Sony A99 II vs NEX-5R
The Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II and the Sony Alpha NEX-5R are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2016 and August 2012. The A99 II is a DSLR, while the NEX-5R is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (A99 II) and an APS-C (NEX-5R) sensor. The A99 II has a resolution of 42.2 megapixels, whereas the NEX-5R provides 16 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Sony A99 II||Sony NEX-5R|
|Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Sony A mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|42.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor||16 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|4K/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 100-25,600||ISO 100-25,600|
|Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)||Viewfinder optional|
|3.0 LCD, 1229k dots||3.0 LCD, 920k dots|
|Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)||Tilting touchscreen|
|12 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|490 shots per battery charge||330 shots per battery charge|
|143 x 104 x 76 mm, 849 g||111 x 59 x 39 mm, 276 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II and the Sony Alpha NEX-5R? 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 Sony A99 II and the Sony NEX-5R 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.
The NEX-5R can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A99 II is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-5R is considerably smaller (56 percent) than the Sony A99 II. Moreover, the NEX-5R is substantially lighter (67 percent) than the A99 II. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A99 II is splash and dust resistant, while the NEX-5R 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 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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Sony A99 II||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony NEX-5R||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.7 oz||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|Canon 5DS R||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Nikon D850||5.7 in||4.9 in||3.1 in||35.5 oz||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Panasonic S1R||5.9 in||4.3 in||3.8 in||35.8 oz||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|Pentax K-1||5.4 in||4.3 in||3.4 in||35.6 oz||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799|
|Ricoh GR||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||8.6 oz||290||n||Apr 2013||799|
|Sony A7R III||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7S II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony NEX-3N||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony NEX-5T||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.7 oz||330||n||Aug 2013||699|
|Sony A99||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Sony NEX-5N||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-3||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599|
|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.
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 NEX-5R was launched at a markedly lower price (by 77 percent) than the A99 II, 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.
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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A99 II features a full frame sensor and the Sony NEX-5R an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-5R is 58 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 42.2MP, the A99 II offers a higher resolution than the NEX-5R (16MP), but the A99 II has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 4.78μm for the NEX-5R). However, the A99 II is a much more recent model (by 4 years) than the NEX-5R, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. 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.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A99 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A99 II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 39.8 x 26.5 inches or 101 x 67.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 31.8 x 21.2 inches or 80.8 x 53.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 26.5 x 17.7 inches or 67.3 x 44.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony NEX-5R are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A99 II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5R are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 review, the A99 II provides substantially higher image quality than the NEX-5R, with an overall score that is 14 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.7 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 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 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|Pentax K-1||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96|
|Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|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 II provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-5R. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the NEX-5R is limited to 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A99 II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-5R relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-5R can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1S. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A99 II and Sony NEX-5R in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the A99 II, but is missing on the NEX-5R is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the A99 II and the NEX-5R write their files to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A99 II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the NEX-5R only has one slot. The A99 II supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the NEX-5R 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 Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II and Sony Alpha NEX-5R and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A99 II has a microphone port, which is missing on the NEX-5R. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A99 II (unlike the NEX-5R) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The A99 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the NEX-5R has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the NEX-5R was succeeded by the Sony NEX-5T. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A99 II and the Sony NEX-5R? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (42.2 vs 16MP) with a 62% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.7 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- 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.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control 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.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (490 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the NEX-5R launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-5R:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 143x104mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 573g or 67 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (77 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2012).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A99 II is the clear winner of the match-up (24 : 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 Sony A99 II and the Sony NEX-5R place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the A99 II and the NEX-5R 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
|Sony A99 II||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony NEX-5R||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|Canon 5DS R||+||83/100||5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|Nikon D850||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|Panasonic S1R||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|Pentax K-1||..||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||1,799|
|Ricoh GR||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||799|
|Sony A7R III||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7S II||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony NEX-3N||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony NEX-5T||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Aug 2013||699|
|Sony A99||..||84/100||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Sony NEX-5N||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-3||..||70/100||4.5/5||5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|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.|
The review scores listed above should be treated 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. 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 90D vs Sony NEX-5R
- Canon SX610 vs Sony NEX-5R
- Fujifilm X-E2 vs Sony NEX-5R
- Leica C-LUX vs Sony NEX-5R
- Nikon D2X vs Sony A99 II
- Nikon D40 vs Sony NEX-5R
- Olympus E-520 vs Sony A99 II
- Olympus E-620 vs Sony A99 II
- Panasonic LX10 vs Sony A99 II
- Panasonic LX100 II vs Sony NEX-5R
- Ricoh WG-6 vs Sony NEX-5R
- Samsung NX1 vs Sony NEX-5R
Specifications: Sony A99 II vs Sony NEX-5R
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||Sony A99 II||Sony NEX-5R|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony A mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2016||August 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 3,199||USD 749|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A99 II||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||42.2 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7952 x 5304 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.52 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.90 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||92||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.4||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.4||13.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2317||910|
|Screen Specs||Sony A99 II||Sony NEX-5R|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1229k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fully flexible screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A99 II||Sony NEX-5R|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||12 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A99 II||Sony NEX-5R|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Sony A99 II||Sony NEX-5R|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||490 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
143 x 104 x 76 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
111 x 59 x 39 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||849 g (29.9 oz)||276 g (9.7 oz)|
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