8.24.2011

Why the Sony a77 changes everything going forward. And "I told you so."


First, here are the two columns I wrote predicting/asking for high quality EVF's to replace optical finders going forward:




So why do I think Sony gets it when everyone else is stuck at 2004?  When I first picked up an Olympus EP-2 with the VF2 finder on it I knew I was looking at the future of professional digital cameras.  Not because the EP-2 was so incredible (and for many reasons it was) but because the EVF was such a revelation.  You could see what you'd really get.  When you look through an optical finder you're seeing an image that's always at a wide open aperture setting, and it's beguiling with a narrow depth of field and a bright image.  But a great EVF shows you what you're really going to end up with once you push the button.  It's reading all the stuff you shoved in ROM and it's finessing the image exactly the way you requested.  If you set a color balance manually it's showing you THAT color balance in the finder.  No surprises.  If you set f11 or f1.4 the EVF is showing you the exact DOF you'll end up with.  The only two glitches were the shooting delay caused by moving mirrors and the fact that early EVF's sucked in low light.  As the camera's files got darker and noisier so did the finder image.  That was/is the Achille's heel of my beloved Sony R1......

But the way around the delay in DSLR's was to go back to the Canon idea of a pellicle mirror that doesn't move and is mostly transparent.  No need for mirror lock up means far fewer mechanical linkages and levers.  Fewer little motors that drive things that have inertia.  The second fix was to radically increase the video sample time for the finder image to eliminate lag and motion smear while you pan the camera or when the model moves in front of you.  This appears to be part of the technology package of the a77.

According to the specs (thanks press release!)  The camera has an ISO range of 50 to 16,000.  I'll be happy if it does 100 to 3200 well and I'm pretty sure it will.  It's a 24 megapixel camera and all of those pixels are crammed on to an APS-C sized sensor.  I'm not sure how I feel about that but I've read white papers that largely refute the idea that "dense pack" is necessarily bad.  The real adventure will be in finding (and affording) lenses that will do justice to the pixel density.  Those lenses will need to be sharp, sharp, sharp.  And fast, fast, fast.  I say, "fast" because I think you'll want to stay closer to the large apertures to prevent diffraction effects.

And finally, Sony seems to have stuffed the camera with fast memory and many channels to move information off the sensor and into the processors because it can shoot bursts of 24 megapixel images at 12 fps.  That's pretty astounding.  But no a metric I really care much about.

The real story, besides the translucent mirror, is all about the EVF and that's where the revolution exists. What we're talking about here is a 2.4 megapixel OLED screen with ultra fast refresh times.  This is at least a generation beyond the good work Olympus has done on the VF-2.  While most of the old timers who grew up with luxuriously bright prism finders will howl in derision the reality is that a superbly made EVF has many advantages.  Push one button to zoom in for critical manual focus.  Preview all kinds of filter and balancing effects.  Shoot movies with your eye on the finder (instead of doing the soccer mom, club nerd, iphone-aholic, full arm extension idiot camera hold).  When you couple a great finder with no moving mirror you have a camera that's much cheaper to fabricate and that's the motivation for camera makers.  If it's well implemented all the "upgrade" features of electronic viewfinders are what makes it wonderful for us.

Now all that remains is to watch Canon and Nikon play catch up with Sony.  If Sony's sensor delivers in this product I think they will have finally caught the momentum they've been looking for.  If they can quickly follow up the a77 with a full frame product and a mess of good lenses to fill in the lens line gap then I believe the professional market will turn into a horse race between the big three.  This is the kind of innovation that will move everyone forward.

Finally, uninformed pundits who love their existing camera brands, will endlessly prattle on about how "people's investment in "glass" will prevent them from switching brands, dooming Sony to always be in third place..."

Not really.  I'm pretty fickle.  I've changed brands three times in four years.  Each time I've found that while the bodies don't hold value at all the lenses hold value fairly well and are easy to move on the used market.  If you are an early adopter you've already found the lens, embraced it, used it, gotten tired of it and moved on just about the time that the great muddling center of the "Bell Curve" has finally discovered the lens.  By this time it's probably rising in popularity and becoming scarce because of demand.  What a great time to sell a used copy into a warmed up market.

Since most professional photographers take advantage of the accelerated cost recovery aspect of federal taxes, the bodies and lenses we buy end up getting expensed in the first year of ownership.  A constant flow of gear isn't necessarily the giant financial sink hole that it used to be.  It's amazing to think of the cameras as disposables but I recently was shooting with my friend, Andy, and I was amazed to find that his images from a Sony Nex 5, in decent light, were just as good as the images I was pulling out of  Canon 5D mk2.  Yes, the Canon might  have better low light resources but we were shooting in daylight on the shaded streets of downtown Austin and the Nex held its own well.  Which makes me wonder yet again whether our acceptance of new technology drives marketing trends or if we're just finding better uses for the new stuff as it comes out.

It's all a crap shoot at this point but let me posit this:  If this camera, with its 24 megapixels, 60fps video and miracle finder actually works as well as it's spec'd, and the images are commensurate in quality to their pixel quantity, and the asking price is around $1500,  then why the hell wouldn't we buy it?  These are specs that we would have laughed at as science fiction just a few years ago when we were shelling out $5000 for a Canon 1Dmk2n that shot 8 megapixels at 8 fps, had no video, was limited to ISO 1600 and so on.  Or a few years earlier when we shelled out $ 5000 for a Nikon D2H with a whopping 4 megapixels......and a realistic top ISO of 400......

Game changer.  Radical game changer.   May be time to put my name on a list.......





   

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2009/05/one-of-least-appreciated-cameras-of-ad.html

You also posted the above blog back in 2009. You've had an ongoing love affair with EVF's since I started reading the blog. Looks like you were right on the money with that key feature. Common Canon!

Matt Perko said...

I agree about the ease of switching systems. Personally, I have 2 lenses that I really use often in a professional context for the shooting I do, and one of them, the 85 f1.8, is a $400 lens. Not much to replace really.

Will said...

For my part, I think there is a "glass-related" problem with switching systems, but it isn't any supposed difficulty in selling and reinvesting. Sony simply hasn't been vigilant in keeping its stable of primes up to date. Now that they have today released an impressive fleet of cameras, perhaps they can take some time and dedicate it to filling out their lens library. If the A77 doesn't need it (and I think it does), then the equally-impressive NEX-7 surely does need it.

But yeah, an impressive group of cameras, including a new video camera that looks poised to eat the 7d's lunch as a video camera, at the same retail price.

kirk tuck said...

Will, Sony does have a really good 70-200 and a great short zoom as well. I'd like to try the 135mm 1.8 Zeiss and a few other Zeiss lenses. I do think they'll spend some time this year rounding out a few primes.

As to video, the only thing that gives me pause is that some models have a reputation for heating up quick and shutting down. The 7D is pretty good until it gets to be about 105 degrees outside....

kirk tuck said...

Matt, you pretty much nailed it for me. I use three lenses most of the time on my 5D. The 35mm, the 50mm and the 85mm. And I think Sony has that covered....

Anonymous said...

About the 24MP and diffraction, a site that calculates the diffraction limit gave me that in that sensor size and those megapixels, you are already diffraction limited in resolution at F/8 (probably around F/7.1 is the limit).

Anonymous said...

Too bad Zeiss does not make their lenses in A and E mounts (though they do make a few lenses for Sony).

Those 24 megapixels are going to need some good glass to resolve well.

Nonetheless, nice to see some fresh thinking in camera design.

Alan said...

As an old school shooter, seeing WB and exposure changes real time in VF-2 has been a blessing. With the 2.4mp OLED and 1.09x magnification of the Sony finder that viewfinder image should be pretty impressive. A lot of features in a body lighter than a 60d.

I agree that moving used lenses is fairly easy. Used bodies aren't that hard either as long as they get sold while still being close to current.

atmtx said...

Sony is pushing the boundaries and doing more innovation that the dominant SLR vendors, Canon and Nikon. The SLT stuff sounds really neat.

Unfortunately on the compact NEX front, I'm a bit disappointed in the direction they are going. I prefer having even a better quality, high ISO performance rather than a 24mp sensor.

I will reserve final judgement until I get to play with one myself.

kirk tuck said...

Regards the NEX, I read in the Brittish Journal of Photography that they now have a port for an EVF so we anti arm's lengthers can now use the cameras. That's cool.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what battery life will be? It sounds intriguing but Sony has a way of making things proprietary (thus more expensive) to trick out their stuff.

Craig Yuill said...

Kirk, the NEX-7 has the built-in EVF like the A77. The NEX-5N has the add on one a la Olympus E-P2. On that one, like the E-P2, you do have to choose between EVF or flash.

I can understand professional photographers needing to change gear to keep business viable. But as an amateur enthusiast I'm not one who likes to or can frequently change gear. It's part financial and part psychological. In the past I've purchased gear only after careful consideration, with the idea I'd keep it "for life". I'd be a "bottom feeder", buying older second-hand gear that I felt would be useful to me. How else could I have gotten a slightly battered but very-sharp 300mm f/2.8 for $375? I like that lens and have no desire to part with it. I was just using it on Saturday.

I have been holding off on switching to digital SLR gear. Perhaps I should be happy to see these announcements. People will want to get rid of their old gear and guys like me can snap it up I guess. Worked well in the film days. But sensors and operating performance have been improving so rapidly that this doesn't seem like such a good idea anymore. Why buy used gear now when even better used gear will be available in a few months? And lenses? Even they aren't safe from obsolescence. Just look at the vast array of 14-42/45mm kit lenses released by Olympus and Panasonic in the last 2-3 years. A new one from Panasonic collapses to the size of a pancake lens, and supposedly has superior performance. Try using an old Nikon lens on a D3100 or D5100 - no metering possible. I think that selling old lenses will be more complicated and less viable in the future. That will be a shame.

I get a feeling you're contemplating selling off your Canon gear and switching to Sony. Good luck with the change if you decide to make it. And keep us posted on your findings.

Saltheart said...

I am certainly interested on Sony's recent development of pellicle mirror cameras. I can see many benefits, but am concerned with one potential technical issue, namely visible dust. I have not seen it addressed in reviews and am curious as to what other photographers feel about the issue.
I believe that Sony uses a charge protection coating on the low-pass filter, along with shaking via the sensor shift mechanism to remove dust from the sensor of their cameras. Historically, this method has not been as effective as Olympus' piezoelectric system. The pellicle mirror has no automated method for dust removal. Although the fixed mirror may partially reduce the quantity of dust that reaches the sensor, it does not seal the area. The net result is there are two optical surfaces that can be contaminated with dust, rather than one. That said, the distance from mirror to sensor might reduce the visibility of dust present on the mirror, then again perhaps not. It appears there is no way for the user to safely clean the pellicle mirror, other than possibly carefully blowing clean air on the mirror. This could actually introduce more vs. less dust to the internal camera components. In addition, the mirror blocks ready access to the sensor, if physical cleaning is necessary. Bottom line, this approach appears to have increased potential for visible dust artifacts, with fewer options for addressing their removal.

Is this a valid concern? What are the readers take?

Anonymous said...

I think it's 2.4 megadot, not megapixel. Probably 2.4/3 = 800 megapixel = 1024 x 768. Certainly nice, but not a huge leap beyond something like the VF-2 (800x600?)

Dave Jenkins said...

"...a mess of good lenses to fill in the lens line gap..."

Mike Johnston was talking about that just the other day, as you probably noted. He seems to think Sony feels they can be competitive by making great cameras without filling out their lens lineup. Of course, if they have the lenses you happen to want, it's not a problem for you. But I couldn't buy Sony unless they offered some tilt-shift lenses.

In a different vein...I bought an E-PL1 about a year ago as a travel camera because I was tired of hauling around the weight of two Canon bodies and a basic set of zooms. I recently did a bit of pixel-peeping at similar files from my 5D Classic and my E-PL1 at 100% and was surprised and pleased to see how closely the quality of the little camera's files match the 5D. And the color out of the camera is much better, especially blue tones. Skies look like my old Fujichromes.

kirk tuck said...

Dave, I'm a cheap date when it comes to lenses. I want a 24, 35, 50, and a 90 or something in those general areas. A long zoom is also nice but those seem pretty easy to make well.

As to your observations on Pen v Canon, I've found that the only time the extra resolution really matters is when picky clients want to go big.

But I find the out of camera jpeg from the Pen beats the snot out of Canon 5d2 jpegs. By a wide margin for both color and likeability. (a new VSL metric.)

Anonymous said...

To the other anonymous above:

1024x768 has 64% more pixels than 800x600. I don't know if we can call that a "huge" leap, but it's a very sizeable one that should be easily seen in practice.

Once the EVFs hit 1600x1200, OVFs are dead, especially with new technologies such as focus peaking (and man, do I wish we had that on the PEN...).

Low Budget Dave said...

I look forward to reading your comments on this and the NEX7 as soon as you get a chance to play around with them. I have an NEX5 and a Nikon D70, but I would love to only carry around one camera that meets both needs.

ginsbu said...

I agree the a77 and NEX-7 are big steps forward for Sony. One think to note about the SLT cameras is that they don't give you live DOF preview; AFAIK you still need to use a DOF preview button for that. I think this is because PDAF autofocus requires the aperture to be kept open for focusing, unlike the CDAF systems in the mirrorless cameras.

As far as glass goes, it is a shame that Zeiss' MF lenses aren't available, but Samyang has 24, 35 and 85 f/1.4s that testing suggests are astonishing good for their very moderate cost. One thing that bugs me to no end, though, is that (aside from Pentax) none of the APS-C systems offer a 60-70mm (90-105mm EFL) portrait lens: 50mm and 85mm are ok, but aren't substitutes for something in the middle. Why Sony would choose to make a 50/1.8 in E-mount, I can't fathom...

Rakesh said...

"I think it's 2.4 megadot, not megapixel."

That's true for every SLR on the market right now, it's hardly unique to Sony.

I've been very pleased with my Nex-5; I use it when I backpack, and it's been enabling me to get some very nice shots that print extremely well, at least at their native resolution or smaller. Because of my Nex-5, I've been looking forward to the Nex-7, but also hoping to switch over entirely from Nikon to Sony. Now there's a good reason :)

Will said...

Kirk, I'm an equally cheap date regarding lenses... I only have a 24, 35, 50, and 85 for my D700, and I have little interest in anything else. The problem is that with the Sony APS-C cameras, I can't really get those primes (no 16 and no 55-60). And in their full frame lineups, most of those focal lengths only exist as high-priced exotics. I'd love to believe Sony is going to sell a cheaper 35mm lens at f/2, but I don't see that being a priority. C'est la vie.

Paulo Rodrigues said...

Please Kirk, don't talk it up, I've just switched from Sony to Nikon :)

I think that the update of the AF system is a good one. The AF on the Sony A700 was not really much use unless you used the central AF point. My Nikon D700 made me realise how much I'd been missing. The A77 AF with its increased number of cross points sounds like a very welcome addition.

I'm wondering what the hybrid electronic shutter is going to do with flash sync speeds? Is it too much to hope for sync at any speed?

The A33 and the A55 had one big problem which I would hope that Sony has fixed with this camera. The EVF would was WYSIWYG so if you set the exposure to kill the ambient, you would get a black screen and wouldn't be able to compose your shot when using flash

But the real killer for me was that you could not rent lenses in the UK. YMMV in the states.

Certainly an interesting camera and I'm looking forward to trying it out

Raianerastha said...

Keep in mind that the assortment of Alpha lenses available to use on Sony is enormous. Sony can coast a bit on optics when they have some very good Minolta glass people can get if they simply don't like the current offerings (or can't afford the Zeiss glass).

I do have mixed opinion of the fixed mirror solution. Yes, it has solved some focus speed/burst rate issues sooner than the CDAF only approach of Olympus and other mirrorless makers. But it seems to me Olympus' FAST CDAF technology shows that Sony's solution will only be a realistic improvement for a couple of years.

(Of course, cinematographers who for years have used top quality cine equipment will say that done right, a fixed mirror offers no detriment to the image).

Of course, Kirk, it can also come down to one of your own preferences: does the camera have "soul"?

Marty4650 said...

Kirk... once again you were right!

Which just goes to prove why you are my favorite camera geek, as well as being a damn good photographer too.

I'm looking forward to you getting an A77 so we can get a hands on review from someone who knows how to take photos!

Paulo Rodrigues said...

Sony have confirmed that manual mode with flash sync will auto-gain on the A77 so you can use it with strobes in the studio

kirk tuck said...

Paulo, you can set the auto gain on Pens as well. That's really the only way to make using the camera with studio flash work. Thanks for the insight about focus issues!

Great to see your comment.

Marty, Thanks very much. I thought I did a good job nailing this back in 2009. I'm happy I was right....

Photoessayist said...

And the lenes?

mbka said...

My thinking exactly Kirk. I bought my Panasonic G1 3 years ago because it was the first digital camera that made engineering wise sense to me (actually the R-1 would have made sense to me but it was so short lived it was over before I could react).

I never understood why the better digital cameras instantly became SLR clones without using the most obvious advantage of digital, to use the sensor data. In retrospect I now understand the issues better and the tradeoffs, how CDAF only works with light glass and fast processors and was therefore too slow until recently. Or how hard it is to get other AF methods to work w/o a mirror. Or that it took a while to get good EVFs.

But my basic requirement for a D"SLR" have been for a while now, swivel screen, priceless for over the head and other unusual perspective shots, and of course, EVF. The A77 finally looks like all these things together _and_ fast AF. But, m4/3 is actually now ahead on lens offerings - say you can get a fisheye, a very good WA zoom, some really good fast primes, and when I look at the Sony offerings there are lots and lots of lenses but still some odd gaps, especially in the WA and fast prime areas. Unless it's 2k Zeiss primes.

Box of Frogs said...

On paper at least, the evidence will be with the image files once in the hands of users, seems more about shoe-horning more 'stuff' into the body. Isn't it more about quality rather than options in the settings?

The press release gives me the impression that Sony are concentrating on 'more' not 'better' and go on to use the word 'comparable'. Admittedly, the last word goes on to suggest comparable to higher end digi slr's.

My jury is also out on being able to see the WB from within the viewfinder. What's important here is the ability to change these quickly along with the rest of the exposure controls. Fast paced environment? Your fingers and thumbs will be doing the jive around your camera and the moment is (possibly) lost.

For RAW shooters I'd much rather see a histogram that reflects the raw capture and not a rendered jpeg and I'd further like the option to shoot NEF (Nikon shooter here) and/or DNG.

I once went to shoot some cancer patients for a local project and one of the best comments thrown at me, about from sod off! (not really), was when one of the patients said '...too many buttons.'

The unrelenting onset of video within still cameras is inevitable and personally I like that that feature exists, but surely the really important piece about digital cameras (not inc point and shoot types), are the lenses and the sensor?

john robison said...

I guess I'm just dense but, why does a EVF need a mirror at all?

Darth Solarion said...

You need a mirror because you need it for Phase Detection AF. The mirror is used for light interference.

Though I hear that Panasonic is rolling out the guns for M4/3 soon. Compact zooms with power zoom etc. Hmm...

Anonymous said...

Is there any live view lag in the EVF when shooting sequential?

jasonhindle said...

I think the the bigger stories here are the NEX 7 and the lead that Sony has taken in terms of their sensor engineering.

The NEX7 looks like everything so many of us have been begging of Olympus and Panasonic for so long. The only things lacking are the lenses.

Sony's sensors are remarkable. Just take a look at the malleability of the raw files from the Sony, Nikon and Pentax cameras that use the current 16MP Sony sensor. Not only is the high ISO performance very good, but at low ISO, you can expose the for extreme highlights and push the shadows amazingly well (not something that necessarily interests me but hey, there's a time and a place for most things).

At some point, Sony or Nikon are going to produce a full frame camera based on Sony's current (or better) sensor technology.......

John Krumm said...

The Nex 7 with manual primes would likely be very nice. The Nex's have built in focus peaking that you can adjust, showing the in focus area on the screen or viewfinder. That's what I would buy it for.

obakesan said...

considering how much better the Panasonic EVF is over the Oly offerings I'm surprised you hardly ever mention them.

mbka said...

I think Kirk mostly compares the clip-on Panasonic viewfinders to the clip-on Olympus ones, apparently here Olympus is better. But the built in Panasonic viewfinders (G1 2 3 , GH1 2) are great, even in the "old" G1.

In the wider context, it's odd, some people have a visceral issue with EVFs, I instantly loved them.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that almost all blogs referring to buying more gear bore the pants off me yet when I read in here what Kirk say's I almost always sit up and listen when Kirk speaks?

Probably because so many (99% of em'!) time wasting blogs like to give the impression that gear will make you a better photog and change your life whereas Kirk just simply talks sense. I like the sound of both the A77 & NEX-7, seem just what I'm looking for upgrade wise - just as I've switched from decades of Nikon use to Pentax myself for the cheaper *nice* lenses but Sony works fine too in that respect,some nice old Minolta glass and at bargain basement prices. Maybe, maybe.

Still, is it better than a Blad or more fun than using my M2? Nah, but Kirk keeps on making me think. Thanks yet again Kirk. :-)

Richard said...

I think that it is not a matter of "if", but when EVFs would be widely adopted.

The technology is on the cusp of providing sufficiently detailed images to satisfy demanding users at a cost that is competitive with conventional view finders. The older, established companies are inherently conservative, particularly Nikon, so I do not expect to see them making radical changes in their mainstream products any time soon, especially considering the turmoil created by the earthquake and tsunami. Companies which are newer to the game, such as Sony, probably are not so entrenched.

Having used the Olympus EVF on an E-PL2, I share the conclusion that the technology is the wave of the future. I just do not think it cost competitive for widespread adoption at the moment. Perhaps that will change rapidly as the price of many electronic products do however.

I could see the very top of the line pro bodies adopting such a system because of the potential for higher frame rates for action shooting without all the moving parts of the mirror and the ability to have a very quiet camera for PJ work.

While Sony's adoption of an EVF will certainly make the others take notice, how long do you think it will be before Nikon and Canon test the waters, Kirk?

kirk tuck said...

Richard, I think all the entry and mid-range DSLR's that hit the market next year will include EVF's. And I think the high end cameras will follow. Nikon will roll it our in a mid-range series first and only after mass acceptance will they shove it in a D3 Equivalent. They are slow on the trigger.

Canon is using EVFs in their SX30's, SX20's and SX10's and I expect to see it in a Rebel by Christmas. It just makes so much sense.

almostinfamous said...

as a young pup in photography, i started with an EVF (olympus superzoom digital) but i moved on to SLRs and the optical viewfinders and find them slightly better to use. having had no experience with the larger canera's EVFs i have no opinion on them, but wondering - if you really need to judge DOF on a DSLR, dont most manufacturers give you DOF preview buttons (many pentax users get it built into their on-off switch even)? of course the compromise there is that your exposure doesnt look the same.. but im a single-tasking sort of guy and this struck me as an odd point to make in favor of EVFs - if someone has used the X100, maybe they can let us know if the so-called 'hybrid' would be a better fit.

huenip said...

If the quick follow up of Sony A77 with full frame at half of the recent prices paid ($5000)for full frame will initiate a horse race of the professional market of the big three would mean to me the real Big Bang in Photography since the last 50 years. It means highest image-quality combined with incredible video, a genious EVF which is a great help in many respects and others.
Thank you KT for yr most interesting writing

Chad Wadsworth said...

Hey Kirk,

Good talking to you last night, if ever so briefly.

I think I'm coming around to the EVF as will many. I'm more concerned about the 24mp sensor in the NEX-7. For now, I've pre-ordered the NEX-5N with the option to add the EVF and if the 7 does turn out to be as wonderful as it sounds I'm guessing my "rental fee" after unloading the 5N body will be minimal.

@ almost famous - The hybrid is nice for sure but like Kirk, I've taken to using the EVF to better preview my image. And I think the SONY models manage EVF use vs. battery life much better then the anemic X100.

Anonymous said...

huenip,
Sony's sells it FF a900 for $2,600 USD as does Canon with it's 5d.
Nikon sells its D700 for the same price.
Most expect Sony to release two or three FF cameras in 2012 selling starting at $2,000 and up!

huenip said...

Anonymous
Tks for yr references to other FF-Cameras. Your pointer to full frame Sonys appearing in 2012 makes me hopefull. An A99 in full frame could possibly meet my requirements. It should be an instrument that leaves nothing to desire at a reasonable price. I'm no professional but pictures with extrem high resolution can excite me. Visualised sharp details make pictures so real and facinating. I'm unpatiently looking forward to new cameras with new full frame sensors like e.g. a rumoured A99. Before I change my A700 I need a comparison with FF-cameras ahead and the already arrived Sony A77 APS-C. I have to decide between FF or APS-C first, because the respective glasses are not equally sized. Do you think full frame cameras meet a trend with a considerable market?
huenip

Lucas said...

Sony really seem to have hit a home run with the fixed translucent mirror ( their modernized version of the old pellicle design ) and the very improved EVF. I have the A900 DSLR and an A55 SLT - a full featured "mini-camera" which takes amazing hi-IQ pictures and uncomparable video. I can only praise Sony to have taken that concept further ahead with the OLED EVF and a multitude of additional features shaping the A77 and A65. IMHO they are in a new class by themselves, and all other manufacturers will now have to play catch up!

Lucas said...

Sony really seem to have hit a home run with the fixed translucent mirror ( their modernized version of the old pellicle design ) and the very improved EVF. I have the A900 DSLR and an A55 SLT - a full featured "mini-camera" which takes amazing hi-IQ pictures and uncomparable video. I can only praise Sony to have taken that concept further ahead with the OLED EVF and a multitude of additional features shaping the A77 and A65. IMHO they are in a new class by themselves, and all other manufacturers will now have to play catch up!

Nico Foto said...

I've been a Canon 7D user ever since it was introduced - as so many people, Kirk included, as noted, the camera is a pleasure to handle, it has "soul". But, despite how much I love it, unfortunately I've had too many less than perfect shots due to inconsistent AF. So here lies my biggest question before I jump ship to Sony - how accurate is the PDAF implementation on the A77? If it has a precise, dependable AF, i'm all for it.

William said...

After carefully considering the new Sony announcements, I can not think of a single reason to abandon my Nikon D700 kit or my Fuji X100.

I have no interest in video and 24 MP doesn't appeal. I played the legacy lens game for a short while with a m4/3 body and found it to be a waste of time.

My only regret is the time I spent considering SONY's news should have been spent getting a new set of prints made.

Saratoga said...

the 70-200 is average btw.
[url]http://www.photozone.de/sonyalphaff/572-sony70200f28ff?start=1[/url]

And way both jpg and raw files are also average.

Matt said...

Hey, nice blog. Part of the reason I like it is because I agree with your observations! I also had a Sony R1 and liked it quite a lot despite it's EVF and low light limitations. Now I have a Nikon D700 and some nice lenses but man, they are heavy. I wish they did a full frame equivalent of the Nikon FE (or FM3A). I'd carry than and 20/28/50/105 and be happy, and not too heavy. Now the risk is that constant lens changing gets dust on the sensor in that big heavy body. Or, get a zoom, but it's huge too.

I also adored medium format and used the Mamiya 6 for years as my main snapshooting camera. You learn to appreciate all that image real estate. The move to large sensors in small bodies is a positive development. A Fuji X100 with a lens set like the old Contax G2 (21, 28, 45, 90 or a deathly slow 35-70, all with accurate autofocus on the stuff behind your subject) would be interesting. I haven't bitten on the NEXs or micro 4/3rds yet, but look with envy on their small sizes and light weight and might go that way.

Anonymous said...

A850 was also supposed to shake the DSLR world - production stopped within a year .

Same story with A700 - production stopped within a year and no upgrade for 3 years . The A5xx body owner kept waiting , waiting, waiting to get to advanced body . Many of them gave up and switched .

Why should we expect this time to be different with the A77 ?

1/3-1/2 stop light loss due to translucent mirror covered up by ISO boost , ghosting, and diffraction starting at f5.9 for 24Mp on a APS-C sensor - not so good !

People are too optimistic about A77. I'm not ....

dhinds said...

I intend to invest in both still and video cameras that use the same lenses and am uncertain whether Sony's APS-C E-Mount (NEX-7 / FS100 / VG-20) offerings or a Micro Four/Thirds combination (i.e. Olympus EP-3 /
Panasonic AG-AF100) would provide the most advantages. (As Kirk mentioned, there's always going to be a trade off).

Any pointers given will be appreciated.

Paulo Rodrigues said...

I had a go on the A77 a few days ago. It is pretty impressive. I found the focussing to be very fast and responsive. The EVF was pretty good and it felt nice in the hand, though I shouldn't have been that surprised as Ive been using the A700 for a few years.

Focus peaking looks very interesting too. http://sonyalphanex.blogspot.com/2011/06/sony-nex-focus-peaking-closer-look.html

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth. Mike Yamashita (Nat Geo) now shoots with A77 and Nex7 cameras exclusively.

He is adamant the quality of his files is dramatically better than from his previous system.