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Sony A77 vs A850

The Sony Alpha SLT-A77 and the Sony Alpha A850 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2011 and August 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (A77) and a full frame (A850) sensor. The A77 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the A850 provides 24.4 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Sony A77 versus Sony A850
Sony A77 Sony A850
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Sony A mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
24 MP, APS-C Sensor 24.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/60p Video no Video
ISO 100-16,000 (50 - 25,600) ISO 200-3,200 (100 - 6,400)
Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots) Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 921k dots 3.0 LCD, 922k dots
Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
12 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
470 shots per battery charge880 shots per battery charge
143 x 104 x 81 mm, 732 g 156 x 117 x 82 mm, 895 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 and the Sony Alpha A850? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A77 and the Sony A850 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Sony A77 vs Sony A850
Compare A77 versus A850 top
Comparison A77 or A850 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A850 is notably larger (23 percent) than the Sony A77. Moreover, the A850 is markedly heavier (22 percent) than the A77. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Sony A77 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 25.8 oz 470 Y Aug 2011 1,399i
 
Sony A850 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Aug 2009 1,999i
 
Canon 6D 5.7 in 4.4 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 1090 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Nikon D750 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299i
 
Panasonic GH5 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i
 
Pentax K-3 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299i
 
Sony A6600 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.7 in 17.7 oz 810 Y Aug 2019 1,399 i
 
Sony A9 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499i
 
Sony A6500 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399i
 
Sony A68 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 21.5 oz 540 n Nov 2015 699i
 
Sony A7 II 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999i
 
Sony A77 II 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 22.8 oz 480 Y May 2014 1,199 i
 
Sony A7 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699i
 
Sony A99 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony A900 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Sep 2008 2,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The A77 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 30 percent) than the A850, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A77 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A850 is 135 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony A77 and Sony A850 sensor measures

With 24.4MP, the A850 offers a higher resolution than the A77 (24MP), but the A850 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.91μm for the A77) due to its larger sensor. However, the A77 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the A850, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The Sony Alpha SLT-A77 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 16000, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A850 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.

A77 versus A850 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Sony A77 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.280178
 
Sony A850 Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none23.812.2141579
 
Canon 6D Full Frame 20.0 5472 36481080/30p23.812.1234082
 
Nikon D750 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
 
Panasonic GH5 Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777
 
Pentax K-3 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680
 
Sony A6600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p23.813.4149782
 
Sony A9 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
 
Sony A6500 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585
 
Sony A68 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.570179
 
Sony A7 II Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
 
Sony A77 II APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
 
Sony A7 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890
 
Sony A99 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589
 
Sony A900 Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none23.712.3143179

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A77 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the A77 can use is 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A77 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the A850 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the A77 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the A850 (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the A850 has a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.73x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A77, the Sony A850, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Sony A772359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 Y Y
 
Sony A850optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n Y
 
Canon 6Doptical Y 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 n n
 
Nikon D750optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Panasonic GH53680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 1/8000s 12.0 n Y
 
Pentax K-3optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 Y Y
 
Sony A66002359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 n Y
 
Sony A93686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 20.0 n Y
 
Sony A65002359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
 
Sony A681440 Y 2.7 460 tilting n 1/4000s 8.0 Y Y
 
Sony A7 II2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y
 
Sony A77 II2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 Y Y
 
Sony A72400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Sony A992359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 6.0 n Y
 
Sony A900optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The A77 has one, while the A850 does not. While the built-in flash of the A77 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The A77 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the A850 does not have a selfie-screen.

The A77 writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the A850 uses Compact Flash or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A850 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A77 only has one slot.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 and Sony Alpha A850 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Sony A77YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Sony A850Y----mini2.0---
 
Canon 6DYmonomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Nikon D750YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--
 
Panasonic GH5YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
 
Pentax K-3YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Sony A6600YstereomonoYYYES2.0YYY
 
Sony A9YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYY
 
Sony A6500YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A68YstereomonoY-micro2.0---
 
Sony A7 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
 
Sony A77 IIYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Sony A7YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
 
Sony A99YstereomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Sony A900Y----mini2.0---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the A77 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.

Both the A77 and the A850 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A77 was replaced by the Sony A77 II, while the A850 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Sony A77 better than the Sony A850 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A77:

  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (143x104mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 163g or 18 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (30 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 11 months after the A850).


Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A850:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.73x).
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 470) out of a single battery charge.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2009).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A77 is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

A77 13:06 A850

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony A77 and the Sony A850 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A77 or the A850 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Sony A7791/10081/100..4.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,399i
 
Sony A850..75/100..4/54.5/5 Aug 2009 1,999i
 
Canon 6D+ +83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Nikon D750+ +90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299i
 
Panasonic GH5+ +85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i
 
Pentax K-3..83/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299i
 
Sony A6600+83/1004.5/5..4/5 Aug 2019 1,399 i
 
Sony A9+ +89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499i
 
Sony A6500+ +85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399i
 
Sony A68....4/5..4/5 Nov 2015 699i
 
Sony A7 II+82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999i
 
Sony A77 II..80/1004.5/54/55/5 May 2014 1,199 i
 
Sony A7+ +80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699i
 
Sony A99..84/1004.5/5o4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Sony A900+ ++ +4.5/54/55/5 Sep 2008 2,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Sony A77:
Check Ebay offers
Sony A850:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Sony A77 vs Sony A850

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Sony A77 Sony A850
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Sony A mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2011 August 2009
    Launch Price USD 1,399 USD 1,999
    Sensor Specs Sony A77 Sony A850
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.5 x 15.6 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 366.6 mm2 861.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.2 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 24 Megapixels 24.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6000 x 4000 pixels 6048 x 4032 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.91 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 6.55 MP/cm2 2.83 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 16,000 ISO 200 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 25,600 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    Image Processor BIONZ X BIONZ
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 78 79
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.0 23.8
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.2 12.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 801 1415
    Screen Specs Sony A77 Sony A850
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 98%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.73x 0.74x
    Viewfinder Resolution 2359k dots
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fully flexible screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Sony A77 Sony A850
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peakingno Peaking Feature
    Continuous Shooting 12 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium MS or SDXC cards CF or MS cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Sony A77 Sony A850
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Geotagging GPS built-in no internal GPS
    Body Specs Sony A77 Sony A850
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NP-FM500H NP-FM500H
    Battery Life (CIPA)470 shots per charge880 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 143 x 104 x 81 mm
    (5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
    156 x 117 x 82 mm
    (6.1 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 732 g (25.8 oz) 895 g (31.6 oz)

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