Sony Alpha A99 II

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Sony Alpha A99 II

Sony Alpha A99 II Review

Image quality Sony Alpha A99 II : 

According to Sony, the sensor also has new noise-reduction algorithms designed to reduce noise only where you need it, but I still find that (oddly) the Nikon D800 outperforms the A99V in this respect, especially around ISO 1600 and above. There’s a noticeable jump in noise suppression between ISO 1600 and ISO 3200, regardless of how bright the scene is. But I couldn’t gain any better noise reduction below ISO 3200 by processing the raw.

The camera also does an excellent job of preserving highlights in seemingly blown-out areas. I was less impressed with recovering clipped shadow detail, in part because it inevitably introduces a lot of color noise, significantly more so than with the D800.

I was especially impressed with the auto white balance. For one, it handled cloudy shooting conditions properly; a lot of cameras I’ve tested recently have not. Same goes for balance under our tungsten studio lights. Normally I don’t comment on the tungsten results because every camera handles it miserably. On the flip side, though, Sony’s default Standard Creative Style pushes hues slightly, throwing off color accuracy.

Performance

Most of the time, the A99V feels responsive and fluid to shoot with. But overall I was happy with the camera’s speed.

By the numbers, the A99V offers performance competitive with other full-frame cameras.  It powers on and shoots in just under a second — a little on the slow side. Two sequential shots run about 0.3 second for either raw or JPEG, also decent times.

The camera excels at continuous shooting. Sony seems to have rated it pretty conservatively. Once you’ve exceeded the buffer, it slows considerably and erratically, below 3fps. In practice, shooting raw+JPEG, the buffer was less than 10 shots but overall adequate for small bursts.

Despite the tons of technological R&D it sounds like Sony put into the autofocus system, I didn’t feel always feel the magic.  Nonetheless, I had no issues with the AF system that I haven’t had with other cameras.

Then there are four AF area options: wide, zone, spot, and local. But the options or combinations that automatically choose the focus areas never seem to choose the correct ones, making it difficult to select the option with any confidence. This isn’t a Sony- or A99V-specific issue; it’s a problem with most AF systems that still remains despite all the effort.

But if it doesn’t find the database, it pops up a message asking if you want to create one. Now, I don’t know about you, but every time I stick a card in the first thing I do is format it and Sony’s, um, helpfulness gets between me and the format operation, requiring an extra few button presses before I can start working. So no, Sony, I never want to create an image database. Get out of my way!

Design and features

For the most part, the camera body is very well designed and built, with a great grip — one of the most comfortable I’ve used — and an intelligent control layout. It’s weather-sealed, though keep in mind that as far as I know Sony only offers two full-frame weather-sealed lenses to match. Yes, the body is also lighter than the competition, but I find once you stick a good lens on it that roughly 6-ounce advantage becomes moot.

All the controls are easily accessible and distinguishable by feel, the mode dial has a central lock button (not my favorite place for it), and everything is as configurable as you’d expect from a camera in its class. I don’t think it’s the snazziest design — I’m not crazy about the bulbous look of the buttons boiling up from the surface on the back — but it’s effective and that’s more important.

While I think competitors produce better video quality than the A99V, this is my favorite camera for shooting video. It’s one respect in which the fixed-mirror SLT technology gains a huge advantage over SLR.  A lot of videographers use manual focus exclusively, so it won’t faze them, but it irks me to no end. And if you don’t know this up front, you can spend hours trying to figure out why the camera won’t let you adjust those settings.

Sony Alpha A99 II

Body type
Body type Mid-size SLR
Sensor
Max resolution 7952 x 5304
Image ratio w:h 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels 42 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 44 megapixels
Sensor size Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
Sensor type BSI-CMOS
Processor Bionz X
Image
ISO Auto, 100-25600 (expandable to 50-102400)
Boosted ISO (minimum) 50
Boosted ISO (maximum) 102400
White balance presets 10
Custom white balance Yes (3 slots)
Image stabilization Sensor-shift
Image stabilization notes 5-axis for stills and video
Uncompressed format RAW
JPEG quality levels Extra fine, fine, normal
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Manual focus Yes
Number of focus points 399
Lens mount Sony/Minolta Alpha
Focal length multiplier 1×
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Tilting
Screen size 3
Screen dots 1,228,800
Touch screen No
Screen type WhiteMagic TFT LCD
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type Electronic
Viewfinder coverage 100%
Viewfinder magnification 0.78×
Viewfinder resolution 2,359,296
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 30 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/8000 sec
Aperture priority Yes
Shutter priority Yes
Manual exposure mode Yes
Subject / scene modes No
Built-in flash No
External flash Yes (via hot shoe or flash sync port)
Flash modes Off, auto, fill, slow sync, redeye reduction, rear sync, high-speed sync, wireless
Continuous drive 12.0 fps
Self-timer Yes (2, 5, 10 secs)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Highlight-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing ±5 (3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps)
WB Bracketing Yes (3 frames)
Videography features
Format MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S
Modes  

 

 

Microphone Stereo
Speaker Mono
Storage
Storage types Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC[UHS I]/MS Duo slots
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMI Yes (micro-HDMI)
Microphone port Yes
Headphone port Yes
Wireless Built-In
Wireless notes 802.11/b/g/n with NFC
Remote control Yes (wired, wireless, or smartphone)
Physical
Environmentally sealed Yes
Battery description NP-FM500H lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA) 490
Weight (inc. batteries) 849 g (1.87 lb / 29.95 oz)
Dimensions 143 x 104 x 76 mm (5.63 x 4.09 x 2.99)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
GPS None  
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