Hands On – Sony Alpha 77
When you've got a camera that shoots panoramic photos as well as Sony's new Alpha 77, there aren't many better places to try it out than Athens, Greece. Which is handy because that's exactly where we've come for the launch of the latest in Sony's range of translucent mirror not-quite-SLRs.
In the hand the A77 feels solid - comparable to a Canon 7D or any other camera aimed at a serious snapper - and for £1150 (body only) it certainly should. As a successor to the A700, Sony claims that it's 30% faster with a new 19-point focus system, 24.3MP Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor and ISO sensitivity of up to 16000. Our pre-production sample certainly feels fast - and its auto focus even keeps moving objects pin sharp.
That's not to say an enthusiastic wannabe Bellamy can't get on well with it. Along with the obvious auto mode there's an electronic spirit level to keep things straight and, for the more adventurous, a shot preview mode that simulates on-screen (or in-viewfinder) how the snap will turn out based on the current camera settings.
The A77 comes with an OLED electronic viewfinder, which purists will turn their noses up at but is clear and bright (even in the Greek sunshine). In fact, if nobody told us we'd think we were looking through a standard optical one. Of course, an electronic viewfinder also has the added bonus of being able to display picture and camera info like a mini head-up display. For trickier shots its 3in LCD tilts, pivots and swivels every which way, allowing you to shoot over your head, down low and round corners.
The Alpha 77 is due out in October and we'll bring you a full review as soon as we can lay our hands on a review sample.