Sony A65 vs A77 Comparison – What are the Differences?

September 27, 2011

Sony A77 and A66 cameras
In this comparison article, I want to compare the Sony A77 vs A65. I’ll give you a short introduction about both cameras, including highlighting the most interesting specs and compare them both side by side. Both Sony SLT-A77 and SLT-A65 are two of the latest Translucent-Mirror cameras (SLT) that Sony announced on August 24, 2011. Many people have been waiting to buy the Sony A77 for quite a long time. However, the A65 is cheaper than the A77 and those cameras have their differences. Like any other camera debates, you need to decide whether to buy the more expensive model or buy the cheaper one. It all comes to the available features and how they fit your photography habits. The A77 price might not be a problem for some, but for those of you on a limited budget, I recommend reading this comparison article.

Before we compare the A77 and A65 one against each other, let me introduce both cameras to you. If you are already familiar with both cameras, you can skip this section and go to the next comparison section.

Sony A77 (α77)

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Digital camera

The Sony SLT-A77 Camera with 85mm f1.4 Carl Zeiss Planar T* lens attached

I’ve already written an in-depth preview about the Sony A77, compared the A77 versus Nikon D7000, and even versus the Canon 7D. My initial impressions about the A77 were very good.  The Sony A77 comes with a newly-developed 24.3MP (Effective) APS-C CMOD sensor, gorgeous 3-inch 921K-dot flipping display, new high-resolution OLED viewfinder, GPS, 1080p60 (progressive scan) video recording and the camera is weather sealed against dust and moisture.

The Sony A77 digital camera is among the most awaited cameras in 2011. Sony has already told the press that it’s going to release a brand new camera that will worth waiting for. So that’s what people did, waited. Indeed the Sony A77 certainly packs a lot of goodies and spoiled us with an in-camera GPS receiver, SteadyShot Inside image stabilization and a class-leading shutter lag-time.

Sony Alpha SLT cameras are known for their very fast autofocus for both stills and videos. This is one department that know one will argue about its performance.  All Sony Alpha SLT cameras just tops any other DSLR on the market when it comes to AF speed. In fact, that one big reason why so many amateur photographers wont to get this camera. It has a feature that no other camera has. I don’t know if Sony has a patent on the “Translucent Mirror” technology, but we can deny effectiveness and that other companies don’t utilize is at the current moment.

The semi-transparent mirror technology improved upon other features as well. One of those features is the continuous shooting speed up to 12 frames per second (with focus locked). That’s an amazing speed that those who want it, will need to purchase a DSLR camera that costs many times more. So this technology actually brought some Pro features into an enthusiast-level camera.

The SLT-A77VQ has been reviewed by a few websites. The A77 (α77)has its cons and pros, but it was mostly criticized for its relatively low image quality in high-ISO. It seems that even Sony can’t bear physics, in fact no one can. Packing 24.3-megapixels on an APS-C sensor was probably a bit too much. We know that because we already saw how well the Sony NEX-5N performed in high-ISO, beating the Nikon D7000, Canon 7D, all PEN cameras and even the Canon 5D Mark II (FF DSLR).

I guess for some of us, the low-light performance might be a deal breaker. I’ve read comments of many people who were very frustrated about the high-resolution sensor. However, it’s important to know that many people don’t shoot photos at ISO3200+, and for some, resolution is more important than the high ISO performance. Let’s just look at DSLR cameras a few years ago, who believed that we’ll come to a day that a 24.3MP sensor would perform like that. Yes, the image quality of the A77 in high ISO is good, but not excellent. Maybe with each generation of new cameras, we get more spoiled and expect more from the leading companies (ie. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus).

All in all, the Sony A77 certainly holds a very wide range of useful features, some of them cannot be found on any other DSLR camera in this price range.


Sony A65 (α65)

Sony A65 camera

Sony A65 camera

The α65 is the little brother of the A77. A cheaper model that inherits most of the A77 glamorous features, but loses some of them too keep the price low. First of all, both the A77 and A65 have the same type of sensor, a 24.3MP APS-C CMOS Exmor sensor, so image quality should be about the same (still need to be verified). Other than that, the  A65 gets fewer AF points (15 vs 19), slower maximum shutter speed (1/4000 vs 1/8000), stronger AF illuminator range and more.
What are the Differences between A77 and A65?

I think that’s the best way to view the differences is to look at a side by side specs comparison table. In the A65 vs A77 specs comparison table below, you can clearly see what are the differences between those two digital cameras.

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Let’s summarize the A77 Advantages over the A65:

  • More AF points (15 vs 19). Furthermore, 11 of those on the A77 are cross type compared to only 3 on the A65
  • Stronger AF illumination lamp (5m vs 7m)
  • A more flexible (wider range and stepping) exposure compensation
  • A more flexible AE bracketing with up to 5 selectable frames
  • Faster maximum shutter speed (1/4000 sec vs 1/8000 sec)
  • Faster flash sync (1/250 sec. vs 1/160 sec.)
  • Stronger pop-up flash (12m vs 10m) and wider flash EV compensation
  • Faster continuous shooting speed (12 vs 10 fps) and larger buffer (* just 1 shot extra in ‘standard’ mode)
  • Adding an ‘Extra fine’ JPEG image quality mode
  • More Creative options
  • Environmentally sealed
  • Better build quality (magnesium alloy/plastic vs plastic)
  • The ability to customize the ISO upper and lower limit, with the a65 you can’t
  • 2 control dials vs one on the A65
  • Ability to fine-tune the autofocus
  • A77 has a joystick controller
  • A77 has a top LCD panel
  • The A77 has a triple hinged articulating display versus double hinged on the A65
  • Flash sync socket

In favor of the Sony A65: better battery life, smaller and lighter camera body – well, that’s it.

As you can see from the above comparison, there are a few differences between those two cameras. Both cameras have the same crystal clear OLED viewfinder (2359k dot resolution), both support the AVCHD Progressive (ver 2.0) and can shoot 1080p60.


Which One should I Buy, A77 or A65?

That’s a question that many people will be bothered with, whether to buy the more expensive A77 or the A65. The A77 costs around $1400 and the A65 around $900 (for the time of writing this article, price may change of course). So the Sony A77 is much more expensive than the A65.  Even if you can afford buying the A77, the question that remains is whether you better off buying the A65 and a better lens or buy a more expensive body with a cheaper lens. It’s all depends on the amount of budget that you have to spend.

Choosing an Alpha A-mount interchangeable lens is very important for image quality and performance. I personally prefer buying a cheaper body and invest more on a better glass. In fact, many enthusiast do just that.  Some people will prefer getting the best of the best and buy the Sony A77 with the 16-50 mm f2.8 wonderful kit lens.

I recommend going over the list of differences above and ask yourself if you really need those. Does the weather sealing cuts for you,  do you need  a faster flash sync or do you need the 1/8000 sec shutter speed.  If you shoot in harsh weather conditions, of course the A77 would be a better buy of the two.  Fast action photographers might prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 due to more AF points.

All in all, both cameras are among the best cameras Sony has to offer. It’s just a matter of understanding the difference between the cameras and your needs, so you can make a better buying decision and even same money for future lenses and accessories.


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