Sony’s alpha 77 II DSLR builds on the heritage of the original 77 and 700 models, enhanced by an increase in the number of AF points in a new phase detect autofocus system to 79 focal points and 15 cross points. Utilizing Sony’s Translucent Mirror Technology, the 77 II also has the ability to shoot at up to 12 fps for 60 total frames with continuous AF.
The camera is equipped with a high-resolution 24.3-megapixel image sensor and BIONZ X processor. Image quality compared to the original 77 has been boosted, and sensitivity has increased by approximately 20 percent as well. There is also a variety of new pro-friendly video functions for movie makers.
Sony says the AF system, with 79 phase detection AF points, is currently the most of any dedicated AF sensor in market today. Additionally, metering data from all 79 focus points is processed by a new AF algorithm that predicts the subject’s movement. Add this together with Translucent Mirror Technology and you have a camera Sony says ensures fast-moving people, animals or any other relevant object can be tracked quickly and accurately in all types of shooting conditions.
The alpha 77 II also has a centrally mounted dedicated phase detect AF sensor that supports apertures up to f/2.8, ensuring maximum AF precision when using large-aperture lenses. In low light, the AF system of the camera is touted to perform “admirably,” accurately locking on to subjects in scenes with illumination levels as low as EV-2 (ISO 100), where even the human eye has trouble discerning details.
There’s a suite of sophisticated new AF functions on the 77 II. Expanded Flexible Spot mode maintains focus even if the selected AF point loses track of the subject, activating eight surrounding AF points that recognize the subject. Lock-on AF mode lets users select one of four AF area modes (Wide, Zone, Flexible Spot or Expanded Flexible Spot), and can recognize and track a subject’s form based on its colour and its position within the frame, automatically selecting the appropriate AF point from the 79 available.
For even greater control, the degree of subject-tracking duration can be fine-tuned in five steps (when shooting still images in AF-C mode). A low setting is ideal for slow-moving subjects with predictable movements, while high settings deliver more responsive focusing for shooting different subjects at different distances, such as wildlife or sports photography. AF Tracking Duration can also be selected between high, medium and low during Full HD movie shooting.
Other new features include an Eye AF function that detects and focuses on the subject’s eyes when photographing people. There is also AF Range Control, which allows AF to be limited to a specified range, and a Balanced Emphasis mode that provides the ideal balance between focus and release timing.
Sony says the new model can capture a non-stop burst of up to 60 full-resolution JPEG images at a maximum continuous shooting speed of approximately 12 frames per second with continuous AF (in Continuous Advance Priority AE mode).
The new ExmorCMOS image sensor features the same gapless on-chip lens structure as used in the 7R and 6000 models. The sensor now offers 20 percent greater sensitivity than its predecessor (77), and ensures flawless image detail and low-noises performance across the wide sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 25600, says the company.
The sensor is partnered with the same image processor in the 7 and 7R models. About three times faster than Sony’s previous BIONZ engine and optimized for the 77 II, it employs detail reproduction, diffraction-reducing and area-specific noise reduction technologies that contribute to what Sony says are “amazing” image definition and rich colours for still images and Full HD videos.
With about three times higher contrast and resolving power compared to the original 77, the EVF on the new 77 II shows the effects of all settings adjustments in real-time, accurately displaying what the final image will look like. A wide viewing angle and high eye-point are complemented by a newly-expanded choice of brightness settings, and shooters have the ability to manually adjust colour temperature.
As featured on the full-frame alpha 99, the 77 II also features a 3.0-inch LCD that moves three ways and also features WhiteMagic technology, which significantly improves screen visibility, even outdoors in direct sunlight.
Evolved from the original 77, there are separate control dials on both sides of the grip for simpler control settings adjustments. In total, the 77 II has a total of 11 customizable buttons with up to 51 assignable functions.
Further, up to three frequently used groups of shooting modes and other settings can be stored in memory and recalled easily via the mode dial, and an exposure mode dial lock function has been inherited from the 99 to prevent accidental mode changes.
The tough, light magnesium body features a dust and moisture sealed design and a large, contoured grip for comfortable handling. In addition, the camera’s durable shutter unit is rated for 150,000 total shots.
The 77 II can record Full HD 60p and 24p movies using the AVCHD 2.0 format. As with still shooting, Translucent Mirror Technology enables full-time phase-detection AF, ensuring accurate focus tracking with fast-moving subjects during video capture.
The camera has a number of additional features for movie makers, including three-level AF tracking sensitivity adjustment, a pro-style Zebra function and audio level metering. There’s also the addition of a clean HDMI output that allows viewing on an external monitor and recording to an external storage device without compression.
On-board Wi-Fi allows one-touch connection for easy shot sharing with an NFC-compatible Android smartphone, tablet and computer. A single touch also activates Smart Remote Control, linking the camera to a mobile phone for firing the shutter from a distance.
For devices without NFC one-touch capabilities, users can wirelessly transfer images and videos and activate Smart Remote Control through Sony’s free PlayMemories Mobile app, available for the iOS and Android platforms.
UPDATE: The Sony α77 II will be available in June in a kit with a 16-50 mm f/2.8 lens for a suggested retail price of $1,850; body only for $1,200.