Sony Alpha 99 vs Alpha 900

Intro

A few weeks ago I got to play with the A99 at Photokina. I have been using Minolta (and latter Sony) as long as I can remember so the A99 is a development that interested me. And how it compares to my A900….

 

My Opinion

I have been waiting for a while to get my hands on this camera. Its the worlds first full frame DSLT. I have used the crop format versions in the past e.g. A77 and was impressed with how fast and quiet it was. So it was no surprise that the A99 is also fast and quiet.

My A900 is a fantastic camera but the mirror slap is incredibly loud, something that has annoyed me when shooting weddings. This is a problem that is avoided in the A99 due to its stationary mirror. As the mirror is stationary Sony have created a camera that has an incredibly fast camera that can potentially take a lot of frames per second. The down side to this is that the files are enormous and the camera can’t keep this up for long.

The flash hotshoe has been changed from the old Minolta style to the ISO standard. I had very mixed opinions on this before I actually got to use the camera. As a long time Sony/Minolta user I have a lot of hardware that fits the now extinct Minolta/Sony hotshoe e.g. flashes, studio triggers, cables, adapters etc. In fact I was just looking at a new set of TTL triggers with the Sony hotshoe. So the thought of all this equipment all of a sudden being redundant/useless was kind of spooky. I’m please to say that the development team at Sony were naturally several steep ahead of me and have a fantastic small adapter so I can use all my current equipment and it works fantastic. The new ISO shoe is a lot more advanced than any camera other hotshoe on the market at the moment, and has the ability to utilise a lot of different equipment including microphones. So it is really a steep into the future and I am looking forward to seeing what extra equipment will be developed.

The viewfinder is digital, this is something very different to what I’m used to. The A900 has such a large bright optical viewfinder is a pleasure to use. The digital view finder in the A99 is another world, and it will take getting used to. I didn’t use the camera long enough to say WOW or NO WAY. All I can say is its very different. there are a lot of advantages like having the histogram live in front of you, or having a horizontal level so you know if the picture is straight, or seeing your shot in the viewfinder straight after you took it (not having to look at the rear screen all the time). But I know me and I would end up turning these features off as they would distract me from the creative process.

Both camera have a 24 megapixel full format chip-set. But here it the big difference the A99 has must wider ISO range (50-25600) and 14-bit Raw output the chip-set in the A99 offers a lot more. I shot several photos at different ISO levels on several different bodies, they all had different beta firmware so the final image quality can’t be judged just yet. I also found out latter that the a99 raw files aren’t supported in lightroom yet so I can only use the JPG files. I though as they were both Sony cameras with a 24mpx chip set that it shouldn’t bother lightroom but i guess the 14 bit colour space dose make a difference.

I have lots of CF cards and only 2 SD cards. OK SD crads are cheap and help keep the size one the camera down but I will have to invest in new cards just for the A99.

Concussion

I think I will replace my backup camera (A700) early – mid next year. My A700 has seen several year hard work. So my A900 will take up the role of second camera and the A99 will become my main work horse. For once the mega-pixel count doesn’t play a roll in the decision to upgrade my camera. But it comes down entirely to to the features in the camera.

  • 14 Bit RAW
  • GPS
  • Better ISO range
  • Faster AF
  • More AF points

The only missing feature for me would be Wi-Fi (WLAN) for wire less tethered shooting built into the camera.

 Sony SLT-A99 key specifications:

Body type Mid-size SLR
Body material Magnesium Alloy
Sensor
Max resolution 6000 x 4000
Other resolutions 6000 x 3376, 3936 x 2624, 3936 x 2216, 2640 x 1760, 2640 x 1488
Image ratio w:h 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels 24.3 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 24.7 megapixels
Sensor size Full frame (35.8 x 23.8 mm)
Sensor type CMOS
Processor Bionz
Image
ISO Auto,50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, 25600
White balance pre-sets 8
Custom white balance Yes
Image stabilisation Sensor-shift (SSS)
Uncompressed format RAW
JPEG quality levels Extra Fine, Fine, Standard
Image parameters
  • Contrast -3 to +3 steps
  • Saturation -3 to +3 steps
  • Sharpness -3 to +3 steps
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lamp Yes
Lens mount Sony/Minolta Alpha mount
Manual focus Yes
Number of focus points 19
Number of Cross 11 sensors 11 
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Fully articulated
Screen size 3″
Screen dots 1,229,000
Touch screen No
Screen type TFT Xtra Fine color LCD
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type Electronic
Viewfinder coverage 100 %
Viewfinder magnification 0.74×
Viewfinder resolution 2,359,000
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 30 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/8000 sec
Exposure modes
  • iAuto
  • Superior Auto
  • Program
  • Aperture Priority
  • Shutter Priority, Manual
Scene modes
  • Portrait
  • Sports Action
  • Macro
  • Landscape
  • Sunset
  • Night Scene
  • Hand-held Twilight (6 shot layering)
  • Night Portrait
Built-in flash No
External flash Yes (via Hot-shoe)
Flash modes Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, High Speed Sync, Rear Curtain, Fill-in, Wireless
Flash X sync speed 1/250 sec
Drive modes
  • Single-frame advance
  • Continuous advance
  • Continuous adv Priority AE
  • Speed Priority Continuous
  • Self-timer
  • Self Portrait Self-timer
  • Continuous Self-timer
Continuous drive Yes (2.5, 6 fps)
Self-timer Yes (2 or 10 sec)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing (3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB Bracketing Yes ( 3 frames, H/L selectable)
Videography features
Format
  • MPEG-4
  • AVCHD
  • H.264
Microphone Stereo
Speaker Mono
Resolutions 1920 x 1080 (60, 24 fps), 1440 x 1080 (30fps), 640 x 424 (29.97 fps)
Storage
Storage types Memory Stick PRO Duo/Pro-HG Duo; SD, SDHC and SDXC
Storage included None
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMI Yes (mini HDMI Type C)
Wireless None
Remote control Yes (Wired or Wireless (Optional))
Physical
Environmentally sealed Yes (Dust and moisture resistant)
Battery Battery Pack
Battery description Lithium-Ion NP-FM500H rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA) 500
Weight (inc. batteries) 812 g (1.79 lb / 28.64 oz)
Dimensions 147 x 111 x 78 mm (5.79 x 4.37 x 3.07″)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
Flash Hotshoe ISO
GPS BuiltIn

Comments
  1. direct from athe A99 hand book

    Upload Settings*
    (185)
    Sets whether to use the upload function of the camera with an
    Eye-Fi card.
    (On/Off)

    * Appears when an Eye-Fi card is inserted in the memory card SLOT1 in the camera.

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