August 24, 2001: Everyone knew that Sony was poised to introduce new models in August. Sony went big, offering two new translucent mirror, A-Mount dSLR models, two additions to the burgeoning Alpha NEX series and a E-Mount interchangeable Handy Cam.
While it is somewhat difficult to pick between all the new offerings, I (and I am sure many others) am particularly excited about the Alpha A77. This is the long rumored replacement for the venerable A700, and it is clearly superior to the older model in most respects.
Sony Alpha A77: a Camera for Photographers
The A77 relies on a new 24.3 APS-C CMOS sensor, making this the mega-pixel leader for APS sensor cameras. Of course this does not include other Sony models, as Sony is using the 24mp sensor in several of the newly announced cameras.
The A77 also uses a new XGA OLED Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder, which narrows the gap between EVF and Optical viewfinders.
Sports Shooters, This is Your Next Camera
Naturally, the camera shoots HD Video, which is one of the main reasons for utilizing the Translucent Mirror. Thanks to the see-through mirror, the Alpha A77 boasts 12fps burst shots with continuous auto focus. Just to be clear, Sony claims the A77 will capture full resolution 24mp images at 12fps with continuous AF. Watch for sports shooters to latch onto the A77, as it is the new class leader in rapid frame dSLR cameras.
Sony also claims the A77 can capture Full HD Video at 60p frame rate in the new AVCHD™ Progressive (Ver. 2.0) format. 24p is also available. photographers have full control over the camera’s exposure modes while filming and can choose between Program, Aperature Prefered, and Manual Modes while filming. The new cameras offers ISO settings of 50 to 16000 for both stills and video.
The A77 also features front and rear control dials, something Sony shooters lacked in the past. There is also top-mount LCD and an three-way tilt LCD that can ber swiveled around to serve a front-facing monitor.
If you are moving up from an A700, you won’t be able to bring along your Compact Flash cards. The A700 uses either SD Cards or Memory-Stick Duo memory. If you want that 12fps burst rate, or Full HD video, you will need cards capable of keeping up with the camera.
Weather Sealing comes to Sony Translucent Mirror Cameras
Another way the Alpha A77 surpasses the older A700 is in weather sealing. The controls on the magnesium body panels are sealed against dust and moisture, a feature Sony highlighted with a recent video of someone grabbing a half-burried A77 from a sandy beach. The shooter brushes some of the sand away and immediately starts shooting. Not the way I would treat a camera such as this, but an impressive feat all the same.
Shutter Test to 150,000 Cycles
I don’t remember Sony publicly announcing the shutter cycle rate on past dSLRs, but the A77 is rated to exceed 150,000 cycles. Flash photographers will also appreciate the 1/250 sec sync speed.
Both still photos and video clips can be tagged with the onboard GPS unit.
Meet the Sony Alpha A65
The second Alpha translucent mirror model is the A65. This is clearly an economy version of the A77. The A65 does not feature the weather sealing of the A77 and it only has a two-way swiveling LCD. The frame rate is slower as well, as the A65 can “only” capture still images at 10fps. The lower end of the ISO scale also stops at 100, compared to the 50 offered by the A77.
Having said that, the A65 is a highly capable camera that shares many of the best features of the A77. It uses the same 24.3 sensor, the same OLED view finder, and offers the same video capabilities.
Both cameras are slated to ship in October. You can preorder A77 in body only configuration for $1,399.99. A kit with the brand new 16-50mm f/2.8 lens is $1,999.99.
The A65 can be had at $899.99 body only, or spend $999.99 to buy it with the Sony DT 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Zoom Lens.
Excited? So am I. But as I already mentioned, there is lots of E-Mount news from Sony as well. Tomorrow, I’ll give you my take on the new NEX models.