A truly great camera but at a premium price
I would give the A99 a full five stars if it were $2,000, or if it offered better high ISO IQ and a faster frame rate.
I really do love this camera. Unlike other cameras I've owned I appreciate it more every time I use it. I resisted buying the A99 because
- I really like my A77 also,
- I really like my Canon 1D4 and
- I was upset with Sony for not offering more than a 6 fps burst rate in a $2800 camera when the lesser A77 - with the same resolution sensor - does twice that. [I'm a sports shooter so I think that's important.]
so I didn't think the A99 would give me much that I didn't already have elsewhere.
My resistance finally ended in December with the flash and grip deal. I'm really glad I took the plunge.
It's really all about IQ and how easy the camera makes it to get great IQ. And here the A99 flat out delivers. It is easily the best camera I've ever owned. I use it for everything in preference to my other cameras - except for sports (where the Canon 1D4 excels).
And I use it often for sports also. The AF-D is pretty amazing. The best pictures from my A99 are clearly better than the best from my 1D4, up through ISO 3200. Above that the A99 is pretty much even with the 1D4 through ISO 12,800. I use my Canon more in those situations because it offers 10 fps shooting and I can use my Sigma 120-300/2.8 with it.
But my love for the A99 is really all about what we economics teachers call comparative advantage. The truth is that a 1 series Canon makes it ridiculously easy for any competent photographer to take great sports photos. [Don't tell anyone because we know it's all about skill! :)]
But for anything else the A99 makes it much easier to be a great photographer. Thanks to
- the full frame 24MP sensor,
- the great EVF - which allows one to get the picture right, every time, without doubt,
- the articulating LCD - which allows one to get the picture right in situations which you simply are guessing at without it,
- and thoughtful touches, such as (my favorite) the ability to switch between raw, jpeg, and raw plus at the touch of the front body button
it is really much easier to be good with an A99 than with any other camera I've ever used. And that's about the best recommendation possible for a camera.
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