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Sony A77 versus Sony A9

The Sony Alpha SLT-A77 and the Sony Alpha A9 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2011 and April 2017. The A77 is a DSLR, while the A9 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (A77) and a full frame sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixel.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A77 and the Sony A9. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the A77 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Sony A77 vs Sony A9 front
A77 versus A9 top view
A77 and A9 rear side
Body view (A77 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A9 is notably smaller (18 percent) than the Sony A77. Moreover, the A9 is slightly lighter (8 percent) than the A77. Cameras that are aimed at professionals or semi-pros tend to be a bit bulkier in order to give them the necessary environmental and shock resistance. 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 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. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A77 (⇒ rgt) 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 732 g 470 YES 2011 1,999discont. check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft) 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 YES 2017 4,499 latest check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 YES 2012 2,099discont. check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 139 mm 98 mm 87 mm 725 g 410 YES 2017 1,999 latest check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 120 mm 67 mm 53 mm 453 g 350 YES 2016 1,399 latest check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 YES 2014 1,999 latest check
Sony A77 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 647 g 480 YES 2014 1,199 latest check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 474 g 340 YES 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt) 147 mm 111 mm 78 mm 812 g 500 YES 2012 2,799discont. check
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 117 mm 82 mm 895 g 880 YES 2009 1,999discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A77 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 56 percent) than the A9, 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A77 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A9 is 131 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 A9 sensor measures
Sensor size

Even though the A9 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 24 megapixel. This implies that the A9 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.93μm versus 3.92μm for the A77), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the A9 is much more recent (by 5 years and 7 months) than the A77, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

A77 versus A9 MP
Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the A9 offers substantially better image quality than the A77 (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 0.9 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A77 (⇒ rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24 13.2 801 78
Sony A9 (⇒ lft) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.9 13.3 3517 92
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 23.8 12.1 2340 82
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/30p 23.7 12.8 1312 80
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 20.2 5184 3888 4K/60p 23.9 13.0 807 77
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.5 13.7 1405 85
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.9 13.6 2449 90
Sony A77 II (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p - - - -
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 14.2 2248 90
Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 25.0 14.0 1555 89
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032 no 23.8 12.2 1415 79

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A9 provides a better video resolution than the A77. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the A77 is limited to 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A9 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A77 (3686k vs 2359k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A77 and Sony A9 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony A77 (⇒ rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 921 full-flex no 8000 12.0 12 YES
Sony A9 (⇒ lft) 3686 no 3.0 1440 tilting YES 8000 20.0 no YES
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 4.5 no no
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2360 no 3.0 1037 swivel YES 8000 18.0 no YES
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3680 no 3.2 1620 swivel YES 8000 12.0 no YES
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2300 no 3.0 922 tilting YES 4000 11.0 6 YES
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony A77 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 1229 full-flex no 8000 12.0 12 YES
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no no
Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 1229 full-flex no 8000 6.0 no YES
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 8000 3.0 no YES

The A9 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A77 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A77 was succeeded by the Sony A77 II.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A77 or the Sony A9 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Sony Alpha SLT-A77:

  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2011).

Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A9:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.1 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has a higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3686k vs 2359k dots).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 921k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 12 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x96mm vs 143x104mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (650 versus 470) out of a single battery charge.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 7 months of technical progress since the A77 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A9 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 5 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.

A77 05:11 A9

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A77 and the A9 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A77 (⇒ rgt) 91/100 81/100 Silver - 4.5/5 5/5 2011 1,999discont. check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft) .. 89/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 4,499 latest check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 2,099discont. check
Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 1,999 latest check
Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 1,399 latest check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 1,999 latest check
Sony A77 II (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 Silver 4.5/5 4/5 5/5 2014 1,199 latest check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 84/100 Gold 4.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2012 2,799discont. check
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 75/100 - 4/5 4.5/5 2009 1,999discont. check

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Other comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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