Sony has revealed the A77 II, its latest enthusiast-focused DSLR, which has an autofocus system said to be quick enough to rival many professional models. A follow-up to the A77, the new A-mount camera boasts a 79-point autofocus sensor, a 24.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, and Sony's BIONZ X image processor.

As you'd expect, the A77 II (α77 II) offers a number of improvements over its 2011 predecessor. However, the new autofocus system is undeniably the headline attraction, and is sure to make the camera a hit with wildlife or sports shooters. Boasting the sort of numbers you expect to find on a professional camera, the A77 II uses 79 phase detection autofocus points, including 15 cross points within the central area of the sensor. The A77 had 19 points (11 cross-type).

This system should ensure fast and accurate focusing, and is said to perform well even in low light conditions (EV-2 ISO 100) where the human eye struggles. A number of AF functions are on hand to make the most of all those focus points, including improved subject tracking – where a new AF algorithm uses AF metering data to predict a subject’s movement. New features also include Eye AF, which detects and focuses on the subject’s eyes, and Range AF, which limits the AF to a specified range.

At the heart of the camera is a 24.3-megapixel APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm) CMOS sensor which is paired with the BIONZ X image processor that featured in the A7 and A7R, and is about three times faster than the one in the original A77. There's an ISO range of 100 to 25600, and burst shooting of up to 60 full-resolution JPEGs at 12 frames per second with AF tracking. This is possible because the A77 II uses Translucent Mirror Technology – it's technically not a flappy-mirrored DLSR – allowing full-time continuous phase-detection autofocusing.

On the rear is an OLED electronic viewfinder with a 2,359,296-dot effective resolution, which sits above a 3-way tiltable three-inch LCD monitor with 1,228k dots. This allows for easier shooting in awkward angles and is particularly useful when shooting video, which the A77 II can do at Full HD 1080p 60/50/24 fps, again with continuous phase-detection autofocusing. Videographers will be pleased to know there's a 3.5-mm microphone input with audio level monitoring and adjustment. There's also clean HDMI output for connecting to an external monitor or recording equipment.

Featuring a robust magnesium body with dust and moisture-resistant seals, the A77 II measures 142.6 × 104.2 × 80.9 mm (5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in) and weighs in at 726 g (1 lb 9.6 oz). There are all the usual controls you'd expect for a camera of this caliber, and customization settings allow some 51 functions to be assigned to 11 buttons. The camera also has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC for easy wireless sharing and remote shooting.

The Sony A77 M2 will be available from June either body-only for US$1,200, or with a 16-50-mm F2.8 lens (which will give a 35-mm-format equivalent of 24-75-mm) for $1,800.

Product page: Sony A77 M2