updated 02:50 am EDT, Wed August 24, 2011
Sony A77 and A65 focus on speed
Not content with its NEX updates, Sony has also updated the Alpha range to bring its translucent mirror technology to the top of the range. The 24.3-megapixel A77 and A65 both draw on the sensor from the NEX-7 but, with a mirror and phase detection autofocus, can shoot at rates usually reserved for full-frame cameras. By not having to wait for the mirror to clear, the A65 and A77 shoot at 10 frames and 12 frames per second respectively, even with full-time autofocus.
Both have improved autofocusing, at up to 15 points on the A65 and 19 on the A77, and have three or 11 cross sensors respectively. Shutter lag isn't as fast as the new NEX cameras but, at 50ms, potentially fights higher-end DSLRs. They gain the AVCHD 2.0 format's support for 1080p, 60FPS video recording
In an odd decision, Sony is choosing not to use optical viewfinders but instead rely on the 1024x768 OLED electronic viewfinder from the NEX-7. The A77 makes up for this with a first in the preview LCD: it can pivot in three different directions where the A65 and most other DSLRs can only swivel on two.
Apart from speed and the LCD, the A65 and A77 differ mostly on sensitivity and build. Both shoot at up to ISO 16,000, but only the A77 can shoot at ISO 50 to keep bright scenes in check where the A65 has a more normal 100 floor. A77 owners further get a hardened, magnesium alloy body with sealing to guard against dust and moisture, and they have both front and rear dials to tune certain settings faster.
Key to the introductions is a new lens. The DT 16-50mm f2.8 provides a constantly wide aperture even at the further range while still focusing quietly and using very low-dispersion glass.
All of the cameras and the lens will be ready by October. A65 buyers can buy the camera for $900 body-only or add an 18-55mm lens to the kit for a total $1,000. For the A77, photographers can opt for the $1,400 body or get a kit with the new 16-50mm lens in the box for $2,000. Buying the lens by itself carries a slight premium as it costs $700. A77 owners will have the choice of a vertical battery grip for $300.