Singapore F1 Grand Prix & Sony A77 DSLR Review – Part 1
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
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.
Our hosts had organised a great introduction, for us, to both the camera and shooting 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Here are a couple more images using the built in camera picture effects
Now same image cropped down to just a section of one of the cable cars.
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.