Just a quick post for anyone looking at the new Sony a77 firmware and prevaricating on whether to update or not.
Although there are no features that some would have liked (updates to the JPEG engine in line with the A99, tethering support because the A700 had it), Sony have a track record of adding undocumented enhancements.
The 1.07 firmware is no different: start-up is now very fast. If I turn on the a77 and immediately try to take a photograph, the delay is about half a second, the back LCD is displaying live-view in about half a second, and the full interface is up in about a second. The sluggishness the camera had on release is now well and truly gone!
Changing from EVF to the LCD is now just over half a second.
Shutdown is immediate, and you no longer get the extended ticks and click that you got on release: you now get the noise of the lens retracting and the normal sensor clean ‘shake’ that all Alphas do. Gary Friedman has previously tested real shutdown times for the a77 (via current drain caused by battery use), and notes that the camera shutdown time hasn’t reduced much since initial release: in later firmware releases, it just plays dead while it shuts down. Gary may well be right there, but it doesn’t really matter because shutting down the A77 and then immediately turning back on again, then trying to take a photo doesn’t degrade start up time. Whatever it is doing during shutdown, the A77 now stops it and restarts without additional delay.
The Flash seems to work much better than 1.06 (I tried both the camera’s flash and a Sony HVL-F43). The A77 still seems to overexpose a little under some situations (especially with the external flash), but seems much more consistent using the built-in flash. Anyway, Gary Friedman thinks its fixed enough for prime time now.
So, no new stuff, and no changes to the JPEG engine, but you will get a faster interface, and may find the flash overexposure more manageable.
Whenever you update the A77, you always lose the AF micro adjustments, so the update has to be worth the half hour it takes to note the adjustments, flash the firmware, then laboriously attach each lens and enter the adjustment again.
Although the official change list tells up that the only addition is lens support for lenses I don’t own, it turned out to be worth the effort for me, because I finally have the nippy and quick camera I had with my non-SLT alphas.
I know there are many studio and JPEG shooters who are disappointing with the omissions, but along with the video hacks I detail here, the A77 is for me, a much better camera for than the one I initially bought.