Studio Comparison

Our latest test scene is designed to simulate both daylight and low-light shooting. Pressing the 'lighting' buttons at the top of the widget allows you to switch between the two. The daylight scene is shot with manually set white balance aimed at achieving neutral grays, but the camera is left in its Auto setting for the low-light tests (except Raw, which is manually corrected during conversion). We also offer three different viewing sizes: 'Full', 'Print', and 'Web', with the latter two offering 'normalized' comparisons to more fairly compare cameras of differing resolutions by ensuring equivalent viewing sizes.

The a77II's JPEG engine performs well at base ISO. Fine detail and color are both produced very well, with the embroidery of the Beatles keeping its texture, and all the colors of their suits remaining bright and saturated. The intricate details of the currency on the scene are also preserved very well, especially when compared to their Raw representation. Move back to the text in JPEG mode and we can see how the a77 II JPEG engine compares to other cameras. There are none of the bright halos around the text from sharpening and clarity adjustments that we see with the D7200, and no details of the text are smudged, as they are with the 7D Mark II. Take another glance at the Raw version, and we can see that the a77 II is as sharp as the D7200, showing that its fixed, semi-transparent mirror has no impact on Raw sharpness. Overall, at base ISO, the a77 II is an impressive performer.

As soon as you get to higher ISO settings, though, the roughly 1/2EV cost of its semi-transparent mirror becomes apparent. It's bad enough in Raw mode but the rather heavy-handed noise reduction means the difference is even more dramatic if you shoot JPEGs. Despite its lower pixel count, the Canon EOS 7D Mark II is retaining more fine detail and the Nikon D7200 and Samsung NX1 do even better.

The a77II's performance appears to be more than 1EV behind the best of its peers, such as the Samsung NX1, when compared at the same scale. But, while it's as much as one stop behind the Nikon D7200, the difference to its mirrorless sibling, the Sony a6000, is less pronounced: perhaps because that camera is paying a price for devoting so many pixels to its on-sensor phase-detection system.