Canon T1i vs Sony A99
The Canon EOS Rebel T1i (called Canon 500D in some regions) and the Sony Alpha SLT-A99 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in March 2009 and September 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (T1i) and a full frame (A99) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 15.1 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.
|Canon T1i||Sony A99|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|15.1 MP, APS-C Sensor||24 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|1080/20p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 12,800)||ISO 100-25,600|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)|
|3.0 LCD, 920k dots||3.0 LCD, 1229k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)|
|3.4 shutter flaps per second||6 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|400 shots per battery charge||500 shots per battery charge|
|129 x 98 x 62 mm, 520 g||147 x 111 x 78 mm, 812 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel T1i 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 T1i and the Sony A99. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. 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 larger (29 percent) than the Canon T1i. Moreover, the A99 is substantially heavier (56 percent) than the T1i. It is noteworthy in this context that the A99 is splash and dust-proof, while the T1i does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Canon T1i||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.3 oz||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|Sony A99||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Canon T100||5.1 in||4.0 in||3.0 in||15.4 oz||500||n||Feb 2018||399|
|Canon T6i||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|Canon T5||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||16.9 oz||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|Canon T5i||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.5 oz||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|Canon T4i||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.3 oz||440||n||Jun 2012||849|
|Canon T3i||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.1 oz||440||n||Feb 2011||599|
|Canon T2i||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|Canon XSi||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.5 oz||500||n||Jan 2008||799|
|Canon XTi||5.0 in||3.3 in||2.6 in||19.6 oz||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|Canon XT||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||19.0 oz||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|Sony A9 II||5.1 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||23.9 oz||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A99 II||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A77||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||25.8 oz||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Sony A850||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Sony A900||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||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.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 T1i was launched at a markedly lower price (by 71 percent) than the A99, which puts it into a different market segment. 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. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon T1i features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A99 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A99 is 157 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 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.
With 24MP, the A99 offers a higher resolution than the T1i (15.1MP), but the A99 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 4.69μm for the T1i) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A99 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 5 months) than the T1i, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A99 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A99 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon T1i are 23.8 x 15.8 inches or 60.4 x 40.2 cm for good quality, 19 x 12.7 inches or 48.3 x 32.2 cm for very good quality, and 15.8 x 10.6 inches or 40.2 x 26.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS Rebel T1i has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. 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.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 offers substantially better image quality than the T1i (overall score 26 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.3 bits higher color depth, 2.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|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. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A99 provides a faster frame rate than the T1i. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/20p.
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 T1i 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 viewfinder in the A99 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the T1i (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A99 has a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.54x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon T1i and Sony A99 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The T1i has one, while the A99 does not. While the built-in flash of the T1i is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.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 T1i does not have a selfie-screen.
The T1i writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the A99 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A99 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the T1i 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 Rebel T1i and Sony Alpha SLT-A99 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the A99 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The T1i lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A99 (unlike the T1i) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
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 T1i and the A99 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The T1i was replaced by the Canon T2i, 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 T1i 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 Rebel T1i:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More compact: Is smaller (129x98mm vs 147x111mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 292g or 36 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (71 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in March 2009).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A99:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 15.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (26 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.5 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.2 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/20p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.54x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 920k 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.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 3.4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (500 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- 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.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 5 months of technical progress since the T1i launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A99 is the clear winner of the contest (24 : 6 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 T1i 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 T1i 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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
|Canon T1i||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|Sony A99||..||84/100||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Canon T100||o||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||399|
|Canon T6i||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|Canon T5||+||..||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|Canon T5i||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|Canon T4i||+ +||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2012||849|
|Canon T3i||o||77/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||599|
|Canon T2i||+ +||77/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|Canon XSi||+ +||+ +||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799|
|Canon XTi||+ +||+ +||o||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|Canon XT||80/100||+ +||o||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|Sony A9 II||..||90/100||5/5||..||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A99 II||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A77||91/100||81/100||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Sony A850||..||75/100||..||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Sony A900||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4/5||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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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
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Specifications: Canon T1i 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 T1i||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 2009||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 799||USD 2,799|
|Sensor Specs||Canon T1i||Sony A99|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.3 x 14.9 mm||35.8 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||332.27 mm2||852.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||26.8 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||15.1 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4752 x 3168 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.69 μm||5.96 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.53 MP/cm2||2.82 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/20p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||63||89|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.7||25.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.5||14.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||1555|
|Screen Specs||Canon T1i||Sony A99|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon T1i||Sony A99|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3.4 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon T1i||Sony A99|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon T1i||Sony A99|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||500 shots per charge|
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
147 x 111 x 78 mm
(5.8 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||520 g (18.3 oz)||812 g (28.6 oz)|
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