Nikon Z7 II vs Sony A99 II
The Nikon Z7 II and the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2020 and September 2016. The Z7 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the A99 II is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 45.4 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 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 Nikon Z7 II and the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II? 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 physical size and weight of the Nikon Z7 II and the Sony A99 II are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures 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 II is notably larger (10 percent) than the Nikon Z7 II. Moreover, the A99 II is markedly heavier (20 percent) than the Z7 II. 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.
Concerning battery life, the Z7 II gets 420 shots out of its EN-EL15c battery, while the A99 II can take 490 images on a single charge of its NP-FM500H power pack. The power pack in the Z7 II can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon Z7 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||420||Y||Oct 2020||2,999|
|2.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|3.||Canon R5||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||738 g||320||Y||Jul 2020||3,899|
|4.||Canon R6||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||680 g||360||Y||Jul 2020||2,499|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Nikon Z5||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||470||Y||Jul 2020||1,399|
|7.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999|
|8.||Nikon Z6||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|9.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|10.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|11.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|12.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|13.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|14.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|15.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|16.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|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 Z7 II was somewhat cheaper (by 6 percent) than the A99 II at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. 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.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with BSI-CMOS (Backside Illuminated Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Nikon Z7 II offers a higher resolution of 45.4 megapixels, compared with 42.2 MP of the Sony A99 II. 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 4.35μm versus 4.52μm for the A99 II). However, it should be noted that the Z7 II is much more recent (by 4 years) than the A99 II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The Nikon Z7 II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 64 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 32-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon Z7 II||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|3.||Canon R5||Full Frame||44.8||8192||5464||8k/30p||25.3||14.6||3042||95|
|4.||Canon R6||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4k/60p||24.2||14.3||3394||90|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|6.||Nikon Z5||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|9.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|10.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|11.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|12.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|13.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|14.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|15.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|16.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
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 Z7 II provides a higher frame rate than the A99 II. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Sony is limited to 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the Z7 II offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A99 II (3690k vs 2400k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon Z7 II, the Sony A99 II, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon Z7 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|2.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|7.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|13.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The Z7 II has a touchscreen, while the A99 II has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The A99 II 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 Z7 II does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the Z7 II is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Nikon Z7 II has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The Z7 II writes its imaging data to CFexpress or SDXC cards, while the A99 II 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 Z7 II supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the A99 II can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 Nikon Z7 II and Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Nikon Z7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|2.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|11.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|12.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|13.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A99 II (unlike the Z7 II) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the Z7 II and the A99 II are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The Z7 II replaced the earlier Nikon Z7, while the A99 II does not have a direct predecessor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon Z7 II better than the Sony A99 II or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon Z7 II:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/60p versus 4K/30p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3690k vs 2400k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.80x vs 0.78x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 1229k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 144g or 17 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 2.0).
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the A99 II launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II:
- 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 burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (490 versus 420) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2016).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Z7 II is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 7 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. 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 Nikon Z7 II and the Sony A99 II place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the Z7 II or the A99 II perform in practice. 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 expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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.||Nikon Z7 II||4.5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||2,999|
|2.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|3.||Canon R5||4.5/5||..||91/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2020||3,899|
|4.||Canon R6||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||2,499|
|5.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Nikon Z5||4/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jul 2020||1,399|
|7.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999|
|8.||Nikon Z6||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|9.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|10.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|11.||Sony A7S III||..||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499|
|12.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|13.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|14.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|15.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|16.||Sony A99||5/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Nikon Z7 II vs Sony A99 II
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||Nikon Z7 II||Sony A99 II|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon Z mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2020||September 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 2,999||USD 3,199|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon Z7 II||Sony A99 II|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 23.9 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||858.01 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.1 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||45.4 Megapixels||42.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||8256 x 5504 pixels||7952 x 5304 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.35 μm||4.52 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.30 MP/cm2||4.90 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||64 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||32 - 102,400 ISO||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||DUAL EXPEED 6||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||92|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||25.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||2317|
|Screen Specs||Nikon Z7 II||Sony A99 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3690k dots||2400k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon Z7 II||Sony A99 II|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||300 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/8000s||no E-Shutter|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CFexpress or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon Z7 II||Sony A99 II|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.2||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon Z7 II||Sony A99 II|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||420 shots per charge||490 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
134 x 101 x 70 mm
(5.3 x 4.0 x 2.8 in)
143 x 104 x 76 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||705 g (24.9 oz)||849 g (29.9 oz)|
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