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Sony A99 Comparison Review

The Sony Alpha SLT-A99 is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was revealed to the public in September 2012 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 24 megapixel.

camera

Is the Sony A99 a good camera? The A99 has a Camera Elo of 1722. This rating puts the A99 among the top 40 percent of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the A99 ranks below average. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 3-star performance rating.

Headline Specifications
Sony A99
Digital single lens reflex
Sony A mount lenses
24 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/60p Video
ISO 100 - 25 600
Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)
3.0 LCD, 1229k dots
Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)
6 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilization
Weathersealed body
500 shots per battery charge
147 x 111 x 78 mm, 812 g


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Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Sony A99 vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Sony A99 vs credit card front
A99 versus credit card top view
A99 and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Sony A99 alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side 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.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Sony A99 147 mm 111 mm 78 mm 812 g 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Panasonic GH5 139 mm 98 mm 87 mm 725 g 410 Y Jan 2017 1,999 i
 
Pentax K-3 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299i
 
Sony A9 II 129 mm 96 mm 76 mm 678 g 690 Y Oct 2019 4,499 i
 
Sony A9 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499i
 
Sony A99 II 143 mm 104 mm 76 mm 849 g 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i
 
Sony A7R II 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199i
 
Sony A7 II 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999i
 
Sony A77 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 732 g 470 Y Aug 2011 1,399i
 
Sony A850 156 mm 117 mm 82 mm 895 g 880 Y Aug 2009 1,999i
 
Sony A900 156 mm 117 mm 82 mm 895 g 880 Y Sep 2008 2,999i
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 listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Sony A99 was launched in the US market at a price of $2,799. 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.

Sony A99:
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Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

The Sony A99 features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Sony A99 among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.

Sony A99 sensor measures

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Sony A99 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589
 
Panasonic GH5 Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/60p23.913.080777
 
Pentax K-3 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680
 
Sony A9 II Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.0343493
 
Sony A9 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
 
Sony A99 II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
 
Sony A7R II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498
 
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 4032none23.812.2141579
 
Sony A900 Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none23.712.3143179

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The A99 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the A99 can use is 1080/60p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A99 has an electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 2359k dots. The viewfinder offers a field of view of 100% and a magnification of 0.71x. The tables below summarize some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A99 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Sony A992359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 6.0 n Y
 
Panasonic GH53680 n 3.2 1620 swivel Y 1/8000s 12.0 n Y
 
Pentax K-3optical Y 3.2 1037 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 Y Y
 
Sony A9 II3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
 
Sony A93686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 20.0 n Y
 
Sony A99 II2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 n Y
 
Sony A7R II2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y
 
Sony A7 II2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y
 
Sony A772359 Y 3.0 921 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 Y Y
 
Sony A850optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n Y
 
Sony A900optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n Y

One useful feature of the A99 is a presence of 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.

Connection comparison

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 SLT-A99 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Sony A99YstereomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Panasonic GH5YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
 
Pentax K-3YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Sony A9 IIYstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYY
 
Sony A9YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYY
 
Sony A99 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYY
 
Sony A7R IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
 
Sony A7 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-
 
Sony A77YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Sony A850Y----mini2.0---
 
Sony A900Y----mini2.0---

It is notable that the A99 has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

Expert reviews

While the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A99 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Sony A99..84/1004.5/5o4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Panasonic GH5+ +85/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2017 1,999 i
 
Pentax K-3..83/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299i
 
Sony A9 II....5/5..5/5 Oct 2019 4,499 i
 
Sony A9+ +89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499i
 
Sony A99 II..85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i
 
Sony A7R II+ +90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199i
 
Sony A7 II+82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999i
 
Sony A7791/10081/100..4.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,399i
 
Sony A850..75/100..4/54.5/5 Aug 2009 1,999i
 
Sony A900+ ++ +4.5/54/55/5 Sep 2008 2,999i
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Sony A99 FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the A99.

What technology is the imaging sensor in the A99 based on?

The camera features a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Sony equipped the A99 with the BIONZ X image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the A99?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600.

Does the camera have a selfie-friendly screen?

Yes, the LCD-screen of the A99 is flexible and can be turned to be front-facing for capturing selfies.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Sony Alpha SLT-A99?

Sony mentions a shutter rating of 200 000 actuations for the A99. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the A99 over, say, three years, one would have to take about 200 pictures each and every day.

How do I find the shutter count on my Sony A99?

Sony embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your A99 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the online shutter count app.

Is it difficult to use manual focus lenses with the Sony A99?

The A99 offers focus peaking as a manual focus aid. This feature works by placing a colored highlight on in-focus zones within the image.

Does the Sony A99 feature an autofocus assist light?

Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The A99's flash sync speed is 1/250 sec.

Does the Sony A99 support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?

Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-I cards (data transfer speed of up to 104 MB/s).

Which battery does the A99 use?

The camera gets its power from the NP-FM500H (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Is there a vertical grip available for the A99?

Yes, Sony offers the VG-C99AM as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.

Does the Sony Alpha SLT-A99 support geotagging?

The A99 has a built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) module and can embed location information in the EXIF data of the captured image.

Camera to camera comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how this camera compares to another one, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Sony A99
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Sony A mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2012
    Launch Price USD 2 799
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.8 x 23.8 mm
    Sensor Area 852 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6 000 x 4 000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.96 μm
    Pixel Density 2.82 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 25 600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 25 600 ISO
    Image Processor BIONZ X
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 89
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 25.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 14.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1555
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x
    Viewfinder Resolution 2359k dots
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    LCD Size 1229k dots
    LCD Attachment Fully flexible screen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peaking
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy200 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Geotagging GPS built-in
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NP-FM500H power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 147 x 111 x 78 mm
    (5.8 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 812 g (28.6 oz)

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