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Sony A900 versus Sony A99

The Sony Alpha A900 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A99 are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2008 and September 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The A900 has a resolution of 24.4 megapixel, whereas the A99 provides 24 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 A900 vs Sony A99

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A900 and the Sony A99 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the A900 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony A900 vs Sony A99
Compare A900 versus A99 top
Compare A900 and A99 rear

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 (11 percent) than the Sony A900. Moreover, the A99 is markedly lighter (9 percent) than the A900. 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 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 A900» 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Sep 2008 2,999- i
Sony A99« 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799- i
Canon 5D Mark II« » 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 Y Sep 2008 3,499- i
Pentax K-3« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299- i
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
Sony A6500« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Sony RX10 III« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 5.0 in 37.1 oz 420 Y Mar 2016 1,499- 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 A77« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 25.8 oz 470 Y Aug 2011 1,999- i
Sony A850« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Aug 2009 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 was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the A900 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 A900 vs Sony A99

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. 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. 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.

Sony A900 and Sony A99 sensor measures

With 24.4MP, the A900 offers a slightly higher resolution than the A99 (24MP), but the A900 has marginally smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 5.96μm for the A99). Moreover, the A99 is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 years) than the A900, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

A900 versus A99 MP

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 has a markedly higher DXO score than the A900 (overall score 10 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 1.7 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A900» Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-23.712.3143179
Sony A99« Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589
Canon 5D Mark II« » Full Frame 21.0 5616 37441080/30p23.711.9181579
Pentax K-3« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
Sony A6500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585
Sony RX10 III« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.112.647270
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 A77« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.280178
Sony A850« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-23.812.2141579

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The A99 indeed provides for movie recording, while the A900 does not. The highest resolution format that the A99 can use is 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony A900 vs Sony A99

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A99 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the A900 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A900 and Sony A99 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 A900»optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A99«2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 6.0 n Y
Canon 5D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 3.9 n n
Pentax K-3« »optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 8000 8.3 Y Y
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
Sony A6500« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 11.0 Y Y
Sony RX10 III« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 14.0 Y 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 A77« »2359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 8000 12.0 Y Y
Sony A850« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 3.0 n Y

Both the A900 and the A99 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A900 was replaced by the Sony A99, while the A99 was followed by the Sony A99 II.

Review summary: Sony A900 vs Sony A99

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A900 and the Sony A99? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A900:

  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (880 versus 500) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2008).


Advantages of the Sony Alpha SLT-A99:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.7 EV of extra DR).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p 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 full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (147x111mm vs 156x117mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the A900 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A99 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 3 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 before making a decision on a new camera.

A900 03:10 A99

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A900 or the A99 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available 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 A900»HiRecHiRec4.5/54/55/5 Sep 2008 2,999- i
Sony A99«-84/1004.5/5rev4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i
Canon 5D Mark II« »91/10079/1004/55/5- Sep 2008 3,499- i
Pentax K-3« »-83/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i
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
Sony A6500« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Sony RX10 III« »Rec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2016 1,499- 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 A77« »91/10081/100-4.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,999- i
Sony A850« »-75/100-4/54.5/5 Aug 2009 1,999- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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, 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? 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, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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