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Singapore F1 Grand Prix & Sony A77 DSLR Review – Part 1


Sony A77 with 70-200mm Shot at 1/100 @f2.8

Singapore (also called the Lion City), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, 137 kilometres (85 mi) north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia’s Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to its south.  As described by Wikipedia.com

For me it was a place I had always wanted to visit, so when I was asked by Sony to visit and test a new camera, I jumped at the opportunity.

The best part was that our visit was going to coincide with the Singapore F1 GP, which I found out later we had great grandstand seats for.

The camera we were going to test was the brand new Sony A77 DSLR.

On paper the Sony A77 is a very well featured camera.

At its heart is a 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, which produces 60 megabyte JPG’s

Some of the other interesting numbers are:

  • 12fps full-resolution shooting and the high resolution EVF.
  • 19-point AF sensor
  • 1080p60 movies with autofocus,
  • 1/8000th maximum shutter speed, shutter rated for 150,000 actuations
  • ISO 100 – 16,000
  • Pull-out three-hinge tilt/swivel 920k dot LCD screen
  • Built-in GPS
  • Stereo microphone and external mic socket
  • Dust shake sensor cleaning
  • Image Stabiliser built in the body
To read more click through the link below

First morning in Singapore our group, which was made up of journalists from Australia, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Korea, was taken to one of Sony’s local Style stores.

Sony Style Store Display

Sony Style Store

Our hosts had organised a great introduction, for us, to both the camera and shooting at the track.

Our hosts explain to us what we can expect

The Sony Group in class

Our Sony F1 Briefing Agenda

Explaining what we can expect at the track

After our run though it was time to hit the track for the first time and to really get to grips with the camera.

Gate 1 Entrance for F1 track

Our view of the track at turn 1 from our Grandstand seats

Once the cars hit the track, we watched a few laps from our spot and then moved to our first suggested shooting spot, which you can see in the above image, it is just to the right of the red portaloo on the right side of the frame.

The area was a popular spot will lots of amateur photographers present, but we were lucky as Sony had lent us a great zoom lens.

70-400mm f/4-5.6 G Series Lens

This enabled me to shoot tight through the other photographers and to not be affected by the fence, which we had to shoot through as there are no holes.

Now F1 cars are fast, very fast and are hard to capture at the best of times.

But with the Sony I was pleasantly surprised as with the new tracking autofocus system in the A77 it was doing very well at locking onto the car. The fence was the problem as the focus kept getting confused and locking onto that.

Focusing on the Fence

But it still managed to do a great job. I would have been keen to try it in an area where there was no fence, as I am sure it would have performed even better.

Sony A77 with 70-400mm Shot at 1/250 @f5.6 at 400mm

As the F1’s are on at night, by the time the sessions are finished it is almost midnight local time, our day comes to an end when they finish.

The next day we headed off to try the cameras on some local scenery at Sentosa Island 

There was some great sights to try out some of the cameras features on.

Siloso Beach Letters

Siloso Beach – Shot using DRO mode

Dynamic range optimization (DRO) is creating a single image containing a large range of brightness in a way that looks natural to the human eye. DRO applies a series of tone curves to each area of similar local brightness within a single image, in an attempt to balance details in the shadows while maintaining local contrast (Description from DPReview.com)

This is a fantastic way to shoot landscapes, the DRO mode makes it so simple to capture the scene as you saw it without having to bracket, use filters or spend time retouching in Photoshop.

Surfboard sitting on Siloso Beach – Shot using DRO mode

Another great feature I got to experiment with was the sweep panorama mode.

Automatic sweep panorama mode allows you to create large, high-resolution panoramas in-camera. The auto-stitch mode does a very good job of hiding stitches and in general creates consistent tones, as long as there is no significant subject movement for the duration of the pan. (Description from DPReview.com)

Landscape Image shot using Sweep Panorama mode

Landscape Image shot using Sweep Panorama mode

Here are a couple more images using the built in camera picture effects

Siloso Beach using Miniature Mode

Sentosa Island shot using Toy Camera Picture Effect

Full Frame Image at 24mpx – Shot with 70-400mm lens

Now same image cropped down to just a section of one of the cable cars.

Cropped Image showing quality of the Sensor

As you can see from the above crop, the quality of the sensor in the A77 is awesome. I have never used a camera with such a high resolution sensor. Going back to my 12mpx sensor camera was such a downgrade.

So ends part 1 of my review, keep an eye out for part 2 coming tomorrow.

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2 responses

  1. Pingback: Singapore F1 Grand Prix & Sony A77 DSLR Review – Part 2 « Joel Strickland's Blog

  2. Pingback: Video from Singapore F1 Grand Prix Sony A77 DSLR Test « Joel Strickland's Blog

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