Review

A cool water scene from just down the road. I took some video from here as well you’ll see in a few minutes 😉

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/8, 16mm, .5sec, ISO 50 - Jpeg

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/8, 16mm, .5sec, ISO 50 – Jpeg

When using the Carl Zeiss f/1.4 85mm lens the A77 image quality really steps up a notch in sharpness, color, and contrast. Although I did have a focusing issue with the 85mm lens I was able to correct it using an awesome feature called  AF Micro Adjustments. The lens appeared to be focusing about 1/8th of an inch or so behind and was not very noticeable unless your shooting at the minimum focus distance and shooting wide open at f/1.4 like I want to do 😉 More on that issue and how to use the AF Micro Adjustments over in this Article: Back Focusing Issue Resolved >>

More importantly check out some of these sample pics with the 85mm and be sure to click the images for a nice large version.

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/640sec, ISO 100 - Raw

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/4.5, 1/640sec, ISO 100 – Raw

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/320sec, ISO 100 - Raw

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/320sec, ISO 100 – Raw

Notice how well the a77 resolution holds up  in this 100% crop below. There is definitely some noise in between the trees and stuff, but that car was over 1/2 a mile away so I think there was some haze and or fog influence as well so I’m still impressed.

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/320sec, ISO 100 - Raw - 100% crop

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/8, 1/320sec, ISO 100 – Raw – 100% crop left middle area

The 85mm wide open at f/1.4 in direct sunlight performs pretty well on the A77 as well. There is some noticeable purple fringing on the specular highlights visible in the 100% view version below around Chub’s eye.

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/1.4, 1/8000sec, ISO 100 - JPG - 100% crop

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/1.4, 1/8000sec, ISO 100 – JPG – 100% crop

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/1.4, 1/8000sec, ISO 100 - JPG - 100% crop

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/1.4, 1/8000sec, ISO 100 – JPG – 100% crop

The Carl Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 lens really is a nice piece of Glass! Just look at how sharp this raw picture of my Dad is at f/4 below:

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 @ f/4, 1/400sec, ISO 400 - My Dad in natural Light

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 @ f/4, 1/400sec, ISO 400 – Raw – My Dad in natural Light

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 - 100% Crop - My Dad in natural Light

100% Crop – My Dad in natural Light

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 85mm f/1.4 - 100% Crop - My Dad in natural Light

100% Crop – My Dad in natural Light

Special note about the Jpeg image files:

When shooting in Jpeg mode the camera in my opinion tended to over processes some of the images. I noticed this on the Sony A35 and Nex-5n as well, but the processing seems significantly more aggressive on the A77. Both Sharpening and Noise Reduction look overdone to me when viewing at 100% in Photoshop.  They do however look great at normal viewing size. Shooting raw solves this problem as you get to develop the photos yourself, but the file sizes are a bit larger, so it may slow down your work flow a bit. Totally worth it though IMO as jpeg files in general stink compared to raw files for a laundry list of reasons.

Some of the a77’s advanced shooting modes require you use jpeg mode only, and the camera will kindly tell you every time that you can’t use this mode in Raw etc… AutoHDR,  AutoPano, Handheld Twighlight, and Multi-shot NR(noise reduction) all require jpeg mode.

The New firmware did tweak the jpeg files a bit, but my thoughts still holds true in my opinion.

 

A closer look at AutoHDR, Autopano, and Multi-Shot NR

AutoHDR

Works pretty good and I used it often to see where it worked best. The off the camera results are usually flat but the histogram is well-balanced and captures the dynamic range well. See below for a better look and a few examples. First the AutoHDR file then a normal exposure file.

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/10, 16mm, 1/80sec, ISO 100 - AutoHDR 6EV

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/10, 16mm, 1/80sec, ISO 100 – AutoHDR 6EV

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/10, 16mm, 1/80sec, ISO 100 - Jpg

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/10, 16mm, 1/80sec, ISO 100 – Jpg

Now take a look at the histogram for each of these files above. The AutoHDR file’s histogram(left) clearly illustrates how the dynamic range is pushed into the middle. So in other words there’s less dynamic range in the AutoHDR file’s histogram and you can clearly see how the blacks(left side) are pushed towards the middle and the whites/highlights(right side) are pushed towards the middle.  The blacks are clipping in the standard jpeg file as well. Notice the spike on the very left side. The standard jpeg file almost captured all the dynamic range, but not quite.

AutoHDR 6EV - Histogram from Lightroom

AutoHDR 6EV – Histogram

Standard Jpeg file Histogram from Lightroom

Standard Jpeg file Histogram

From a dynamic range standpoint this is great and exactly what the AutoHDR feature is supposed to do, but from quality or editing standpoint this is not so good. First off a jpeg file is not the way to go for HDR Photography in my opinion, but the Sony A77 requires jpeg mode only for this feature. What you really want is the most information possible if your going to edit a file further. So what this means practically in the real world is you cannot push this file very far at all before it will start to degrade and not print well large. The gradients will start to band like in the sky areas if you raise the saturation too much or try to darken the sky a lot etc.

If you want maximum quality possible starting off with one well exposed Raw file would have been better than either of these jpeg files!! A Raw file has much more bit-depth and color information than a jpeg file!!

Check out the future studio in our downstairs.  It looks much better now believe it or not as we have almost all the electric done and it’s all cleaned up. This is a great example of how well autoHDR can work when the dynamic range is way beyond that of the camera sensor.

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens - AutoHDR On

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens – AutoHDR On – 6ev

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens - AutoHDR Off

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens – AutoHDR Off

The AutoHDR feature works well and in certain situations it’s definitely worth trying as the results are quite good!! The blending of multiple images in the camera itself is very impressive in my opinion as there are alignment issues, movement issues, Halo’s to battle, and the list goes on and on when processing HDR Photos. If you have ever tried to create a HDR file in Photomatix for example, you know what I’m talking about!!

AutoPano

Another very cool feature that works very well for an in camera tool. Check these out and be sure to Click on them for a larger version!!

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens - AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens – AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens - AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens – AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens - AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens – AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens - AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens – AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens - AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Kit Lens – AutoPano

Here’s another few panos from my deck looking out. Note that you can change the direction of the Pano in the menu and then as long as you move your camera in the correct direction you can get all sorts of different pano crops as seen below:

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/6.3, 16mm, 1/60sec, ISO 100 - Jpeg - AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/6.3, 16mm, 1/160sec, ISO 100 – Jpeg – AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/5.6, 16mm, 1/160sec, ISO 100 - Jpeg - AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/5.6, 16mm, 1/160sec, ISO 100 – Jpeg – AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/4, 16mm, 1/60sec, ISO 400 - Jpeg - AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/4, 16mm, 1/60sec, ISO 400 – Jpeg – AutoPano

Vertical Panos:

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/5, 16mm, 1/100sec, ISO 100 - Jpeg - AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/5, 16mm, 1/100sec, ISO 100 – Jpeg – AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/4, 16mm, 1/100sec, ISO 1600 - Jpeg - AutoPano

Sony Alpha 77 w/ 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens @ f/4, 16mm, 1/100sec, ISO 1600 – Jpeg – AutoPano

 

Multi Shot NR & Handheld Twilight Modes:

These modes on the a77 take multiple shots similar to AutoHDR except the layer blending that goes on here is specifically optimized for reducing Noise. For Multi-Shot NR you just set the camera’s ISO to ISO Auto which is just above the standard Auto in the ISO menu. You will need to be in jpeg mode for this feature, but it really does work incredible well. The Handheld Twilight Scene Mode does pretty much the same exact thing as this, but you need to switch the camera’s mode dial to the scene modes and then scroll to HandHeld Twilight.  Be sure to click on the 100% crops below to compare the two ISO 12800 pics. With and Without Multi-Frame NR.

Sony Alpha 77 - Standard ISO 12800 Photo

Sony Alpha 77 – Standard ISO 12800 Photo

Sony Alpha 77 - Multi Frame NR @ ISO 12800

Sony Alpha 77 – Multi Frame NR @ ISO 12800

Sony Alpha 77 - ISO 12800 - 100% Crop

ISO 12800 – 100% Crop

Multi Frame NR @ ISO 12800 - 100% Crop

Multi Frame NR @ ISO 12800 – 100% Crop

Sony Alpha 77 - ISO 12800 - 100% Crop

ISO 12800 – 100% Crop

Multi Frame NR @ ISO 12800 - 100% Crop

Multi Frame NR @ ISO 12800 – 100% Crop

I also have a nice Gallery set-up on Google Plus with a ton more sample pics if you want to check it out 😉

 
 
 


About the Author

Jay
Hello, I'm the owner and operator of SonyAlphaLab.com. Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;) Google+ | Twitter | RSS-feed | Email Updates!!