- Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 8.1 x 10.4 cm ; 649 g
- Boxed-product Weight: 2 Kg
- Batteries 1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)
- Item Model Number: ILCA77M2Q
- ASIN: B00K0BYLNQ
- Date first available at Amazon.com.au: 13 November 2017
- Customer Reviews: Be the first to review this item
Sony A77II Digital SLR Camera with 16-50mm F2.8 Lens
- Superb subject tracking
- Astonishing image quality
- OLED Tru-Finder
- Superior movie performance
- Wi-Fi/NFC connectivity
- Superb subject tracking
- Astonishing image quality
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For those not familiar with the difference between Sony’s approach to SLR technology vs. the traditional moving mirror, a fixed translucent mirror that doesn’t move replaces the standard SLR mirror that has to flop in and out of position in front of the sensor. That design difference is the key to the camera’s unique strengths (and its weaknesses in the minds of many purists). However, that single design difference allows the much faster and more accurate phase detection autofocus system to be working all the time, including while shooting movies, and thus gives you full time live view, much faster hi-speed shooting, and a lighter body, but also requires an electronic (non-optical) viewfinder, and with a modest ~30% loss of slight with some attendant noise penalty of roughly 1/2 F stop. Although a few purists bemoan the loss of a `true’ optical VF, and few others the 1/2 stop noise penalty, for most people looking for the best possible still photography and video, this is, at least in IMHO, a truly brilliant stroke that in one fell swoop removes some of the chronic limitations of the classic DSLR environs. If that noise penalty is a big deal, you are looking at the wrong camera (or you just have ‘noise OCD’).
The A77 Mark II falls in the highly competitive territory of `prosumer’ or semi pro-cameras in the APS-C class, a class with features and capabilities just short of “all-out” full frame pro-cameras. These semipro APS-C cameras are still plenty big, but not quite as big and hefty as the current full frame pro cameras by Sony, Canon and Nikon, particularly when you hang typical glass on them. The full frame Nikon 810, Canon 5DIII, or even the Sony A99 (with a Canon L, Nikkor or Zeiss 24/70 mm lens in front of it) is overall a monster to tote around, for any extended period of time. I had one of these (the A99) for a brief period of time, and as much as I loved its pictures, I decided that it was just too heavy to lug around, and my neck and back voted it out, even though it was a phenomenal camera (see Tim Naff’s review of the A99 on Amazon). If you want to take a very modest step down in low light ability without giving up anything else and saving some not-inconsiderable size and weight - to say nothing of cost - this class of camera might be a best compromise solution. This camera basically hits the sweet spot for me, making very small concessions in functionality to full frame equipment, while offering many professional grade features.
Let’s talk history. If you can put aside fan boy loyalties, a recent history of this class of cameras suggests that the Big Players have taken turns leapfrogging each other in relationship to what might be the best semi-pro camera. When it came out in 2010, the Nikon 7000 was probably the best camera in this prosumer group. When it first appeared in 2011, the Sony A77 probably displaced the Nikon 7000 as the best semiprofessional camera (although its low light performance was undeniably poor). Olympus may have snagged the crown for a brief period with its OM-D E-M5 in 2012. In 2013, Nikon returned the favor, with the Nikon 7100, which received high marks from Digital Photography Reviews and several other professional reviewers, and likely bumped both the previous generation A77 and the OM5 off the top spot. I think that Sony has responded in kind and `held serve’. As undeniably great as the Nikon 7100 is, I believe that overall, it still is not quite as good a camera as the A77ii, particularly if the A77ii is equipped with the Sony 16-50 2.8 lens (see my Amazon review of this very fine lens). Competition has really been good for the class. All this leapfrogging drives the real progress and just how far the prosumer group has come in four years. The cameras keep getting better (more resolution AND more low light ability), while the price stays about the same. Of course, this is happening in virtually all sectors of the DP world, as sensor design improvements keep moving the goalposts. Compared with even a state of the art pro camera from 10-12 years ago, any of these APS-C or m4/3 cameras simply would be a revelation in detail, low light ability and features. Indeed, any of the current generation APS-C or FF 24MP sensors will be equal with (or slightly out-resolve) Kodachrome 64 in bright light (my all time favorite film) while demolishing it in low light.
Let’s talk pesos. If you drop down from FF to APS-C, you’re saving a little over $1200 relative to a full frame camera body like the A99 (~ $2K if you are talking about a Nikon 810/Canon 5DIII). You are saving another $1250 on the best walk-around lens ($750 for the Sony 16-50 2.8 vs. the Zeiss 24-70 2.8 at $2000), and yet your only real sacrifice is about one F-stop in noise, but picking up an extra 6 frames per second and a waaaay deeper buffer for continuous shooting. That’s an almost $2500-3300 cost for that ~ 0.7 (SonyA99) to 1.5 (Nikon610/SonyRX1) f-stop of noise relative to most FF bodies. Sony’s in-body IS can effectively eliminate that margin if you are shooting FF on a non-stabilized lens (and may even exceed FF w/o IS). That looks to me like a LOT of money for fairly slim margins. As someone once said, it’s all about trade-offs - every technology is a series of compromises. Outside of low light image quality, I’m simply not convinced that the A99 is a meaningfully better camera than the A77II - and the A99 is even surpassed by its little brother in several key functional areas: 1) better AF system, 2) way deeper buffer and 3) doubling up from 6 FPS on the A99 to 12 FPS. It’s thus - arguably - a better sports camera than the A99. Would I trade an A77II for an A99 even up? Perhaps. But in terms of a price (and especially weight?) dependent preference, the A77II with its 16-50 wins for me, as it is ~50% of the cost of an A99 with the CZ 24-70. Again, slim margins for a lot of money. (But if I was shooting for a living, those margins might suddenly be worth it . . .)
Let’s talk weight. Compared to an A99 with the Zeiss 24-70, the A77 with a 16-50 drops about 1.3 lbs of weight relative to its FF big brother, and ~ 2+ lbs if you comparing with a Nikon 800/810 with its 24-70 2.8. That weight REALLY adds up over time. Carry the A99 with the 24-70 vs. the A77ii with the 16-50 for a full day while shooting, and you may feel that the weight penalty is WAY more punitive than the $2500 cost penalty. Plus the A99 (and many other FF pro cameras) have no built-in flash, so you can add yet another lb at least, tacking on a flash unit if you need extra light. That’s again a lot of weight for the same slim margins.
Let’s talk about Sony’s recent track record in DP. Since buying Konica Minolta only 8 years ago, Sony has put out over 40 IL (interchangeable lens)cameras of various types, based on three fundamental design approaches: (initially) conventional DSLRs, but then transitioning to the SLT and the mirrorless E-mount models. They didn’t stop there - offering three additional groundbreaking cameras with fixed lenses - the RX1 and then the RX100/RX10 - which raised the bar in terms of performance relative to camera size, followed up by the A7 series, which continued Sony’s approach in the RX line of stuffing the largest possible sensor in the smallest possible body. Since 2010, many, if not most of these cameras have received Gold Awards by DPR totaling 11 Gold Awards in FOUR classes (3 RX models, 1 A7 model, 5 SLT models, 2 E-mount models), and three have won Pop. Photo. Camera of the Year (A55, NEX-7, A7r) - Sony taking this honor 3 out of the last 4 years by producing a camera in 3 of the 4 different classes. To achieve this run of awards on just ONE class like the SLT models would be pretty impressive, but to do this in such quite different models of digital camera is clearly unprecedented.
Let’s also be clear that I am not interested in promoting any version of `brand wars’, and that Olympus, Nikon, Fuji, Panasonic, and Canon all make great cameras (it’s a surfeit of riches in DP these days). But whatever brand loyalties you might feel, one has to admit that this is an astonishing run of good form, almost out of nowhere, and starting from well behind the established players. Although they started with major expertize in sensor design, as a major driver of this great run, Sony has also been more willing to take risks than any other DP player, while Nikon, and Canon even more so, seem relatively content to plod along with well-established formulas and take far fewer risks, and both have been more reluctant to move away from time-honored concepts of DSLR operation - witness their slow response to the explosion in mirrorless ILC, which is now being dominated by other players beside Canikon (specifically Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and Fuji). Very little has changed from these two dominant players in terms of the basic DSLR template in the last 15 years, excepting the basic addition of video ability, and while Canikon has sold over 85+% of all DSLRs, sales of this type of camera have been declining by roughly 10% per year over the last 3-4 years. This suggests that some tweaking of these time honored formulas might be badly overdue. So if you are open to a brave and refreshing new approach in DLSR photography, you might carefully consider the A77ii.
PROS (not rank ordered):
1) Upgraded sensor, competitive with Toshiba sensor in the Nikon 7100/5300 and identical to the highly rated chip in the A6000 (presumably minus its phase detection circuitry). Depending on one’s metric, between 1/3 and 3/4 stop (more or less) better in terms of noise relative to the 2011 24MP Sony chip in the previous generation A65/77. Combined with improved JPEG engine, at least a full stop if not 1.5 stops, less noise and/or loss of detail in JPEGs (see PRO #14).
2) Upgraded autofocus system with 79 PD autofocus points, fast, and accurate. Highly configurable within menu settings. One of the best autofocus systems in the industry? “Lock-on expand flexible spot” AF setting is a revelation for reliable object tracking.
3) Excellent OLED EVF (2.4mp), quietly improved over from previous generation A77/65 (less over-contrasted, better low light functioning). One of the best viewfinders in the digital world, with a big, bright and detailed view of your subject (but see cons). Using this EVF is a revelation, compared to the sense of looking down a narrow, dark tunnel in any subframe OVF, esp. in low light, where the EVF simply separates from OVFs, even FF viewfinders. Offers live and immediate feedback on how your picture composition is going to change as shooting parameters are modified, and with many configuration options, including a great level, and all kinds of other useful information.
4) Operating system can be heavily customized to individual preference with deep feature set (including excellent high dynamic range, low light and panorama modes). Fine aperture priority mode (my personal preference), but camera can be easily run in full auto for those who are slightly technophobic and conversely can be tweaked to the Nth degree for the technophile. Basic ergonomics are well thought out and mostly seamless with a deep menu system (but see cons).
5) Decent lens options (although clearly less than CanNikon), particularly a very strong 16-50 2.8 Sony lens (see formal testing on Imaging Resource). The 16-50 2.8 is one of the world’s best walk-around zoom lenses (with a 24-75mm equivalent view) out there, and a good reason in itself to buy a Sony Alpha camera. Compares favorably with Canon L, Zeiss, Nikkor, and any other pro-grade glass. Sony makes a fantastic 70-400 G2 SSM telephoto. Makes a great two lens kit that covers from 24-600mm equivalent. Many great Minolta legacy lenses offer great value (if increased PF/CA relative to modern optics).
6) Full-time live view - leagues better than the tacked-on-afterthought version of live view on classic SLR mirrored cameras. Way more responsive, way faster, and simply way better. Again once you’ve used one of the Sony SLT systems, it’s hard to go back to the old way of doing live view, which seems hopeless clunky by comparison.
7) Full-time phase detection autofocus in movie mode, not available on most DSLRs (although an increasing number of manufacturers are using phase detection on chip to get around this limitation). Sony’s approach is still better and the auto focus module (in certain modes) is quite effective at tracking moving subjects, and its parameters can now be user customized.
8) Under-rated low light abilities, effectively belied by 2 major issues impacting low light performance: IS and MFNR. In-camera image stabilization means that EVERY lens you put on this camera is automatically image stabilized - IS system is worth ~ 2 stops . This allows the camera to equal or exceed full frame low light ability (FF on a non-stabilized lens) by ~ a full stop (more or less). In addition to IS, there is a great multiframe noise reduction mode (4 shots in rapid succession with ~ 2 stops of noise smoothing/reduction). Put together, they translate into a combined ~ 3-3.5 stops of noise reduction between the IS and MF NR functionality (low light performance is not all DxO ISO RAW test numbers in other words - those numbers don’t reflect a single stop of this ~ 3-3.5 stop functional advantage).
9) Camera firmware corrects in JPEG for classic lens problems of chromatic aberration, barrel/pincushion distortion, and vignetting. Most popular Sony lenses, including all the primes, the 16-50 2.8, and all the G lenses have built-in correction profiles. Underrated plus (becoming a more common feature, but originally pioneered by Sony).
10) In highly critical shooting, you don’t have to worry about mirror shake, mirror lockup and all of that nonsense. This is a deceptively significant issue for the full frame cameras (was a big issue on the Nikon 800 Nikon addressed in the 810 but also in the APS-C camera group such as Nikon 7100 when trying to get maximum resolution out of the current generation of high-resolution sensors 24-36 megapixels).
11) Everything on this camera is fast, not just its maximum burst rate (a class leading 12 frames per second) but its autofocus, menu operation, picture preview/scrolling, etc.
12) Improved buffer depth means that that continuous shooting speed is now a meaningful statistic (as opposed to just advertizing), and you can capture a full 5 seconds at 12 frames per second (~60 shots in JPEG and ~24 shots in RAW). Previous generation was hampered by very poor buffer depth which meant that its high shooting speed was really more academic than meaningful (a real plus over the Nikon 7100 which is hampered by the same design limitation.) Combined with its improved autofocus tracking, now a real sports camera.
13) As an adjunct to the great autofocus system, you can adjust the AF for lenses that are back- or front-focusing. Almost every lens can benefit, and this fixed a chronic problem for me with two lenses.
14) A much better JPEG engine - this applies both sharpening and noise reduction in a more context-dependent fashion. Combined with a less noisy sensor, this allows for usable JPEGs at ISO settings where the previous gen A77/65 images were just a blotchy mess. I would estimate that AT LEAST a full f-stop, if not 1.5 stops of extra usability. I used to cringe at having to shoot past ISO 1600, now I feel comfortable going to 6400 for smaller prints or if I’m working in RAW. (Part of the debate over how much the new camera is really better at low light emerges from confusion and conflation of RAW noise (where the A77ii appears 1/3 to 1/2 stop better in DXO testing), vs how much JPEGs are noisy/blotchy and/or losing detail from heavy NR.) Sony’s new JPEG engine is now simply a notch better than Nikon’s or Canon’s, and approaches (but probably doesn’t quite equal) the benchmark Olympus engine in creating useful and clean JPEGs. (Skeptics - please feel free to look at test images on DPR - pull up their image comparometer tool and look at Nikon 7100, Canon 7Dii, Olympus OMD1 and Sony A6000 JPEGs at ISO 6400). The JPEG engine is also easily adjustable - contrast, sat and sharpness easily tweaked for personal preference. And speaking of sharpness, given that Sony sets the engine on a rather smooth default, it’s easy to go to 2+ sharpening without any artifacts (3+ starts to show some sharpening halos).
CONS (rank ordered in descending order of seriousness IMO):
1) No 4K video - and no option for the new highly efficient H.265 (HEVC) codec (~ half the file size of the previous gen H.264). The lack of support for 4K is my #1 real disappointment (see Canon FF and Panasonic GH4). Not fixable in future firmware due to data pipe line restrictions as sensor simply isn’t fast enough in getting data off to the CPU for 4k. Given that Samsung’s new flagship NX1 supports 4K onto SD cards (along with several Canon and Olympus models), this looks like a major omission, although Sony has plenty of company on this point (Nikon and Canon). Only new Sony A7rii/A7sii, and Samsung NX1 have in body 4k in either an APS-C or FF body. Lots of Panasonics and several Olympus m4/3 do also.
2) Despite upgrade to the Bionz X processor used in all their new cameras, video still uses `line skipping’ of previous generation cameras (not to be confused with interlacing). This essentially means that the Sony RX 100 III (which samples the full frame to generate a 1080p image instead of the older line skipping approach) will still have better video than the Sony A77II. This also emerges directly from the data pipeline limitations.
3) Less rich system ecology for the professional photographer compared to Canon-Nikon. In particular, lens options are considerably less impressive than CanNikon, particularly as you get into telephoto zooms. But support not bad (excellent battery pack/grip, external mic, and other accessories for pro-level shooting and videography).
4) Still no low light phenom in RAW and at least 1 f-stop or more from many FF cameras (but not counting the 2 stops from IS and the 2 stop reduction possible in MF NR).
5) Sony’s Play Memories smartphone interface software, at least its current generation, can only be described as a pathetic effort with little real functionality, due to its forcing the camera into a very vanilla AUTO mode where you have absolutely no control over anything. Even after updating my phone operating system (previous generation OS rejected all efforts at Wi-Fi pairing with camera), connection is not very reliable, including a relatively unstable connection with Wi-Fi enabled TVs - see extended discussion of these issues in the last section.
6) Lack of true complete control over shooting parameters in movie mode. Still can’t fully control ISO and aperture unless in manual focus? WUWT?
7) EVF can still struggle under exceptionally bright conditions, although now with a greater range of brightness adjustment, this usually can now be accommodated. (In low light, this EVF is actually easier to see your subject through than OVF due to gain provided)
8) Loss of GPS and IR focus assist in low light (the latter presumably not needed as much). Balanced by WiFi and NFC? A good tradeoff for most but a bummer for those who loved the GPS feature.
9) Another tradeoff around the adoption of the ISO standard hot shoe - good for everybody new to the brand, except those of us with the old Minolta type flash mounts? Fixable with neat little Sony adapter.
10) No touch screen functionality. Bigger issue for some than for others. Might have been nice to have lock on AF points/tracking adjustable from touchscreen.
11) Rather big and heavy for APS-C camera? Not far in weight from Nikon 750, which offers significantly better sensor/low light ability.
12) Menu structure is complex, not well explained by the manual, requiring menu diving. Gary Friedman is best resource for learning complex OS. In particular, the AF settings are both complex and counter-intuitive.
AREAS WHERE THE A-77II SERIOUSLY NEEDS WORK/UPDATES.
First on the list of fixable items (as the lack of 4k and pixel binning in video are not fixable on this generation chipset) is the dismal performance of the Play Memories software - software which generally gets very poor marks on Internet reviews. Now that I actually have it working after updating my phone OS, I can see why. After working with the PlayMemories Remote Control by Smartphone feature, I have to conclude that whoever designed this was well, to put it bluntly, an idiot. On the A77II, but not the RX100iii (the version for the RX100 has WAY more functionality and is actually far more useful!!), you can’t ever shoot from the operational mode you’re in, and it defaults to the most vanilla AUTO mode possible. This comes complete with total loss of control over ISO, f-stop, etc. including any adjustment you might have made to the flash exposure problem - so if the flash comes out - you guessed it automatically - count on overexposed pictures. AND, you can’t EVER delete pictures - and to boot, Sony hides the captured files in their own folder, doesn’t allow you to change that folder assignment (like putting them in one of your existing picture folders (!) or anything common sense that like that, so you can’t surf through your pictures with the normal Android picture viewing tools. So the functionality of “PlayMemories” as anything more than just a remote viewing screen (or as a `gee wiz’ feature to impress your non-technical spouse or friends) is just about ZERO from my perspective. It’s simply a pathetic effort by Sony and makes me wonder if beta testing on this was done by photographic amateurs, as anyone with even a passing competence in the camera’s operating system would have nixed such a regression to pure vanilla AUTO mode, to say nothing of the dismal file handling. To have such a poorly thought out software interface offered on Sony’s flagship APS-C camera is truly a shock - and it suggests that this software package was cobbled together, in a rush, and at the last second, to get something out with the camera so Sony could claim the A77II is Wi-Fi friendly. It is evidence that the more things change, the more they seem to stay the same with Sony. Brilliant and innovative hardware design in the SLT-EVF concept paired with (occasionally) infuriating lack of attention to operational details - esp. on the software side. It is a painful contrast with, for example, Apple’s ability to integrate software and hardware seamlessly. Sometimes these operational bugs don’t intrude or get trimmed out, but when they exist, they are often very frustrating. I am stunned that the Play Memories software functionality for the RX100III is orders of magnitude better and is genuinely useful. What is Sony thinking, in producing a highly useful version (!) on their smallest serious camera while shorting their APS-C flagship?
Sony, despite mixed reviews on this point in relationship to some past products, appears to have been actually listening in relationship to the SLT line. Sometimes other dubious design decisions appeared impervious to user feedback, but in relationship to the Alpha 77, they apparently listened to user complaints and addressed almost every single issue, improving its low light noise, its autofocus, and its buffer depth, while keeping and even enhancing the previous generation camera’s considerable feature set and strengths. It still gives up a little bit of resolution to the FF Nikon 800/810 and Sony A7ri (and a bit more to the brilliant A7rii), and concedes a little bit of lowlight ability to all the full frame cameras, but only ~ one stop now instead of ~ 2 stops. With some non-stabilized lenses on full frame, the A77ii with full time IS is going to exceed those FF low light abilities by ~ a full stop, give or take (not counting low light phenoms like the Sony A7S and the Nikon D4S). This IS system, particularly combined with the multiframe noise reduction mode, largely mitigates the camera’s main physical performance limitation relative to FF (with IS alone, it beats my RX-1 in low light by almost a stop). Those stuck to quoting DxO numbers as canonical (see debate on this in comments section) miss completely how many effective f-stops worth of noise reduction are created by IS conjoined with MFNR (~ 3+ stops), which means that instead of being forced to use ISO 12800 for a low light shot using an non-stabilized lens on a FF, I can shoot at ISO 1600. This camera at ISO 1600 beats (or at least ties) SNR of even the Sony A7S at 12800. So all you noise-phobic types out there (I count myself in that group) concerned about the poor low light reputation of the previous gen A77/65, RELAX. Once you learn how to exploit the full potential of all the technologies in this system, you will be astonished at what low light shooting you can do. Obviously, it’s still no Nikon D4S or Sony A7S, but indoor and night shooting (without flash) have been surprisingly productive options for me, with many excellent images using either just IS, or IS conjoined with MF NR.
My one major disappointment is the apparent failure to upgrade the CPU and sensor data line to support the full frame sampling seen in the RX100iii and RX10 and the associated absence of an 4K video capability (as I think 4K is going to explode over the next two years, as 4K sets are already entering the mainstream). I am also seriously disappointed that Sony released a version of PM (Play Memories) smartphone control interface for the camera that is notably inferior to what’s available on the RX-100III, and I remain puzzled by Sony’s ongoing difficulties with flash exposure control and apparent bright light overexposure.
None of this detracts from the great pictures, but one wishes that Sony sweated the operational details a bit more in this first firmware release, and reduced the complexity of the AF settings to a ‘case’ approach instead of the overly confusing parametric approach. Most of these various issues can be fixed by firmware updates and/or updates to PlayMemories software, or at least let’s hope so.
Despite these issues, if the tradeoffs of APS-C make sense to you, I have to believe that you will love the A77ii. Highly recommended overall, as perhaps the most well-rounded APS-C camera. Real competition for the Canon 7Dii, the Nikon 7100/7200 and the Samsung NX1 as the elite players in the APS-C field. Samsung appears poised to drop the NX1, after creating a brilliant design, making it clear that innovative designs, and market success are not synonymous. Sony – are you paying attention? This is a constricting field (big body cameras), given the enormous reach and penetration of better and better cell phone cameras into almost every sector of digital photography excepting the very high end. It may be that at some relatively near point in the future, we will have cell phones, and high end bodies, and nothing else. Perhaps even APS-C itself will be extinguished by this trend. Let’s hope not.
so this year i did TONS of research on various cameras to replace it, i wanted to stay with sony because i think their cameras are the best 'prosumer' cameras on the market. almost bought the new a6300 after researching it, but since i had some 'kit' that went with the a77 still, the battery pack/vertical grip, a couple a mount dt lenses...
holy mackerel, what a step up this is from the original. SO much more able to think for itself in tricky lighting situations! it is just fantastic. the focus tracking is great, the manual focus peaking feature is SO great for getting something behind a cage focused quickly without landing on the cage itself! i have taken several shots with no tripod of the sky at night, using a wall or post to sort of brace myself, and the camera captures everything nicely. plus with the multi frame noise reduction the pictures stay away from being too noisy.
i thought about finally moving up to full frame, was tempted but after cooling off i figured for my needs i'm sure this far less expensive route was the way to go. i'm glad i did, i am thrilled with this very very cool camera... way to go sony
i WILL NOT be taking it in the pool!