Sony A77 II vs Nikon D7200 vs Sony a6000

May 5, 2015

Sony A77 II, a6000 and Nikon D7200 side by side with shallow depth of field background

In this article I’ll compare the Nikon D7200 vs  Sony Alpha A77 II vs Sony Alpha a6000.  These are three difference cameras in their core, the D7200 ins a digital reflex camera (with a flipping mirror), the Sony A77 using Translucent Mirror technology and the Sony a600 is a mirrorless camera, which has no internal mirror.

It will be very interesting to see how the new Nikon D7200 is compared to the other two. Many of you asked me to compare the D7200 vs the A77 and a600 so that what I did. I will start with a short introduction to the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 II which I think deserve the most explanation and move on to the ind-depth comparison – so let’s get started!

Sony Alpha A77 II

The Sony α77 II was announced on May 1, 2014. It’s the successor to the a77 which was announced on August 24th 2011. The a77 II is a host of many advanced technologies that Sony is so known well for. The a77 II utilizes the  Translucent Mirror Technology. Like DSLR cameras, the a77 II does feature a mirror inside the camera body, but instead of flipping up, it stays in place. This mirror is translucent, which means that around 40% of the light is reflected up for the phase-detection autofocus sensor to use, and the rest passes through to the image sensor.

Sony A77 II

This allows the camera to take full advantage of phase-detection AF during Live View and video recording and also speeds up single capture capture time. The Nikon D7200 doesn’t offer continuous phase-detect AF during video recording, it relies on contrast-detect information only. The Canon 70D and 7D Mark II have continuous AF using phase-detection in Live View and video mode, but they are using a different technology with the phase-detection sensors being on the sensor. The Sony a6000 uses that same technology as well, but because the phase-detection is on the sensor, Sony was able to utilize even more advanced configuration with 179 phase-detect points, more than the A77. But let’s not forget that the a6000 is a mirrorless camera, and there is more space on the sensor for those phase-detect AF pixels.

Because the mirror is fixed in place and doesn’t flip up or down, there is no camera shake and you won’t notice any blackouts between shots. In DSLR cameras, when you shoot via the viewfinder, you’ll see a black screen the moment you press the shutter button, this is the moment the mirror is flipped up to let the light pass through to the sensor.

Sony Alpha A77 II rear

The A77 features a Sony-made 24.3MP APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor. This sensor uses gapless on-chip lens design promoting better image quality and higher sensitivity. The A77 II also features in-body image stabilization mechanism like the Pentax K-3 II. The built-in SteadyShot sensor-shift image stabilization works in 2-axis and helped minimize camera-shake blur. It works with any lens you attack to the camera.

Sony Alpha A77 II also enjoys a world breaking record of 79 phase-detection AF points autofocus system, 15 of them are cross-points located vertically at the center, center point is f/2.8). This AF sensor is also very sensitive down to -2EV, which means that it can focus under very dim lighting conditions.

This advanced AF system provides superb subject-tracking performance in for both stills and video recording. Sony also improved the autofocus algorithm from the a77 to make it more responsive and also an algorithm that takes subject movement continuity into account. Using this new algorithm, the AF sensor predicts the subject pathing and knows which area to continuously focus on. The camera can also lock-on the subject by analyzing its color and positioning in the scene. It can also capture a burst of 12 shots per second in full resolution and with AF tracking, but it’s limited to 60 frames in JPEG, pretty impressive considering the high resolution and the AF tracking performance.

Take a look at this super informative video by Gary Friedman that explains the A77 II focusing in-depth – Must Watch! (should I repeat it again 🙂 )

Other AF options include Eye AF, AF Range Control (continuously focus on the subject even if another objects intersects with it), Expanded flexible Spot that make sure the AF system doesn’t loose focus on the subject if the AF point missed it, various focus area modes for different type of scenes and 5-step tracking adjustment that priorities stability or speed. The A77 II was designed to appeal to photographers who demand a professional AF performance without any compromises, and in this part at least, the A77 II is in its own class in terms of performance and features.

Other features include, among others: weather-resistant magnesium-alloy body (dust and moisture resistant),  2,359K-dots  OLED True-Finder EVF, 3-inch three-way tilt and swivel 1228.8K-dots LCD display, built-in Flash, 150,000 shutter life, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, 1/8000 sec shutter speed (even in movies!), D-Range optimizer, picture effects, down to -2EV metering sensitivity, scene modes, advanced in-camera NR functions, advanced white balance settings, 1080p60 video recording,  mic input and much more.

I’ll cover all the features in the comparison section. Sony put a lot of effort to make the A77 II a professional-grade photographic tool that should appeal to enthusiasts who can’t compromise on performance.  You just don’t get to see those significant marginal improvements between each new model in other companies. This is why I admire Sony so much, it really pushes digital imaging innovation to the next level, and the A77 II is an excellent example of that.

A77 II vs D7200 vs a6000

OK, it’s time to move on. It’s easy to get very excited by looking at all the great bunch of features the A77 II offers, but how much all of those goodies cost?

  • A77 II:
    ~$900 (body)
    ~$1500 (with the 16-50mm f/2.8 lens)
  • D7200:
    ~$1200 (body)
    ~$1500 (with the 18-140mm VR lens)
  • a6000:
    ~$450 (body)
    ~$600 (with the 16-50mm Power Zoom lens)

* rounded up prices as of 5.5.2015 via amazon.com. Visit amazon.com for updated prices.

The a6000 is the cheapest among the three, it’s considerably cheaper  than the other two. The D7200 is obviously a more direct competitor to the A77 II, as those two appeal to a different market segment than the a6000. The A77 II price dropped quite significantly since launch. It started with a suggested retail price of $1200. $900 is an excellent price for a camera like this, and this is one reason why so many photographers are debating whether to buy the A77 II instead of the D7200.

Sony now also have the A7, A7 II, A7R and A7 S – all are full frame interchangeable lens cameras. Keep in mind that only the A99 uses the Sony Alpha mount, the other full frame cameras are mirrorless cameras, not SLT cameras, that utilize the Sony E mount.Sony also released dedicated Full-frame E-mount lenses (“FE”) to match its FF mirrorless cameras. Just something that I think you should be aware, as you night want to go with the mirrorless path and buy a Sony full frame camera. It might tickles you when you see that the Sony a7 full frame mirrorless camera sells for around $1000 (as of the time of writing). The new version, the A7 II body sells for $1500. Just something to keep in mind if you ever thought about buying a FF camera instead of cropped-sensor camera.

OK, we are here to compare the A77 II vs D7200 and a6000, so let’s focus on that. Let’s see how the A77 II compares to these two other cameras!

a77 II, D7200 and a600 camera size comparison

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Conclusion

I know it’s a bit hard taking all that information in. But by looking at each camera key features, you can start to understand what each camera does best. The Sony Alpha a77 II is an excellent camera. It a bit disappointed me with its high ISO performance and heavy noise reduction when shooting JPEG. That said, it has weather sealing, has tremendous amount of ways to tweak the AF to suite your needs. I love the vari-angle display, the large and bright high-res EVF, super fast burst speed, wireless connectivity, IBIS and 1080p60 video recording.

The a77 II is hard to beat. But if you put it against the D7200,  you can see that the D7200 has better high ISO performance (*although see my notes above) and higher dynamic range,  can focus better in low-light conditions, has the 1.3x crop mode that also promotes more precise focusing and can extend the range,  it has an optical viewfinder, larger JPEG buffer and excellent battery life.

The a77 II is a more robust if you need more speed, flexible AF solutions and faster and more accurate AF during video recording or in Live View. It’s a tough call, I can understand that.

The a6000 is still very impressive considering its price. It offers excellent value, accompanied with very good all-around performance, but it can’t match the versatility and performance of the other two cameras. I think it’s a great cheaper alternative to the a77 II. In some areas it even can match the a77 II performance for general use, including its AF performance, burst speed and image quality which is identical to the a77. You get all that goodness in a very little package. The a6000 value is very hard to beat.

Some of you might prefer investing less money on the body and buy a better lens or even two more lenses. This can easily widen your creative options compared to if you buy the a77 with a single lens. You also need to consider the upgrade path if you ever want to upgrade to a Full Frame camera and lenses you plan to buy until then.

The decision isn’t easy, but I think that this comparison should make it easier for you to make up your mind. All the three are superb cameras, each one in its own right. Just make sure that you pick up the camera that best matches your particular shooting style so you won’t waste money on features that you won’t be taking advantage off.



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