new APS-C model A78?

I'm keeping the A77 mostly to avoid my constant lens changing to the fish-eye.

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Sarge
A99| A77| A700
|8mm & 14mm Bower|Sony 28-75 & 70-300 G|
|35-70 & 50mm 1.7 Minolta |
|Sigma 18-250 - 70-200 - 50-500 - 2X TC|
|Tamron 90 - 1.4X TC|
Albums at www.sony-snapper.com

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