Sony ILCA-77 Mark II

      Photo Review 8.8

      In summary

      Like its predecessor, the ILCA-77 Mark II is designed for serious photo enthusiasts and is most suitable for users with relatively large hands. Built for durability, its body combines magnesium alloy and plastic to deliver robust handling.

      Weather-resistant sealing around the main buttons and dials and all camera body openings makes it usable in misty or dusty conditions and able to tolerate a light spattering of rain. So it will suit outdoor photographers, including bushwalkers and photographers who record most types of sports.


      Full review

      Superficially, there’s not much difference between the new A77 Mark II and its predecessor,  the SLT-A77 we reviewed in September 2011, aside from a slight adjustment to its name. The prefix ‘SLT’ (for ‘single-lens translucent’) is now ILCA (for ‘interchangeable-lens camera A-mount’) and, while little has changed externally, inside there are some  technological advancements that will please enthusiast photographers who shoot stills and movie clips.


       Angled view of the ILCA-77 Mark II with the DT 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM lens used for this review. (Source: Sony.)

      Both α77 models are relatively large and bulky with the same general shape and control layout. The vertical grip designed for the original camera can still be used on the Mark II. Both cameras have similar Translucent Mirror Technology viewing systems and high-resolution OLED viewfinders. Their tiltable LCD monitors also provide the same adjustability, although the Mark II’s resolution is higher.

      Who’s it For?
      Like its predecessor, the ILCA-77 Mark II is designed for serious photo enthusiasts and is most suitable for users with relatively large hands. Built for durability, its body combines magnesium alloy and plastic to deliver robust handling.

      Weather-resistant sealing around the main buttons and dials and all camera body openings makes it usable in misty or dusty conditions and able to tolerate a light spattering of rain.  So it will suit outdoor photographers, including bushwalkers and photographers who record most types of sports.

      What’s New?
       The sensor in the Mark II is a new 23.5 x 15.6mm ‘Exmor’ CMOS chip with gapless, offset microlenses, which is in many ways similar to the chip found in the α6000 E-mount camera, although without the on-chip phase-detection AF pixels. Output resolution remains the same as the earlier model’s at 24-megapixels and images sizes and video capabilities are the same as the original camera’s.

      To match the new sensor, the BIONZ image processor has been upgraded to the BIONZ X processor, which is also found in the latest Sony cameras. But sensitivity support still ranges from ISO 50 to ISO 25,600 and, although the top continuous shooting speed hasn’t changed, the buffer memory has been enlarged and can now accommodate 53 JPEGs, 25 raw files and 26 RAW+JPEG pairs, compared with 11-13 files in the A77.


      Front view of the ILCA-77 Mark II with the DT 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM lens.  (Source: Sony.)

      Physically, the most obvious change is the removal of the AF-assist lamp from the front panel of the new camera, shown above. The Mark II’s built-in flash is used instead for focus illumination. The previous, Minolta-style hot-shoe has been replaced by Sony’s Multi Interface Shoe, which adds connections for external microphones to the standard flash connections.


       Top view of the ILCA-77 Mark II with no lens, showing the redesigned mode dial. (Source: Sony.)

      The mode dial now has a locking button in its centre and the α77’s 3D mode is replaced by three Memory Recall (MR) positions for re-calling groups of settings that were pre-registered in the memory banks.

      An N-mark on the right hand side panel indicates the contact point for connecting the camera to an NFC-enabled smart-phone.

      A Wi-Fi receiver/transmitter replaces the α77’s built-in GPS module and enables direct wireless connection with mobile devices. The system is identical to the one used in other Sony cameras and outlined in our review of the Sony α7R. It relies upon Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app, which is available as a free download.


      Rear view of the ILCA-77 Mark II with the LCD monitor on the camera body. (Source: Sony.)

      The LCD monitor has the same tilt/swivel articulation on both models but the Mark II’s screen resolution is increased to 1,228,800 dots, compared with 920,000 dots on the original A77. Sony has also introduced WhiteMagic screen technology, which adds a white pixel to the red, green, and blue array to improve outdoor visibility. (Overall resolution remains at VGA level.) It provides some improvement in screen readability in average outdoor lighting but can’t work miracles in sunny situations.

      Another significant improvement is to the autofocusing system which, as before, takes advantage of Sony’s Translucent Mirror Technology to provide fast focusing for both stills and movie recording.   The system relies upon a new high-density, wide-coverage module with the highest phase-detection AF point count in any current interchangeable-lens camera.

      The 79-point array includes 15 cross points and is rated to operate in light levels as low as -2EV. The system also includes the AF tracking technologies developed for recent E-mount cameras, which use data from the image sensor to track moving targets.

      AF modes include the standard single-shot and continuous modes plus an automatic setting that switches between them depending on subject motion. There’s also a manual focus setting. Magnification and peaking displays are available to assist manual focusing, with three levels of peaking detection plus outlining in white, red or yellow.

      Five focusing areas are available for selection: wide, zone, centre, flexible spot and expanded flexible spot, the latter using eight focus points around the flexible spot to help achieve focus. Lock-On AF lets you select an AF sensor point anywhere in the frame as a starting point for focus tracking, a ‘first’ for Sony cameras. You can also set the duration of AF tracking when shooting stills from 5 (for fast-moving subjects) to 1, with a default at level 3. Separate duration times can be set for stills and movies.

      A new addition is a ‘Plimsoll mark’ on the top panel that shows the precise location of the image sensor. This mark can be used to measure the exact distance to the subject, a useful feature for macro photography.

      You can also specify the range of distances over which autofocusing should operate to prevent the system from being sidetracked by nearby objects. The front dial is used to set the maximum shooting distance, while the rear dial sets the minimum shooting distance.

      There’s also a Priority Setup option for continuous shooting that lets you determine whether the shutter is released when focus isn’t achieved in AF mode. Three settings are available: AF (which won’t release the shutter unless the subject is in focus), Release (which releases the shutter even if focus in not achieved) and Balanced Emphasis (which balances both focus and photo opportunity).

      Unchanged Features
       Key functions that remain unchanged include the 1.3 cm XGA (1024 x 768-pixel) OLED Tru-Finder, which provides same100% frame coverage, along with adjustable brightness and colour (-2 to +2 in each case) and automatic switching between EVF and monitor via an eye sensor. The EVF’s fast refresh rate and the advantage of full frame coverage plus useful display of camera settings make it easier to use than some optical finders.

      The backlit top panel data LCD remains as a handy aid when shooting with the camera tripod-mounted. It displays current settings, remaining shots and battery capacity.

      Like its predecessor, the Mark II’s button controls are designed so they can be differentiated by touch for ‘eyes off’ operation of the camera. And the joystick control replaces the traditional arrow pad for selecting and navigating through various functions. Traditional front and rear dials are provided adjusting exposure parameters and navigating menus.

      ISO and white balance settings are largely unchanged and the shutter mechanism is the same as the original camera’s and supports the same range of settings. The JPEG-only Multi Frame NR setting, which is accessed via the Auto ISO mode in the shooting menu, is unchanged since the A77 and found in most recent cameras from Sony. It combines a sequence of shots to produce images with less noise. Users can select specific ISO settings and also specify Standard or High processing levels for this function.

      The Scene mode pre-sets are also unchanged, with options including Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports Action, Sunset, Night Portrait, Night Scene and Hand-held Twilight. Sweep Panorama shooting is available in the usual two widths for both horizontal and vertical directions and users can move the camera from left to right or vice versa or up and down.

      Raw file shooters will find the RAW+JPEG setting still only records Fine quality JPEGs, rather than the less compressed   Extra Fine option. The image size for raw files is fixed at   6000 x 4000 pixels and not displayed on the monitor screen.

      The NP-FM500H rechargeable lithium-ion battery is the same as in previous model and also the Alpha 450, 500, 550, 560, 700, 850 and 900 and SLT-A65. But power consumption is higher in the Mark II, which is CIPA rated for approximately 410 shots/charge with the OLED Tru-Finder or approximately 480 shots with the LCD monitor, compared with 470 shots and 530 shots, respectively for the original camera.
       Playback functions are essentially unchanged and remain virtually the same as other Sony cameras. No software was supplied with the review camera but the online manual provides a link ( for downloading Sony’s Image Data Converter for processing ARW.RAW files. It’s not easy to find in the online manual itself as you must look in the Viewing on Computers section.

      Other applications that some users will want include Sony’s PlayMemories Camera Apps, which can be downloaded from   There’s a wide variety to choose from, some free and others ranging from about $5 to $10. Trial downloads are also offered for Beta versions of new apps. The PlayMemories Mobile and PlayMemories Home apps required for using the camera’s Wi-Fi functions are available free of charge from the Apple Store and Google Play.

      The camera is supplied with six pieces of ‘paperwork’, most of them basic instructions in various languages. A more complete user manual is available for viewing online at This is fine, provided you have internet access everywhere you go and a suitable viewing platform. But it doesn’t replace the convenience of a good printed manual.

       Our tests were conducted with the Sony DT 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM lens, which we reviewed in September, 2011 when we reviewed the original SLT-A77 camera. Imatest showed a slight increase in image resolution for both JPEG and ARW.RAW files.

      As with the previous model, the highest JPEG resolution was a little short of expectations for the sensor’s resolution. However, it came very close, which is no mean feat for a 24-megapixel camera. Equivalent raw files delivered resolution that was a little above expectations and earned the camera a score of 9/10.

      For shots taken with the in-camera processing aids switched off, resolution remained high from ISO 50 to ISO 800, inclusive, and then declined steadily. Our tests also revealed a distinct difference between centre and edge resolution across the camera’s sensitivity range, as shown in the graph of our Imatest results below.


      Shots straight from the camera were very slightly soft and benefited from post-capture unsharp masking. Sony has emphasised high-ISO performance and autofocusing in the promotional materials it has released for this camera so we have focused on these factors when assessing other aspects of the camera’s performance.

      Image noise was barely visible at sensitivities up to ISO 6400 with the default settings and even at ISO 6400, plenty of detail was retained, enabling shots to be printed at modest sizes without noise being apparent. Shots taken at higher sensitivities showed progressive increases in softening and granularity was very obvious at ISO 12800 and ISO 25600 in files taken without noise reduction processing.

      The standard noise reduction settings introduced slight softening but reduced the amount of visible noise. With the new  Multi Frame Noise Reduction setting, which records four frames and combines them to eliminate noise  patterns, shots taken at settings between ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 were visibly less noise-affected. At higher ISO settings, some artefacts were introduced, most noticeably in shots taken with the  Multi Frame Noise Reduction setting. However,  both settings delivered improvements when compared with shots taken with noise reduction switched off. Examples are provided in the Samples section below.

      Flash performance was very good and  exposures were evenly balanced across the camera’s sensitivity range.  Although noise remained visible in high ISO shots, it was less obvious than for available light exposures. Flash shots taken at the highest ISO settings showed slight softening.

      Auto white balance performance was slightly better than the previous model. While shots taken under incandescent lighting retained the original warm cast, shots taken with fluorescent lighting had close to neutral colour rendition. For both lighting types, the pre-sets over-corrected colours slightly but the manual measurement system delivered a neutral colour balance. As with the original camera, plenty of adjustments are provided for tweaking images as you shoot.

      We expected the new autofocusing to be extremely fast, since the original camera’s system was also faster than average. So we weren’t disappointed to find that in bright outdoor lighting the new camera locked onto subjects very quickly and maintained focus on moving subjects just as well as its predecessor ““ and probably a little better.

      However, autofocusing slowed in low light levels and it became difficult to find focus after dark, particularly with flat, low-contrast subjects. Performance deteriorated as light levels declined. The situation improved when there was a bright area to provide a hard edge for the sensors to focus upon. But overall, low-light autofocusing was a little disappointing and not what we expected from the new AF system.

      Subjective assessments of image files showed them to have natural looking colour reproduction with a relatively wide brightness range, which could be extended by turning the Dynamic Range Optimiser on. Test shots at the default settings contained plenty of detail plus nice contrast gradations.

      As expected, video quality was similar to the original A77’s for both the AVCHD Full HD clips and the two MP4 settings. The Mark II also produced similar audio quality in soundtracks, thanks in part to the 16-50mm lens, which operates almost silently while focusing and zooming. The wind noise reduction filter went a long way towards suppressing wind noise in outdoor recordings, although it couldn’t eliminate it altogether.

      Continuous phase-detection AF with focus tracking also available in movie mode, so we selected shooting tests to discover how effective the system was for tracking moving subjects. Our results were quite impressive and showed the Mark II’s AF system to be capable of not only selecting the right area in a dynamic scene to focus upon but also able to switch between subjects travelling in opposite directions and keep focus on the subject that was approaching the camera. It could also focus upon close subjects as they moved across the camera’s line of sight. AF performance in these respects was noticeably better than almost all cameras we have reviewed in the past year.

      Our timing tests were carried out with an 8GB SanDisk Ultra SDHC U1 memory card, which claims a transfer speed of 30 MB/second. The review camera powered up for shooting in just under a second.

      Capture lag was consistently negligible, regardless of whether the monitor or EVF was used for shot composition or if the shot was pre-focused. Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.5 seconds without flash and 3.5 seconds with. Processing times were slightly shorter than the A77’s, with a Large/Extra Fine JPEG file taking 2.8 seconds to process, while each ARW.RAW file  took around three seconds and RAW+JPEG pairs requiring 3.2 seconds on average.

      In the Hi-speed burst mode, we recorded a burst of 10 Large/Extra Fine JPEG frames in 1.4 seconds, which is in line with specifications. It took 5.9 seconds to process this burst, more than a second faster than the original camera.

      The same capture times applied to bursts of ARW.RAW files and RAW+JPEG pairs. It took 8.7 seconds to process a burst of 10 raw files and 14.3 seconds for a burst of 10 RAW+JPEG pairs. Regardless of the resolution/quality setting, the low-speed burst mode recorded 10 frames in 2.8 seconds, which equates to around three frames/second. Burst processing times for high-resolution JPEGs were 7.5 seconds, while ARW.RAW files took 8.8 seconds. RAW+JPEG pairs took 11.1 seconds to process.  



       Image sensor: 23.5 x 15.6mm ‘Exmor’ CMOS sensor with 24.7 million photosites (24.3 megapixels effective)
       Image processor: BIONZ X
       Lens mount: Sony A-mount
       Focal length crop factor: 1.5x
       Digital zoom: Still images: L:Approx. 4x, M:Approx. 5.7x, S:Approx. 8x; Smart Zoom: M:Approx. 1.4x, S:Approx. 2x; Movies: up to 4x
       Image formats: Stills ““ARW.RAW (V2.3), JPEG (DCF V. 2.0, Exif V. 2.3), RAW+JPEG; Movies ““ AVCHD (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264), MP4 with stereo audio
       Image Sizes: Stills ““ 3:2 aspect: 6000 x 4000, M: 4240 x 2832, S: 3008 x 2000; 16:9 aspect: 6000 x 3376, M: 4240 x 2400, S:3008 x 1688; Sweep Panorama: Wide: horizontal 12,416 x 1,856, vertical 5,536 x 2,160, Standard: horizontal 8,192 x 1,856, vertical 3,872 x 2,160; Movies: AVCHD: 1980 x 1080 (50p / 28Mbps, 50i / 24Mbps, 50i /17Mbps, 25p 24Mbps, 25p / 17Mbps), MP4: 1440 x 1080 (25fps / 12Mbps), VGA: 640 x 480 (25fps / 3Mbps)
       Image Stabilisation: SteadyShot sensor-shift for stills; electronic stabilisation for movies
       Dust removal: Charge protection coating on image sensor and image sensor shift mechanism
       Shutter speed range: Still images: 1/8000 to 30 sec. plus Bulb; Movies: 1/8000 to 1/4 (1/3 step), up to 1/60 in Auto mode (up to 1/30 in Auto slow shutter mode); flash synch at 1/250 sec.
       Exposure Compensation: +/-5 EV in 1/3- or 1/2-EV increments
       Exposure bracketing: Cont./Bracket: Single, With 1/3EV, 1/2EV, 2/3EV, 1.0EV, 2.0EV, 3.0EV increments, 3 /5 frames
       Other bracketing options: WB (3 frames, H/L selectable), DRO (3 frames, H/L selectable)
       Self-timer:   2 or 10 seconds delay; 3 or 5 frames after 10 seconds
       Focus system: TTL Phase-detection AF with 79 points (15 points cross type), with centre f/2.8 sensor
       Focus modes: Single-shot AF (AF-S), Continuous AF (AF-C), Automatic AF (AF-A), Direct Manual Focus selectable; Predictive control (AF-A, AF-C), Focus lock, AF On, Eye-start AF
       Focus area: Wide, Zone, Centre, Flexible Spot, Expanded Flexible Spot, Lock-On AF (Wide, Zone, Centre/ Flexible Spot,/ Expanded Flexible Spot)
       Exposure metering:  1200-zone evaluative metering with Multi-segment, Centre-weighted and Spot patterns
       Shooting modes: AUTO (Intelligent Auto/Superior Auto), Scene Selection, Sweep Panorama, Continuous Advance Priority AE, Movie (P/A/S/M), Programmed AE (P), Aperture priority (A), Shutter-speed priority (S), Manual (M), Memory recall (MR1/2/3)
       Creative Style: Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Clear, Deep, Light, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Autumn leaves, Black & White, Sepia, Style Box (1-6); adjustments to Contrast (-3 to +3 steps), Saturation (-3 to +3 steps), Sharpness (-3 to +3 steps)
       Picture effects: Posterisation (Colour/B&W), Pop Colour, Retro Photo, Partial Colour (R/G/B/Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera (Normal/Cool/Warm/Green/Magenta)Soft High-key, Soft Focus (High/Mid/Low), HDR Painting (High/Mid/Low), Rich-tone Monochrome, Miniature (Auto/Top/Middle(H)/Bottom/Right/Middle(V)/Left), Watercolour, Illustration (High/Mid/Low)
      ISO range: Auto and Movie: ISO 100-12800 equivalent; Manual: ISO 50-25600 in 1/3 EV steps  
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Flash, Colour temperature, colour filter, Custom, Custom Set
      Colour space: sRGB standard (with sYCC gamut) and Adobe RGB standard compatible with TRILUMINOS Colour
      Flash: Built-in, auto pop-up; GN 12 (m/ISO 100); approx. 3 sec recycle time  
      Flash modes: Flash off, Autoflash, Fill-flash, Slow Sync., Red-eye reduction (on/off selectable), Rear Sync., Wireless, Hi-speed sync.
      Sequence shooting: Max. 12 shots/sec.  
      Buffer memory depth: 53 JPEGs, 25 raw files, 26 RAW+JPEG
      Storage Media: Single slot for Memory Stick PRO Duo or SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards; UHS-1 compliant
      Viewfinder: 1.3cm (0.5-inch type) with 2,359,296 dots, 100% FOV coverage, magnification of approx. 1.09x (35mm camera equivalent: Approx. 0.71x) with 50mm lens at infinity; approx. 27mm  eyepoint; -4.0 to +3.0m-1 dioptre adjustment
      LCD monitor: Adjustable 3-inch White Magic TFT LCD with 1,228,800 dots; Tilt angle:150 degrees upward and 180 degrees downward, Rotation angle:180 degrees clockwise and 90 degrees counter-clockwise
      LCD data panel: Yes
      Playback functions: Single (with or without shooting information Y RGB histogram & highlight/shadow warning), 9/25 Images index view, Enlarged display mode (L: 18.8x, M: 13.3x, S: 9.4x, Panorama (Standard): 25.6x, Panorama (Wide): 38.8x); Display Rotation (Auto/Manual/Off selectable), Slideshow, Panorama scrolling, Auto Review (10/5/2 sec, Off), Folder selection (Still), Forward/Rewind (movie), Delete, Protect  
      Interface terminals: Multi/Micro  USB 2.0, Micro HDMI (Type D), BRAVIA Sync (Control for HDMI), PhotoTV HD, 4K Still Image PB, Mic Terminal (3.5 mm Stereo minijack), terminals for RMT-DSLR2 wireless remote controller and wired remote controller, DC   in terminal,  Multi Interface Shoe
      Wi-Fi function: IEEE 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz band) plus NFC; View on Smartphone, Send to Computer, View on TV
      Power supply: NP-FM500H rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 410 shots/charge (Viewfinder) or approx. 480 shots (LCD monitor)
      Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 142.6 x 104.2 x 80.9 mm
      Weight: Approx. 647 grams (body only)



       Based on JPEG files.


       Based on ARW.RAW files converted into 16-bit TIFF files with Adobe Camera Raw.






       Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.  


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      30-second exposure at ISO 100; 30mm focal length, f/3.2.



      13-second exposure at ISO 800; 30mm focal length, f/5.6.


      8-second exposure at ISO 3200; 30mm focal length, f/9.


      6-second exposure at ISO 6400; 30mm focal length, f/11.


      4-second exposure at ISO 12800; 30mm focal length, f/13.


      2-second exposure at ISO 25600; 30mm focal length, f/13.


      Flash exposure at ISO 100; 50mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/2.8.


      Flash exposure at ISO 800; 50mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/2.8.


      Flash exposure at ISO 3200; 50mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/2.8.


      Flash exposure at ISO 6400; 50mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/2.8.


      Flash exposure at ISO 12800; 50mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/2.8.


      Flash exposure at ISO 25600; 50mm focal length, 1/60 second at f/2.8.


      Full-frame reference image for the images below, which have been cropped from files at 100% frame size:



       ISO 6400 with noise reduction switched off.


      ISO 6400 with standard long-exposure and high ISO noise-reduction settings.


      ISO 6400 with Multi Frame noise reduction.


      ISO 25600 with noise reduction switched off.


      ISO 25600 with standard long-exposure and high ISO noise-reduction settings.


      ISO 25600 with Multi Frame noise reduction.  


      Close-up in A shooting mode; 50mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/3.2.


      Close-up taken with the Macro Scene pre-set; 50mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/4.


      Still frame from AVCHD video clip; 50i at 24Mbps.


      Still frame from AVCHD video clip; 50i at 17Mbps.


      Still frame from AVCHD video clip; 50p at 28Mbps.


      Still frame from AVCHD video clip; 25p at   24Mbps.


      Still frame from AVCHD video clip; 25p at 17Mbps.


      Still frame from MP4 video clip; 1440 x 1080 at 25 fps.


      Still frame from MP4 video clip; 640 x 480 at 25 fps.
         (Readable numberplates in the above frame grabs were blurred post-capture to protect owners’ privacy.)



      RRP: AU$1499; US$1200 (body only)

      • Build: 9.0
      • Ease of use: 8.8
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Still image quality JPEG: 8.8
      • Still image quality RAW: 9.0
      • Video quality AVCHD: 8.5
      • Video quality MP4: 8.5