Just over two weeks ago I purchased the Sony A77 DSLT (read DSLR) as a huge step up from my trusty Nikon d3100. I thought it was about time to write a full review of my experiences so far.
The Nikon d3100 was my starting point into the world of DSLRs. It was a great first DSLR and produced some really great pictures on my adventures to New York, Turin, Munich, London etc. but it had some shortcomings.
As I was new to DSLRs I was stuck with the kit lens; an 18-55 f3.5-5.6 lens which produced great pictures for a kit lens, but was my limiting point. As I was still unsure of my eventual platform of choice I didn’t want to expand my lens collection. If I did I would have been stuck with the first problem, the d3100 does not include a built in auto-focus motor meaning that external lens would have to contain one; limiting the choice and normally bumping up the cost.
As I travelled a lot I wanted GPS functionality, the d3100 has a companion GPS attachment; the GP-1 GPS Module but nearly costs half as much again as the camera.
When composing shots, you can instantly see the benefits of a tilting/adjustable screen. Now I know pros would complain that is no way a replacement for the viewfinder but its a great starting point for composing a scene, shame as well as the crop factor on the viewfinder on the d3100.
So these few things in mind I went out and started looking for a new camera with the £1000-1750 price range and was surprised on what little I found.
This price point seemed a barren wasteland for Nikon with virtually nothing between the old d7000 for around £1000 with a decent lens and the d800 for £2400 body only.
Canon faired little better, though the 7D was a formidable contender and did undergo serious consideration. My problems with it included the lack of adjustable screen, no GPS, technically its rather old (the 650D as a newer sensor, faster processing chip etc). If there was a 7D II I would have most likely bought it in an instance.
My eyes then turned to other manufactures, with most of my point & shoot cameras being SONY and having had no problems with them, I thought I’d look into their higher end models. Recently my friend had shown their NEX5n, a great camera in a compact body. I would love a compact but the lens are limited, and those that do exist had a huge mark up. Though to be honest if the Sony NEX7 (which itself shares the same sensor as the A77) had the same body kit as the Fujifilm X-E1 I would have started throwing money at it!
When I looked at the Sony DSLR equivalents I was blown away with the price point. I got my SONY A77 for £1329 as well as a £100 cash-back from Sony.
What made me jump at this camera was the included ‘kit lens’, although Sony doesn’t like calling it a kit lens for good reason. Its a 16-50mm with a constant f2.8, its very heavy duty metal construction and nearly weighs as much as the camera. Some of the initial pictures I took really showed off the quality improvements over the standard Canon / Nikon kit lens.
Now I couldn’t go without buying a nifty 50mm prime, luckily Sony has a rather cheap SAL50f18 f1.8 lens with good reviews and they were offering £30 cashback on the lens.
Since then I have found that it has become near constantly attached to my camera apart from when I need to do wide-angle shots. Most of the images are sublime and it gets great bokeh.
There are some issues, such as the softening of the edges when wide open, the build quality is on the cheap side (plastic, with plastic mount), and that it only goes down to f1.8 Soon I shall be swapping it for the slightly better Sony f1.4 lens (SAL50f14) or the Sigma f1.4 lens, although that is considerably more expensive.
Overall I am incredibly happy with my shiny new camera, and takes some amazing shots.
For those that are interested, you can follow me on Flickr under the username MrPfister