Sony Alpha A77 Digital Camera Review$1,999.99
- Low Light Performance
- Noise Reduction
- ISO Options
- Focus Performance
- Video: Low Light Sensitivity
Low Light Performance
There are better low-light cameras than the A77. The in-body stabilization is very effective, which allows for longer shutter speeds with hand-held shooting, which in turn allows for lower ISO settings in the dark. Autofocus is quick and accurate even without much light. And there are very bright A-mount lenses available, too.
But there's the inescapable fact that the A77 is noisier than most other enthusiast-level system cameras at high ISOs. Results are decent up through ISO 1600 and acceptable at ISO 3200, but cameras like the Pentax K-5 and Nikon D7000 do a better job. The A77 will work in the dark, especially if you shoot in raw and take the time to manually reduce the noise. But if you do most of your shooting in clubs, bars, and other dimly lit environments, look elsewhere.
Noise performance is a weak point with the A77. The overall score is fine, but the sensor gets pretty noisy at higher ISOs and aggressive noise reduction starts to degrade fine detail as low as ISO 800.
More on how we test noise.
The A77 offers ISO settingsfrom ISO 50 through ISO 16000. We started our tests at ISO 100, since that's the lowest native setting; the settings below that are really just ISO 100 with an exaggerated highlight curve. Users can select ISOs in steps of 1/3EV, and set high and low caps on the automatic ISO system. All ISO settings are available at full resolution.
ISO 25600 is selectable, but only in the multi-frame noise reduction setting. This isn't included in the normal ISO range because it requires creating a composite of several frames in order to keep noise to an acceptable level.
One of the best aspects of the A77's translucent-mirror design is the full-time phase-detection autofocus. It's as quick and accurate as a regular DSLR, but doesn't have to drop focus every time it exposes a photo. It even works at the fastest burst setting, and in video mode, too.
Video: Low Light Sensitivity
Here's one area where we're sure the translucent mirror hurt the video results: The A77 crossed our sensitivity threshold at just 28 lux, in the ballpark of most point-and-shoots.