Sony A77 Availability

The Sony A77 was announced August 24th 2011, but took some time to become widely available because of production difficulties associated with flooding in Thailand. It can be found at Amazon: Sony A77 with Kit Lens and Sony A77 Body, and Adorama – Sony A77 Kit and Sony A77 Body. In the UK it’s available from WEX and Amazon UK. In Hong Kong, DigitalRev usually have stock.

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Sony A99 Announced – A Full-frame A77

Sony today announced the Sony Alpha A99, the world’s first full-frame camera to use Sony’s translucent mirror technology and effectively a full-frame version of the A77. Priced at $2800 and available from October, it’s already available for pre-order from Adorama and Amazon in the USA and Wex Photographic in the UK. Highlights from the full specification include:

  • 24.3MP CMOS Full-frame Sensor
  • Unique dual AF system – phase detection on sensor
  • Improved BIONZ processor
  • ISO 100-12800, with options for ISO 50 and 25600 with boost.
  • Six frames per second at full resolution, 10fps in cropped mode
  • AVCHD video at Full HD 1080 60/24p
  • Video features include external mic and headphone sockets, clean HDMI output
  • Magnesium alloy body with weather sealing
  • Same XGA OLED viewfinder as A77
  • Design and layout very similar to A77.
  • New accessories: Battery Grip, Wireless Remote, HVL-F60M Flash, HVL-F60M Ring LIght, XLR Audio Adapter kit , Hot Shoe Adapter, Screen Protector.
  • New 300mm f2.8 Telephoto Lens
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A New Full-frame Version Of The A77 Is Coming Soon – The Sony A99

In a little over a week’s time, a new Sony camera will arrive that is essentially a full-frame version of the A77. It’s to be called the A99 and will have all the advantages of the A77 plus a bigger sensor.

The full specs will be:

  • 24.3MP full frame sensor
  • ISO range: 100-25,600 (ISO-low 50 is also available)
  • 14 bit RAW output
  • 1/8000 maximum shutter speed
  • 10 fps
  • Shutter life: 200,000 shots
  • 102 points AF system
  • 2360k dots XGA OLED viewfinder
  • 3″ tiltable 921k dots LCD screen
  • Full HD video recording at 1920×1080/60p
  • HDMI output
  • Built-in stereo mic
  • Built-in flash with guide number of 12
  • Two memory slots: SD and SD+MS cards
  • Weight: 730 g.
  • Price: around $2,800

A full announcement is expected on September 12. Latest updates are at Sony A99 News.

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A77 Interesting Features #1 – Focus Peaking

One of the more interesting features of the A77 is focus peaking, which aims to make accurate manual focusing easier and more precise. The EVF show a bright colour – you can choose between yellow and red – to show the edges of exactly what’s in focus. It’s easier to understand by viewing a demonstration:

Although you might not want to have this on all the time, it’s a useful feature to have when manual focus is critical. What’s interesting is that none of the makers who have gone for ‘retro’ or ‘rangefinder’ styled cameras have copied this feature, even though some of these cameras have become popular for use with legacy manual-focus lenses. It must be be a really useful feature with manual focus lenses on the Sony NEX-7, which also has it, along with most of the other bells and whistles of the A77.

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DVD Tutorial For The A77

As well as A77-specific books, there’s now a DVD Tutorial from Quick Pro Camera Guides – The Sony A77 QuickPro Camera Guide (Tutorial DVD for Sony A-77).

Major topics covered include:- Automatic and Manual settings – Shutter speed – Aperture – ISO – Megapixel – Composition – Metering – RAW vs. JPEG – and many more.

There are a couple of (very mixed!) customer reviews. It looks like it might appeal to people who really prefer watching a DVD to reading.

I’ve also noticed another A77 book – The Sony SLT-A77: The Unofficial Quintessential Guide, not yet released but available for pre-order. I guess this won’t be the last A77 book to be written…

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Sony A77 Books

Three new photography books aim to help people with the finer detail and the more obscure features of using their A77. Firstly, David Busch’s Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Guide to Digital Photography promises to tell you:

  •  How to select the best autofocus mode, shutter speed, f/stop, and flash capability to take great pictures under any conditions.
  •  Troubleshooting and prevention tips to keep your camera and media operating smoothly.
  • The basics of good photography as you master your camera’s operation.

David Busch also has a Sony Alpha SLT-A77/A65 Compact Field Guide which is spiral-bound and intended to be easier to take with you when you’re out shooting.
And the well-known ‘Dummies’ series also has Sony Alpha SLT-A65/A77 For Dummies, if you like their particular style.

The A77 is a complex camera and the manual is written in the typical style of Japanese camera companies – technically correct, but not always easy to understand. Having some books gives us good alternatives.

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A77 Stock Returning – But Kit Easier To Get Than Body Only

Sony seem to have production fully working now and the A77 is reappearing in retailers. But unlike late last year, the kit with the 16-50mm f2.8 lens is now easier to find than the body-only. Probably Sony concentrated on getting kits out to make up for their lack of availability previously.

Amazon US has a few of the Sony A77 Kit With 16-50mm F2.8 lens
and Body only. Both are backordered at Adorama – Sony A77 Kit and Sony A77 Body.

Amazon UK has the Sony A77 Kit with 16-50mm Lens but no bodies. Likewise, WEX have the kit but the body is backordered. In Hong Kong, DigitalRev have both the kit and body as backordered.

Sony Alpha A77

Sony Alpha A77

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Sony Lens Rebates

Sony are offering a range of rebates in the US on lenses suitable for the A77. Full details are at Adorama, BHphoto and Amazon.

Some of the most interesting for the A77 include the 35mm f1.8, 50mm f1.8 and 85mm f2.8 primes, and 70-200 f2.8 and 70-300 f4.5-5.6 G telezooms. All would complement the 16-50 kit lens by offering a different focal length and aperture combination.

Sony 70-200 f2.8

Sony 70-200 f2.8

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A77 Selling For A Premium?

The shortage of available A77s caused by the flooding in Thailand earlier in the year means that used A77s are appearing at prices above the recommended retail, and it looks as if some of them are selling too. Amazon has a couple of kits – Sony A77 With 16-50mm F2.8 lens from $2200 and the Sony A77 – Body Only from $2399 new and $1699 used. The Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 kit lens is available separately at the normal price of $699. The Sony A65 seems to be in similarly short supply, with only one used kit at $1999. The one thing that does seem to be freely available, the Sony VG-C77AM Vertical Grip, isn’t a lot of use without the camera.

Buyers who don’t fancy these prices and who can’t wait until Sony gets production and stock flowing again have a few other options: DigitalRev in Hong Kong are listing the A77 body as available, although delivery in 1-2 weeks, and have the A65 as shipping within 24 hours. In the UK WEX Photographic have the Body, though not the kit.

This can’t be an entirely happy time for Sony, who clearly intended to take market share from Canon and Nikon with the A77, and now find themselves unable to meet demand due to circumstances beyond their control. Let’s hope they are back to full capacity soon.

Vertical Grip For A77 - Available Now, Unlike Everything Else

Vertical Grip For A77 - Available Now, Unlike Everything Else

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Sony A77 Firmware Upgrade 1.04

A new firmware upgrade has been issued for the A77 and is available from Sony Asia: Sony A77 Firmware Upgrade 1.04 for Windows and Sony A77 Firmware Upgrade 1.04 for Apple Macintosh.

Sony say that the firmware offers the following improvements:

  1. Expanded the number of automatic compensation compliant lenses: Sony SAL-1680Z 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Zeiss Vario-Sonnar and Sony SAL16105 16-105mm f/3.5-5.6
  2. Functional improvements:
    • Improvement of responses
    • Improvement of picture quality
    • Improvement of usability

Although we’d all like a slightly faster, more useable camera with better picture quality, my experience with firmware upgrades is that it’s usually best to wait for a few days to allow any problems to be ironed out. I won’t be upgrading until I’ve seen people posting that it all works and makes noticeable improvements.

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Sony A77 Production Resumed

CNet Asia reported that Sony have restarted production of the A77: “The electronics giant has confirmed reports that production of its SLT and NEX-series cameras has restarted after the flooding which occurred in its Thai production facilities last month.”

Worldwide, stocks of the A77 are difficult to find. DigitalRev in Hong Kong and WEX in the UK have the A77 body-only in stock, but no kits. A few used A77s are selling – at a premium – on Amazon US.

And Techradar has a new, full review of the A77. They conclude that although the A77 has a few niggles, “when weighing these up against a superb level of image quality when shooting in most conditions, great handling, good build quality, industry-leading EVF, quick full-time phase detection AF system and a comprehensive set of exposure modes, we have little trouble with recommending this excellent camera.”

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