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A full-fledged pro DSLR featuring a 24.3MP 35mm-sized CMOS sensor, the Sony Alpha SLT-A99V, offers the world's first dual AF system in a DSLR, and the world's lightest body for a full-frame DSLR, this dust- and moisture-sealed camera replaces the old Alpha A-series A900 and A700 full-frame DSLRs and boasts what Sony calls "dramatically improved image quality, noise reduction and AF performance."
Sony Alpha SLT-A99V: Key Features
Translucent Mirror Technology
New 24.3 MP 35 mm Exmor CMOS sensor and BIONZ Processor
World's first Dual AF System
Advanced Movie Shooting Functions
1/2" XGA OLED TruFinder Electronic Viewfinder
Fast 6 frames per second continuous shooting
Maximized handling performance
Quick Navi Pro
Three-way Tilt-able LCD
World's Lightest Body
Durable shutter mechanism
Dust and Moisture Sealed
New Anti-dust coating
New Expandable System
Let's take a closer look at the Sony Alpha SLT-A99V, based on technical information provided by Sony.
Viewfinder: Sony has moved away from the traditional optical DSLR pentaprism-type viewfinder to a very high-resolution (2.359 million dots) OLED electronic viewfinder. Resolution and contrast ratio are both claimed to be high and the resulting image rivals that visible in an optical finder. An advantage here over optical is that you can see the results of camera adjustments in real time. Sony's proprietary Translucent Mirror Technology simultaneously directs light to the image sensor and AF sensor at all times to realize Full-time Continuous AF that is said to keep the subject in sharp focus and even during continuous shooting and movie shooting. It also allows the high-precision electronic viewfinder to accurately display the results of camera setting adjustments in real time.
Sensor and Image Processing: The 24.3MP 35mm full-frame sensor offers an ISO range of 100-32,000, with low noise. However, if that isn't enough, Sony's Multi-frame NR mode captures six images in a fraction of a second, then combines them, reducing the noise by what Sony says is the equivalent of two stops.
Video: The Sony Alpha SLT-A99V is the first full-frame Sony DSLR with video. It can record Full 1080 HD uncompressed clean-screen video files to external recording devices via an HDMI® connection in 24p, 60p and 60i frame-rates.
Autofocus: The SLT-A99V debuts the world's first Dual AF system. It has a 19-point AF system with 11 cross sensors that is complemented by a multi-point focal plane phase-detection AF sensor with 102 AF points that overlays the image sensor. This is made possible by Translucent Mirror Technology, which simultaneously directs light to the image sensor and AF sensor at all times. Continuous AF uses all 19 AF points with reliable depth-direction focusing performance to capture subjects; Sony says it is assisted by the 102-point multi-point focal-plane phase-detection AF sensor. It continues to accurately focus on the subject whether the subject is moving in depth or plane direction. Users can set the range of focus distance, an essential feature when shooting sports.
Burst Rate: The Sony Alpha SLT-A99V can shoot at approximately 6 frames per second (fps) with enhanced Tracking Focus, which is said to offer more advanced acquisition and tracking performance. The Tele Zoom High Speed shooting mode shoots up to 8 fps at 10 MP while maintaining continuous auto focus and auto exposure.
LCD monitor: The SLT-A99V may be the first full-frame DSLR with a flip-out monitor. The 921k dot LCD monitor can tilt three ways and is the same monitor used on the SLT-A77.
Exposure is determined via a 1200-zone evaluative metering; the camera reads exposure directly from the main image sensor. You have a choice of multi, center and spot metering. The camera offers built-in HDR, sweep panorama mode, D-range Optimizer, and 13 creative filters (Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Clear, Deep, Light, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Autumn leaves, Black & White, Sepia.)
GPS: The camera has built-in GPS.
Construction: The Sony Alpha SLT-A99V is built to meet the heavy demands of prosumers. Main outer body panels and interior chassis are constructed of lightweight, righid magnesium alloy. The camera is also ruggedized: Outer body and moisture countermeasures include the sealing and treatment of major operational buttons/dials and a convex/concave mating structure that tightly interlocks components to protect against dust and moisture. Controls also feature a durable structure that withstands the touch usage of advanced amateurs. The shutter is rated for up to 200,000 releases.
Communication with Accessories: The Sony Alpha SLT-A99V offers Sony's new Multi-Interface shoe that dramatically expands compatibility with Handycam® accessories, thus raising the potential for photo/movie shooting (The included ADP-MAA shoe adapter maintains compatibility with conventional Alpha accessories as well). One such accessory is the HVL-F60M flash with video light offers high output, Sony's original Quick Shift Bounce mechanism, a new video light for movie shooting and improved operational interface. Another is the RMT-DSLR2 Remote Commander for movie shooting that includes a dedicated movie record button.
Most Liked Positive Review
Appealing but expensive technology showcase
It's been a long and at times painful 4+ year wait for Sony fans looking for an update to the classic but clearly aging A900/850 full frame professional cameras, with many hoping that Sony would finally become a significant factor in the professional full frame market. The promise of a serious full frame camera was clearly seen in the predecessor model - the Sony A900 undercut the Nikon D3X by almost $5000, while offering similar resolution and features, albeit poorer low light performance at...View full Review
It's been a long and at times painful 4+ year wait for Sony fans looking for an update to the classic but clearly aging A900/850 full frame professional cameras, with many hoping that Sony would finally become a significant factor in the professional full frame market. The promise of a serious full frame camera was clearly seen in the predecessor model - the Sony A900 undercut the Nikon D3X by almost $5000, while offering similar resolution and features, albeit poorer low light performance at least in JPEG (not in RAW) - and with no video capability at all - making the camera a real throwback to pure stills photography, a feature that inspired more loyalty than aversion among its loyal user base. This is also the first full frame camera Sony has put out in the last four or five years - in that same interval Canon and Nikon together have put out at least eight. This suggests that Sony is taking some risks by moving into areas where it frankly has not been terribly successful or perhaps terribly interested/motivated. Does it live up? Well, based on my admittedly brief and limited experience with this model with production firmware (1+ hour of shooting of both stills and video and then hours of hi-res monitor time on color corrected monitor) mostly yes, but there are some issues . . . . including where Sony has set its price point on this. Overall, this is an appealing choice for individuals looking to upgrade from Sony APS-C models or other subframe DSLRs to full frame cameras - provided they are willing to pay the hefty cost and modest weight penalties, in order to get the extra picture quality at high ISO, along with somewhat better speed of operation and an improved autofocus system. Dynamic range may also be somewhat better than corresponding APS C models - hard to say if dynamic range equals the current very high benchmark set by the Nikon D800. But . . . .Is it really worth the $2000 premium on the already excellent Sony A65 or the nearly $1200 premium on the Sony A77? That's actually a tough question, and mostly for a typical consumer, the answer is probably going to be 'no' - but for professionals (or enthusiasts with lots of money that they are eager to part with) needing the high ISO capabilities of a full frame model, the answer is probably 'yes', given that picture quality on the APS-C chips can't compete with a full frame chip of the same resolution as light declines. But in bright light, the differences are going to be probably too subtle to see, even for the most obsessional pixel peeper. At ISO 100 in RAW with comparable lenses, I really can't tell the difference between the picture this camera generates (even blown up to 100%), and what a Sony A65 can generate - and this was going over identical scenes shot with both cameras at 100% view. But at ISO 1600, the difference is fairly clear, and by 3200, it's not even close - the A65 is a pretty noisy mess, and prints are only usable at small sizes like 4x6. At ISO 3200, the A99 is capable of generating remarkably clean and smooth pictures with minimal noise and much detail. ISO 6400 on the A99 is roughly equivalent to ISO 1600 on the A65 (the last really useable RAW setting for the A65 before being forced to use heavy-handed post-processing NR). So it's way better in low light - but it should be with the much bigger pixels. Usable 6400 is really a plus - esp. when you want to use telephoto to shoot action and need high shutter speeds. Sports shooting will be worlds better compared to even the best m4/3 and APS-C sensor performance at high ISO and long telephoto. But again, this is what a FF sensor should deliver for its cost (and weight) penalties. But one basic question facing the professional user is still "why buy this camera" given the better developed and established pro-camera ecosystems of Canikon? That's also a tough question. I believe the answer is not one single overwhelming advantage, but you have to like the SLT environs and value what it might offer over more traditional DSLR technology. One aspect of this might be the better video due to full time PD (phase detection) auto focus, already demonstrated in several APS-C models like A65 and A77. Another selling point might be just the overall excellence of both video and stills combined. I believe this camera will probably have as good if not better video than anything else in the 35mm DSLR world due to the better autofocus system (PD on both the chip and from the light directed to the AF sensor) - and Sony built-in lots of high-end video features and thoughtful support for all kinds of video accessories that would appeal to the professional videographer or the primary stills photographer looking to occasionally shoot the best possible (broadcast quality) video. First of all, its 1080 60p specification right now puts it ahead of Canon and Nikon, and its full-time phase detection (including phase detection functionality on the sensor itself) means that the camera can continually autofocus using the more accurate PD approach (vs. the slower contrast detection method) while taking movies - something no other DLSR can do. Here's my parsing of the pros and cons of this new camera - again based on limited shooting experience and hands-on time - I probably will change this list as I get a production model I can spend much more time with (just put in my order for one!): Pros: 1) Probably the best video this side of a professional broadcast video camera - and likely well ahead of Canon and Nikon on this one. Video shot in 60p is typically spectacular, and the camera appears particularly good at maintaining tight focus on high-speed subjects and challenging scenes with minimal to no hunting. Uncompressed HDMI output to external recording devices is another plus (shared with D800 but not on the 5DMIII). 2) Great overall image quality for photos - esp. as light declines - equals the great low light performance of the Canon 5DMIII and just a touch more noisy than the Nikon D600. 3) High-resolution EVF gives the photographer lots of relevant control information (but see cons for flip side of this). 4) High resolution 24 MP sensor with good to excellent dynamic range and very accurate color (but again see cons). 5) Able to use Alpha mount APS-C lenses (via sensor crop - but see cons again). 6) At least equal low light performance compared to its two main FF competitors. Comparisons that I did of identical scenes head-to-head with the Canon 5D Mark 3 suggest that the Sony at least equals that camera's truly great low light noise performance. It might be just a nose ahead in this area of low light noise compared to the Nikon D800. Credit extra work on the micro-lenses and getting as much light as possible to each pixel in the sensor - apparently a big focus for Sony in developing this particular sensor. Even ISO 6400 was pretty clean. 7) Configurable menu system similar to Sony's popular A77. 8) With two phase detection systems (one on the chip and one receiving light from the fixed mirror) this offers probably the fastest and most reliable autofocus of any DSLR. In my one hour of shooting with the camera, I was never able to get an out of focus shot either with video or stills, even though I tried (fast-moving subjects, panning, etc.). 9) Having image stabilization built into the sensor instead of the lens has some major advantages - making lenses potentially less expensive and lighter, and giving you the full advantage of IS all the time with any lens in your bag. 10) SLT approach enables full-time live view and phase detection autofocus even when shooting movies, and saves weight too, compared to more conventional DSLR technology. 11) Many neat touches and thoughtful extras, with abundant options for direct control (3 dials and a host of buttons dedicated to a single function (five of which are customizable) and a slick and smoothly silent control wheel in the front of the camera that allows quick access to video settings). Cons: 1) Price - at least $400 above where it should be. 2) EVF is not for everybody - some people simply can't transition from optical viewfinders (what do they know :-) !) 3) EVF really needed a contrast adjustment on A77/65, as images sometimes either had blown highlights in the viewfinder or areas where image too dark to see details - Sony failed to include this badly needed contrast adjustment in their new flagship camera - a major omission in my judgment. 4) only 24 MP - clearly out-resolved by Nikon D800. 5) only 6 FPS with autofocus is really disappointing for a SLT design - their APS C designs were all class-leading in terms of frames per second in high-speed shooting. Canon does the same 6 FPS number while still having to move the mirror up and down, and even the D800 manages 4 frames per second with its much higher megapixel throughput demands on the imaging pipeline, while the $800 Sony A65 does 10 FPS . . . . so what happened here? 6) APS-C lenses will automatically result in a significant drop in resolution - no option to simply allow full frame vignetting (which some users might not mind in some contexts). 7) Shorter battery life relative to its two main competitors (the cost of the excellent EVF) 8) Despite all the emphasis on video, maximum bit rate is only 28 Mb per second, significantly under the new Panasonic GH3 and the Canon 5D Mark 3. 9) Despite the flagship technology (and price!), the A99 still has too shallow a buffer for much high-speed shooting - if shooting RAW plus JPEG, buffer fills up in 18 images or just 1.5 seconds. Can't believe that with all the noise about this issue in previous APS-C models that Sony did so little differently in their flagship camera. 10) Disappointment that USB 3.0, Wi-Fi support and at least some kind of built-in flash all not included in feature set. 11) Price?
Most Liked Negative Review
Great Potential - Crippled US version
I want so much to purchase several of these for my small business. Everything looks great from the early reviews. Maybe some issues with moire. But here is the catch. Apparently they are releasing a crippled version to the US that is limited to US 60/30/24p rates. The version sold outside of the US will switch between PAL50p/25p and US rates. I am sure it is the same camera, just with crippled firmware. Sorry in 2012, this does not make sense. Although most of my work is in the US, I do get 5...View full Review
I want so much to purchase several of these for my small business. Everything looks great from the early reviews. Maybe some issues with moire. But here is the catch. Apparently they are releasing a crippled version to the US that is limited to US 60/30/24p rates. The version sold outside of the US will switch between PAL50p/25p and US rates. I am sure it is the same camera, just with crippled firmware. Sorry in 2012, this does not make sense. Although most of my work is in the US, I do get 50P PAL jobs from time to time. Maybe for consumer cameras, but this is supposed to be professional! I already bought some ZA Zeiss lens for my FS100 and NEX7 waiting for this camera. But now you go an cripple this camera in the US for no reason.
Reviewed by 34 customers
Everything I want and need except that it will not tether to my lap top. Shame! Sony do something about that. Otherwise an amazing camera in every way! Flash great. Battery grip supplies needed power for video. So it only is good for 200,000 shots. Can buy two replacements with the money I saved by not buying a 400,000 C---- or N----.
A full Frame camera with a Punch. This Sony FF camera is really excellent in every way. this is a camera is designed too make you wanna work with it more. Color, detail's, sharpens and weather proof camera is a great choice too have when you are traveling and taking photo's here on Iceland. Best camera i ever had. Lafur Photography
I have always wanted this camera since it was released it is my second go to camera lighter and more convenient to carry around
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.
I got the SLT A-99 as a 1 time use promo camera and its the only reason that I decided to purchase it was for the discounted price. After taking the camera and pushing it through its paces with my arsenal of CZ lenses, it so far has become a welcome addition to my photography tools. The weight of the camera is so much better than the A900 and A700 and has also made my work flow a lot easier with various shooting styles with still life. My A900 was specifically used for still life shots until I got the A-99 which proved to be a more nimble character and easier to use with the leveling on screen feature (love this). The EVF was the main selling point as it was clear and easy to view allowing me to place the camera almost anywhere and not have to worry about looking through the view finder to complete my shot in focus as with the a900. Since I had the A-99 it taken the spot as my main photography tool coupled with the CZ lens line up, its a no brainer but my favorites with the A-99 are the CZ-2470 and the SAL135F18Z. The battery pack addition is also great as it doesn't add much more camera weight, so with 3 batteries you can shoot until the cows come home. Another great feature is the low light ISO improvements over the A900, shooting in low light at higher ISO settings is a lot less noisier. Over all I think the advancements Sony has made in camera technology is fantastic and the camera shows the results in my work flow. I was trying to hold out to purchase a Sony medium format camera that I hoped would materialize soon since hearing about the connections with Hasselblad. I'm looking forward with hopes Sony will at least present a product release close to a medium format solution. For now its the A-99 and so far its a good product for me.
The focusing system on the camera is amazing, fast and accurate. The range control is a good feature. i loke the OLED viewfinder
This is my 2nd SLT-A99V, unfortunately my 1st one went for a swim (reason for the only con) even though expensive it is worth every penny
First let me say, I wanted to love this camera so much! It takes some really great pictures of landscapes (still pics are awesome) but where it falls down is indoor sports :( The buffer is way too small for sports - ripping off 15 pictures at 5fps (cont Hi), then waiting 8 - 10 seconds for the buffer to clear is awful as you miss so much action -- like my daughter's gymnastics routine. A camera of this caliber should be on par with the Canon 5d Mk III, which allows for 3x as many pictures in the buffer. Auto focus and tracking is a problem for things like gymnastics where the number of focus points is pretty small (19) where others are greater (ex. the 5d is 61). I know the AF-D has 102 points but they don't support the sigma 70 - 200 lens I have and so I am hobbled. ISO noise at 6400 is pretty low and I am impressed, but I wish 12800 was less noisy. For me, it came down to the buffer size -- If the buffer was bigger, I could live with the camera but I am missing too many shots now due it's size. (shoot 10 shots rapidly then not being able to shoot anything for several seconds is a killer when the gymnastics routine is only 45 - 90 seconds long in the first place) Again, this is an incredible camera for other types of photography -- the EVF is amazing, the folding screen is great, menus are easy to navigate and video support is great too. I understand not everyone does sports or even indoor sports, but for my main need (indoor gymnastics) it just doesn't work and that's a shame :(
I LOVE this camera and it's Electronic View finder. I wasn't sure about the EVF the first few times I used it, but after a week I was sold. I don't want to shoot without it. Long live EVF!