Sony Alpha A77 says goodbye to DSLRs

sony alpha a77 says goodbye to dslrs slt flash up sal1650

Make sure to check out our full review of the Sony Alpha SLT-A77

Don’t feel ashamed if you thought the new Sony Alpha A77 is a DSLR. But it’s not. It’s a glimpse as to what may make DSLRs obsolete.

The A77 is exactly the kind of expensive ($2000 kit), hulking (weather-sealed magnesium body) piece of camera hardware with ridiculous specs (24.3 megapixel APS-C sensor, ISO 50-16,000) that photographers everywhere drool over.

But the coolest part, the real game-changing bit of tech, is inside: the A77 has no traditional mirror, which makes it something altogether different than your average DSLR. Instead, Sony’s designed a translucent replacement that offers ridiculous fast autofocusing with less bulk.

sony alpha a77 says goodbye to dslrs slt sal1650 tilt lcd 4

The ‘reflex’ part of a digital single lens reflex camera refers to the mirror situated behind the lens that both sends an image to the viewfinder and, more importantly, allows the laser-fast autofocusing of the modern DSLR. If you’ve ever wondered why a point-and-shoot takes a second to fire while a DSLR snaps away near-instantaneously, it’s because of that mirror system.

The only problem is, having a mirror flip-flopping around inside a camera means that camera must be big enough to hold it, and offers more complexity and more parts to break. Additionally, when a camera is in burst or video mode, the mirror stays flipped out of the way, making continuous focus difficult.

Sony’s new tech goes a long way towards eliminating all of that. Basically, the translucent mirror setup the A77 has reflects just enough light for focusing needs while letting the image pass through to the sensor normally. This has the potential to be more compact, but more importantly means that the camera’s phase-detection autofocus system always has a source to focus on. DSLRs have been already available with continuous autofocus, but they are forced to use a less accurate sensor-based solution when in video or burst mode. The A77’s translucent mirror allows it to always use its most accurate focusing system.

It’s a huge breakthrough for DLSR videographers, who now have a viable option for seriously fast and accurate focusing (read: great for sports). It also allows the camera to have a crazy burst rate: 12 frames per second at 24.3-megapixels, far faster than any DSLR, even those that use lower resolutions.

The A77 isn’t the first Sony camera to use the translucent mirror tech; the A55 and A33 had it last year. But with a vastly improved sensor, a more powerful Bionz image processor and the ability to shoot AVCHD Progressive-format HD (1080p at 60fps!), the A77 takes full advantage of the tech.

sony alpha a77 says goodbye to dslrs slt sal85f14zSo what are the downsides? There’s one major one: the A77 has no traditional optical viewfinder, which absolutely will prove to be a dealbreaker to some photographers would simply won’t frame a photo looking at a screen, even if the A77 has an impressive 3″ OLED eye-level viewfinder.

That aside, the new mirror tech adds a bit of a flicker to the screen while shooting video, although until we get our hands on one it’s tough to tell how annoying that may or may not be. Finally, until test models start going out, the verdict is still out on how great images and video turn out to be.

But on paper, the A77 is a wonderful addition to the current camera realm. Along with the Micro Four-Thirds format, there’s another seriously viable option for an interchangable-lens camera that isn’t a DSLR. For a lot of people, that’s going to be a very good thing.

For more specs and info, check out Sony’s press release.

Emerging Tech

The enormous ‘Flying Bum’ moves toward a commercial design

A prototype of the world's largest aircraft is being retired as the company behind it prepares to build a production model. The new Airlander 10, also known as the "Flying Bum," could be ready for commercial use by 2025.

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.

Going somewhere? Capture more than your phone can with the best travel cams

Hitting the road or doing some globetrotting this year? Bring along the right camera to capture those once-in-a-lifetime vacation memories. Here's a list of some of our current favorites.

What to look for and what to avoid when buying a camera

Looking to buy a new camera? Our comprehensive camera guide for 2016 has answers to any camera or photography questions you might ask, whether in regards to pricing, image quality, or weatherproofing.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers for 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

In a first for humankind, China is growing plants on the moon

Having recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon, China announced that it managed to grow the first plant on the moon, too. Here's why that matters for deep space travel.