A99 video: Are some of us plain crazy?

Started Jan 25, 2013 | Discussions
Jezebel Masterson
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A99 video: Are some of us plain crazy?
Jan 25, 2013

I do not own an a99, but I do own an a77. I am not too interested in FF at the moment, but I recently went on the prowl for a video machine. I have never been all too impressed with my a77 video, the sharpness more than anything. My options: Buy NEX  so I can use my A-mount glass, but give up AF, unless I spend more for the adapter. Buy a new system in a GH2, and worry about two systems glass. Buy another SLT that has better/sharper video. Lastly, buy a dedicated video machine, a camcorder.

After researching a whole lot, I chose a camcorder. I was really tempted by the GH2, but didn't want to learn a new system's lens lineup. More money, more headache, not for me. I thought about the a99, but video actually looked worse than my a77 from the samples I've seen. The nex PDAF adapter is rather expensive, and the NEX7 is already $1100. This leaves camcorders. I ended up grabbing a Panasonic X900m for an affordable $740, far less than any of my other options, and with much sharper results.

Now I won't pretend that sharpness is the only factor of video, it just happens to be the one I most care about as long as everything else isn't horrible. This brings me to my question. Am I crazy for thinking the a99 is soft? I have watched countless sample videos as I was planning my buy, and not one was sharp. I have even seen videos comparing it to the 5n and the EM5, falling short on both. I know the feature set on the a99 is amazing, it's got very low noise, great DR, great vibrant color, and has super fast PDAF for video. I care about sharpness though. There are dozens of video comparisons, this one shows a particularly large contrast. Here is a screenshot from 5n vs a99 . Is it possible that so many people are doing it wrong, or is the a99 just not that sharp?

I don't want to start a brand war here so please keep it civil, but I am curious if it is me or the camera. Anybody have comparisons to show one way or the other are much appreciated.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Pentax X90 Sony Alpha NEX-7 Sony SLT-A77 Sony SLT-A99
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Jezebel Masterson
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Re: A99 video: Are some of us plain crazy?
In reply to Jezebel Masterson, Jan 25, 2013

I should add that the thing that got me thinking about this today was a video posted in the sony forum. It is masterfully done in production, great everything on the user end. I just couldn't help but think the entire thing was soft. All the replies in the thread were praising the video, and nobody mentioned the softness, here is the VIDEO . Is it just me ?

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Alphoid
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Not crazy at all, unless Sony upgraded video from the a77
In reply to Jezebel Masterson, Jan 25, 2013

I do most of my recordings with a battery of Panasonic GH2s. I don't have an a99, but I do have an a77, which I bought so I could use my personal lenses for recording at home. Both shoot videos which are fine for Youtube uncropped. With the a77, in 1080p, even if I do a gentle crop, it starts to look blurry. With the GH2, I can do a very substantial crop. The difference in sharpness is not minor. It's a somewhat confusing issue --it'd be hard to mess up sharpness at the sensor (I was using a nice prime to shoot). I do not know what they might be doing. Maybe Sony is shooting low-res and upsampling?

a77 is a very nice camera for home videos, but it is completely unsuitable for any sort of even semi-professional use. Other issues you'll run into:

  • No way to turn off AGC. Impossible to get good audio. 
  • Many features -- like focus zoom -- stop working when you switch it to video mode. Manual focus is a royal pain in the butt. 

I had about a half dozen similar issues when I decided to stop using it, but I no longer remember them all.

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Draek
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Re: A99 video: Are some of us plain crazy?
In reply to Jezebel Masterson, Jan 25, 2013

Jezebel Masterson wrote:

I should add that the thing that got me thinking about this today was a video posted in the sony forum. It is masterfully done in production, great everything on the user end. I just couldn't help but think the entire thing was soft. All the replies in the thread were praising the video, and nobody mentioned the softness, here is the VIDEO . Is it just me ?

Considering a great deal of that video is time-lapse, which is done by stitching together full-resolution stills into one video... yes, it is just you. Probably forgot to enable the HD option on Vimeo or something.

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Jezebel Masterson
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Re: A99 video: Are some of us plain crazy?
In reply to Draek, Jan 26, 2013

Draek wrote:

Jezebel Masterson wrote:

I should add that the thing that got me thinking about this today was a video posted in the sony forum. It is masterfully done in production, great everything on the user end. I just couldn't help but think the entire thing was soft. All the replies in the thread were praising the video, and nobody mentioned the softness, here is the VIDEO . Is it just me ?

Considering a great deal of that video is time-lapse, which is done by stitching together full-resolution stills into one video... yes, it is just you. Probably forgot to enable the HD option on Vimeo or something.

I'm fully aware of the timelapse, not hard to tell it apart from video. You know, it's the segments that move real fast I am talking about the video though, and it just does not look sharp. Are you saying that the video looks sharp to you? I would bet the shirt on my back that if we put a GH2 side by side there we would see a world of difference. If I am wrong, I would like to know as I would like an upgrade path from my a77, but I would also like a video upgrade for that $2800.

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Jezebel Masterson
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Re: Not crazy at all, unless Sony upgraded video from the a77
In reply to Alphoid, Jan 26, 2013

Alphoid wrote:

I do most of my recordings with a battery of Panasonic GH2s. I don't have an a99, but I do have an a77, which I bought so I could use my personal lenses for recording at home. Both shoot videos which are fine for Youtube uncropped. With the a77, in 1080p, even if I do a gentle crop, it starts to look blurry. With the GH2, I can do a very substantial crop. The difference in sharpness is not minor. It's a somewhat confusing issue --it'd be hard to mess up sharpness at the sensor (I was using a nice prime to shoot). I do not know what they might be doing. Maybe Sony is shooting low-res and upsampling?

a77 is a very nice camera for home videos, but it is completely unsuitable for any sort of even semi-professional use. Other issues you'll run into:

  • No way to turn off AGC. Impossible to get good audio.
  • Many features -- like focus zoom -- stop working when you switch it to video mode. Manual focus is a royal pain in the butt.

I had about a half dozen similar issues when I decided to stop using it, but I no longer remember them all.

Yea this was my opinion as well. I was super impressed by the stills IQ on my a77, amazing. But when I started becoming interested in video, I started paying more attention to sharpness and overall IQ. This is when I noticed the issues, which did not seem to be solved with a FF. I wish I could see a side by side showing different, but either way I would just like to know for sure so I can make my mind up for good.

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Draek
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Re: A99 video: Are some of us plain crazy?
In reply to Jezebel Masterson, Jan 26, 2013

Jezebel Masterson wrote:

I'm fully aware of the timelapse, not hard to tell it apart from video. You know, it's the segments that move real fast I am talking about the video though, and it just does not look sharp. Are you saying that the video looks sharp to you?

Yup.

I would bet the shirt on my back that if we put a GH2 side by side there we would see a world of difference.

I'd bet the shirt off my back that the difference wouldn't be larger than that between the D800 and the A99 in stills---noticeable, but hardly "ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod I need to switch brands right now to stay competitive!" better.

If I am wrong, I would like to know as I would like an upgrade path from my a77, but I would also like a video upgrade for that $2800.

Have you tried sharpening and adding grain in post? cheaper than buying a whole new system, certainly.

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Alphoid
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You can be sure
In reply to Jezebel Masterson, Jan 26, 2013

Jezebel Masterson wrote:

either way I would just like to know for sure so I can make my mind up for good.

You can be sure. Between the GH2 and the a77, I've probably spent at least 140 hours shooting video (although probably 80-90% of that was setup, and 10-20% actual shooting). The difference in sharpness was not subtle.

I was shooting for low-resolution web use, so the a77 was usable. The major difference was that with the GH2, I did not have to worry about framing. I shot wide, and my editors would crop and clean it up for me. With the a77, if I didn't set the camera up to frame the shot exactly, the cropped video would be blurry to the point where it was not pleasant to watch even at the low resolutions we used.

This was not a question of lens. On the Sony, I mostly used a macro prime lens -- not Zeiss, but quite sharp. On the Panasonic, I mostly used primes as well, but the video came out fine (and croppable) even with low quality superzoom or kit lenses.

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Jezebel Masterson
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Re: A99 video: Are some of us plain crazy?
In reply to Draek, Jan 26, 2013

Draek wrote:

I would bet the shirt on my back that if we put a GH2 side by side there we would see a world of difference.

I'd bet the shirt off my back that the difference wouldn't be larger than that between the D800 and the A99 in stills---noticeable, but hardly "ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod I need to switch brands right now to stay competitive!" better.

I think all options are decent, nothing is horrible, but I have also read many a99 owners say the a77 video is sharper. Then we have people like alphoid say they have multiple cameras to compare, such as a77 and GH2.

If I am wrong, I would like to know as I would like an upgrade path from my a77, but I would also like a video upgrade for that $2800.

Have you tried sharpening and adding grain in post? cheaper than buying a whole new system, certainly.

This was an option of course, but even sticking with the same system, sony, I wouldn't call it cheaper. At this point I wouldn't consider jumping brands, I am with sony for stills for the long haul, but I have to say video goes to camcorders. My $750 panasonic is knife sharp and is far cheaper an option.  I was hoping people were just using the a99 wrong or something, but it seems my camcorder was a wise choice afterall. Here is a screenshot of my cat's feet. No sharpening or any post work, straight OOC.

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