Sony Alpha A77 II Announcement

For a while now, Sony’s biggest attention-grabbers in the camera industry were the mirrorless full-frame siblings, A7, A7r and the most recent, low-light and video focused A7s. Even so, to think that they’ve forgotten their DSLR system (although current Alpha cameras, such as the A99, technically are not really DSLR cameras) would be incorrect. Japanese electronics giant has enough resources and will to grow its customer base to provide deserved attention to all markets, which means those who still prefer the ergonomics of a full-sized camera can count on Sony not to leave them stranded. Today, Sony has announced what is to be the replacement of the venerable Sony A77, an SLT (Single Lens Translucent) camera we praised so highly in our review. So, what does this new camera, dubbed SLT-A77 II, improve over its predecessor?

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Front

Sony SLT-A77 II Overview and Key Specifications

If you compare the new camera to its three year old sibling on paper, there aren’t all that many changes to be found. Even the design is remarkably similar with only a small tweak here and there – for example, Sony did away with the bright orange design cues this time. That said, the original design was quite successful and in line with Sony’s modern, latest technology driven approach to camera industry, so there was no reason to experiment the way Nikon does with its Nikon 1 V-series of cameras, for example. Crucially, however, those changes that did take place address what may be seen as key areas of any modern digital camera – image sensor and autofocus.

The new 24 megapixel APS-C sensor may have the same resolution as before, but it is a different design. Sony claims that the new unit has better light sensitivity and, in conjunction with a more powerful processor, should deliver better performance in low-light environments. Native ISO sensitivity range is 100-25600, and although highest sensitivities are merely there for marketing, the real improvement is, hopefully, where it matters – in the 1600-6400 range. We will be able to say for sure whether that’s true or not once we get a production sample and take it for a spin.

A good sensor is, of course, very important, but technical image quality can often mean close to nothing if the focus is not where you intended it to be. The new phase detect system in the A77 II has 79 points for the user to choose from (A77 has 19 with 11 being cross-type), but what’s far more important is the claimed improved focus tracking capability and speed. It should also work reliably (to an extent) in light levels as low as -2 EV (at ISO 100). On top of all this, there is a wide array of settings available to the user which enable him to fine-tune the behavior of the system. A useful feature is the Eye AF, which helps focus on the subject’s eyes when photographing people. Add the 12 frames per second continuous shooting speed and it is clear the Sony SLT-A77 II was made not only with landscape, but also with fast action, wildlife and sports photography in mind.

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II Rear

Most of the other camera features have also been updated – Sony promises better contrast and resolving power from the new EVF, the fully-articulated 3″ screen at the back now has 1.229 million dots instead of 921k and the new camera is also lighter at 647 grams (with battery) against Mark I’s 732 grams. As it is often the case with Sony cameras, SLT-A77 II has built-in, sensor-shift image stabilization that works with every lens. The now-obligatory WiFi connectivity is also on board.

Here is a short list of key specifications:

  1. New 24.3 MP APS-C sensor
  2. Translucent Mirror Design
  3. Improved 2,359k dot OLED viewfinder
  4. Rugged, magnesium alloy body
  5. Three-way tilt/swivel, 1.229 million dot 3″ screen
  6. Built-in WiFi connectivity
  7. Built-in Flash
  8. Continuous shooting at up to 12 frames per second, 60 frame buffer when shooting JPEG
  9. Full HD Movie modes at 60p, 60i, or 24p with full exposure control
  10. Full-Time Live View in LCD or EVF
  11. ISO 100-25600 sensitivity
  12. New BIONZ® image processor
  13. In-camera image stabilization
  14. 79-point phase-detect AF
  15. Up to 1/8000 shutter speed
  16. Weighs in at 647 g (1.43 lb / 22.82 oz)
  17. Measures 143 x 104 x 81 mm (5.63 x 4.09 x 3.19″)
  18. Priced at $1,198 body only

Official Press Release

Here is the official press release by Sony:

Sony Electronics Introduces the Speedy New α77 II Interchangeable Lens Camera with Record-breaking 79-Point Autofocus System

Impressive New “Action Shooter” features 79 Phase Detection AF Points, 12 fps shooting for up to 60 frames, 24.3 MP APS-C sensor and more

SAN DIEGO, May 1, 2014 – Sony Electronics’ new α77 II camera delivers an impressive combination of speed, versatility and efficiency in a tough, weather-resistant design, making it a perfect choice for fast-action photography and videography.

Building on the heritage of Sony’s much-loved original α77 and α700 cameras, the α77 II gives advanced amateurs a string of exciting enhancements including the world’s highest number of AF points in a new phase detect autofocus system (1) with 79 focal points and 15 cross points. Utilizing Sony’s unique Translucent Mirror Technology, the α77 II also has the ability to shoot at up to 12 fps for 60 total frames with continuous AF.

The speedy new camera is equipped with a high-resolution 24.3 MP image sensor and powerful BIONZ® X processor, ensuring that still images and full HD videos are captured in sharp focus and incredible detail. Image quality compared to the original α77 has been boosted, and sensitivity has increased by approximately 20% as well. There is also a variety of new pro-friendly video functions for movie makers.

“The new A77 II is yet another strong statement for Sony in the interchangeable lens camera space” said Neal Manowitz, director of the α interchangeable lens camera division at Sony. “In addition to this camera’s impressive imaging credentials and unprecedented focusing system, it reinforces our dedication to the A-mount camera lineup and shows that we are pushing the limits of innovation in all aspects of the industry.”

New-generation 79 point phase detection AF system

The advanced AF system on the new α77 II camera features 79 phase detection AF points – the most of any dedicated AF sensor in market today – and includes 15 cross points within the central area of the sensor. Additionally, metering data from all 79 focus points is processed by a brand new AF algorithm that predicts the subject’s movement. These impressive new features combined with Sony’s powerful Translucent Mirror Technology ensure that fast-moving people, animals or any other relevant object can be tracked quickly and accurately in all types of shooting conditions.

The α77 II camera also has a centrally mounted dedicated phase detect AF sensor that supports apertures up to F2.8, ensuring maximum AF precision when using large-aperture lenses. In low light, the AF system of the camera performs admirably, accurately locking on to subjects in scenes with illumination levels as low as EV-2 (ISO100), where even the human eye has trouble discerning details.

There’s a suite of sophisticated new AF functions on the α77 II model that make the most of the unique 79-point system. Expanded Flexible Spot mode maintains focus even if the selected AF point loses track of the subject, activating eight surrounding AF points that recognize the subject. Lock-on AF mode lets users select one of four AF area modes (Wide, Zone, Flexible Spot or Expanded Flexible Spot), and can recognize and track a subject’s form based on its color and its position within the frame, automatically selecting the appropriate AF point from the 79 available

For even greater control, the degree of subject-tracking duration can be fine-tuned in five steps (when shooting still images in AF-C mode). A low setting is ideal for slow-moving subjects with predictable movements, while high settings deliver more responsive focusing for shooting different subjects at different distances, such as wildlife or sports photography. AF Tracking Duration can also be selected between High, Medium and Low during Full HD movie shooting.

Other new features include an Eye AF function that precisely detects and focuses on the subject’s eyes when photographing people. There is also AF Range Control, which allows AF to be limited to a specified range, and a Balanced Emphasis mode that provides the ideal balance between focus and release timing. Users can manually select any of the various focus modes to match the shooting situation and their creative objectives.

Shoot a continuous burst of 60 full-resolution frames at up to 12 fps

Continuous shooting stamina on the α77 II camera outpaces nearly all cameras in its class as well as many professional cameras. The new model can capture a non-stop burst of up to 60 full-resolution JPEG images at a maximum continuous shooting speed of approximately 12 frames per second with continuous AF (in Continuous Advance Priority AE mode).

24.3 megapixel Exmor® CMOS image sensor with enhanced sensitivity

A showcase of Sony’s leading image sensor technologies, the new 24.3 megapixel Exmor® CMOS image sensor in the α77 II camera features the same gapless on-chip lens structure as used in the acclaimed α7R and α6000 models. Thanks to an array of latest-generation imaging innovations, the sensor now offers 20% greater sensitivity than its predecessor (α77), and ensures flawless image detail and low-noises performance across the wide sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 25600.

The high-resolution sensor is partnered by the same evolved BIONZ X image processor introduced in the α7 and α7R models. Around three times faster than Sony’s previous BIONZ engine and optimized for the α77 II camera, it employs detail reproduction, diffraction-reducing and area-specific noise reduction technologies that contribute to amazing image definition and rich colors for still images and Full HD videos.

OLED Tru-Finder™ and 3-way tilting LCD

The new camera features a crisp, bright XGA OLED Tru-Finder with 2,360,000 dot resolution. With about three times higher contrast and resolving power compared to the original α77, the EVF on the new α77 II shows the effects of all settings adjustments in real-time, accurately displaying what the final image will look like. A wide viewing angle and high eye-point are complemented by a newly-expanded choice of brightness settings, and shooters have the ability to manually adjust color temperature for comfortable, accurate composition.

As featured on the full-frame α99 camera, the α77 II model also features a detail-packed 3.0-type (7.5 cm) Xtra Fine LCD that moves three ways for added convenience. The LCD also features WhiteMagic™ technology, which significantly improves screen visibility, even outdoors in direct sunlight.

Expanded Control and Customization

Evolved from the original α77 model, there are separate control dials on both sides of the grip for simpler control settings adjustments. In total, the α77 II camera has a total of 11 customizable buttons with up to 51 assignable functions.

Further, up to three frequently used groups of shooting modes and other settings can be stored in memory and recalled easily via the mode dial, and an exposure mode dial lock function has been inherited from the a99 model to prevent accidental mode changes.

Tough enough for serious enthusiasts

The tough, light magnesium body of the α77 II camera is engineered to withstand the demands of the most serious enthusiasts. It features a dust and moisture sealed design and a large, contoured grip for comfortable handling. In addition, the camera’s durable shutter unit is rated for 150,000 total shots.

Pro-style movie shooting with continuous AF

The α77 II camera can record Full HD 60p and 24p movies using the AVCHD 2.0 format. As with still shooting, Translucent Mirror Technology enables full-time phase-detection AF, ensuring accurate focus tracking with fast-moving subjects during video capture.

The camera has a number of additional features for serious movie makers, including three-level AF tracking sensitivity adjustment, a pro-style Zebra function and audio level metering. There’s also the addition of a clean HDMI® output that allows viewing on an external monitor and recording to an external storage device without compression

Wi-Fi® and PlayMemories™ Connectivity

On-board Wi-Fi allows one-touch connection for easy shot sharing with your Xperia®, NFC-compatible Android™ smartphones, tablets and VAIO® computers. A single touch also activates Smart Remote Control, linking the camera to your mobile phone enabling you to fire the shutter from a distance.

For devices without NFC one-touch capabilities, users can wirelessly transfer images and videos and activate Smart Remote Control through Sony’s free PlayMemories Mobile™ application, available for the iOS and Android platforms.

Sony α Lenses, Accessories and New “α Library” App for Tablets

Covering focal lengths from wide angle to telephoto, a family of 32 A-mount lenses offers an extensive choice of creative tools for visual expression, including several premium models from Carl Zeiss® and G Series Lenses.

The new α77 II camera is compatible with a range of versatile α accessories including microphones, flashes and more, and is designed to work the optional VG-C77AM grip, which enhances camera operability and versatility during vertical shooting.

Sony has also released a new photography-themed “α Library” application for tablets. This new app showcases the entire lineup of α lenses, including key information and specifications, in the “α Lens Catalog” section, and also includes access to a semiannual “α Magazine” lifestyle publication that showcases fun photography stories, tips, techniques and more. The new α Library is now available for download on Google Play and the iOS App Store.

Pricing and Availability

The Sony α77 II interchangeable lens camera will be available in June 2014 in a kit with a 16-50mm F2.8 lens (model SAL1650) for a suggested retail price of $1800. It will also be offered separately as a body for a suggested retail price of $1200.

The new camera and all compatible lenses and accessories will be available at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide.

1 Amongst interchangeable-lens digital cameras equipped with a dedicated phase-detection AF sensor as of May 1, 2014.

Pre-Order Information

You can pre-order the new Sony SLT-A77 II from B&H by following either one of these links:


Avatar of Romanas Naryškin About Romanas Naryškin

A student and a wedding photographer with a passion for cinematography and writing. You'll see me buying film even when there's no food in the fridge. Follow me on Google+, Facebook or visit my wedding photography website to see some of my work.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) craig

    I’d be interested in better low light performance than the plethora of focus points (although that will be nice). I have the A77 and I rarely take it over ISO 800. For the kind of shooting I do (landscape, tripod) its not a huge issue, but I tried morning birding once with a 5.6 lens and had to crank the ISO. Lets just say it didn’t shine. That isn’t my primary interest, so I’m not hugely disappointed and, for the price, the A77 w/ f/2.8 lens was a bargain for $1500.

  2. 2
    ) Robert Wiggins

    The A77 had GPS built in, I do not see it in these specs. Has Sony dropped the feature?

    • 4
      ) Matias Bravo

      Yes, Sony replaced the GPS module on the a77 for the WiFi module on the a77 II.

  3. 3
    ) Vladimir Naumoff

    It sounds all very good. I would probably kill for Nikon with these characteristics and I would switch to Sony DSLR line tomorrow if …. Sony wildlife lenses wouldn’t cost that much. Unfortunately Sigma does not make 120-300 mm f2.8 S with Sony mount and I don’t want to pay 15K for Sony 500mm lens. This is a problem. I was looking at old Minolta lenses but they are also very expensive for what they are. Sigma also doesn’t make 800mm 5.6 or 300mm-800mm Sony mount anymore. Tamron 600mm sucks. No converters or any adapters that would make Nikon lenses work well on that beast. Not without loosing auto-focus.

    Any ideas or suggestions?

    • 6
      ) Tomas Polakovic

      For anything Sony/Minolta lens related – look at http://www.dyxum.com. Specs of all lenses, tons of real user lens reviews, sample images. If you won’t find there what you are looking for, then it does not exist for the Alpha mount.
      Kurtmunger.com is also a nice source of info.
      I for myself am pretty happy on an amateur level with the Minolta 100-300 4.5-5.6 APO. Small, lightweight, fast focusing, sharp. AFAIK most Sony birders use the Sony 70-400 4-5.6 (I or II) and whatever Sigma makes in the tele department for Sony.

  4. 5
    ) Rory

    You wrote regarding focusing: “It should also work reliably (to an extent) in light levels as low as -2 EV (at ISO 100)”. I thought EV was an absolute measure of the amount of light, irrespective of ISO. Can you plesae clarify.

  5. 7
    ) Ertan

    I think making small improvements every year is better than waiting for 5 years and releasing an all new body.

    • 13
      ) Tonio

      But this supersedes a three year old camera.

  6. 8
    ) Muhammad Omer

    is SLT different from SLR? please explain

    • Muhammad,

      here is a quote from our A77 announcement:

      “Sony’s translucent mirror, on the other hand, allows the light to pass through the mirror and hit the camera sensor, simultaneously reflecting some of the light off the mirror on to the AF sensor. The mirror never moves and stays in the same spot. This allows the camera to acquire focus with the phase detection system even when shooting video. Because the shutter is the only moving component inside the camera, images can be captured at crazy fast speeds. For example, the top-of-the-line Nikon D3s can loudly capture 9 frames per second maximum, while the new Sony Alpha A77 SLT can take 12 frames per second and the only thing you will hear is the sound of shutter opening and closing.”

      There are, of course, some downsides to this approach as well – some of the light passing through the lens is always reflected towards the AF sensor, even during exposure, which means less light reaching the sensor and, consequently, either longer exposure, wider aperture setting or higher ISO setting to compensate. Also, because the camera uses an EVF and not an optical finder, staring at a tiny screen definitely puts strain on eyes and is not good.

      • 10
        ) Muhammad Omer

        Thanks for the reply Romanas. You really cooperate alot by replying to comments. I am reading your lightroom tutorials and they are really helpful. Thanks

        • I am glad you find our content of use, Muhammad. :)

          • 12
            ) Muhammad Omer

            Romanas, I agree with you that electronic viewfinders can’t be too good. A lot of people seem to be asking for them on the nikon df. Why is that. Are thee any benefits of electronic viewfinders?

            • 14
              ) Tomas Polakovic

              EVFs are a matter of taste. I personally love the Sony implementation. Reasons:
              - very easy manual mode shooting. You can actually see the impact of aperture, shutter speed, ISO and to some extent white balance changes immediately, _before_taking the picture. You see what the sensor sees.
              - focus peaking for manual focus. Adds colored outlines to the areas with highest contrast so it’s easy to see what’s in focus even with a smallish EVF in my A58.
              - all menus and information can be displayed in the EVF exactly the same as on the rear screen – no need to take your eye off the EVF
              - the A77 EVF view is almost equal in size to full format optical VFs – see http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonyslta77/3 – it’s considerably larger than any other APS-C DSLR’s optical finder.

              Of course there are cons as well of the current EVFs most notably somewhat limited dynamic range compared to optical etc.
              But I would definitely not go back to an optical finder, especially on an APS-C camera.

  7. 15
    ) youssef

    excuse me what is your camera?

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