Rated 5 out of 5
by Oldmanriver A Superior Full Featured Camera For The Long Run
I love my A77. But the A99 takes everything to another level in a very familiar operational format.
It solves for the biggest published complaint (which never bothered me) against the A77 with gorgeous clean images up to ISO 6400.
The dual sensor AF-D depth mapping mode is sheer genius. And the new DMF mode further capitalizes on the A77's excellent peaking feature for accurate and rapid manual focus.
The AF range limiter feature can be set to limit hunting on supported long focal length lens.
The fact that my existing SAL-70400G and SAL-70300G lenses are also supported by the new AF-D mode (like the SAL-2470Z) feels like a reward for being a loyal Sony photography enthusiast.
I had fantastic results with the A77 & the SAL-1680Z (and I am keeping them). By adding the massive SAL-2470Z with it's constant 2.8 aperture (coupled with the shallow depth of field of the A99 full frame sensor), I find myself exploring a wider range of available light photo opportunities on the fly.
The same excellent wireless ratio flash ability that I began to enjoy on the A77 is supported by the A99. Now that I have the more powerful HVL-F60M to augment my three HVL-F43AM units, I plan to move forward with improving my portrait photography technique. (The vertical grip with added battery support is finally en route this week.)
Early results show improved video quality with the A99, as well, aided by an improved articulated rear LCD screen.
At the end of the day, it's all about the image quality. Simply put, this discretionary purchase represents my intent to take the A77's excellent visual results to the next level. I have an intuitive feeling that this will be my primary camera and lens combination for the long run regardless of path Sony takes with the Alpha mount system in coming years.
I trust that future evolutionary firmware updates will make the utility of the A99 even better.
After all these years, starting with a Minolta SRT-101 in college, and with many innovative Sony digital cameras in between, my hobby has finally evolved into the passion that I had envisioned in my mind's eye.
June 4, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5
by Hank5656 User tips
I don't like that need to take off extra battery pack grip to charge camera battery. The RAW photos will not open in CS5 and Adobe has no fix for this issue, will not have it for CS6 untill they review the a99
December 6, 2012
Rated 4 out of 5 by JMazur An outstanding piece of equipment
Make no mistake, this is a fantastic camera; it offers a slew of shooting settings so expansive that most of these features will remain (at least largely) unused, even by professional photographers. The image processor is, for lack of a better word, insane. It allows for (by my count) 30 full-res raw photos in a single burst before having to take a break to write to a class 10 SD card, and it's far lighter than its predecessors, the A900 and A850.
That being said, the camera's improvements also remove any reason why the camera shouldn't have a pop-up flash. In classic full-frame (and generally high-end) cameras, a pentaprism was used to direct light to the viewfinder, as it allowed for larger image coverage, sometimes up to 99%. Now that the camera has dropped the optical viewfinder, the space formerly used by the pentaprism can be used for a pop-up flash, for the rare — but not nonexistent — occasions when you have to use it.
The translucent mirror is also a drawback, if a corrigible one: as the mirror is only semi-transparent (after all, it is a mirror), less light gets to the sensor, effectively forcing you to use either ridiculously expensive lenses that are marginally faster, or to use slower shutter speeds, which can blur your images. Sony attempts to compensate for this by adding a new noise-reduction engine, but it unfortunately pales in comparison to the algorithm developed by Nikon, and used in their full-frame bodies. This could, on paper, be fixed through a firmware patch, but Sony must first either match/surpass Nikon's algorithm, or license it for use in its cameras.
The video very nearly makes up for this issue, though, and needless to say, shooting with a 35mm sensor produces simply amazing results. But again, for video, much of the sensor's area goes unused: given that the 4K UHD TV standard has a total of about 8.25 MP per frame, this camera could, in theory, record brief 4K video clips (anything longer than about 5 minutes would likely fill up the processor's queue, once again requiring a short break to write the clip to the card). Still, it would be nice to have the feature available, even if it turned out to be limited to a minute.
The microphone on the camera is rubbish, and the ones sold by sony aren't superb either. Since this camera finally uses a standard hot-shoe (as opposed to the contorted monstrosity known as the Minolta hot-shoe), I've taken the liberty to attach a Røde VideoMic to the setup. In addition to working like a charm and being one of the finest non-dedicated camera/shotgun mic combos I've seen and heard in awhile, it even *looks* awesome.
• The camera's excellent, and should be enough for the vast majority of prosumers and professionals out there
• Low-light shooting is ok, not great, but could be fixed with a firmware patch
• I find this camera's lack of flash disturbing
• But now you can attach a standard flash or mic using the standard hot-shoe
• The OLED display is generous in size and resolution
• The viewfinder takes some getting used to, but doesn't cause headaches (it doesn't flicker visibly)
• If Sony plans to support this camera with major software patches addressing what I've outlined here (they should probably make a press release, or something), don't even *think* of buying any other full-frame, this is your camera.
February 18, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5
by GregM Amazing Dynamic Range
First off 70% of my photography is landscape and the rest outdoor portraits. I have owned the Olympus E3, E5, Sony a850 and a900. I also currently own a D800.
For what I do the a99 is my go to camera and I prefer it to the D800 and here's why. I shoot a lot of landscapes and most of the time set up and start shooting before sunrise or after sunset. The flip out screen and focus peaking are the two best features on the a99 I enjoy. I can shoot low to the ground or over my head with the flip out LCD and also the focus peaking makes critical focus very easy. I mainly manual focus when I am shooting landscapes I find my eye more reliable than any auto focus system. The D800 has neither flip screen or focus peaking.
Also with the translucent mirror there is no flipping mirror to cause camera movement during the exposure. With the D800 I have to use mirror up mode to do this and the LCD will go blank just before exposure.
For me the a99 is by far the most advanced camera I have ever owned and also the best landscape camera I have ever used. I am so glad I bought this camera and now also have a back up a99 for when I do portrait work.
In the past when I shot landscapes I had to use ND grad filters to help keep the highlights under control and with that still had to use software to bring up the shadows, well no more. I still use an ND grad when lighting is at it's worse but I can get out of camera exposures that are perfect most time. The dynamic range of the a99 is amazing to say the least.
I hear a lot of grumbling from the Nikon and Canon shooters on the forums but again the a99 is the most advanced camera on the market with the latest cutting edge technology. I am not a fanboy as they are called for any one system. I have shot a broad variety of cameras and have had good and bad. This one is certainly the best. The D800 might handle noise better at higher ISOs but the a99 isn't to far behind as there is also a huge improvement there. If you are thinking about this camera please go ahead "add it to the cart." The a99 and Carl Zeiss 24-70mm might be the best camera lens combo ever. I have made prints as large as 19x42 and the prints are loaded with detail and NO jpeg compression artifacts. Thanks Sony, thanks for thinking outside the box.
December 6, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5
by Deputy50 The BEST Sony camera to date!
The Sony A99 is truly a photographer's camera with the added bonus of great video features. The camera is priced below the Nikon D800 and Canon 5D MKIII with which it competes. Thus, making them both overpriced. There are a lot of interpretations of the Electronic viewfinder, both positive and negative. My advice is to physically use the camera at a local camera retailer and see for yourself. The plethora of information and seeing what you'll get should be enough to appreciate the differences.Try and use both an OVF and the A99's EVF back to back and the differences are more prevalent. Focusing speed and accuracy are excellent as expected for this class of camera body. We have had the opportunity to use the A99 for a full and real (not staged) wedding and it performed flawlessly. Much better image quality than the Canon 5D MKII and probably better than the MKIII as well. One concern was how would the A99 meter with flash since theEVF shows you the scene before the shot is taken. Well with an OVF you also see the scene before the shot is taken. The camera meters fine and the pictures come out as they would with an OVF. One plus is that your starting point is easier to see and achieve with the EVF in comparison to an OVF. Now what about high ISO and image noise. Well there is no need to fear because the A99 excels in this area. You can shoot at 6400 ISO in raw and expect images of fully useable quality. Don't compare it to the older A900 and A850 full frames as there is no comparison. This camera simply leaves them behind and finally moves Sony in the low noise high ISO ranks of Nikon and Canon. Please give it a try before knocking the EVF and listening to brand snobs.
The attached images give a glimpse of the image quality from raw files. Both were taken with the Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. The figurine was shot at 6400 ISO and only given sharpening in Lightroom. No noise reduction or color corrections were performed. The sky image was only sharpened in Lightroom. Another thing that one would not do is take an image with the sun in the frame with an OVF. The EVF will compensate for that situation so your are not blinded by the sun's light.
Just go and play around with one. You won't be disappointed.
November 22, 2012
Rated 3 out of 5 by cekay1 Could have been great...
Sony have wasted an opportunity here. The design is great, the implementation leaves you wondering if they field tested this camera well, or listened to what their testers really told them. My major criticism of the A99 is its battery life – it’s appalling, even with the grip, leaving the camera on drains the battery before your eyes – and its start-up time is too slow – so missing the shot is more than a good probability. I realize with and EVF and a LCD screen – that you can’t turn off (you can with an Olympus OM-D EM-5), unless you turn it into the camera body – power consumption is always going to be more than with a camera with an OVF, but Sony really need to look at this if they want this model to compete with its peers. There are things you can set to optimize battery life, but Sony need to be re-thinking certain things – battery power output for example. Sony – you could bundle 2/3 batteries with this camera, it does not solve the problem, but goes some way to helping anyone who buys it. In short you need to buy and keep charged batteries with you at all times.
Its low light performance is good, but not on par with other full frame offerings from Nikon and Canon, although the EVF is wonderful, especially in low light.
I do not feel that anyone who has shot Nikon or Canon, for any length of time, especially full frame will ditch them for a Sony A99, it has too many short comings compared to its peers. Though I must say, shooting with the A99 is an enjoyable experience – the camera handles well, the controls are well placed, it feels good in the hand. It does not feel or behave like a “Pro” model though, and if Sony want to pitch it as such, then they need to up their game – it my mind, it is overpriced. If you want quality glass, it’s there, at a price off course, but you don’t get options open to you from Nikon or Canon, nor are they weather sealed! Would a Pro really move to Sony? I am not a pro, but I have been shooting for over 35 years – mostly Olympus, Minolta and Nikon.
Ask Sony if they have a road map – you will not get a positive answer, they acquired Konica Minolta a few years ago and recently a large share of Olympus – what will they do? What have they done? They have some good cameras – they could be great. They have the financial and technical clout, but need someone or a team with vision leading the charge. I really hope they do well, Nikon and Canon need some serious competition – Sony have the potential to provide it – come on Sony!
I did not mean this to be a technical review, more my thoughts, feelings and experiences with an A99 – it could have been a great camera, but it does leave you feeling wanting in some key areas.
July 20, 2013
Rated 4 out of 5
by SONYholic Good camera for wedding
a99 with 24-70 lens
A good camera can beat Canon for wedding performance.
I give 4 stars, for less options of lens.
June 5, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5
by Alawe My first DSLR
Great camera with ton of capabilities
August 3, 2014