Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sony Alpha A77 with 70-400G at football game

It's Labour Day Monday and the start of the football season. I had a chance to shoot an Atom game and half a Peewee game before my shift on the Photodesk at the newspaper began.

Using the Sony A77 with the 70-400G lens, I shot 633 images between the two games, using 63% of one battery. I kept the Live View screen turned in (off) and chimped through the viewfinder. I'm not sure if this uses more or less battery power. This was the first time I shot vertical with the camera. It's very natural to use with the VG since most of the important buttons are repeated with the grip and in the same spot whether you're vertical or horizontal.
I shot almost the entire game vertical and used the 12 frames per second burst mode for almost all of it.

This is what I've learned about the burst mode. It's much better than with the A55. On the first generation of camera using the burst mode (7-fps with the A33/A55 and 10 fps with the A55) the camera is shooting jpegs, and is basically in iAuto mode. The camera sets the ISO, shutter speed and aperture. I always found the camera set the ISO too low, which meant I was shooting rodeo bull-riding at ISO 100, wide open at 1/500 second. Not quite fast enough.

The burst mode on the A77 has much more control. And this isn't the final firmware for the camera either. With the new burst mode I get to set the ISO. This is key because I can kick it up to ISO800 on a dull game, control the exposure with the "Exposure Compensation" control, and the lens shoots wide open, which is how I shoot sports anyway. These small changes are huge where it counts.... at the assignment.
At today's football I thought the camera was a dream to use. I have hands the size of hockey gloves and am always hitting buttons and changing modes without knowing it. With the A77 this wasn't an issue and none of the settings changed unless I changed them. The viewfinder has no clutter over the image. All the speeds and info are along the top and bottom outside the image area. This gives you an uncluttered view of the whole frame.

The focus on the camera is great. And the follow focus is outstanding. You could get a runningback sweeping with the ball and get the entire play in focus. I know everyone says their camera will do that, but few actually will produce a series of files where you can read the brand of the helmet on every frame.

These shots are ISO 800, wide open with the 70-400G in the burst mode. Each image has been cropped in PS.

Rob Skeoch


  1. I hope you will continue to post your thoughts on the a77. I have about decided there are not enough differences in it from my a55 to upgrade. I'm open minded to change, however.

    Good stuff!


  2. Thanks, Rob!
    Just a question about its buffer: is it a limit? How much does it take to transfer to SD an entire burst of photos?

  3. I would like to know what memory card are you using example sdhc,memory stick, sdxc and what speed. Also how many spots can you shoot in a burst(12FPS) before the camera begins to slow down?

  4. Thank you Rob!

    Have you had the chance to review the A65? I dream of the A77, but my wallet barely qualifies for the A65. Is it close enough to justify the $500 discount? I shoot product photos and my children's soccer games with an A700.

  5. Suddenly my A700 is screaming for an A77. Since A77 is the predecessor of A700, do you know if the A77 comes with a remote too? Thanks.

  6. Got the A77 on pre-order from SonyStyle... eagerly awaiting it and the Vertical grip.

  7. I was wrong.
    In the burst mode you can shoot RAW and jpegs. I shot 12 frames in RAW and jpeg before the camera stuttered.

    In the burst mode you can adjust the aperture... not in the continuous focus mode, but once you switch to single focus, you can adjust the aperture since the focus is locked at the first frame.

    With the 70-400G lens the camera shoots wide open in the burst mode. This is f4-f5.6. However with a faster lens it will shoot at f3.5. So with a 85mm f1.4, it's not wide open but f3.5.

    Sorry for any confusion my mistake might have caused.

  8. Absolutely no confusion, dear Rob... Thank you for your kind answers!

  9. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)