Sony A850 versus Sony A99 II
The Sony Alpha A850 and the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2009 and September 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The A850 has a resolution of 24.4 megapixel, whereas the A99 II provides 42.2 MP.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A850 and the Sony A99 II. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the A850 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
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 smaller (19 percent) than the Sony A850. Moreover, the A99 II is markedly lighter (5 percent) than the A850. 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 the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Sony A850 (⇒ rgt)||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||YES||2009||1,999||discont.||check|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft)||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||YES||2016||3,199||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||YES||2017||1,999||latest||check|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||760||YES||2016||1,799||latest||check|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||YES||2017||4,499||latest||check|
|Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||YES||2017||3,199||latest||check|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||YES||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||YES||2015||3,199||discont.||check|
|Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||YES||2015||2,999||latest||check|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||YES||2014||1,999||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||YES||2013||1,699||discont.||check|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||YES||2012||2,799||discont.||check|
|Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt)||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||YES||2011||1,999||discont.||check|
|Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||YES||2008||2,999||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A850 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the A99 II, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the A99 II offers a higher resolution of 42.2 megapixel, compared with 24.4 MP of the A850. This megapixel advantage translates into a 31 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the A99 II has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 5.94μm for the A850). However, it should be noted that the A99 II is much more recent (by 7 years) than the A850, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A99 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the A99 II offers substantially better image quality than the A850 (overall score 13 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Sony A850 (⇒ rgt)||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||no||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft)||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.5||13.7||1405||85|
|Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24||13.2||801||78|
|Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||no||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The A99 II indeed provides for movie recording, while the A850 does not. The highest resolution format that the A99 II can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A99 II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), while the A850 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A850 and Sony A99 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Sony A850 (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||3.0||no||YES|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft)||2400||YES||3.0||1229||full-flex||no||8000||12.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||18.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3680||no||3.2||1620||swivel||YES||8000||12.0||no||YES|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||1037||full-flex||no||8000||4.4||no||YES|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3686||no||3.0||1440||tilting||YES||8000||20.0||no||YES|
|Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt)||3686||no||3.0||1440||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||YES||4000||11.0||6||YES|
|Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1229||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||YES|
|Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1229||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||YES|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||YES|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||YES||3.0||1229||full-flex||no||8000||6.0||no||YES|
|Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||YES||3.0||921||full-flex||no||8000||12.0||12||YES|
|Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||5.0||no||YES|
The A99 II is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A850 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the A850 from Sony.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Sony A850 better than the Sony A99 II or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A850:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (880 versus 490) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2009).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 24.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 32%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (143x104mm vs 156x117mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- More modern: Reflects 7 years of technical progress since the A850 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A99 II is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 5 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A850 or the A99 II handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Sony A850 (⇒ rgt)||-||75/100||-||4/5||4.5/5||2009||1,999||discont.||check|
|Sony A99 II (⇒ lft)||-||85/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||3,199||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||1,999||latest||check|
|Pentax K-1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||84/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2016||1,799||latest||check|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||..||89/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||4,499||latest||check|
|Sony A7R III (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||90/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||3,199||latest||check|
|Sony A6500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||90/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||3,199||discont.||check|
|Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||-||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2015||2,999||latest||check|
|Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2014||1,999||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||80/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||1,699||discont.||check|
|Sony A99 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2012||2,799||discont.||check|
|Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt)||91/100||81/100 Silver||-||4.5/5||5/5||2011||1,999||discont.||check|
|Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt)||90/100 HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||5/5||2008||2,999||discont.||check|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.
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