The hidden improvements of firmware 1.07 for the SLT-A77

February 6th, 2013 - 08:03:21 AM:

Firmware 1.07 for the SLT-A77 officially added only lens compensation support for a few extra lenses. But Sony has the unfortunate habit of including other improvements without announcing them. Improvements are always welcome, but I don't quite understand why these are not made official. This might be a false sense of pride to not admit mistakes.

Anyway, back to hidden improvements of the new firmware: With firmware 1.06 I got quite inconsistent flash exposure. Exposure varied within about ± 1 stop around correct exposure. This happend with the Minolta 3600HS (D) mounted on the camera, but was also reported for other flashes. After some experiments I finally found that this was connected with the Electronic Front Curtain. When you turned the EFCS off and used the mechanical front curtain, flash exposure was back to normal.

Now with firmware 1.07 installed, flash exposure with the same flash is very consistent. There's no longer a difference when the EFCS is on.

Unfortunately, the Macro Flash Controller MFC-1000 with the Ring Flash mounted still does not work with the EFCS: the flash does not sync correctly with the camera, and no light from the flash ends up in the picture. With this setup you still need to turn off the EFCS, and only then you get a working Ring Flash.

Firmware 1.07 for the SLT-A77 officially added only lens compensation support for a few extra lenses. But Sony has the unfortunate habit of including other improvements without announcing them. Improvements are always welcome, but I don't quite understand why these are not made official. This might be a false sense of pride to not admit mistakes. Anyway, back to hidden improvements of the new firmware: With firmware 1.06 I got quite inconsistent flash exposure. Exposure varied within about ± 1 stop around correct exposure. This happend with the Minolta 3600HS (D) mounted on the camera, but was also reported for other flashes. After some experiments I finally found that this was connected with the Electronic Front Curtain. When you turned the EFCS off and used the mechanical front curtain, flash exposure was back to normal. Now with firmware 1.07 installed, flash exposure with the same flash is very consistent. There's no longer a difference when the EFCS is on. Unfortunately, the Macro Flash Controller MFC-1000 with the Ring Flash mounted still does not work with the EFCS: the flash does not sync correctly with the camera, and no light from the flash ends up in the picture. With this setup you still need to turn off the EFCS, and only then you get a working Ring Flash.

Readers' comments

#1: Comment posted by travelshots on February 16th, 2013 - 05:25:24 PM:
Have you had the flash exposure problem already with firmware version 1.05 and before, or was it newly "introduced" with 1.06?
Michael Hohner answers:
When I first noticed it, I had 1.06 installed, but it may have been there earlier.
#2: Comment posted by Mark Van Bergh on February 16th, 2013 - 10:08:39 PM:
Flash exposure with the A77 was a long-complained about problem since the camera came out. Gary Friedman wrote about it, and it was the subject of many discussions in the forums. I have not yet downloaded v.1.07 of the firmware, but if it does resolve flash exposure issues that would be a welcome relief to many, including me (though I'm using my a99 far more now than the A77 particularly because of far better low light performance and more consistent flash exposures.
#3: Comment posted by fotowolf61 on February 16th, 2013 - 11:21:15 PM:
You mentioned an issue with the MFC-1000 and R1200 ring flash.

I can not reproduce your mentioned sync issue with EFCS. Picture results are the same in both modes. And I do not have any black frames with EFCS. I tested on both A77 and A99. The results are consistant. Both cameras tend to overcast a bit in auto ISO mode. I get best results with fixed ISO-100.

I do have FW 1.07 on A77 and 1.01 on A99

Regards, Wolfram
Michael Hohner answers:
Just to make sure, the flash must be in TTL mode. Then I get a dark frame not every time, but very often. It seems after the metering pre-flash, the main flash is just missing. This never happens when the EFCS is on. It also never happens when using the twin flash on the same controller.
#4: Comment posted by fotowolf61 on February 20th, 2013 - 01:47:18 PM:
I've redone my testing in all modes incl. TTL and I could never reproduce any sync issue as you described ( I did about a hundret testshots ). Maybe you experianced some mechanical / contact issues with your flash-unit sample?
Michael Hohner answers:
Given that I can change the behavior by just changing the EFCS setting, I consider a contact problem unlikely.
#5: Comment posted by Tom on November 27th, 2013 - 01:30:12 PM:
FYI the sony web site does now state that FW 1.07 fixes problems with flash inconsistency. FWIW I never had the problem with my A65 with any firmware (now has 1.06). My new A77 came with 1.07.
Michael Hohner answers:
I've checked again. Neither Sony Germany nor Sony UK mention it. Sony USA is currently broken.
#6: Comment posted by robert macdonald on December 14th, 2013 - 09:07:49 PM:
I have had nothing but problems with the Sony a57 and a77 cameras with regards to high speed shooting with continuous auto focus.
Michael Hohner answers:
What problems exactly did you have?
#7: Comment posted by David Kelly on February 16th, 2014 - 05:27:12 PM:
I'm using an Emoblitz DFRI4 macro ring flash in combination with a Tamron 90mm F2.8 lens. All was hunky-dory with my old a100 but fails to sync with the a77 whether the fecker is on or off. Does anyone know a workaround or am I going to have to invest in a (nother) piece of kit?
Thanks.
Michael Hohner answers:
On Google I found only a Marumi DFR14 ring flash, not Emoblitz. It seems to be incompatible with SLT cameras. See this thread on Dyxum.
#8: Comment posted by David Kelly on February 16th, 2014 - 05:29:30 PM:
Sorry that shoul have read "EFC", not "fecker"!

My apologies for the iPad auto"correct"
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