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Overall performance is normally a strong point for Sony cameras, and the T77 is a prime example. It starts up in just under 2.5 seconds, which is about average for a compact camera, although the shot-to-shot cycle time in the highest quality mode is an impressive 1.6 seconds. In continuous shooting mode it is even quicker, maintaining a brisk 0.6 seconds per shot with no apparent buffer limit. The autofocus system is exceptionally fast good light, and barely slows down in low light. Even in total darkness the camera performs extremely well, with the bright AF assist lamp enabling it to focus reliably at a range of several meters.
Flash range is a bit limited, and the camera tries to make up for this by boosting the sensitivity setting up as high as 800 ISO to maximise the range. Unfortunately this results in major image noise problems. Frame coverage is good though, and the flash metering is accurate so it doesn’t burn out details at close range.
Overall image quality is about average for a 10MP compact, and about the same as the T70. Exposure metering is accurate, focusing from the multi-point AF system is usually spot on, and colour rendition is also generally very good. Sony’s Dynamic Range Optimizer is one of the best shadow and highlight compensation systems that I’ve seen, and does a good job of capturing shadow detail without sacrificing too many highlights. The image stabilisation system is also very good, giving the usual three stops of extra stability.
The 4x zoom periscope-type, Carl Zeiss-branded lens is not bad for something so compact and with such a convoluted light path. Centre sharpness is excellent, although it does suffer from corner blurring and some chromatic aberration toward the edges of the frame. It also produces some barrel distortion at wide angle, but I’ve seen a lot worse.
What lets the T77 down is image noise and, once again, harsh JPEG compression. The T77 produces image files averaging around 3.3MB, which is very small for a 10MP camera. The result is blotchy colour even at the lowest ISO setting, and a scattering of JPEG artefacts that obscure fine detail and spoil areas of smooth tone. However this probably won’t be a major problem for the T77’s target audience. If all you want is some pictures for Facebook or snapshot-sized prints you’ll probably never notice the camera’s shortcomings.
The Sony Cyber-shot T77 is quite expensive, but compared to other luxury compacts it’s really not too bad. Its big selling point is its ultra-slim size and pocket-friendly weight, but it is a well designed and solidly made camera that will look good anywhere. The touch screen interface works well if you have the right sized fingers, and the overall performance is exceptionally good, especially in low light. Image quality could be a lot better, but if you want a cool and stylish camera for social snapshot photography it should certainly be on your shortlist.