Sony A77 - User Experience - Part 7 - Conclusion

Sony A77 16-50mm f/2.8

So, I'm in the position to give some sort of concluding summing-up to my days with the Sony a77 and 16-50mm f/2.8 zoom lens.

There's no doubt that this camera ticks more boxes for me than any camera I've ever owned. While I hesitate to state that its a great camera for anybody, I can say with some pleasure, that its a great camera for me. It suits me in so many ways, that I use it with a smile on my face.

+ POINTS

BIG files! Great for landscape and stock.

Quality of images is top class. Sony have got their 24MP APS-C files looking virtually identical to their 24MP FF files.

Great operation and handling with some really outstanding features:-

Built in spirit level
Sunglasses friendly OLED viewfinder
High quality live view screen
Eye sensor controlled switching between EVF and screen
GPS built in. I used this yesterday and its great. Lots of sites I sell on use this
Super Steady Shot stabilisation is again top class
Articulated screen - best I've used
Fast AF
Quick positive shutter
Quiet high-speed burst mode
Well-organised menu system
Excellent build quality (Though obviously no long term use to substantiate this)
Well thought out layout and excellent grip
Not excessively heavy
Not excessively large
Good quality kit lens

- POINTS

Crop / Zoom option button seems pointless to me
Panorama mode works very poorly
Some operations are somewhat slow
High ISO performance disappointing above ISO 3200

Since the minus points are not of any great importance for what and how I shoot, the camera gets a very positive thumbs-up from me. I can't wait for the NEX-7 to have most of this available in a smaller, lighter package.

Though it isn't a DSLR (Its a DSLT?) I will always have a need for a camera of this type. Though something like a NEX-7 will do most of what I need (Assuming it fulfills its promise in the same way that the a77 does) that extra bit of performance and speed that the a77 offers is always useful for the variety of situations I shoot pictures in.

In fact I like it so much that I've been photographing all the rest of my cameras and putting them on ebay. And I do mean ALL my cameras. The a77 allows me to upload high quality, high resolution images to the sites where I sell my work, the images are beautifully saturated, sharp and capable of extremely large reproduction. I have to make no compromises using the camera, it allow me to do what I want to do, in the way that I want to do it. There's been a wonderful absence of fiddling with small buttons in the last few days and like the Nikon D7000 before it (still a great camera) the a77 allows me to stop thinking about what I'm using and concentrate on what is more important, what I'm photographing.

Above all this is a photographers camera. Not a gadget, not a toy, a serious, useful photographic tool that is designed for one thing, to make creating good pictures as easy as possible.

If I was to rate it, I'd give it 9/10 (It could be lighter!) and my somewhat varied collection of cameras could soon be turning into a Sony fanboys dream. I'm working towards the a77, a NEX-7 and a NEX-5n + Viewfinder for low light work, and that may be what I end up with after Christmas.

I've written before how impressed I was with Sony and the long interviews that my nephew and I had with them at the Focus on Imaging show last spring. Virtually everything that we both asked for has turned up in the a77. We weren't alone in what we talked about obviously, and to be honest most of the features were probably well-advanced anyway. I would say however, that all the things that the a77 includes and offers us as photographers are mostly sensible, well-thought out and geared towards those of us who are committed to producing the best work that we can.

No its not for everybody and there will be many who see it as a disappointment, but with this level of performance, resolution and options and at this price point, I can see a lot more photographers drifting towards the orange a. In many ways it IS a revolutionary camera, and the innovations and advances it uses will impact on many future models.

I saw the entry of Sony into the "serious" digital camera market as a good thing. However up to now I think they have struggled and got lost in a plethora of bewilderingly similarly specified models that didn't really get the adrenalin pumping. Solid but uninspiring, is the description I would use. With the a77, a camera over which they certainly took their time, they have moved into another gear. Sony seem to have spent years playing catch-up with Nikon and Canon. I think the next few years may see that situation reversed.

Highly recommended.