Sony's DSLRs Aren't Dead: The New a77 II Adds Insanely Good Autofocus

With all the glitz and glamour of Sony's recently renamed and revamped Alpha (nee NEX) mirrorless camera line-up, you'd be forgiven for thinking Sony had forgotten about its DSLR cameras. Not so — it has just released an update to its mid-range a77, endowing the semi-pro and 'advanced amateur' shooter with a class-leading 79-point autofocus system.

The a77 Mark II will be released in Australia in June, and will set you back $1499 for the body only. Sony actually has a pretty good lens line-up for its A-mount SLTs — that's its not-technically-DSLR, technically-translucent-mirror camera range, of which the new a77 II is a member — including some beautiful, and stunningly highly priced, Carl Zeiss primes and constant-aperture zooms — there are 28 first-party lenses in total, and a good deal more from third-party manufacturers as well.

The new camera's sensor has the same 24.3-megapixel count as the old model, but it's a newer and more versatile, with an expanded ISO range of 100-25,600. All that is being processed through Sony's latest Bionz X image chip, which should make for some pretty effective noise reduction and smart sharpening at all ISO levels.

Because the a77 doesn't have a fully opaque mirror to bounce light into an optical eyepiece, it uses an XGA-resolution OLED viewfinder — that translucent mirror in the camera's body actually bounces light to the a77 II's revamped focusing system, which now includes a full 79 points of autofocus measurement. The middle 15 points of that system are all high-accuracy cross-type, meaning the new camera should be a pretty impressive tool for continuous-focus tracking and high-speed (12fps!) shooting.

Like every other camera these days, the a77 II gets inbuilt Wi-Fi and NFC, has a nice high-resolution rear LCD screen, and a larger (60 JPG, 28 RAW) frame buffer for a few seconds of constant high-speed shutter smashing. When it's out in June, the a77 Mark II should be strongly competitive with its mid-range brethren from Nikon and Canon.

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