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Operation & Controls

Top Left Controls

The top left of the camera is home to a mode dial. It's a lockable dial, with a central button that needs to be pressed to allow rotation. It's options are largely similar to those found on other Sony SLT models, with PASM modes sitting alongside more automated and specialist modes. This approach may seem a bit unorthodox for a flagship camera, but it does make it easy to change from your chosen shooting mode to quickly grab a movie or a panorama and then switch back, without affecting any of your usual shooting settings.

What sets the A99's mode dial apart from those on lower-level Sonys is the addition of three customizable dial positions, which give you quick access to any prior exposure and shooting settings you've registered.

Top Right Controls

The camera's top plate LCD displays exposure information and shooting settings along with a battery life indicator. Its backlight can be enabled by pressing the display illumination button to its right. Most of the settings you're likely to change between shots can be accessed via buttons located just behind the shutter release, which is surrounded by the power switch. The ISO and exposure compensation buttons are the most conveniently placed for operation with the camera in an eye-level shooting position. And the ISO button can even be re-purposed if there's a setting you change more frequently. The drive mode and white balance buttons are handy too, although since their functions are also available from the Fn menu, the ability to re-purpose these would have been a welcome option.

The decision not to make the exposure compensation button customizable becomes clear when you engage Auto ISO while in manual exposure mode. In this scenario, the exposure compensation button is operable, with the ISO sensitivity then adjusting to provide the required image brightness at your chosen aperture and shutter speed settings.

Rear Controls

Most of the A99's controls are on the back of the camera and they're pretty well positioned. The top three buttons are the ones that you might expect to use with the camera to your eye: AF/MF, AEL and the movie record button. The Movie button can be configured either to function in any shooting mode, or restricted to be active only when the mode dial is set to movie mode. The AEL and AF/MF buttons can be totally reconfigured, not just to define whether they toggle or hold their settings, but to represent any one of 31 custom options, shown in the table below.

Functions that can be assigned to the AEL, AF/MF, ISO, Custom and Preview buttons
 • Exposure Comp.
 • Drive Mode
 • Flash Mode
 • Focus Mode
 • AF area
 • Smile/Face Detect.
 • AutoPort. Framing
 • ISO
 • Metering Mode
 • Flash Comp.
 • White Balance
 • DRO/Auto HDR
 • Creative Style
 • Picture Effect
 • Image Size
 • Quality
 • AEL hold
 • AEL toggle
 • AEL hold (spot metering)
 • AEL toggle (spot metering)
 • FEL Lock hold
 • FEL Lock toggle
 • Object Tracking
 • AF/MF Control Hold
 • AF/MF Control Toggle
 • AF lock
 • AF On
 • Aperture Preview
 • Shot. Result Preview
 • Focus Magnifier
 • Memory
 

Below these buttons is the camera's joystick - this is used to select focus points while in shooting mode and for navigation and selection in the menu and image playback screens. To its right is the DISP button that cycles though the display modes you've enabled in the settings menu. This affects either the rear screen or viewfinder display - whichever you're using at the time. Below it is the Fn button that brings up the Function menu or activates the control panel view, if you've got it displayed on the rear screen.

Clustered at the bottom of the camera are three more buttons - the Smart Teleconverter button (that can be configured to achieve one of three zooming functions, including magnified view for manual focusing), the playback button and the AF Range button. The AF Range button can either be used to show in-camera guide information or to engage the A99's unique AF Range mode (a virtual focus limiter switch).

Front Controls

The front of the camera features two buttons whose functions can be re-assigned. The custom button, indicated by the stamped 'C' can be assigned to an one of 31 separate functions. The knurled knob below the lens release is the silent multi-controller which is used to navigate among a sub-set of camera settings without the attendant button noise of normal operation. Though clearly designed for use during video recording, the controller can be used equally as well in a stills shooting mode. It has a center button that is used to confirm settings.

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Comments

Total comments: 16
BobFoster

I think this review was excellent , very honest and openminded enough to accept the EVF and the great set of amazing features that this camera gets.
If I am free(I mean not need to listen to my partner when I buy a camera), I ‘d sell my D800 for this one or for the 5D3 in a heart beat.
But unfortunaltey , I have to listen to my partner who hates Sony and EVF, so I guess I will have to shoot Nikon or Canon for a while.
That siad , I still love A99v and I really want to buy one since I was a big fan of Sony Zeiss primes from my A900 days.
The A99v is a great camera and it is probably the best camera for portrait and event work.
The 85mmf1.4ZA is a super sharp lens and the 135mmf1.8ZA is even sharper and the 24f2ZA is the best 24mm I have ever shot, well done Sony and thanks for your great review.

1 upvote
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: 16