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Sony Alpha A99 Digital SLRs
Product DescriptionThe Sony Alpha SLT-A99 is the world's first full-frame transparent mirror DSLR, providing excellent image quality in all lighting conditions and the same AF performance for video as for stills. It has a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor, a high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF), full HD video at 60 frames-per-second, new “Dual AF” auto focus system, a 3-inch tilting LCD display and it can shoot as fast as 10 fps in Tele-zoom high speed shooting mode (6.6 FPS in manual modes).
Submitted by Greg McCary a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: November 14, 2012
Strengths: Electronic view finder, in body image stabilization, fast and low light focus, focus peaking, much improved dynamic range and very low noise up to 6400 iso,
Weaknesses: No pop up flash. No factory supplied screen protector
Well let me start out by saying I don't shoot video so I can't base any of this review on the a99s video capability. But right out of the box I noticed just how the a99 looks like the a77. They are almost the same size but the a99 just ever so slightly bigger. Most of the controls are the same. One difference is a programmable dial on the front of the camera to help with silent operation when shooting video.
It also handles very much just like the a77. The menu is almost identical. All the controls one needs and in good spots to use them. They are now two SD card slots and they can be programmed in a number of ways. One for video the other stills ect. There is also now a feature called focus range. I can set the a99 to focus in a certain range near and far which keeps the camera from hunting as much. I real good feature if you know about how far your target is going to be and the cameras focus system will only hunt focus in that range making focus quicker.
Sony has also changed it's hot shoe from the Sony design to a traditional hot shoe. This will please many as I have heard complaints about this issue for a long time.
But the biggest improvement is in image quality. First the noise. This is one of the first things that is critiqued when a new camera comes out. How do the pictures look when shooting high ISO? I am not sure why this has always been such an issue. I guess it is something you can see first hand by looking at shots on the internet. But more important to me is dynamic range and color depth. But images are very clean up to 6400 ISO. Higher than that and the a99 starts to fall off. But it is almost as good if not as good as the D800. I would think the Nikon might have an edge but at that I can't see why with the a99 you wouldn't be happy with the noise levels. It is a good stop and a half to two stops better than the a77 or a850.
The dynamic range to me is the biggest improvement over the a850. I had to use ND grads and Lightroom to get my landscape shots looking good with the a850. I have owned several DSLRs over the years and have always had to work at protecting the highlights and bringing up the shadows in post get the detail I wanted. It looks as those days are over. I have shot with a two stop grad and have gotten out of camera exposures without any need for post processing. I have also have shoot a few not directly into the sun where an ND grad wasn't necessary at all. With that I must say the a99 and Carl Zeiss 24-70mm might just be the best landscape camera lens combo on the market.
As far as color depth I have to say there is nothing wrong with the a850 in that area. But the color depth of the a99 is really nice. Deep rich accurate colors as expected.
I read a couple of negative comments regarding the electronic view finder but I find it nothing but nice. Though I haven't shot a lot of burst to check out write time to the card or the buffer size I would expect it to be about the same as the a77. Shooting a ton of pictures like at a soccer game can get annoying with the finder blanking out as the camera writes to the card. If I shot sports a lot or was a pro I may not like the electronic view finder as much.
Focus peaking is the best invention that has came out since dust removal or image stabilization. What can I say? As a landscape photographer the tilt out screen and focus peaking is as good as it gets. Setting the camera close to the ground and being able to compose the shot and focus with precision. Plus since the mirror doesn't flop up, it's an SLT, there is no need for mirror lock up. Images are super sharp and I am less likely to get an out of focus image. Plus the shutter is very quite. This is important if you shoot wildlife. Also I can use the level on the LCD and take the guess work out of getting a level horizon. With the a99 I have taken a few pictures that have absolutely needed no post processing work, none.
I think digital and full frame cameras have come of age. Years ago in the film days there really was never much need to upgrade cameras. Film was film and a new camera didn't really mean better image quality like it does now. I think the a99 and D800 which share the same Sony sensors are just about as good as it gets and once you buy one there will be little need ever to upgrade to achieve better image quality. Maybe to add more features or because of equipment failure but I think with the a99 I am set for a long time.
I am very pleased with the a99 and it is better than anything I expected in the upgrade from the a850. Don't think twice if you are thinking of buying into Sony or are in need of an upgrade. You will be very happy with the results the a99 delivers.
Price Paid: $2800.00
Purchased At: Sony Store
Similar Products Used: Sony a850, a77
Type of photography: Other
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