By Grant Hatchimonji and Allison Johnson
Sony refreshes its pioneering Translucent Mirror lineup with the Alpha SLT-A77 and SLT-A65 today. These new interchangeable lens cameras push sensor resolution up to 24.3 megapixels and aim to leave the competition in the dust with blazing burst shooting modes. Read on for hands-on impressions and all the details.
Sony Alpha SLT-A77
Sony's A77 translucent mirror DSLR is equipped with a new Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor loaded with a whopping 24.3 megapixels. Coupled with a new BIONZ image processor, it offers an ISO range of 100-16000 and full 60p 1080 HD video recording. For a more cinematic look, 24p is also available. A new 19-point AF system has been incorporated into the translucent mirror system with 11 cross-type points.
The most impressive number might be the A77's burst shooting rate. With a new electronic shutter, the new Alpha is capable of 12 fps at full 24 megapixel resolution - a boost from the A55's already impressive 10 fps rate. Like the pioneering Translucent Mirror cameras before it, the A77 uses a pellicle mirror to maintain auto focus as image capture takes place. Sony touts the new electronic shutter curtain as capable of a lag time of just 50 milliseconds.
Introduced in both the A77 and A65 is an OLED viewfinder of 2359k-dot resolution (referred to by Sony as XGA). The A77 provides a three-way adjustable 3.0-inch LCD with a 921k-dot resolution.
Also introduced is a new DT 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM Alpha mount lens. It will be offered as a bundle option with the A77. Users can also add a new VG-C77AM Vertical Grip accessory with room for two additional batteries.
Sony Alpha SLT-A65
The Alpha A65 will offer many of the same updates as the A77 starting with that new 24.3 megapixel sensor. Along with the sensor, the same 1080 HD 60p AVCHD video capability will be available. The continuous shooting rate is somewhat slower at 10 fps full resolution.
The A65's AF chip will use 15 points, three of them cross-type sensors - the same AF sensor utilized by the A55. Both the A77 and A65 will utilize a 1200 zone metering system and in-camera sensor-shift image stabilization. A variety of processing effects will be available to the user including Retro Photo, HDR Painting and Miniature modes.
New Translucent Mirror cameras in hand
The DCR staff spent a little time with some pre-production A77 and A65 models recently. In terms of AF speed, the new cameras are everything they're hyped up to be. We were impressed by the A55 last year and the A77 and A65 are no exception.
We also found the 3.0-inch LCD to be a great-looking display, and the three-way tilt was incredibly handy for shooting at unusual angles. That said, we actually preferred the viewfinder for shot composition. Thanks to its new XGA resolution, the picture is crisp and the shot preview is accurate.
After comparing the A65 and A77 side by side, we found the differences between the two models minute, especially for the entry-level user it's designed for. The 65's 10 fps burst rate is marginally slower than the A77's. And though the A65 uses the older AF chip from last year's SLT models, the difference is barely noticeable in a few moments of use.
Pricing and availability
The Sony Alpha A77 will be offered as a kit with the new 16-55mm lens for an estimated $2000; body-only it will cost $1400. Expect the lens to sell separately for around $700. The Sony Alpha A65 will ring up for about $1000 with standard 18-55mm kit lens or $900 body-only. Both cameras are slated for October availability.
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