Canon 5D Mark III vs Sony A99
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Sony Alpha SLT-A99 are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in March 2012 and September 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 22.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Sony Alpha SLT-A99? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark III and the Sony A99. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A99 is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark III. Moreover, the A99 is markedly lighter (15 percent) than the 5D Mark III. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|2.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|4.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|8.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|9.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|10.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|11.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|12.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|13.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|14.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|15.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|16.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|17.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The A99 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the 5D Mark III, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A99 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the A99 offers a slightly higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 22.1 MP of the 5D Mark III. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 6.25μm for the 5D Mark III). However, it should be noted that the A99 is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the 5D Mark III, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha SLT-A99 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A99 has a markedly higher DXO score than the 5D Mark III (overall score 8 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|2.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|4.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|6.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|8.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
|9.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|10.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|11.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|12.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|13.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|16.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|17.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A99 provides a faster frame rate than the 5D Mark III. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A99 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the 5D Mark III has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), as well as the same magnification (0.71x). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 5D Mark III and Sony A99 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|2.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|4.||Canon 5DS||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|6.||Canon 6D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||n||n|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|8.||Canon 5D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n|
|9.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D600||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D800||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D800E||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||Y||n|
|13.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A850||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A900||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the A99 and the 5D Mark III is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A99 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the 5D Mark III offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The A99 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the 5D Mark III does not have a selfie-screen.
The 5D Mark III writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the A99 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. The A99 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the 5D Mark III cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Sony Alpha SLT-A99 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon 5DS||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 6D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 5D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D600||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D800||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D800E||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony A850||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony A900||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the A99 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the 5D Mark III and the A99 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 5D Mark III was replaced by the Canon 5D Mark IV, while the A99 was followed by the Sony A99 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is the Canon 5D Mark III better than the Sony A99 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III:
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (950 versus 500) on a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2012).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A99:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1040k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 138g or 15 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (6 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A99 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 5D Mark III and the Sony A99 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 5D Mark III or the A99. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|2.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|3.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||4/5||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|4.||Canon 5DS||..||+||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|7.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||..||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|8.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||..||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|9.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|10.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|11.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|12.||Nikon D800E||..||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|13.||Sony A9 II||..||..||5/5||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|14.||Sony A99 II||..||..||4.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|15.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|16.||Sony A850||3/5||..||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|17.||Sony A900||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Canon R5
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Fujifilm X-T20
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Olympus E-P5
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Sony A900
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Sony NEX-6
- Canon 5D Mark III vs Sony RX100
- Epson R-D1 vs Sony A99
- Nikon B700 vs Sony A99
- Nikon D780 vs Sony A99
- Olympus E-1 vs Sony A99
- Sony A99 vs Sony NEX-F3
Specifications: Canon 5D Mark III vs Sony A99
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 5D Mark III||Sony A99|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||March 2012||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 3,499||USD 2,799|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Sony A99|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||35.8 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||852.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||22.1 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5760 x 3840 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.25 μm||5.96 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.56 MP/cm2||2.82 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5+||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||81||89|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.0||25.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||14.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2293||1555|
|Screen Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Sony A99|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Sony A99|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Sony A99|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 5D Mark III||Sony A99|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||950 shots per charge||500 shots per charge|
152 x 116 x 76 mm
(6.0 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
147 x 111 x 78 mm
(5.8 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||950 g (33.5 oz)||812 g (28.6 oz)|
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