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Sony Alpha a77 – First day hands-on review

March 4, 2013

My new a77 finally got here on Saturday! For different (stupid) reasons, I wasn’t able to jump on it first thing but I was all over it on Sunday. It actually gave me time to go through all the options I was interested in, to understand where everything is, and to read through the manual. This is one of the most important things I’ve learned during my photography classes, always thoroughly read the manual. As usual, I find Sony manuals rather confusing at times, but in a predictable way. So I jumped to the sections most interesting to me and didn’t really bother with “camera modes”.

The first thing that surprised me was the fact that I got comfortable with all the dials really fast. If you’re used to Sony bodies, you won’t have a hard time finding your way around the a77. Everything is where it’s supposed to be. The AF/MF dial is my personal epiphany. Right under your right thumb is the key to a lot of good shots. Add that to focus peaking and the EVF magnifier and you’ll be just fine :)

Something I’m still pondering is my use of the EVF. I almost didn’t use the (great) articulated screen at all, since everything can be done straight through the EVF. It gives you the impression of being in your bubble, focused on what you’re doing. I still don’t if I will keep using it that way as I came back home with a humongous migraine. Granted it could have been generated by the hours of driving with the sun straight in my eyes. Anyway. Time will tell. At least regarding this matter.

Mudam Canoe

If I’d have to come up with something that pleased me more that I would have thought, I would say low light performances. I’ve read a lot of reviews, blogs, opinions, and what not about low light performances. Well, try it before you bash it. I mostly used the Sony 50mm f/1.4 on Sunday and I was very impressed with the outcome. We had lunch in a very nice tavern, a very dark place, literally. The AF worked extremely well, no hunting whatsoever, I still have to work my way around this new body but things went smoothly pretty fast.

SOOC 2

SOOC 1

With normal light, at a low ISO, I haven’t noticed any noise. It started showing at about 800 and up, but nothing impossible to correct through PP. I spent some time wondering if what I was actually seeing in the EVF would be the end product (with EVF effects turned on, of course), at it’s pretty close. Which also tells me that I don’t quite master the a77 yet, mainly because I knew some of the shots taken could have been way better than what I was actually shooting.

Fisheye Philarmony 1

Fisheye Philarmony 2

Fisheye Philarmony 3

The EVF is comfortable, it takes little time to adapt to it, mainly because all the technological bonuses it brings are way too impressive not to like it. The 50mm coupled with what I was talking about earlier (magnifier and focus peaking) is just so easy to use..

SOOC 3

The first official shot that came out of my a77 came from a corporate photoshoot I had on Sunday. I was really curious and eager. While setting up lights and bouncers, I couldn’t stop thinking about how the a77 will let me do this. The beauty dish was set, my Pixel King TTL wireless flash triggers were all set, it was between me, the person in front of me, and the camera. The a77 was easy to handle despite the lack of a grip (for now), the results were impressive from the start, the nice screen allowed me to interact with me model well, “showcasing” the shots easily, it was a blast.

I have to admit, Sunday’s light was a pain. Foggy in the morning, extremely cloudy in the afternoon. The only moment of full sun were while I was driving, hence the headache I presume, but still. Putting aside the fog shots in the morning, I haven’t noticed any painful noise issue. The 8mm fisheye shots were sharp and nice, low light shots with the 50mm were great and right on focus, the 70-300 G behaved extremely well too. To be frank, it wasn’t the best of days to shoot but the a77 just begs to differ.

Low light contrast

Face

I am overall really pleased and impressed with the a77. Half of my lenses haven’t been tried on yet and I can’t wait for that moment to happen. The EVF is beautiful and comfortable, so is the body in my hands, all the dials are easily accessible and extremely well thought. Of course, there are way more of those than on my a450 so I still have to get used to them, but I kept saying to myself that I couldn’t understand why I was building my reflexes so fast around a camera body I’ve never tested before.

Vianden Castle

We’ll be very happy together :)

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