The best possible camera in good light.

Started Nov 25, 2013 | User reviews
garykohs
garykohs Veteran Member • Posts: 4,517
The best possible camera in good light.
6

I've had quite a few cameras including SLRs and DSLRs from Canon, Nikon, Konica-Minolta and Sony. The A77 is just the best overall camera I've ever owned or used.

The resolution is outstanding and the color and dynamic range are amazing for an APS-C camera. The AF system is fast, accurate, and tracks moving subjects well. It's very competitive with my Canon 1D4.

I absolutely love the EVF. It's a revelation in terms of getting the shot right the first time. It's so bright and clear that shifting to my 1D4 often has me thinking that my Canon is broken. It does have a bit of lag when shooting in continuous mode at a high frame rate. It's not a deal breaker but it takes some getting used to.

I also love focus peaking, multi frame noise reduction and sweep panorama. All this is amazing to me.

It's not a five star camera only because the it's just lousy at very high ISOs. It's stellar at ISO 100-800, acceptable at 1600 - 3200, useable for web shots at ISO 6400, and garbage above that.

I've had consistently good results using the Sony 56 and 58 flashes. Not everyone has duplicated my success but I can only judge based on my user experience.

 garykohs's gear list:garykohs's gear list
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Canon EOS-1D X Sony a99 II Sony a9 Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM +16 more
Sony SLT-A77
24 megapixels • 3 screen • APS-C sensor
Announced: Aug 24, 2011
garykohs's score
4.0
Average community score
4.2
bad for good for
Kids / pets
great
Action / sports
acceptable
Landscapes / scenery
great
Portraits
great
Low light (without flash)
weak
Flash photography (social)
good
Studio / still life
acceptable
= community average
Canon EOS-1D Sony SLT-A77
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PeteC21
PeteC21 Contributing Member • Posts: 821
Re: The best possible camera in good light.

As a fellow a77 owner it's great to hear such a glowing review.

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

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garykohs
OP garykohs Veteran Member • Posts: 4,517
Re: The best possible camera in good light.

PeteC21 wrote:

As a fellow a77 owner it's great to hear such a glowing review.

-- hide signature --

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

As a fellow A77 owner it's great to own such a great camera. At its current price it should be sold out.

No other camera, no matter how much you're willing to spend, can give you 12 frames per second and offer the color range and dynamic range of the A77 (according to DxO).

 garykohs's gear list:garykohs's gear list
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Advent1sam
Advent1sam Senior Member • Posts: 4,211
Re: The best possible camera in good light.

garykohs wrote:

PeteC21 wrote:

As a fellow a77 owner it's great to hear such a glowing review.

-- hide signature --

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

As a fellow A77 owner it's great to own such a great camera. At its current price it should be sold out.

No other camera, no matter how much you're willing to spend, can give you 12 frames per second and offer the color range and dynamic range of the A77 (according to DxO).

A57 is on a par with a77 imo, iq wise, deeper buffer too.

tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 32,276
Re: The best possible camera in good light.

I think you are underrating the camera in low light and sports. I admit that low available light photography is a low priority with me but it is certainly acceptable compared to any other camera I've used over the years.

For action and sports when pared with the Tamron 70-300 USD it is excellent and I get fantastic results. Sports and action is one of my primary uses for this camera.

-- hide signature --

Tom
Look at the picture, not the pixels
------------
Miss use of the ability to do 100% pixel peeping is the bane of digital photography because it causes people to fret over inconsequential issues.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/63683676@N07/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25301400@N00/

 tbcass's gear list:tbcass's gear list
Sony RX100 Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di USD Sony RX10 III +9 more
digitalshooter
digitalshooter Forum Pro • Posts: 19,604
But whats acceptable to you, a non low light sports shooter, Is not
2

acceptable to those that do.  So why cant Gary have his opinion?  I though he gave this camera a stellar review, in spite of what I think about it.

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Thanks,
Digitalshooter
PS: all posts are just my opinion!

 digitalshooter's gear list:digitalshooter's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II
Nordstjernen
Nordstjernen Veteran Member • Posts: 6,876
The high ISO myth - again!

garykohs wrote:

It's not a five star camera only because the it's just lousy at very high ISOs. It's stellar at ISO 100-800, acceptable at 1600 - 3200, useable for web shots at ISO 6400, and garbage above that.

The A77 very high ISO result is almost as good as from the best aps-c cameras out there, maybe 0.5 stop behind. When comparing post processed files the difference is neglible, and most people wouldn't even notice a difference.

I think your expectations are a bit too high, and sure higher than today's sensor technology are capable of.

The A77 shadow/high ISO noise pattern is distinct, and it takes some practice to find the best balance between visible noise and finest detail. This doesn't make the A77 a bad low light camera. Also, the raw files has a better headroom for noise reduction at post processing than from many other cameras in the same league. This note about noise pattern is from a long term A7 user.

Maybe you should use brighter lenses to avoid noisy files when using hand held camera in very low light, or work a bit more with exposure (sure you don't underexpose those very high ISO scenes?) and post processing to get the most out of the camera in low light situations?

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Nordstjernen
Nordstjernen Veteran Member • Posts: 6,876
Re: But whats acceptable to you, a non low light sports shooter, Is not
1

digitalshooter wrote:

acceptable to those that do. So why cant Gary have his opinion? I though he gave this camera a stellar review, in spite of what I think about it.

Sure, and Gary has even posted his opinion!

But I find it unfair to complaint without comparing the A77 with other cameras in the same league, looking at what is possible with today's sensor technology. Sure, he (and others) WANTS the camera to be much better at very high ISO settings, but claiming that the above 6400 ISO results are garbage, assuming other aps-c cameras are much better, seems like misleading information to me.

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(unknown member) Forum Member • Posts: 73
Re: The high ISO myth - again!
1

Nordstjernen wrote:

The A77 very high ISO result is almost as good as from the best aps-c cameras out there, maybe 0.5 stop behind. When comparing post processed files the difference is neglible, and most people wouldn't even notice a difference.

But that's the thing, isn't it?  If you have to post-process the images to get to a point where most people wouldn't notice, doesn't that mean that the high ISO result is not as good as the best APS-C cameras out there?  Maybe A77 + PP tools is as good, but in terms of what you actually get from the camera the A77 tests always show inferior quality compared to similarly specified alternatives.

garykohs
OP garykohs Veteran Member • Posts: 4,517
Re: The best possible camera in good light.

tbcass wrote:

I think you are underrating the camera in low light and sports. I admit that low available light photography is a low priority with me but it is certainly acceptable compared to any other camera I've used over the years.

For action and sports when pared with the Tamron 70-300 USD it is excellent and I get fantastic results. Sports and action is one of my primary uses for this camera.

-- hide signature --

Tom
Look at the picture, not the pixels
------------
Miss use of the ability to do 100% pixel peeping is the bane of digital photography because it causes people to fret over inconsequential issues.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/63683676@N07/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25301400@N00/

Sports is one of my primary uses for the camera also. And I agree that it's very good in good light. I rated in the acceptable level because, to me, being a really good sports camera means that it must be good in low light. Maybe that was a mistake on my part, given that low light is also a separate category.

 garykohs's gear list:garykohs's gear list
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Canon EOS-1D X Sony a99 II Sony a9 Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM +16 more
garykohs
OP garykohs Veteran Member • Posts: 4,517
Re: But whats acceptable to you, a non low light sports shooter, Is not
2

Nordstjernen wrote:

digitalshooter wrote:

acceptable to those that do. So why cant Gary have his opinion? I though he gave this camera a stellar review, in spite of what I think about it.

Sure, and Gary has even posted his opinion!

But I find it unfair to complaint without comparing the A77 with other cameras in the same league, looking at what is possible with today's sensor technology. Sure, he (and others) WANTS the camera to be much better at very high ISO settings, but claiming that the above 6400 ISO results are garbage, assuming other aps-c cameras are much better, seems like misleading information to me.

Honestly I was just working on finally adding a gear list. When you do that they ask for a review so I thought I'd write one for the a77 since I love the camera. I really didn't know that they automatically stick those reviews in the forum. I didn't mean to start another debate.

In my experience, and obviously my review is based on my experience, even the raw files out of the a77 are really bad above ISO 6400. The a77 is certainly better than my old a700 in low light but it's not as good as my former Canon 7D at the same ISO. However I'd agree that the 7D isn't very good at ISO 12,800 (and the 7D doesn't have in between ISOs between 6400 and 12,800) either. I think the Nikon D7100 is better at these really high ISOs, and probably the Pentax cams also, but I don't have experience with those.

Regardless of what other cams can do though I don't think the a77 is acceptable above 6400. Reviewing the cam without saying that would be dishonest.

 garykohs's gear list:garykohs's gear list
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Canon EOS-1D X Sony a99 II Sony a9 Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM +16 more
Nordstjernen
Nordstjernen Veteran Member • Posts: 6,876
Re: The high ISO myth - again!
1

FatColin wrote:

Nordstjernen wrote:

The A77 very high ISO result is almost as good as from the best aps-c cameras out there, maybe 0.5 stop behind. When comparing post processed files the difference is neglible, and most people wouldn't even notice a difference.

If you have to post-process the images to get to a point where most people wouldn't notice, doesn't that mean that the high ISO result is not as good as the best APS-C cameras out there?

How can you compare non-processed raw files? Default raw converter settings is just a starting point, and the meaning of the settings differ from camera to camera. And who is sharing photographs from non-processed files?

Also, how can you process to a level where people can't see the difference if the data/detail is NOT recorded? No post processing can add data, just remove data.

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garykohs
OP garykohs Veteran Member • Posts: 4,517
Re: The high ISO myth - again!

Nordstjernen wrote:

garykohs wrote:

It's not a five star camera only because the it's just lousy at very high ISOs. It's stellar at ISO 100-800, acceptable at 1600 - 3200, useable for web shots at ISO 6400, and garbage above that.

The A77 very high ISO result is almost as good as from the best aps-c cameras out there, maybe 0.5 stop behind. When comparing post processed files the difference is neglible, and most people wouldn't even notice a difference.

I think your expectations are a bit too high, and sure higher than today's sensor technology are capable of.

The A77 shadow/high ISO noise pattern is distinct, and it takes some practice to find the best balance between visible noise and finest detail. This doesn't make the A77 a bad low light camera. Also, the raw files has a better headroom for noise reduction at post processing than from many other cameras in the same league. This note about noise pattern is from a long term A7 user.

Maybe you should use brighter lenses to avoid noisy files when using hand held camera in very low light, or work a bit more with exposure (sure you don't underexpose those very high ISO scenes?) and post processing to get the most out of the camera in low light situations?

I ordered the a77 the day it was announced. I've taken over 50,000 shots with it. I have about as much experience with it as anyone here.

Here's what Sony claims about the camera and what its technology is capable of:

ISO 16000 sensitivity

Incredibly clear low-light pictures without sacrificing detail, made possible by the low-noise Exmorâ„¢ APS HD CMOS image sensor and refined BIONZ® image processor.

We all expect puffing in ad copy but I did hope that the camera would be decent at ISO 8,000, 10,000 and even 12,800. In my opinion it isn't.

My high ISO use for the camera is for sports. That requires shutter speeds to high to make the use of a tripod helpful. I have considered getting a Sigma 85/1.4 HSM to make my basketball shots better than when using one of my f2.8 lenses. That would help for sure. But that's a fix required by the fact that the very high ISO files out of the A77 are bad and have to be avoided.

 garykohs's gear list:garykohs's gear list
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Canon EOS-1D X Sony a99 II Sony a9 Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM +16 more
(unknown member) Forum Member • Posts: 73
Re: The high ISO myth - again!
1

Nordstjernen wrote:

How can you compare non-processed raw files?

I suspect you are implying something else, but the simple answer is that you open the raw file in a tool that lets you view raw images.  If you do that with a high ISO A77 raw image and a high ISO D7100 image, with all else being as equal as possible, then the D7100 raw will show less noise.
I'm sure you have seen the DPR comparison tool often enough, but look at the ISO3200 RAW comparison with the D7100.  One purpose of that tool is to allow comparisons of unprocessed raw images under conditions that allow those comparisons to be made fairly, and the higher level of noise in the A77 is clear.
Now, it may well be the case that you can fix the noise in post processing, but the reviews here are about how the camera performs, not the camera + your choice of software.
Unforunately the editor here doesn't allow shortened URLs to be posted, so here's the full link to the comparison tool.
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/studio-compare?utm_campaign=internal-link&utm_source=mainmenu&utm_medium=text&ref=mainmenu#baseDir=%2Freviews_data&cameraDataSubdir=boxshot&indexFileName=boxshotindex.xml&presetsFileName=boxshotpresets.xml&showDescriptions=false&headerTitle=Studio%20scene&headerSubTitle=Standard%20studio%20scene%20comparison&masterCamera=sony_slta77&masterSample=dsc02823_2.acr&slotsCount=4&slot0Camera=sony_slta77&slot0Sample=dsc02823_2.acr&slot0DisableCameraSelection=true&slot0DisableSampleSelection=true&slot0LinkWithMaster=true&slot1Camera=nikon_d7100&slot1Sample=dsc_0176.acr&x=-0.2154800745746912&y=-1.5600359715888115

tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 32,276
Re: But whats acceptable to you, a non low light sports shooter, Is not

digitalshooter wrote:

acceptable to those that do. So why cant Gary have his opinion?

And I'm not allowed to have an opinion?

Actually I have done indoor sports shooting hockey and outdoor night ice skating. Does that count as low light? Sometimes people rate things based on the best possible results, FF for example, and rate a camera low if it doesn't match up to the best. I rate the camera based on a whole spectrum of available cameras (4/3 and APS-C in this case) and based on that the A77 is a bit above average.

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Tom
Look at the picture, not the pixels
------------
Miss use of the ability to do 100% pixel peeping is the bane of digital photography because it causes people to fret over inconsequential issues.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/63683676@N07/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25301400@N00/

 tbcass's gear list:tbcass's gear list
Sony RX100 Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di USD Sony RX10 III +9 more
tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 32,276
Re: But whats acceptable to you, a non low light sports shooter, Is not

garykohs wrote:

Regardless of what other cams can do though I don't think the a77 is acceptable above 6400. Reviewing the cam without saying that would be dishonest.

I agree with that and in fact I don't think any APS-C camera is acceptable above iso 6400. BTW I have friends who own a 60D and a 7D and don't think their performance at high iso is any better when the 24mp files are reduced to 18mp to match. The problem I had with your low light rating was compared to the whole spectrum of APS-C and 4/3 cameras the A77 is actually a bit above average IMO.

Since one of my primary uses for the A77 and the A65 is sports both inside and out. Coupled with my Tamron 70-300 I have had fantastic results with it. One time I was shooting LaCrosse with someone who has a 7D and he just couldn't get the results I was getting. I believe it was for 2 reasons. I have a better lens than he does and I have shot a lot more sports than he has so I've had a lot more practice to build my skill set. You can't automatically blame the camera.

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Tom
Look at the picture, not the pixels
------------
Miss use of the ability to do 100% pixel peeping is the bane of digital photography because it causes people to fret over inconsequential issues.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/63683676@N07/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25301400@N00/

 tbcass's gear list:tbcass's gear list
Sony RX100 Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di USD Sony RX10 III +9 more
tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 32,276
Re: The best possible camera in good light.

garykohs wrote:

Sports is one of my primary uses for the camera also. And I agree that it's very good in good light. I rated in the acceptable level because, to me, being a really good sports camera means that it must be good in low light. Maybe that was a mistake on my part, given that low light is also a separate category.

Yes that was a mistake IMO especially since true low light sports is an extremely small segment of sports photography. In fact serious sports photography is almost never done in low light. Usually it's in well lit stadiums and arenas. For Jr High basketball in a poorly lit gym probably FF with a 70-200mm f2.8 lens is needed to achieve a high enough shutter speed and good IQ.

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Tom
Look at the picture, not the pixels
------------
Miss use of the ability to do 100% pixel peeping is the bane of digital photography because it causes people to fret over inconsequential issues.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/63683676@N07/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25301400@N00/

 tbcass's gear list:tbcass's gear list
Sony RX100 Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di USD Sony RX10 III +9 more
tbcass
tbcass Forum Pro • Posts: 32,276
Re: The high ISO myth - again!

garykohs wrote:

My high ISO use for the camera is for sports. That requires shutter speeds to high to make the use of a tripod helpful. I have considered getting a Sigma 85/1.4 HSM to make my basketball shots better than when using one of my f2.8 lenses. That would help for sure. But that's a fix required by the fact that the very high ISO files out of the A77 are bad and have to be avoided.

When you say sports you mean poorly lit sports right? In normally lit hockey arenas I find iso1600 easily adequate to achieve 1/500 sec or better with my comparatively slow Tamron 70-300 USD f4-f5.6.

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Tom
Look at the picture, not the pixels
------------
Miss use of the ability to do 100% pixel peeping is the bane of digital photography because it causes people to fret over inconsequential issues.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/63683676@N07/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25301400@N00/

 tbcass's gear list:tbcass's gear list
Sony RX100 Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM Tamron SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di USD Sony RX10 III +9 more
Michael Fritzen Veteran Member • Posts: 5,250
Re: The best possible camera in good light.

garykohs wrote:

.... It does have a bit of lag when shooting in continuous mode at a high frame rate. It's not a deal breaker but it takes some getting used to.

Hi Gary,

A99 user here which has the same lag. But wondering about what actually the lag means for practical purposes. I know this has been discussed several times and there may be an effect on situations when (fast) erratic moves are to be captured. Under extreme circumstances the subject may have left already the frame at the moment when it is shown in the EVF. BUT would the hit-and-miss be all that different with an OVF? Because here the simples reaction time could be the limiting factor - perhaps adding to this any minimal lag between pressing shutter and when the shutter acts. If it is a situation when an experienced shooter claims advantages then I suppose at least some minimal prediction of the moves is possible (which would make the EVF- shooter's life also easier) - or it's luck For many sports though with their somehow predictable moves one would tend to start anyway the burst just short before peak action is to be expected - no matter EVF or OVF.

Edit: I've been shooting yesterday at a athletics meeting and the idea was shooting the A99 with 70-200 and my trusty A850 with 24-70. What an eyeopener about how much the A850 is behind the A99 when fast action is to be photographed.

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Cheers,
Michael Fritzen

Nordstjernen
Nordstjernen Veteran Member • Posts: 6,876
Re: The high ISO myth - again!
3

FatColin wrote:

I'm sure you have seen the DPR comparison tool often enough, but look at the ISO3200 RAW comparison with the D7100. One purpose of that tool is to allow comparisons of unprocessed raw images under conditions that allow those comparisons to be made fairly, and the higher level of noise in the A77 is clear.

The problem is that equal raw converter setting doesn't do the same with files from different cameras. Even for cameras that are sharing the same sensor, the files will look different! There is a lot of processing going in from analog to digital converting. The result is, among other variables, different noise pattern and structure.

With the A77 you have more headroom for noise reduction at post processing than with many other cameras, which means better control with fine detail also at high ISO. At least Sony is giving the A77 owners an option - more visible noise and keeping the fine detail, or less visible noise and smeared detail. You can't have them both.

Obviously many forum readers prefer smoothed out fine detail ...

Also remember that the A77 is just about 0.5 behind the best high ISO aps-c cameras.

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