2017 Roundup: Semi-Pro Interchangeable Lens Cameras $2000+
Sony Alpha a99 II
42.4MP Full-frame CMOS sensor | 5-axis image stabilization | 4K video capture
What we like:
- Excellent Raw dynamic range
- Advanced Hybrid AF system
- In-body 5-axis image stabilization
- Oversampled 4K video with numerous capture tools
What we don't:
- SLT design results in 1/2-stop less light reaching sensor
- AF performance can be unreliable
- Major AF limitations in video mode
- While refined, menus still a bit clunky
The Sony a99 II is the company's top-end Alpha-mount camera. The 'SLT' design uses a semi-transparent mirror to split light between a DSLR-style AF sensor and the main CMOS imaging sensor. The dedicated AF sensor provides 79 points, with the main sensor adding 399 more, which work together during bursts of up to 12 fps. The downside is that SLT tech reduces the amount of light hitting the sensor by around 1/2-stop.
The a99 II is highly customizable, with plenty of buttons and dials. It has a flip-out, rotating 3" LCD as well as a large OLED electronic viewfinder. The camera has every I/O port imaginable as well as dual SD/Memory Stick Duo slots.
The a99 II's hybrid AF system combines 79 points (15 of which are cross-type) from its dedicated AF sensor with 399 phase-detect points on that 42MP full-frame sensor itself. The result is 79 hybrid cross-type points. Sony claims that the camera can shoot at 12 fps with continuous AF with 'consistent high-precision tracking,' though it was not as reliable as Sony claims. Other issues, such as the inability to see focus points in the viewfinder and the loss of phase detection past F3.5, mean that mirrorless or other DSLRs might be a better choice. The a99 II's battery is rated to 490 shots per charge, which is respectable for a live view-only camera.
The a99 II uses the same 42.2MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor as the a7R II and, aside from a very slight noise penalty at high ISOs, image quality is nearly identical. The a99 II's sensor provides very good Raw dynamic range at high ISOs and JPEGs with smart sharpening and noise reduction. The JPEG engine isn't perfect, though, with green-tinted yellows and slightly cool greens. The a99 II supports 14-bit Raws, though only for single-frame shooting.
The a99 II captures 4K/30p video sampled from the Super 35mm area of the sensor, which is 1.8x larger than 4K, resulting in higher quality footage. It uses the XAVC S codec for bit rates of up to 100Mbps for 4K and 50Mbps for Full HD (which has a top frame rate of 120 fps). The camera supports both S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma for capturing wide dynamic range (up to 14 stops). It has virtually every video capture tool available, from audio levels to time code to zebra patterns, and the a99 II sports both mic and headphone sockets. It can output clean 4:2:2 4K video over its HDMI port. All of that sounds great, but once you put the a99 II into continuous AF, the aperture is locked at F3.5 and manual exposure control is lost, ultimately making it a poor choice for videophiles. (You can get manual exposure control if AF is turned off entirely.)
Overall, the a99 II is a good camera, but its hampered by the SLT technology that's supposed to set it apart from the competition. Photo quality is very good, in-body image stabilization incredibly useful and the 12 fps burst mode is something to behold. The bad news is that autofocus is just so-so, the camera is crippled when using C-AF in movie mode, the menus are confusing and JPEG colors aren't the most pleasing. While owners of A-mount cameras will drooll over it, there are better choices in this class.
Aug 13, 2017
Jun 23, 2017
Jun 16, 2017
Jun 9, 2017
|Patrick Finds Inner Peace by ecastellon|
from Your best photo of the week!
|Forks by Kukla|
from Arranged everyday objects
From landscapes to motocross and white water kayaking to a wedding, exactly what can't the D850 do?
Calumet UK and Wex Photographic, two of the biggest photography retailers in the United Kingdom, are going to officially merge tomorrow.
macOS High Sierra came out today, but if you use a Wacom tablet you need to wait a few weeks before you upgrade. According to Wacom, they won't have a compatible driver ready for you until "late October."
Do you think a $3,000 Canon 80D video rig can compete with an $80,000+ Arri Alexa setup? Well it can't, but check out this video anyway to see how the rigs compare.
Seven simple rules to make sure you get the most out of your next photography outing.
Vitec, the company that owns popular accessory maker Manfrotto, has just acquired JOBY and Lowepro for a cool $10.3 million in cash. The acquisition adds JOBY and Lowepro to Vitec's already sizable collection of camera gear brands.
A master drone pilot has captured one of the most incredible (and highly illegal) drone videos we've ever seen by flying around, inside, onto, and under a moving train.
Intel just debuted their 8th generation desktop CPUs, and the lineup packs a performance boost for 'content creators' that photo and video editors might be intrigued by.
Canon is developing a 'Free Viewpoint Video System' that will turn real life sports games and events into immersive 3D interactive experiences. It's video game-like camera control IRL.
A veteran photojournalist, Rick Wilking secured a spot in the path of totality for the August solar eclipse. While things didn't quite pan out as predicted, an unexpected subject in the sky and a quick reaction made for a once-in-a-lifetime shot.
The new iZugar 3.25mm F2.5 super fisheye lens offers an insane 220-degree angle of view. That means it can basically see behind itself... good luck keeping your feet out of the shot.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll remember that time you took a picture of the frozen pizza baking directions.
A Craigslist poster has discovered the worst possible way to photograph a car: taking pictures of pictures displayed on a cracked and scratched up smartphone screen.
With the iPhone X coming out soon, the title probably won't last, but the iPhone 8 Plus is officially the best smartphone camera DxOMark has ever tested, and the iPhone 8 is second.
Kodak's new Facebook Messenger chatbot is trying to bring back the 'Kodak Moment' by digging up your old social media photos and trying to sell you prints and custom coffee mugs.
Affinity Photo for iPad was touted as "the first full blown, truly professional photo editing tool to make its way onto the Apple tablet." This update makes it that much more convenient.
Yashica has released a new teaser video, and this one claims they'll be releasing an "unprecedented camera" in October on Kickstarter. Ready... set... speculate!
Storage solutions company Synology has just released its very first 6-bay NAS tower. Combined with the DX1215 expansion units, it can hold and control up to thirty drives.
We're always expanding our collection of product overview content, and we've just added videos for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, the EOS Rebel SL2 and EOS M6.
The venerable Canon PowerShot G1 was announced seventeen years ago this week, marking the start of a line of enthusiast-focused compacts that's still alive and kicking.
Super macro photographer Can Tuncer captured these incredible close-ups of a single peacock feather using a special setup and three different microscope lenses.
After successfully crowdfunding the Biotar 75mm F1.5, Oprema Jena is at it again. This time they're bringing back the Biotar 58mm F2: the world's only lens with a 17-blade aperture.
Adobe's move to a subscription model is treating it very well indeed. The company has posted record revenue for the second quarter in a row, hauling in a mind-boggling $1.84 billion.
More details have emerged about the potential sale of Blackstone's 45% stake in iconic camera brand Leica.
Popular mobile editing app Snapseed just got a major update that includes a new interface and 11 new presets for both Android and iOS, as well as adding the Perspective tool to the iOS version.
It might sound like a strange idea, but taking macro photos of boiling water can actually result in some really cool photographs. A good photo experiment for a rainy day.
The database was created to "break with the narrow lens through which history… has been recorded" by equipping those who commission photography with "the resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments.
Lensbaby has released two new optics for their special "optic swap system." The Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic gives you that trademark sweet spot of focus, while the Creative Bokeh optic gives you 9 different drop in aperture plate options to play with.
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.