Body & Design

The a77 II is a mid-size DSLR with a solid, weather-sealed magnesium alloy body, which has some weight to it, but not to the point of being heavy. The right hand grip feels 'just right' and gives easy access to the most important controls on the camera. Speaking of which, the a77 II is loaded with buttons and dials, but they're logically placed and usually serve one function at a time. That said, there are eleven customizable buttons on the body, with up to 51 assignable functions, so you can truly set up the a77 II to your liking.

The a77 II has traditional front and rear dials for adjusting exposure and navigating menus, and uses a 'joystick' rather than the four-way controller found on most cameras. The joystick can be used with both the Func. menu (which offers twelve customizable functions) and QuickNavi menus, though it's a bit too sensitive to inward pressure. One nice thing that Sony hasn't gotten rid of is the backlit LCD display on the top of the camera, which shows current settings, shots remaining, and battery life.

So what's changed since the original SLT-A77? The most obvious change is on the front: the giant red AF assist-lamp from the a77 is completely gone, with the a77 II's built-in flash now handling that function. The GPS receiver has been replaced with one for Wi-Fi, and there's now a spot for 'tapping' NFC devices on the opposite side of the body. The mode dial has been tweaked and the LCD now has extra white pixels (see below for both of those). Finally, the a77 II leaves the old Minolta hotshoe behind, and uses Sony's Multi Interface Shoe, which includes pins for optional microphones, in addition to a standard external flash connections.

In your hand

The a77 II is a decent sized DSLR, but ergonomically speaking its well-designed, with a nice grip and logically place controls (though there are many of them).

Despite being loaded with buttons and other controls, you won't accidentally press anything thanks to the good-sized thumb rest. The joystick is at the lower-left side of the rest and can be a bit fiddly at times. The a77 II's grip is just the right size, giving it a secure feel in your hand. Most buttons on the top plate are easily reachable with your pointer finger, though the ISO button is a bit of a stretch.

Top of camera

The majority of the cosmetic changes between the a77 II and its predecessor can be found in the top-down view. The mode dial has been reworked, with the '3D' option on the a77 being replaced with three Memory Recall (MR) spots. There's also a locking mechanism which needs to be held down in order to rotate the dial.

At the center of the photo is the aforementioned Multi Interface Shoe, which supports 'regular' external flashes (instead of the old, proprietary Konica Minolta shoe) as well as accessories such as external mics. Oddly, though, it's not comptible with the XLR KM1 high-end microphone adapter unit. Above that is the stereo microphone, which records Dolby Digital (AC3) sound.

The buttons and display to the right are self-explanatory. The finder/monitor button can be used to override the eye sensor on the EVF, while the tiny button with the light bulb on it will illuminate the LCD info display.

Articulating LCD and OLED Electronic Viewfinder

The a77 II has the same, rather complex 3" articulated screen as its predecessor. It uses a swivel-and-tilt joint, that is itself affixed to an arm that folds out from the back of the camera. This allows a huge range of positions to be adopted, including setting the screen facing forwards over the top of the viewfinder housing or, for that matter, under the bottom of the camera.

The screen sits on an articulated joint, on an arm that can tilt up from the back of the camera

The a77 II now uses a WhiteMagic display, meaning that it has an extra pixel for white, in addition to red, green, and blue. WhiteMagic allows for better outdoor visibility and improved battery life. While the RGBW dot pattern boosts the total resolution of the display to 1.23M dots, the resolution (VGA) is no better than on the a77.

The electronic viewfinder, on the other hand, is unchanged. It's one of the best you'll find, thanks to its XGA resolution and OLED technology. The EVF is quite large, thanks to a 1.09X magnification, and frame coverage of 100% is just as you'd expect.

Because of the way viewfinders are measured (using a fixed lens, rather than a lens of equivalent magnification), you also need to take the sensor size into account, so the numbers in the diagram below are the manufacturer's specified magnifications divided by the respective 'crop factors'.

The Sony SLT a77 II's electronic viewfinder is large - on par with the optical finders of full-frame SLRs. This makes it substantially bigger than those in its APS-C SLR peers such as the Nikon D7100 or Canon EOS 70D.