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Sony A9 versus Sony A99 II

The Sony Alpha A9 and the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2017 and September 2016. The A9 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the A99 II is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The A9 has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the A99 II provides 42.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Sony A9 vs Sony A99 II

The physical size and weight of the Sony A9 and the Sony A99 II are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 A9 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony A9 vs Sony A99 II
Compare A9 versus A99 II top
Compare A9 and A99 II rear

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 (22 percent) than the Sony A9. Moreover, the A99 II is markedly heavier (26 percent) than the A9. 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.

Concerning battery life, the A9 gets 650 shots out of its NP-FZ100 battery, while the A99 II can take 490 images on a single charge of its NP-FM500H power pack.

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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony A9» 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A99 II« 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Olympus E-M1 II« » 5.3 in 3.6 in 2.6 in 20.2 oz 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Panasonic GH5« » 5.5 in 3.9 in 3.4 in 25.6 oz 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i i
Pentax K-1« » 5.4 in 4.3 in 3.4 in 35.6 oz 760 Y Feb 2016 1,799- i
Sony A7 III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A7R III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199 i i
Sony A6500« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Sony A7R II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7S II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.1 oz 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A99« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799- i
Sony A77« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 25.8 oz 470 Y Aug 2011 1,999- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A99 II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 29 percent) than the A9, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony A9 vs Sony A99 II

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 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. The sensor area in the A99 II is 2 percent bigger. 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.

Sony A9 and Sony A99 II sensor measures

With 42.2MP, the A99 II offers a higher resolution than the A9 (24MP), but the A99 II has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 5.94μm for the A9). It is noteworthy in this context that the A9 is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the A99 II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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.

A9 versus A99 II MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A9» Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
Sony A99 II« Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
Panasonic GH5« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777
Pentax K-1« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60i25.414.6328096
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096
Sony A7R III« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100
Sony A6500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498
Sony A7S II« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
Sony A99« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589
Sony A77« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.280178

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

 

Feature comparison: Sony A9 vs Sony A99 II

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A9 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A99 II (3686k vs 2400k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A9 and Sony A99 II along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony A9»3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 20.0 n Y
Sony A99 II«2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y
Panasonic GH5« »3680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 8000 12.0 n Y
Pentax K-1« »optical Y 3.2 1037 full-flex n 8000 4.4 n Y
Sony A7 III« »2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Sony A7R III« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Sony A6500« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 11.0 Y Y
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7S II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A99« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 6.0 n Y
Sony A77« »2359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 8000 12.0 Y Y

Both the A9 and the A99 II are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. Neither of the two has a direct predecessor, so perhaps they will constitute the origins of new camera lines for Sony.

Review summary: Sony A9 vs Sony A99 II

So what is the bottom line? Is the Sony A9 better than the Sony A99 II or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Sony Alpha A9:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3686k vs 2400k dots).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 1229k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 12 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x96mm vs 143x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 176g or 21 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (650 versus 490) on a single battery charge.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 6 months after the A99 II).


Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 24MP), which boosts linear resolution by 33%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • More flexible LCD: Has full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (29 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2016).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A9 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 6 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.

A9 11:06 A99 II

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A9 and the A99 II in practical situations. 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 table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony A9»HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A99 II«-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Panasonic GH5« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i i
Pentax K-1« »-84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2016 1,799- i
Sony A7 III« »HiRec89/1005/5-5/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A7R III« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199 i i
Sony A6500« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7S II« »Rec-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A99« »-84/1004.5/5rev4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i
Sony A77« »91/10081/100-4.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,999- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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