The top spots in the semi-pro DSLR sector of the camera market have long been occupied by industry giants Canon and Nikon. While we wouldn't go so far as to say that Sony has produced a DSLR killer with the Sony Alpha A77, the manufacturer has succeeded in throwing something unique into the fray that certainly paves the way for future developments.
Aspects including the camera's 12fps Burst mode, Sweep Panorama feature, 3D shooting capability and the inclusion of a built-in GPS unit in the Sony Alpha A77's feature-set are what set it apart from rivals, albeit at the expense of battery life in the case of the latter.
In many respects the Sony Alpha A77 matches or betters its main rivals' specifications, although some of these models - such as the Nikon D300s - are overdue an upgrade, so the balance may shift once again if/when this happens.
The AF system is blisteringly quick and accurate, with the excellent Subject Tracking and 12fps continuous shooting modes enhancing the Sony Alpha A77's credentials when it comes to speed. Great build quality and handling, as well as superb image quality, are further aspects that score extra points.
In spite of its speed of operation, the Sony Alpha A77 is a little slow to start up initially, plus there's a bit of a lag when switching between shooting with the camera's EVF and LCD. The impact of permanently shooting with one or the other activated also means that battery life is noticeably shorter than that of its rivals.
Overall, there are only a few minor niggles to comment on with the Sony Alpha A77 - namely a bit of a sluggish start-up time, slight delay when switching between using the EVF and LCD for shooting and high ISO noise performance that, while still very good, doesn't quite match that of its major rivals.
That said, when weighing these up against a superb level of image quality when shooting in most conditions, great handling, good build quality, industry-leading EVF, quick full-time phase detection AF system and a comprehensive set of exposure modes, we have little trouble with recommending this excellent camera.