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Sony Alpha A77 Digital Camera Review$1,999.99
The A77 has two automatic modes: Auto and Auto+. The usual program, aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual exposure modes are available in still photo mode (PASM) and movie mode (under the film-strip symbol). There's a dedicated 12fps burst setting, regular sweep panorama and 3D sweep panorama modes too.
The A77 has two control dials, one on the front and one on the rear. The obvious application is that one adjusts the aperture and the other controls the shutter. With the default firmware, the dials are sluggish, but they become much more responsive with the latest edition (v1.05). The functions and directions of each dial can be swapped as well.
One of the best aspects of the A77's translucent-mirror design is the full-time phase-detection autofocus. It's as quick and accurate as a regular DSLR, but doesn't have to drop focus every time it exposes a photo. It even works at the fastest burst setting, and in video mode, too.
Thanks to the excellent 2.4-megapixel OLED electronic viewfinder and focus peaking feature, even manual focus is great. Sony even takes a perceived weakness—the lack of an optical viewfinder—and turns it into a strength. Focus peaking highlights the edges of in-focus portions of the image in the EVF (or LCD). The threshold is adjustable, as is the color of the outline. It's sensitive enough to pick up lines of text on a piece of paper. Better photography through technology. We can understand why most folks would still prefer OVFs, but with developments like this, the case against keeps EVFs getting weaker.
The A77 tops out at a mighty 24 megapixels of resolution in a 3:2 aspect ratio (6000 x 4000 pixels). It can shoot medium (12MP) and small (6MP) sizes as well in a 3:2 format, as well as large (20MP), medium (10MP), and small (5.1MP) sizes in a 16:9 widescreen format.
The A77 offers a few high-level JPEG controls in addition to the typical exposure controls.
Color saturation is adjustable in seven steps in each color mode. It's set to 0 by default, and can move +/- 3 steps.
Contrast is adjustable in seven steps in each color mode. It's set to 0 by default, and can move +/- 3 steps.
Edge sharpness is adjustable in seven steps in each color mode. It's set to 0 by default, and can move +/- 3 steps.
High ISO NR
The noise reduction filter has three intensity settings: low, normal, and high. Though it's supposedly a high ISO noise reduction filter, we measured it kicking in as low as ISO 400.
Long Exposure NR
This is a noise-reduction filter for photos with an exposure of one second or longer. It can be set to on or off.