A99 worthy over A77?

Started Jan 17, 2013 | Questions
Tariag
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A99 worthy over A77?
Jan 17, 2013

Hi all,

I'm considering the A77, essentially for studio work (and some wedding/event). I want a SLT because I mainly shoot with LV...

But I'm wondering if the A99 would be a better choice. Not for sensitivity, as I mostly shoot at low ISO, but for broader DR, shorter DOF and (maybe?) better color rendition.

Do you think it would be useful to go for the A99, or the A77 is more than enough? Are the differences in DR and color rendition worthy or just marginal?

Considering that A99 + 24-70mm f/2.8 costs over twice as much A77 + 16-50mm f/2.8...

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j900
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Re: A99 worthy over A77?
In reply to Tariag, Jan 17, 2013

Tariag wrote:

Hi all,

I'm considering the A77, essentially for studio work (and some wedding/event). I want a SLT because I mainly shoot with LV...

But I'm wondering if the A99 would be a better choice. Not for sensitivity, as I mostly shoot at low ISO, but for broader DR, shorter DOF and (maybe?) better color rendition.

Do you think it would be useful to go for the A99, or the A77 is more than enough? Are the differences in DR and color rendition worthy or just marginal?

Considering that A99 + 24-70mm f/2.8 costs over twice as much A77 + 16-50mm f/2.8...

Hello,

If you can afford it, the 99 will be the better choice. A full-frame sensor always has a better color rendition and DR than an APS-C sensor of the same technological generation. The difference is not marginal. If you look at the DxoMark the advantage is very significant.

Also, you're doing weddings, a situation where you're really better off with the shallow DOF offered by full-frame.

You'll also benefit from the refined autofocus, and from a better viewfinder (the VF itself is the same tech but the signal feeding it is much cleaner).

For studio, please note that the two bodies have an unacceptable delay with wireless triggering in certain situations (google gary friedman A99 wireless flash delay).

the 24/70 2.8 is also a much better lens than the 16-50 2.8.

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splashy
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Re: A99 worthy over A77?
In reply to Tariag, Jan 17, 2013

DR from an A99 is amazing, color depends partly of the lens used, but a 24-70 does wonders.

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cosmonaut
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Re: A99 worthy over A77?
In reply to Tariag, Jan 17, 2013

For studio work and lower ISO and if dynamic range isn't so much an issue the a77 would work. For above 800 iso and if you need a lot of dr I would get the a99. But youYes need to read up on flash work as the a99 may be better suited for the job.

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Alan_S
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Yes, I have both... Re: A99 worthy over A77?
In reply to Tariag, Jan 17, 2013

...including both lenses you mentioned plus the 70200G & 70400G. I like to shoot with two bodies to avoid lens changes (and to be always at the ready with a variety of focal lengths), but am finding the a77 is getting little use; will likely be selling it to partially fund a second 99.

As you mentioned, I considered myself mainly a low-ISO shooter, too. But, say for an indoor wedding, and I shot one this past weekend; it was REALLY nice to bump up the ISO to the 2000-4000 range during the ceremony with the a99+70-200G (to get faster shutter speed) for really clean hand-held shots in existing light.

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holyfan
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Re: A99 worthy over A77?
In reply to Tariag, Jan 17, 2013

I owned A65/A77/A99 and end up selling the A65 and A99.

The A99 being FF has shallower DOF than A77 and is good for portraits when you want to throw background out of focus.  However, the high-iso image quality is only slightly better than the top APS-C camears (e.g. Pentax, Nex 5N, D7000 etc)  and while DR and color depth is important, the A77 gives you more than enough DR/color depth if your shots are mostly exposed correctly.

A99 DR will allow you to recover over/under exposed shots better than A77.  But to me the color rendition in jpeg and AWB is just average/the same as A77.  I had previously owned the X100 and loved the fuji jpeg color in Astia mode.

A99's joystick controller (I don't like the feel vs. the A77) and also focusing speed(same or worse than A77), focus points all cramped in the middle of the frame were the reason why I chose to sell the A99.  Although the focus range limiter seems useful in theory, I find in a run&gun situation you probably won't have time to set that up anyway.

Lastly, if you don't get the new F60 flash with the A99 and use the adapter for F58/43 flashes, sometimes when you shoot in portrait orientation, the flash(with a large softbox or flashbender) may make the flash fall off or make the adapter loose.  And many times you have to take the adapter off and re-tighten it so the connection works.

Tariag wrote:

Hi all,

I'm considering the A77, essentially for studio work (and some wedding/event). I want a SLT because I mainly shoot with LV...

But I'm wondering if the A99 would be a better choice. Not for sensitivity, as I mostly shoot at low ISO, but for broader DR, shorter DOF and (maybe?) better color rendition.

Do you think it would be useful to go for the A99, or the A77 is more than enough? Are the differences in DR and color rendition worthy or just marginal?

Considering that A99 + 24-70mm f/2.8 costs over twice as much A77 + 16-50mm f/2.8...

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Alan_S
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Re: A99 worthy over A77?
In reply to holyfan, Jan 17, 2013

holyfan wrote:

I owned A65/A77/A99 and end up selling the A65 and A99.

The A99 ... However, the high-iso image quality is only slightly better than the top APS-C camears (e.g. Pentax, Nex 5N, D7000 etc)

Regarding the OP's question, which was comparing a77/a99; I can tell you I get at least a 2-stop improvement with the 99 over the 77 (where 800 was upper "clean" limit for the 77, it's 3200 for the 99 -- and with the 99 I tend to use ISO 1000 a lot (at least as clean as ISO320 with the 77) for a general starting point for most events, which helps a lot to get usable shutter speed with hand-held telephoto shooting).

Not knocking the a77; I actually own two of them (one paired with my 99, the other my wife shoots along with her a55). It's a great package that you cannot get from any other manufacturer at any price. But the improvements you will get with the a99 are significant. If it's "worthy" of the cost depends mostly on your budget and how significant a bite is taken by the 99 from your available cash

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joel avery
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Re: Yes, I have both... Re: A99 worthy over A77?
In reply to Alan_S, Jan 17, 2013
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Michel J
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Re: A99 worthy over A77?
In reply to Alan_S, Jan 17, 2013

Alan_S wrote:

holyfan wrote:

I owned A65/A77/A99 and end up selling the A65 and A99.

The A99 ... However, the high-iso image quality is only slightly better than the top APS-C camears (e.g. Pentax, Nex 5N, D7000 etc)

Regarding the OP's question, which was comparing a77/a99; I can tell you I get at least a 2-stop improvement with the 99 over the 77 (where 800 was upper "clean" limit for the 77, it's 3200 for the 99 -- and with the 99 I tend to use ISO 1000 a lot (at least as clean as ISO320 with the 77) for a general starting point for most events, which helps a lot to get usable shutter speed with hand-held telephoto shooting).

Not knocking the a77; I actually own two of them (one paired with my 99, the other my wife shoots along with her a55). It's a great package that you cannot get from any other manufacturer at any price. But the improvements you will get with the a99 are significant. If it's "worthy" of the cost depends mostly on your budget and how significant a bite is taken by the 99 from your available cash

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- AlanS

Yes, and according to that kind of investment, no one can divine what the future will be...

Btw, Gary Friedmann ( http://www.friedmanarchives.com/ )  noticed big issues with the flash management of the A77 (and I'm not sure that was be fixed properly)

According to all this, may I suggest to the O.P. to take a look on the comparison list of what the A99 have (but lacking on A77), here:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/42509079

Hope that can help and don't causing  him to drool...

Kind Regards,

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Michel J
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Nordstjernen
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Re: A99 worthy over A77?
In reply to Tariag, Jan 17, 2013

Tariag wrote:

But I'm wondering if the A99 would be a better choice. Not for sensitivity, as I mostly shoot at low ISO, but for broader DR, shorter DOF and (maybe?) better color rendition.

Do you think it would be useful to go for the A99, or the A77 is more than enough? Are the differences in DR and color rendition worthy or just marginal?

The A99 files are easier to work with than the A77 files, and they will take more post processing. Lens flaws are also less visible, since the sensor is twice the size of the A77. At low ISO settings there isn't much differences when fully processed and printed files are compared.

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Nordstjernen
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Focus limiter - with action photo
In reply to holyfan, Jan 17, 2013

holyfan wrote:

Although the focus range limiter seems useful in theory, I find in a run&gun situation you probably won't have time to set that up anyway.

I use the focus limiter a lot, and it is a wonderful feature for action photography, no matter if I am using the Zeiss 85 mm, G 70-200 mm or G 70-400 mm lens.

Setting up the focus limiter in the middle of a hot action scene is just nonsene. You have to configure the camera BEFORE you start shooting, including setting a decent focus limiter range.

The picture below is taken with the A99 and Zeiss 85 mm f:1.4 lens. For this scene the focus limiter was extremely helpful.



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Tariag
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Re: A99 worthy over A77?
In reply to Michel J, Jan 17, 2013

Thank you for this interesting list. But I have to admit that most of them don't interest me... And I'm not sure that the sensor improvements worth the extra 1500€ (that's the cost of a d600 body!)

So maybe an A77 + D600 could be an interesting combo instead of an A99...

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William Porter
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A99 vs A77, pros and cons
In reply to Tariag, Jan 17, 2013

It's not an easy decision. The A99 is a great camera. But so is the A77, indeed, what makes this particular binary choice so difficult is the fact that the A77 is so darned good. I'm struggling with this issue myself and here's my listing of the pros and cons each way.

About my lists

These are my personal pros and cons, that is, the things that matter to me. This isn't meant to be an "objective" list. I don't include in the lists some distinctions between the cameras that don't matter to me at all, like the slight difference between the bodies in size and weight. Same thing with autofocus speed: The A99 is supposed to be better but I don't see a big difference, and I do a lot of manual focus work anyway. The autofocus limited doesn't matter a lot to me, but might to someone else.

Finally, I don't list issues twice. I'm trying as much as possible to look at the matter positively, so something that is a pro for one camera gets listed as such and does not get listed a second time as a con for the other camera. Example: The better low-light, high-ISO performance of the A99 is a pro for it, not a con for the A77. The A77's low-light performance, in its weight class, is really quite remarkable. The A99 is better, but the A77 is not bad.

A99 pros

  1. Noticeably better image quality. Under this heading I'm thinking especially of better color but there seems to be more to it than that. 
  2. Better low-light, high ISO performance (1-2 stops better in my rough test usage)
  3. Greater dynamic range (about 1 stop?).
  4. Shallower depth of field, other things being as equal as possible. (But this has its downside, too, see below.)
  5. 2 card slots instead of just 1 (matters to me).
  6. Improved EVF experience. (You kind of need to have both cameras side by side to see the difference.)
  7. Slightly better rear display.
  8. Improvements in the ergonomics, especially if you like to customize things. In other words, it's a better shooting tool.
At least from my personal perspective, the serious reasons for getting the A99 really end at #3 above; the other "pros" are relatively minor. I have long wanted a camera that could write to two cards at the same time, but I wouldn't spend an extra $1500 for the A99 if that were the only difference between it and the A77. Ditto the minor advantages in ergonomics.
The image quality advantage of the A99 is major, but at the same time a bit vague. At least a fair bit of the time, I can in fact tell which photos I've taken with the A99 and which nearly identical photos I took with the A77. But especially if the light was good and ISO low, and assuming that the exposure range of the scene wasn't a big challenge, image quality from the two cameras is not so different. Colors are better on the A99 even at low ISO but you really have to look hard sometimes to appreciate that, and of course, if you shoot raw especially, the A77's colors can be goosed a bit in post-processing. 
In other words, the image quality advantage of the A99 is real, but marginal. That's the way it is in the world of photographic gear. It's the law of diminishing returns. At each stage, you spend significantly more money for slightly better image quality. The question is, how much does that marginal improvement mean to you?

A99: neither pro nor con
There are some full-frame differences that are quite significant but that I don't think necessarily are advantages or disadvantages, just differences.
. You're usually close to the subject in a portrait, and when shooting landscapes you usually go wide. In other words, shooting portraits or landscapes you'll seldom be needing focal lengths greater than 100mm (in full-frame terms).portraits and landscapeThe full-frame camera "sees" wider than the APS-C camera. Some full-frame lovers think this is a big pro for full-frame. But you can buy ultra wide-angle lenses for APS-C like the excellent Sigma 10-20. And I think, in many ways, the APS-C camera's advantage in terms of telephoto reach is more significant than the full-frame camera's advantage in terms of wide angle shooting. If I were a wildlife photographer, these days, I'd go with a top-of-the-line APS-C camera like the A77, with a 300 or 500mm lens, for the extra reach. This is part of the reason people say the full-frame cameras are good for 
 to get shallower depth of field, you'll almost always be getting shallower depth of field than you're used to. That means that focus becomes more critical—just as focusing with an APS-C camera is more critical than it is with a camera with a smaller sensor like the RX100 or the one in your iPhone.ability Full-frame doesn't just have the this advantage may not be as desirable as people think. As for depth of field, this is a mixed blessing. Yes, you can get that wafer thin depth of field that many people love in portraits. But, for one thing,
If you're using an APS-C camera you can compensate for this by using shorter focal lengths, but in this example, you'd have to go down to f/2.0 on the A77 to get approximately the same shallow depth of field that the A99 achieved at f/3.2. In the end, full-frame's shallower depth of field doesn't seem to me an indisputable pro, it's just a difference. But it's a difference that matters to one's view of things, to the way one thinks. And for that reason, I think I'd prefer to work either with two APS-C cameras or two full-frame cameras, and not to be working at the same time with one of each. I think I'd find that confusing.the A99 will give you about 33% shallower depth of field (0.64ft vs 0.97ft, according to dofmaster.com). Say you're shooting a portrait. Focal plane (subject's eyes) is 8ft from the sensor in the camera. You're shooting with two cameras: an A77 and an A99. To get the same field of view, you set the focal length to 50mm on the A77 and to 75mm on the A99. Now, if you set your aperture the same on both cameras (say, f/3.2), 
I'm not sure what to make of the new flash hot shoe in the A99. It's a bit awkward for those of us with older flash units; but Sony obviously thinks it's an improvement. It just doesn't factor into my comparison at all. The A99 comes with an adapter that works.

 (as compared to A77)A99 cons
Of these A99 cons, #1 and #2 are fairly significant. #2 (wireless flash delay) may get fixed by firmware update. I don't know but one can hope. But I'm afraid we're stuck with #1. #3 (placement of the focus points) is not a big deal to me.
  1. I dislike the joystick on the A99 even more than the one on the A77. I find it even harder to press straight down. Expect I could get used to it — or at least stop being actively annoyed by it — but even after a week of working with the A99, this remains a fairly big annoyance.
  2. The wireless flash delay. Might be fixed with firmware update? There's are workarounds (use FEL lock, or go to radio triggers) but it's something that ought not to require workarounds.
  3. The bunching of the focus points in the center of the screen? Not sure this matters to me. Might matter to somebody.

A77 pros

Will

But if you have to choose, the question, in the end, is a simple, practical one: Do you want the A99's somewhat modest benefits enough to pay almost twice as much for them?

Seems to me the bottom line is simply price. If money didn't matter, it'd be easy to say: buy the A99 and while you're at it, get one each of all the Sony "G" and Zeiss lenses. And if money really, really didn't matter, hell, buy one or two of each camera.

And there you have it. Let me know if I've overlooked something significant.

Bottom line

As for cons, compared to the A99, the A77 really has only one con: It's not an A99.

That's all I can think of to say on the A77's behalf in comparison to the A99. That's because so many of the A99's other intrinsic advantages are shared by the A77, and vice versa. Describing the A99 as a "full frame A77" is an understatement, but isn't wildly wrong, so long as you know that the "full-frame" difference is significant.

  1. The crop-factor advantage. I'd go for the A77 over the A99 if I were mainly interested in shooting birds or wildlife, because the lenses have longer reach, and the long lenses seem to be cheaper.
  2. Much faster frames-per-second in burst shooting—although A99 is no slouch! 
  3. Built-in flash. Useful if you didn't bring a flash with you, and also for triggering wireless remotes.
  4. There's a high quality weather-sealed lens that works with this body: the Sony 16-50 f/2.8. The A99 body is weather-sealed but most of the lenses I'm likely to buy for it are not.
  5. I'm generally avoiding talking about money here, but it does seem to be the case that the A77, in addition to being cheaper to start with, is also cheaper to "feed", that is, there are more decent and really cheap DT lenses (like the 30, 35, 50, but also others) for the A77 than there are for the A99.
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    Amateur Sony Shooter
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    Well said
    In reply to William Porter, Jan 17, 2013

    While I personally use A99 and happy with it, I do agree its price is little too high, especially in UK market. Sony need to set better street price in context of D800 and D600 prices.

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    William Porter
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    Re: A99 vs A77, pros and cons
    In reply to William Porter, Jan 17, 2013

    Michel J's post in this thread appeared while I was working on my little post of the pros and cons (and trying to hold down my job at the same time). He's already done here so this is duplicative but I do want to acknowledge his list of the A99's advantages over the A77, which is excellent:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/42509079

    I wish I'd been aware of his list when I was making mine!

    Nevertheless, his list is very detailed and I was intentionally painting with a broader brush. I wanted to make the list as short as possible but make sure I included the Big Things. I don't honestly care that the sensor is thinner or that the photosites are N% wider, etc. To me it's all down to the A99's image quality advantage.

    There is just one thing he mentions that I would have included on my list, perhaps as the very last of the A99's significant pros, and that is the ability to use auto ISO (and thus also exposure compensation) while shooting in M.

    Will

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    Michel J
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    Re: A99 worthy over A77?
    In reply to Tariag, Jan 17, 2013

    Tariag wrote:

    Thank you for this interesting list. But I have to admit that most of them don't interest me... And I'm not sure that the sensor improvements worth the extra 1500€ (that's the cost of a d600 body!)

    So maybe an A77 + D600 could be an interesting combo instead of an A99...

    Why is needed to:

    • persist with the wrong idea of the  A77 since we know about flash issue and because it's totally obsolete with his limitations since the A99 appear on the market. Maybe you don't know about the fact that the A77 is unable to switch OFF the noise reduction and many things like this. All that don't make the A77 an option, except if 12 fps is required). Period. 
    • have two lens mount with two different battery pack (since we know the A77 and A99 is the same). With your combo, what if one of your D-SLR/T need to go to customer service (or you await for the generation next...)
    • buy a combo (since we know the A99 itself is a better replacement of both (A77+A99))
    • choose the D600 over the A99, since we know Hasselblad is strarting up to announce his own A-mount FF soon (later this year what can show the trend...)
    • to consider about the WB made in Nikon, since we know is not the best one (according to the minoltian heritage and the collaboration with Hassy) and so on...

    Oh my... Ok, assume your choice, but don't come to cry later... as many....

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    Michel J
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    Michel J
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    Re: A99 vs A77, pros and cons
    In reply to William Porter, Jan 17, 2013

    William Porter wrote:

    A77 pros

    1. The crop-factor advantage. I'd go for the A77 over the A99 if I were mainly interested in shooting birds or wildlife, because the lenses have longer reach, and the long lenses seem to be cheaper.

    Will

      Hi

      No offense but do you really believe about this myth?

      No extra focal length with the "crop factor" (what is only what it is: croping the existing image circle of your FF lenses) what is nothing to do with the sensor resolution.

      Take a try with an APS.C and a FF and  compare, you can know.

      Cheers,
      --
      Michel J
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      William Porter
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      Re: A99 vs A77, pros and cons
      In reply to Michel J, Jan 17, 2013

      Michel,

      Yep, I believe it!

      300mm on a full frame = 300mm on an APS-C sensor. That I understand. I use the word "reach" loosely and perhaps in way that sounds like I think something magical's happening, or like I think the lens on the APS-C has a magnifying or telescoping effect. I don't think that.

      But on the A77, the sensor's 24MP are used to capture a smaller angle of view. It's not like taking the same shot with an A99 and simply cropping it. Because when you crop the 24MP capture from the A99, you don't end up with 24MP. Of course, you have to have a good enough lens to get good detail on the A77. But if you're capturing a smaller amount of the scene with the same number of pixels, you're getting finder detail. If this weren't the case, everybody would but a full-frame camera and one 35mm lens and just crop.

      Will

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      Michel J
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      Re: A99 vs A77, pros and cons
      In reply to William Porter, Jan 18, 2013

      William Porter wrote:

      Michel,

      Yep, I believe it!

      300mm on a full frame = 300mm on an APS-C sensor. That I understand. I use the word "reach" loosely and perhaps in way that sounds like I think something magical's happening, or like I think the lens on the APS-C has a magnifying or telescoping effect. I don't think that.

      Ok, ok agreed

      But on the A77, the sensor's 24MP are used to capture a smaller angle of view. It's not like taking the same shot with an A99 and simply cropping it. Because when you crop the 24MP capture from the A99, you don't end up with 24MP. Of course, you have to have a good enough lens to get good detail on the A77. But if you're capturing a smaller amount of the scene with the same number of pixels, you're getting finder detail. If this weren't the case, everybody would but a full-frame camera and one 35mm lens and just crop.

      Will

      Well you got it, but if I'm not wrong, I would like to add just one point if you need to enlarge your photo as a poster: according to the fact you have to stay further away from your target. by the same 1,5 factor to having the same framing as a FF (with the same lens), hand to hand it's like you have only 16MP of a 'real resolution' with a 24 MP APS-C (for a fair comparison with a 24 MP FF sensor). The only advantage here is not finest details but smoother grid of noise imho.

      Kind Regards,
      --
      Michel J
      « Having the latest gear is nice, but great photographers don't have to have it. They can shoot good stuff with anything »

       Michel J's gear list:Michel J's gear list
      Sony SLT-A77 Sony SLT-A37 Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Sony DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM +5 more
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      Clayton1985
      Veteran MemberPosts: 3,798
      Like?
      Re: Well said
      In reply to Amateur Sony Shooter, Jan 18, 2013

      Amateur Sony Shooter wrote:

      While I personally use A99 and happy with it, I do agree its price is little too high, especially in UK market. Sony need to set better street price in context of D800 and D600 prices.

      I do wish the price was lower.  Even if you can justify the camera price there doesn't appear to be any package deals when you buy a lens or two with the camera.  The lens discounts you can get buying a D800 or D600 can add up to several hundred dollars.  Maybe Sony will offer a discount or package deal soon.

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