Sony a99 - the good, the bad and the ugly

Started Dec 28, 2013 | Discussions thread
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moimoi Veteran Member • Posts: 4,244
Sony a99 - the good, the bad and the ugly

Hello Everyone,

In this thread, I am talking about the Sony a99, and I am dividing my thoughts into 3 sections: the good, the bad and the ugly:

The Good

  • Shooting fast manual focus lenses is quite simple and very enjoyable. I shoot mostly manual focus with this camera, and it takes me 3-4 s to nail the focus down using focus peaking/magnification. My personal take is that focus peaking/magnification is the core of this system.
  • Combining focus peaking/magnification with live histogram remains a strong feature. Keep in mind the live histogram only shows the brightness. Also keep in mind the Red channel is not Sony's forte and has a tendency to overblown more readily than the Blue and Green channels. Pushing to the right the live histogram (brightness), and it is mostly certain the R channel will be clipped in the highlights. Shooting raw provides much more room for error.
  • Dynamic range. Surprisingly very good, and I already liked the a900's dynamic range, but the a99 is one or two steps above. No question.
  • Impressive shadows recovery at base ISO.
  • Relatively silent shutters sound (the a900 is loud)

The Bad

  • Build quality is not in par with that of the a900. The battery door is of poor quality, and I am having some difficult time to open it (maybe it is time to stop biting my fingernails). I have no problem to open the battery door of my a900. The battery door of the a900 is also thicker.
  • I want to turn off that damn eye sensor, which is really quite annoying if the camera is around your neck/shoulder or is left in the bag. The LCD can be turned off if you decide flipping it in the opposite direction. The only way for me to work with this camera when I am not using it is to set Manual the FINDER/LCD setting in the menu, the flipping the LCD screen in the opposite direction, and then push the FINDER/LCD button (near the flash hot shoe)
  • It takes 1-2 s to be turned on or to be reactivated (from power save). This is not right. You don't have to worry about this with the a900.
  • I am almost certain the raw 14 bits files are lossy compressed. Two options are nowhere near to be found in the menu: Raw (uncompressed) and Raw (lossless).
  • Menu is unnecessary complicated. The menu of the a900 is much more simple, and thus is much more efficient.

The Ugly

  • Battery life is poor. Leaving the camera on even when the LCD is flipped off / the EVF is not use, I found the battery very poor. I do not shoot constantly and I like leaving the camera turned on (1 min power save). For me, I can shoot 200-300, and the battery will be down (I have 3 Sony batteries). The EVF drains a LOT of power. It is time for Sony to upgrade their old battery design.
  • The joystick is as sensitive as certain women's genitals. Not that I will complain in other situations, but when it comes to shoot photos, I really despise that joystick. I first used it for the focus magnification, but I gave up as it is so easy to push it inadvertently and the focus frame will re-centered itself. I stop using it, and I use the back/front wheels.

My personal take is: I would not have bought that camera for 2750 USD (I bought it on the used market for 1750 USD, including three batteries). As I am now an owner, I am even more inclined to believe that the right price tag for this camera should have been around 2 kUSD, and absolutely no more. Furthermore, It certainly does not feel as rugged as my a900. However, the main components of this camera are the sensor and the EVF (though I would have liked to have a magnification > 0.75-0.8x), and the focus peaking/magnification remains the best feature for my shooting style, and for the price I got, I really can't complain much.


Photography is about time, space, expression, and - ultimately - capturing light. This formula may sound easy, but actually capturing the "ideal" photograph is far more complex to accomplish as our own perceptions and responses vary according to each individual. Photography is inherently driven by human subjectivity, but the general feeling is that a superb photograph is widely appreciated, as it commonly depicts a striking and universal concept. I believe this process should be sought by many of us, who deeply enjoy capturing and sharing photographs that embrace life and depict what we are.

 moimoi's gear list:moimoi's gear list
Fujifilm X100T Canon EOS 6D Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Canon EF 16-35mm F4L IS USM +5 more
Sony Alpha a99
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