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Sony’s new A77 – So close yet so far

Today saw the launch of Sony’s latest and much-leaked range of stills/video cameras. In particular, people anticipated the A77 would be Sony’s response to Canon’s popular prosumer cameras like the 60D and 7D. It has much newer video technology than the competition with full manual control of aperture and shutter speed in video mode, a 2.4M dot OLED viewfinder, an articulating rear screen, 1080/60P and 24P AVCHD in NTSC countries (1080/50P and 25P in PAL land), peaking in manual focus and fast autofocus in video mode thanks to translucent mirror technology. But it falls down in one of the most important areas for news shooters – audio.

For many DSLR news shooters, torn between working with cameras like the 5DmkII and large sensor camcorders like the Panasonic AF100 and Sony FS-100, audio has become a serious issue. Whilst there are many workarounds such as sync sound or audio XLR adapters for DSLRs, many want a simpler life and opt for a camcorder instead. The A77 offered Sony the chance to address this by adding in greater manual audio control and on-screen levels. Instead, it seems they decided to cripple the audio functions and set in-camera audio to full auto only (this is still to be confirmed 100% and early reports may be incorrect).

That means that the A77 is basically unsuitable for anything other than sync sound set-ups in terms of real world shooting – just like the Canon 7D.

DPreview has a full rundown of the camera here and notes that the A77 only does AF in Program mode and not manual exposure, due to the need for the camera to control aperture. They also note that there is a sensor crop when entering movie mode that is greater than just a regular 16×9 crop of the S35 sensor.

All this doesn’t mean the camera is useless, but personally I would only use it as a B-camera in a multi-cam shoot, or for slow motion work. For Sony camcorder users it may be the ideal compliment to a FS100 or F3 setup though and potentially share some of the lenses.

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Posted on August 24th, 2011 by admin | Category: Sony A77 |

6 responses to "Sony’s new A77 – So close yet so far"

  1. x0n0x Says:
    August 24th, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I don’t get this, the 7D/Sony aren’t worth using except as a B camera? And the AF100 is barely a B camera for a decent studio. Horses for courses, and IMO most posts here vastly overestimate the necessity of apparently “high grade” equipment. Especially when the majority of their output is for down-sampled web use to be listened to on laptop speakers.

    • Dan Chung Says:
      August 24th, 2011 at 6:38 pm

      I am talking specifically about news here. Also it’s not about ‘high grade’ equipment per say. I have happily used manual audio on the Canon 60D and Panasonic GH2. Either can be made to be a workable A cam.

  2. jason.a.williams Says:
    August 24th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Comparing specs between the new vg20 and the a77, There is really little not to like. I think the vg20 gives video people what we are looking for at a price that is acceptable. Manual audio, interchangeable lenses, pl mounts…I mean what more do you want?

    • Dan Chung Says:
      August 24th, 2011 at 6:36 pm

      Jason, yes the VG20 does look more promising. Never really likes the VG10, but that was mainly about lack of manual audio and image quality. If they have fixed those things then it might well be a good choice.

  3. chuboy Says:
    August 24th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    @x0n0x: I think Dan’s point is that the 7D/A77 would be good B-cameras because they lack any real audio inpnut. If your A-camera is an FS100 or AF100, you get your audio there and then cut in your B-camera.

    It’s not an issue of quality per say.

    • Dan Chung Says:
      August 24th, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      Yes, thx Conrad. That’s exactly my point – It’s all about the lack manual audio. I’m also talking specifically about news situations where having a good audio track recorded in the camera to start with is essential. There are plenty of times where you could get away with using sync sound instead but it would be too much of a risk to rely on a camera that only has AGC as an A cam. It’s the same reason I don’t see the Canon 7D as an A cam. For other types of video work that are not news related the A77 may well be a viable A cam.

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