Sony A77 II Review

June 10, 2014 | Mark Goldstein | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 24.3 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.

The Sony A77 II produced images of excellent quality during the review period. The Sony A77 II's has an extensive and very usable ISO range of 50-25,600. ISO 50-1600 is noise-free, whilst ISO 3200 and 6400 produce more than acceptable results, and even ISO 12800 and is OK for emergency use (although we'd avoid 25,600 if possible). The RAW samples illustrate just how much processing the camera does by default, though, as they're much noisier at all ISO values than their JPEG counterparts.

The 24 megapixel images are a little soft straight out of the camera using the default creative style and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera sharpening level. The built-in flash worked well indoors with no red-eye and good overall exposure. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and the Bulb mode offering lots of scope for creative night photography. The built-in SteadyShot anti-shake system works well when hand-holding the camera at slower shutter speeds.

The effective Dynamic Range Optimizer function extracts more detail from the shadow and highlight areas in an image, without introducing any unwanted noise or other artifacts. The High Dynamic Range mode combines two shots taken at different exposures to produce one image with greater dynamic range than a single image would produce. It only works for JPEGs and for still subjects, but does produce some very effective results. Sony's now tried-and-trusted Sweep Panorama is still a joy to use. The extensive range of picture effects quickly produce special looks that would otherwise require you to spend a lot of time in the digital darkroom, although they can only be applied to JPEGs, while the Creative Styles provide a quick and easy way to tweak the camera's JPEG and RAW images.

Noise

There are 9 ISO settings available on the Sony A77 II. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

JPEG RAW  

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

 
iso50.jpg iso50raw.jpg  
     

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

 
iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg  
     

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

 
iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg  
     

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

 
iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg  
     

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

 
iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg  
     

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

 
iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg  
     

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg  
     

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

 
iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg  
     

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

 
iso12800.jpg iso12800raw.jpg  
     

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

 
iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg  

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

The Sony A77 II has 3 different image quality settings available, with Extra Fine being the highest quality JPEG option. Annoyingly the RAW+JPG option only records Fine quality JPEGs. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

24.3M Extra Fine (12.08Mb) (100% Crop) 24.3M Fine (6.84Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_extrafine.jpg quality_fine.jpg
   
24.3M Standard (4.53Mb) (100% Crop) 24.3M RAW (23.9Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_normal.jpg quality_raw.jpg

Flash

The flash settings on the Sony A77 II are Autoflash, Fill-flash, Slow sync, Rear flash sync. and High Speed sync., with Red-eye reduction available in the Main Menu. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (27mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (82.5mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (82.5mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. Neither the Auto setting or the Red-eye reduction mode caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red-eye reduction

Red-eye reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

The Sony A77 II's maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds and there's also a Bulb mode for even longer exposures, which is excellent news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 20 seconds at ISO 100.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Steadyshot

The Sony A77 II has an antishake mechanism built into the camera body, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, we took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with Shake Reduction turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of the image to show the results. As you can see, with Shake Reduction turned on, the images are sharper than when it's turned off.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Shake Reduction Off (100% Crop)

Shake Reduction On (100% Crop)

1/6th / 27mm antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg
     
1/6th / 82.5mm antishake2.jpg antishake2a.jpg

Dynamic Range Optimizer

D-Range Optimiser (DRO) is Sony's solution to improve shadow detail in photos taken in contrasty light. There are 5 different levels and an Auto option.

Off

Auto
drange_01.jpg drange_02.jpg
   
Level 1 Level 2
drange_03.jpg drange_04.jpg
   
Level 3 Level 4
drange_05.jpg drange_06.jpg
   
Level 5  
drange_07.jpg  

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range Optimiser (HDR) is Sony's solution for capturing more contrast than a single exposure can handle by combining two exposures into one image. There are 6 different EV settings and an Auto option.

Off

Auto
hdr_01.jpg hdr_02.jpg
   
1EV 2EV
hdr_03.jpg hdr_04.jpg
   
3EV 4EV
hdr_05.jpg hdr_06.jpg
   
5EV 6EV
hdr_07.jpg hdr_08.jpg

Creative Styles

There are 6 Creative Style preset effects that you can use to change the look of your images (JPEG or RAW).

Standard

Vivid

creative_style_01.jpg creative_style_02.jpg
   

Neutral

Portrait

creative_style_03.jpg creative_style_04.jpg
   

Landscape

B/W

creative_style_05.jpg creative_style_06.jpg

Picture Effects

The Sony A77 II offers a range of 13 creative Picture Effects. Note that they can only be applied to JPEGs.

Off

Toy Camera

picture_effect_01.jpg picture_effect_02.jpg
   

Pop Color

Posterization

picture_effect_03.jpg picture_effect_04.jpg
   

Retro Photo

Soft High-key

picture_effect_05.jpg picture_effect_06.jpg
   

Partial Color (Green)

High Contrast Mono

picture_effect_07.jpg picture_effect_08.jpg
   

Soft Focus

HDR Painting

picture_effect_09.jpg picture_effect_10.jpg
   

Rich-tone Mono

Miniature

picture_effect_11.jpg picture_effect_12.jpg
   

Watercolor

Illustration

picture_effect_13.jpg picture_effect_14.jpg

Panorama Mode

The Sony A77 II allows you to take panoramic images very easily by 'sweeping' with the camera while keeping the shutter release depressed. The camera does all the processing and stitching and even successfully compensates for moving subjects.

Standard
panorama1.jpg
 
Wide
panorama2.jpg