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A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Wed Dec 25, 2019 2:06 pm
by bfitzgerald
Second camera I picked up from Mike on the "want list" for a while now
As before I will lay out some impressions on the camera, in case anyone finds it of use.

As mentioned many times before the original A77 has mag allow front/back panels. The II has a single back panel, with a plastic top and front. Does the build feel bad? No, but it's not quite as meaty as the first A77. Sony have been quite careful to make the plastic look like mag alloy. The overall feel is fine, some could argue the cost was a little less than the first A77. Canon seem happy enough to put plastic £1000+ cameras (90D for example). I suppose as least part of the build is mag alloy.

So far a bit of a disappointment; I tried to pair it up to a phone using 2 Sony apps. Neither worked. Then I tried to use the Sony desktop software and hook it up to the PC. It saw the camera, and that's it. I've not been able to get it to transfer images from the camera to the computer, maybe I'll look at it again when I can be bothered. As far as I'm aware there is no way to tag images with GPS from a phone. Meantime I popped a Wi-Fi card in and it just worked :mrgreen: As I'm not likely to use remote shooting much - I think I'd rather have the GPS in there, something I do use.

I'll have to expand this over time as I use it more. There are a lot of modes, far more than previous cameras.
As far as AF speed goes similar to the A99/77, perhaps slightly faster. In low light the A77ii can lock focus, but it does slow down significantly. I'm talking really low light very dim. It outperformed the A77/99 with the AF assist turned off in these conditions. Neither could lock on targets the A77II could. With the AF assist on the A77/99 red bean pattern locks much faster. There are limitations to the AF assist, can't use it with AF-C and range. But it can lock on 0 contrast targets, white or black no texture. Because it beams the pattern to create the contrast.

So on that alone the improved AF doesn't quite make up for taking the AF assist out. It's a sign of the times, many makers don't bother, and the ones that do put an annoying single LED light that splats out light. For people shots it's annoying and distracting and I've always turned it off. The camera makers would want to up their game here. Pattern AF assist is far superior to not having anything or a single LED. This might not be an issue with a shoe mounted flash (or even the Godox radio triggers have AF assist), not as good a beam profile, but workable.

With more time I'll do some AF testing and real world use and go into more details. There is a far larger coverage on the frame, some lenses use all and some lose the far edges, either way it's a big improvement v the previous cameras on that.

Buffer: I don't use the 12fps much, but you can get into the high 20's with it on, and over 30 shots (both raw) in 8fps. I got over 50 shots in jpeg 8fps. For action shooters that's way better than the A77 or A99 could manage. Clearing times are better v the A77, of course you have more shots to clear if you run the buffer full.

Battery life: Seems to be better than the A99, but not quite as good as the A77. That's acceptable to me, and with over 10 batteries I'm not short of power. I'd rarely pack more than 1 spare for a days shooting with any of the cameras. A57 has the best batter life of the cameras I own.

Resolution: Bit more details v the A77, I believe it's a lighter AA filter. I've not shot enough to see if moire is a problem. The A57 suffers from it, a very light filter on that camera - hence you don't see a big difference in details A57 to A77. I'll have to see how it holds up comparing them. I'm not unhappy using the 16mp camera, so 24mp doesn't make much difference to me

High ISO: Some users claim about a stop better v the A77. I quickly looked at files, and the A77 is giving more exposure for fixed shutter speeds/aperture and ISO values v the A77II (more real exposure). A77II also gives slower shutter speeds in normal metering v the A77 by about half a stop it can vary. Taking into account the actual exposure I would say it's around half a stop better, perhaps a touch more - but a bit under the 1 stop some claim. I'll do some comparisons when I have time. Worthwhile, but not a massive jump - think you have to go to the A99 to see a notable improvement.
Don't bother looking at the DPR samples, many of them have been pushed heavily in post at high ISO (a def no no), sane users don't push low light high ISO shots that much! Hence they look terrible - not a good way to judge normal usage

Jpegs: Better than the A77/57 (but what isn't!) not as good as the a99
NR on normal is pretty heavy (as it is with the other 2), low is still to heavy NR for me. Only off gives the details you might want at high ISO, at the cost of some chroma noise. Low has a lot less chroma, but not as much details. I think off is the way to go with a light splashing of NR to get rid of colour noise. On the A99 off had chroma noise and lots of details, with low giving a lot less chroma and almost as much details. I go with low for the A99 most of the time

Dynamic range: Slightly better v the A77/57, not massive but an improvement. Not really field relevant as the DR has been quite good for some time, and all the cameras do a decent job. The A99 has a sensor which can be pulled around a lot in post, the others can't as much. If you pull shadows heavily the A99 is your camera - otherwise satisfactory for most shooting conditions

Controls/layout: Lot more customisation over the other cameras, most of the buttons can be reprogrammed, many more options for AF control. One odd thing is I can't find the menu setting to pick what you want for the EVF view, on the others you can. It will be familiar to anyone who has use the previous camera
Quick nav is back as it was on the A99, you also have your custom panel at the bottom. Pick what you want to put there - very convenient

EVF/LCD: Same EVF resolution as the other 2, better than A77 less plugged shadows and less noise in low light, similar to the A99 large and decent details, A99 has lower noise in low light (probably sensor) LCD seems to be the same white magic one the A99 got. All are usable and the articulation is something some folks like, I don't use it much - useful when you need to. Move button is recessed more compared to the other cams. Otherwise feel is similar, except the joystick which seems to want more pressure to push it. Unlike the A77/99 you need to push it from the side, doesn't seem to want to be used with your thumb over it

part 2 coming soon!

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Thu Dec 26, 2019 6:10 pm
by classiccameras
Many a high image quality camera can get left behind and forgotten in the pixel race, often later cameras in some instances have inferior IQ compared to their earlier counterpats, in the race to make cameras all singing and dancing in the video department, Still image performance becomes secondary

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Fri Dec 27, 2019 8:30 pm
by bfitzgerald
Well they wanted to push the sales,and the pixels was a pretty easy way to do that. Evidently some people are not happy with 24mp for some reason!

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Sat Dec 28, 2019 2:03 am
by bfitzgerald
Whilst we are on video I will cover a few areas. My only interest in video is the odd YouTube one I make, and rare odd family clips now and then.
A77II has a lot more features and resolves most of the complaints about the older cameras. Most obvious is the "forced crop", you had on the 57/77 even with electronic steadyshot off. Off on the A77II is full field of view, the steadyshot mode crops in a bit (not as severe as those). High ISO goes up to 12800, the A99 goes to 6400, but I've not seen a huge difference in quality in low light. A99 sensor does better, the processing is quite a lot better than the older ones. I found the old Fuji X10 didn't really have any disadvantage v those older ones in video, ie it was alright nothing more.
Like the A99 it's not super tack sharp - but it's easily good enough for what I might use it for. YT really doesn't need 4K (as most watch on a phone you would never see the difference in quality). High end film makers obvious might want something better!

Also we now have manual audio levels v the auto nonsense on the older ones. You can zoom in for focus check (magnify) - can't do this on the A99 (you can do focus peaking on both). And you have Zebras showing set levels of upper exposure up to 100+. You can also use the Zebras for stills.
Not really tried the newer codec (which came with firmware update) AVCHD is adequate for my uses

One area it does lose out to the A99 is no headphone socket, just mic in.
For 1080p it's quite usable up to ISO 3200, maybe 6400 at a push. I'd not use it at higher -but if you post process you might be OK with it.
Never quite understood why Sony limited the AF with video to F3.5, we know it's not a technical reason. You can adjust the AF speeds just like stills, 1-3 levels so fast, mid and slow re-focus. Other AF modes can be used too.

Overall much better video quality compared to older generation models, but bar some features it has over the A99 I don't think the footage is any better from what I have seen so far. It's good enough for users who want 1080p and don't care about 4K.
Onboard microphones have always been good on the Sony's, they pick up quite a bit more depth than the Canikon onboard mics I've used

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Wed Jan 08, 2020 1:30 pm
by bfitzgerald
Couple of updates to add
I noticed the VF magnification is slightly larger on the A77ii v the A99, though the difference isn't that big
I've been using the video more for projects and it's quite good even in lower light as is the A99, those extra options are useful such as being able to magnify in video and the zebras

The AF system isn't as confusing as some might make out..
AF track duration is just that 1-5 with lower being slower and 5 being the fastest. If you want instant refocus you can pick 4/5 or slower (ie objects might move in front of something you are tracking and you don't want it to shift focus) pick the lower settings of 1/2 or leave it on 3 for a half way solution

Priority adds a "balanced" setting rather than the previous AF or release. I've found leaving it on balanced seems fine
Never used release priority on any cameras, maybe it has some use if you just need the shot

The "lock on AF" has the same options as the normal AF,
Wide (ie auto) it will look on a person over an object - if no person the closest thing to the camera
Zone uses a larger area (sadly no option for just 3 big zones like the other cameras), might be of use for larger subjects ie planes/cars
Centre - just the single mid point
Flexible spot, just a new name for single point AF that you can move around
Expanded flexible spot - Uses 8 points around the middle for AF, if the mid point can't get a lock the outer ones might. Sometimes it uses multiple points at the same time. Seems to work well enough, I could see this being used where you need more coverage but a single point isn't large enough

All lock on does is try to track the initial subject across all the AF points if it move or you move. So far it seems to work quite well, but it's not bullet proof so there are times you may want to use a group of points and hold your composition. It is nice to have the AF options, brings things up to Canon levels of tweaking. I suspect the tweaking part might confuse some. The track duration is fairly important here

Eye AF is single AF not CAF only, it will try to find the eye when you assign it to a button, if it can't then it will grab AF on a face. I could see it being useful for off central compositions for portraits. As long as the AF is accurately tuned (ie adjustments to lenses) it's pretty accurate in testing so far. Otherwise just go back to what we always did, shove the AF point where you want it.

I found tracking improved hugely on the other bodies, when I used the group AF. Probably because the single AF point can wander off a subject when you are shooting (even more so with the slideshow effect after shooting). My hit rate went up a lot when I changed that setting on the A57/99. I have to shoot this more to see how it compares.

Reading reviews isn't ideal for AF testing, what settings are being used could easily throw a spanner in the works
All I will say is no camera is perfect, even a 5dMkIII/IV I used can miss as can any system. Seems to offer the choices some shooters might want, aside from the slower lock on times in really low light (taking out the AF assist light wasn't a good move)

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:28 pm
by bfitzgerald
Quick update on the Wi-fi saga
I did manage to finally get the imaging edge app installed. Unfortunately the fun didn't last long
Settings are so basic, it makes the app almost of no use at all.
I can GPS tag images when they are saved to the phone (ie the phone picks up the GPS and tags it in the phone not camera), but even with the settings to save a full size image..erm you only get 2mp images!

Aside from a basic timer, flash on/off and movie there are no settings at all you can change other than start recording/take shot.
Of course I didn't expect much functionality or tweaking like the newer cameras - however even with the camera set to say A or M mode, it just takes a shot in full auto!

I can't see any use for the app unless you wanted to quickly transfer an image for social media posting - that's about it (where 2mp is just fine) I might try a third party app, one I used was hopeless too and RCC droid says it won't work on my phone
I'm left with the conclusion that Wi-fi is almost of no use on this camera
Big :x :x :x on this side of things (Imaging edge is just useless and I'm being kind to it!)

Result take A77 or A99 if I need GPS :roll:

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:37 pm
by vitor
With the A99ii the GPS information is stored in the Exif. You need to connect the phone with the camera before taking photos, wich I forget :)

Are you saying that the A77ii doens't do that?

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:58 pm
by Fotogeorge
I do it old school. I attach a 3.0 USB adapter to my Samsung tablet; insert the SD card from a camera into the adapter; then transfer selected images to MS OneDrive on my tablet; then I can get those images at my convenience, on any of my computers or devices, that includes my Blackberry KeyOne smart phone. It's not that I often use this process, but I can do it, if I want to. I just have to find a WiFi connection.
I'm sort of old school myself.

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:08 pm
by Fotogeorge
Oh yes, I have a Sony Memory Stick Pro HG Duo USB adapter for images from my Sony A-mount cameras. It's good that you can still find new Sony HG Duo memory sticks at Amazon online. I know, it's old school. ;)

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:55 pm
by bfitzgerald
vitor wrote:With the A99ii the GPS information is stored in the Exif. You need to connect the phone with the camera before taking photos, wich I forget :)

Are you saying that the A77ii doens't do that?

Well I think the A99II can do that from what I have seen, ie with phone connected it will tag photos with the GPS from the phone.
On the A77II I can't get it to do that, all I was able to achieve was a 2mp image sent to the phone and that had the GPS in the 2mp file. Even selecting full size/resolution in the app it still only sent a 2mp image!

Consensus seems to be the Sony apps suck, and I've yet to hear a good word about them. That to one side currently unless they re-do the app properly, the Wi-Fi on the A77ii is next to useless and serves no real purpose. The remote function is so basic with no control you're better off using the timer or a remote release! They did at least add an option in the menu for the IR remote, so you are not tied to the drive mode anymore (ie you can use other modes as you want)

Would just be a lot easier to have the GPS built in, or at the least offer a module people could buy and shoe mount it. Not hard to do..but alas nothing there either. Still if I want GPS I use the A99 or A77, which is why I keep them around
I don't always need GPS, but when I do it is extremely useful

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 12:11 pm
by vitor
It's possible to use a GPS tracking device or phone and tag automatically the photos later in post. The benefit of this approach its that it works with any digital camera, you just need to adjust this step to the Workflow.

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:21 pm
by bfitzgerald
Yes of course it is possible to do that, just a whole lot easier if it doesn't require extra steps.
As the remote shooting is also so limited on the A77II with the app, I just can't see any use for it for me. It wouldn't be hard to have added that (ie add gps to the photos the A99II can do it evidently). Of course I knew this hence the reason why I didn't buy the A77ii new -ie 2 major flaws the lack of GPS and AF assist removal.
For a used purchase it bothers me a whole lot less, still Sony lost out on a sale because of these omissions. Having Wi-Fi is fine, if you do something with it. it's way too crippled to have any use for most users.
There are positive points such as improved AF, video and other features which make life a bit easier. On balance I'd say landscape/portrait shooters probably won't find huge reasons to invest in one. As I'm now using other things like video more, and some action shooting I wasn't doing before - it is useful to have a body that does better in this area.

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:11 pm
by bfitzgerald
Quick update on things and time for a multi interface shoe mini rant ;-D
I was out shooting the other day, using both the adapter for the metz and a godox flash. In both cases the flash almost slipped off at times, unless it's screwed down hard.
I previously mentioned in other threads, that unlike other makers there is no auto locking pin. This spring loaded pin locks into the front area of the shoe, as soon as you put the flash on. So screwing it down merely makes it more stable - you have to unscrew it to lift up the pin.

The problem here is, pin doesn't exist on Sony MIS flashes! So it can easily fall off. So be careful when using this hot shoe it could be quite a flash smasher. There are holes in the top of the MIS,so clearly it could be done

The only advantage I can see is being able to use (most) other flashes in manual. Not always though as the pins at the top can cause problems fitting some units. What you can't do is use MIS flashes with other cameras..(big sigh coming up) unless you use the MIS to Minolta adapter, and then convert the shoe using another adapter to a standard one. I have these around ie simple adapters. But with the i-iso shoe you could use one adapter to convert, now you need two. This is because Sony make the MIS flashes with the off central sync (as you can see it on the flash it's not in the middle). If you put this into a non Sony hot shoe it won't trigger, because the contact point misses. A simple design change could solve this, though with Sony's track record it probably will never happen.

Clearly though the MIS isn't what it could be and is rather lacking. One to watch out for
I might have more positive thoughts on it, had Sony made more use of the MIS. Sadly they never did release a GPS unit, and the snazzy new microphone they released last year isn't compatible from what I can see. Again if you are using a microphone just jack into the mic socket, not really much point using the Sony proprietary connections. So far I'm not overly impressed with the MIS, I guess I'll just have to put up with it!

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:48 pm
by ValeryD
A good PIXEL TF-335 Hot Shoe Converter adapter for Sony, in fact, works better than the original Sony (fell apart after one month of use). ... SwB-1Yv7jN

Re: A77II ramblings and thoughts

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 10:11 pm
by bfitzgerald
I'll keep that in mind if I break the one I have!
I have been playing around with the AF a bit. Interesting discovery is that if you set the camera to wide AF (ie auto it picks the AF point) and cont AF...eye AF seems to work. Even if face detect is turned off!
I've tried this in video and photos, if it fails to get an eye lock, it goes back to the face..but it does seem to work. I wouldn't expect the same performance as the latest cameras with it..however it's consistently locking on faces and sometimes the eye, "if" it can see it.

So in a way that makes the eye AF a bit more useful if you let the camera set the AF point. If you try to use the eye AF in cont AF it won't let you (message pops up). It might be useful for those doing portraits of videos. I previously avoided the auto AF as the coverage on the other cameras is more limited, so I used the place the AF point manually. As the camera has a lot more AF points than the older ones - it always goes for the closest object to the camera (as per Minolta), unless it sees a person then it goes for that (even if they are not the closest). Makes sense I suppose as the sensor readout should easily be able to see a person.
Potentially useful, though I'd not use the Wide AF all the time, I might use it more for people shots.

Reading the AF guide on the "4D" focus, strangely Sony recommends turning face detect off on almost all the scenarios. I can get that to a point, but it's odd as many activities will involve people (ie sports). I've not used it enough to know if it has any impact on performance.