Kevin Boey's Blog
Kevin Boey male Writer
Loves cameras, gadgets, geek toys and cars. Still writes proper sentences in SMSes, hates to ride at the back of buses.
As revealed earlier this week, I was hauled off to the recent SingTel Singapore F1 GP along with Sony's new Alpha A77 camera to experience its performance firsthand. Obviously, the junket was planned to show off its high-speed 12fps continuous shutter capability apart from the camera's new 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor in a package, which also showed off the company's SLT technology. There's even an embedded GPS chip that makes geo-tagging extremely easy, though at a cost to your battery life.
As any camera enthusiast would know, the A77 was built to replace the A700 - a camera that first appeared on the market four years ago. Despite its apparent age, the A700 is still capable of taking on some current DSLR offerings and while being long in the tooth, it still remains as a benchmark due to the fact that it was Sony's only semi-professional cropped body, until now.
First things first, the A77 comes with a plastic enclosure that evidently feels less robust than its magnesium-bodied predecessor. Although the material has changed, the textured areas around the grip and back does add to the 'feel' in a good way. Also, some of the button positions have been moved due to the fact that it uses a swivel screen, but the ergonomics would not be a problem to anyone, especially with a curvier side that filled one's palms, plus there's even a customizable LCD/Viewfinder displays to truly make the camera your personal tool. The customization options are mind-baffling, but it is a nice thing to have especially when you know what you'll need during a shoot.
Onwards to the image quality. 24 megapixels is a HUGE number considering that the sensor is nearly half the size of Sony's own 24-megapixel full frames (i.e. the A850 and A900). As they say, smaller photosites/higher density sensors will usually take a hit in terms of increased ISO noise, but you can be your own judge and check out some of the sample trackside shots complete with EXIF data below (click on the images with the captions to view the full-sized ones, of which some may be cropped). Just keep in mind that the cameras that were given to the media were using experimental firmware, therefore the actual retail units might exhibit different characteristics.
As you may have seen from some of the 100% crops the image file sizes are HUGE. Not only is this a potential problem when it comes to storage and cloud hosting (our own CMS could not handle files over 10MB, therefore most images were resized as-is) I required a pretty powerful machine to edit over 4000 shots taken during the weekend. As it is, a RAW file from the A77 is sized equivalent to its resolution = 1MB for every Megapixel! Despite this large filesize, the A77 is surprisingly long-lasting in the field, netting me over 3500 images in a single charge of the battery albeit with GPS and autofocus switched off. Again, many thanks to Sony (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd who organized this junket and who also loaned us the A77 along with its lenses.