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Body & Design

In terms of external design, the SLT-A99 is essentially a very slightly scaled-up SLT-A77, sharing a largely identical control layout with its APS-C sibling. The lack of a built-in flash on the A99 does mean that the button on the front-left of the viewfinder hump that was used to pop-up the A77's flash is now customizable. Beyond this, there is a silent control dial on the front lower left of the body which allows control over numerous camera functions without audibly interrupting video recording. The A99's environmentally-sealed magnesium alloy body feels solid and confidence-inspiring, yet the camera is noticeably lighter than either of its full frame rivals, the Nikon D800 and Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

The A99's biggest hardware change from previous SLT models is the incorporation of a hotshoe that's compatible with the ISO standard allowing the welcome use of third party accessories. It still features a series of proprietary connector pins along its front edge, allowing use with Sony's flashguns and various accessories.

The A99 stands alone among full frame DSLRS with an articulated rear LCD. This multi-hinge design offers an impressively wide range of movement, allowing you to comfortably evaluate composition with the camera placed in awkward viewing positions. This design is inherited from the A77 and you can watch a video demonstration of its screen movements on the body and design page of our A77 review.
For the first time, Sony has included an ISO standard hotshoe, which allows for adapter-free use of third party accessories. In the rear of the shoe you can see the gold proprietary connector pins which are compatible with various Sony add-ons including flash guns and an XLR mic adapter that provides balanced input. An adapter for using Minolta-mount flashes is included with the A99.
Alongside the lens throat, in place of the A900's AF switch, the A99 introduces a customizable silent control dial with a central confirmation button. While designed primarily as a way to adjust camera settings inaudibly while recording video, the dial can also be configured independently for stills shooting mode.

Compared to...

Sony Alpha A900

Shown next to its predecessor, the A900, you can see just how much the design aesthetic has evolved at Sony over the last four years, with the A99 inheriting the rounded corners and sleeker contours of recent SLT models. The switch to an electronic viewfinder reduces the camera's height compared to the A900's pentaprism optical finder.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

As you'd expect from high-end DSLRs, both the A99 and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III have magnesium alloy frames to go along with their dust and moisture resistant bodies. Yet the A99 manages to weigh in at 138g less than the 5D Mark III. The A99's EVF allows for a smaller viewfinder hump.

Viewfinder

With the A99, Sony brings the same high-resolution Trufinder 2 OLED display found in the A77, NEX-7 and NEX-6 to a full frame model. The unit boasts a 1024 x 768 2.4M dot resolution display, making it by far the most detailed electronic viewfinder available. With its 100% coverage and 0.71x magnification, it's essentially the same size as the immense optical finder in the A900. The OLED display uses a progressive update and as a result, is free from the rainbow-like 'tearing' effect common to displays in lower-end Sonys.

Standing alone among its full frame competitors, all of which use optical viewfinders, the A99 may well be the first experience with an EVF for new Sony users. And for many we suspect that a high quality OLED viewfinder's advantages like the ability to preview exposure and white balance, gain-up in low light or compose with a horizon level may go a long way towards alleviating concerns about the choice to forgo an optical viewfinder. In the course of shooting with the A99, we found the EVF performed well even in bright sunlight, with the camera's eyecup preventing stray light from causing glare.

There will clearly be some photographers for whom an EVF is a deal-breaker. From a practical standpoint, however, there are undeniable benefits to an SLT design and the approximately 0.5EV light loss compared to a conventional SLR design is negligible in terms of noise, given how good modern sensors are.

Magnification

One figure hidden away in every SLR's spec is the size of the viewfinder (often in a format that makes comparison between competing models impossible). The size of the viewfinder is a key factor in usability - the bigger it is, the easier it is to frame and focus your shots, and the more enjoyable and involving process it is.

Because of the way viewfinders are measured (using a fixed lens, rather than a lens of equivalent magnification), you also need to take the sensor size into account, so the numbers in the diagram below are the manufacturer's specified magnifications divided by the respective 'crop factors'.

The Sony SLT-A99 has a viewfinder magnification of 0.71x, fractionally larger than the Nikon D800 and falling shy only compared to the Canon EOS 1D X.
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Comments

Total comments: 15
Miki Nemeth

"magnified live view is not available in video mode." This is a terribly brilliant feature I got used to on A7. It would be great if Sony included it as a firmware update.

0 upvotes
fotokram

I just don't understand the point, that the A99 empties its buffer twice as fast as Canon's EOS 5D III at Continuous Hi? Both cameras allow 6 fps, but the 5D III can shoot JPEG Large/Fine until the card is full while the Sony stops after 20 frames. When shooting RAW the 5D III can take 17 frames (like the Sony), before the frame rate switches to 2.7 fps (A99: "only" 1.7 fps). The 5D III then needs 4 seconds to empty the buffer, while the A99 needs 7.5 seconds. From my point of view, the 5D III is the faster camera. Or did I get something wrong?

0 upvotes
Gangstar

I have owned previously the a55 a77 and for the last 12 months the A99 I paid £1750 new inc tax the a99 paired with the Zeiss 24-70 it a fantastic combo in fact the sony 28-75 2.8 produced stunning results but I would tell lies if i said it was on parr with the Zeiss which really pops the subject although has softness at corner edges @ 24mm is evident...Low light for my use has been great never has any problems...The flash/system shoe is the only annoyance and slight over exposure easily fixed in light room. what would I change upgrade faster AF..sensor 24mp ff is more than ample.In all I am a very happy with my a99 well done sony engineers...

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Lassoni

There's really no way around it. This is hands down sony's best camera to date. They really should revisit this, maybe give it a sensor and/or mount of their A7s , aim to make it better @ low light than Canon 5d3 (much more cleaner than 5d3, almost 1DX spec), and get rid of the translucent mirror maybe. Keep the body as is, make it mirrorless with around 15-18 megapixel and give it FPS of 8-11.

1 upvote
kevin_r

Waiting for 18Mp,
Mirrorless(or at least the ability to lift the mirror.., somehow...) with high speed AF and low light sensitivity AF down to -3EV[currently seems impossible...]
Touch screen with focus select and AF by touch.

Alternatively to 18Mp - make 36mp with BSI, removing the anti-alias filter and allowing the semi-transparent mirror to be moved out of the way - or else simply have magnificent focus with the sensor itself....wihtout the mirror.....sigh!!!!

1 upvote
Scottelly

Something that amazes me about the A99 is the fact that it handles high ISO better than the new Nikon D600 and D610 cameras. I just found this out by looking at the ISO 6400 samples here on DPreveiw in their studio shot comparison tool: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/studio-compare#baseDir=%2Freviews_data&cameraDataSubdir=boxshot&indexFileName=boxshotindex.xml&presetsFileName=boxshotpresets.xml&showDescriptions=false&headerTitle=Studio%20scene&headerSubTitle=Standard%20studio%20scene%20comparison&masterCamera=nikon_d600&masterSample=dsc_4526_03&slotsCount=4&slot0Camera=nikon_d600&slot0Sample=dsc_4526_03&slot0DisableCameraSelection=true&slot0DisableSampleSelection=true&slot0LinkWithMaster=true&slot1Camera=sony_slta99&slot1Sample=dsc00049&x=-0.378464142966364&y=0.34409159041539195

Make sure you look at the playing card, after you pick which cameras you want to compare and set the ISO selection box to ISO 6400 (or whatever ISO you want to compare).

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW

It doesn't handle high ISOs better than the Nikon D600.

Though one way to help with high ISOs is to use good Zeiss lenses and those are more readily available for this Sony.

0 upvotes
J Shen

Continued post: During burst shooting, SLT cameras can see a live image preview or can not see ? Thanks for advice !

0 upvotes
J Shen

About SLT & SLR cameras, If following two comments (from dpreview) are conflicting each other ? During bursts shooting SLT cameras can see the frames or can not see ? maybe I'm misunderstood. Thanks !
1, Unlike ordinary DSLR cameras, SLT cameras by Sony use Translucent Mirror technology that directs light onto the main image sensor as well as a separate autofocus sensor. This means that subjects stay sharply focused at all times as you compose scenes with the tilt-angle LCD or through the high-resolution, high-contrast OLED Tru-Finder. And with no moving mirror to slow you down, you’ll enjoy non-stop live image preview during speedy burst shooting or while you’re recording Full HD video.
2, One distinct disadvantage to current EVF technology is that when shooting bursts at higher frame rates, you are not seeing a live preview, rather the frames you have just captured. This can make camera panning (to follow a fast moving subject) virtually impossible to do with any accuracy.

0 upvotes
Scottelly

Well, my A55 worked just fine for following fast-moving subjects, while shooting at 10 fps, and I believe the A99 is an improvement over the A55. (also can shoot at 10 fps)

0 upvotes
Thomas Karlmann

It may be only the a99 RAW for ISO 25600 that is broken. Thanks.

0 upvotes
Thomas Karlmann

beomagi: Thanks, I overlooked it.

0 upvotes
Thomas Karlmann

DPR Raw Link for a99 Studio Scene appears to be broken. Please fix.

0 upvotes
beomagi

Connectors under flaps here
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sony-alpha-slt-a99/18

0 upvotes
Thomas Karlmann

This review fails to show the I/O connectors! What is under those flaps? Most importantly where is the PC-sync terminal???? If there isn't one, I'll keep looking for a different camera. Please clarify.

1 upvote
Total comments: 15