Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Sony A77 - A couple of gripes

Well, honeymoons don't last forever, and because I've switched tried so many systems, I can generally cut down the 'honeymoon' phase (where nothing can be faulted) down to about two or three days.

Alas, it's the same with the A77.  A short list of things I wish Sony would really, seriously improve with their A77, and perhaps other cameras.

1) You can't AF-ON.  

Meaning: Let's say I want to separate the auto-focusing function from the shutter button to another button and have that button act like AF-C.  This is very useful for a number of reasons, such as keeping the camera in AF-C mode all the time without ever really having to use AF-S.

With the A77, you simply can't do this, and I can't believe Sony has overlooked (or just plain ignored) the function.  Sure, one can program the AF/MF button - or several others - to one of like 28 or so functions...but not AF-ON.

2) The wireless flash commander is way, way too strong, or: there's no in-camera option to disable its exposure contribution.

If you're  a strobist, don't ever use a Nikon system.  They have the best flash and wireless setup around, and you're going to get spoiled / irritated if you ever have to use anyone else's system.

The A77's wireless function isn't *bad* - I've gotten some really decent shots experimenting with my 43AM flash in wireless mode.  Exposure is pretty consistent.

The problem comes from the little on-board popup flash one can use as the commander.  It seems to always contribute to the exposure of the photo, even standing about 5 or 6 feet back.  This is disappointing.  Other systems have this problem too, but they generally have the issue when you're very close to the subject (like two feet or less), not almost two meters.

Wireless flash to the right, bounced off wall.  Notice the "flash" look of the photo, losing all dimensionality.  Even though I was about 6 feet back, the onboard flash still contributes too much light to the photo.

The photo as God intended.  This is the same shot as above, but with my hand held in front of the onboard flash so that only the 43AM and ambient light contribute to the exposure.   Dear Sony, I shouldn't have to do this.

So now I'm off to buy some film just to make myself an IR filter on the front of the flash, because I'm tired of holding my hand up to block exposure.


For the most part, these are fairly minor issues.  The flash problem I can get around pretty easily.  The AF-ON?  I'm still looking for a good solution to this one - I think I'll just have to learn another way of shooting!

So far, though, I'm really liking the detail the camera can produce (of course this is also very dependent on which lens you use).

Here is a back yard cardinal, heavy crop, using the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8

Female Cardinal.  Sony A77 with Tamron 70-200 (click for larger version)

I also like the color the camera can produce when using JPEGs.  Below is a shot of the Red River in Shreveport / Bossier City.  I shot this using a Landscape JPEG profile with a +1 to contrast.  A couple of slight color tweaks in Lightroom and it was good to go.

Reflection of Sunset over Red River
A77 with Sony 16-50 f/2.8 (click for larger version)


  1. Turn off Object tracking and the multiselector will lock focus to the center focus point. Half pressing the shutter button will keep it locked if you need your thumb for something else.

    There's no in camera solution for the flash issue though, that flash you see triggers the slaves. IR Filter or another way of blocking the light is the only way. Radio triggers would do the trick too but there are no TTL compatible trigger for Sony as of now.

    (came here from are technica)

  2. Thanks JoelB. Yes, I've disabled Object tracking, as per Gary Friedman's suggestion in his A77 book. However, this solution still doesn't work exactly like an AF-On solution, where the focus is decoupled from the shutter release button. Here's hoping Sony addresses this.

    For TTL radio triggers, check http://thealphafactor.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/pixel-soldier-tf-373-trigger-for-sony-alpha/

  3. Hi,

    the function for decoupling the AF from the trigger is in [Camera Symbol] 3 -> "AF w/ shutter". I guess is still doesn't do exactly what you're used to but you should be getting the same functionality even if some buttons are pressed in a different order.

    Thanks for the heads up on the Pixel triggers. It appears that there's also a "King" version that does indeed do TTL.

  4. I'm sorry, but the first flash picture (jar of fruit)is Way better than the one you think is best. Really.

  5. lol Anonymous, exactly what I thought :)

    Thanks for the information guys. Great to stumble across these little tidbits.