A77 or A99?
I would like some guidance on choosing between the A77 or the A99. I currently have the A700 and the A900. I want to upgrade to take advantage of the improved auto focus. One of the lenses that I have is the Sony 70-400. I'm interested in the ability to be able to get sharper wildlife and sports pics. I'm not really concerned with the video. I realize with the crop factor of the A77, I can get closer to the subject. I'm fortunate that the price difference is not an issue for me. Is the IQ, and the focusing abilities of the of the A77 as good as the A99? If so, I will probably go with the A77 for wildlife and sports, and continue to use the A900 for landscape. If the IQ and the focus tracking are not as good as the A99, then I will sacrifice the length(crop factor) with the A77 and go with the A99. Thanks in advance for your opinions!
This a bit of a complex question but I'll try to answer as I have all three cameras a77/900/99 and previously owned an a700.
Both the a700/900 are pretty quick to focus using the centre double cross sensor particularly with a fast lens. The outer points less so, to the extent in fact that I never use them and rely on focus/recompose most of the time.
The a77 is a different animal altogether, I can confidently choose any of the 11 x-sensors which are all fast and accurate and Zone and Wide focus options make it easier to track moving objects. The "Object tracking" function is somewhat less useful, I'm tempted to say useless but if the object in question is not moving too quickly, like a Bride in the processional or maybe a child playing, then it can work rather well. When the light is low, the a77 can't quite match the central f/2.8 sensor of the a700/900 but overall the a77 performs much better and is a big step forward.
The a99 shares the same AF sensor with the a77 so the above comments apply equally but the AF sensors cover a smaller area of the frame for obvious reasons. Nonetheless, the AF speed/accuracy seems to be somewhat better than the a77 which can only be down to the software and is anyway a subjective judgement. The big gains are with a lens that takes advantage of the AF-D function and the 102 On-Sensor AF points, proper focus is maintained when the subject is between any of the 19 AF sensors and, for tracking moving objects works extremely well.
Never having used a modern CaNikon, I have no idea how the system compares to either. Having said that, I doubt they will do better with a relatively slow lens like the 70-400mm given that many of the CaNikon AF Sensor points only work with faster lenses. Sony appears to have come up with an effective if lens limited solution which must evolve to be even better given that this is first generation. I'm looking forward to next spring when more lenses will be supported and, in particular, the 300/2.8.
"Is the IQ of the of the A77 as good as the A99". In a word, No. The a99 sensor may well be the best so far and there's no way that the cropped sensor of the a77, good as it is, can compete. Not that there isn't a place for the a77, it really is a very good camera in it's own right and, paired with the a99, the extra telephoto reach is welcome.
Same for the a900 which shows it's age when compared to the a99. For Landscape work, the Dynamic Range and the way the sensor handles both ends but particularly in the shadow areas, it's a99 all the way. You have an a900, so you'll appreciate what I mean by the image below. It's a 100% crop at ISO50 * 1/80th * f/2.8.
The choice of ISO50 may seem a bit odd but I was trying it out and if ISO50 is an extended range it doesn't seem to exhibit any loss of dynamic range AFAIKS.
If you have to choose one or the other, go with the a99; no question in my mind whatsoever.
In my case, I am selling the a900 and keeping both a77 and a99. The a77 will only be used at the long end when I need the extra reach of the crop sensor but that is a telling factor in decent light with the crop factor and higher density of the a77 nullifying some of the a99 advantage. I haven't done any side by side comparisons cropping the a99 to the same size but I'm pretty sure I'm right.
Here's an image with the a77 using a 300/2.8 without an extender so an equivalent of 450mm (with the 1.4x it becomes a useful 630mm). You can see that the IQ is pretty good with plenty of detail. That somewhat puts the boot on the other foot if what you really need is "reach".
a77 * 300/2.8 * iso50 * f/5 * 1/500 [+0.7 EV]
Just picked up the A77. I have a lot of reading to do. Feels great but the EVF takes some getting used too!!
I'm sticking to the old eyeball "eval" for a while...
Thanks for the comments. Special thanks to Peekayoh for the time spent on the detailed comments. They were very helpful and I really appreciate your efforts. Also thanks for sharing the great pics!!!!!!!!!!!