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.
Is the Sony A99 a good camera? The A99 has a Camera Elo of 2011. This rating puts the A99 among the top 30 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 3.5-star performance rating.
|Digital single lens reflex|
|Sony A mount lenses|
|24 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)|
|3.0" LCD, 1229k dots|
|Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)|
|6 shutter flaps per second|
|500 shots per battery charge|
|147 x 111 x 78 mm, 812 g|
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.
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.
|Sony A99||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799||-||Sony A99|
|Pentax K-3« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299||-||Pentax K-3|
|Sony A7 III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A9« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7R II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199||-||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7S II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A77« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||25.8 oz||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399||-||Sony A77|
|Sony A850« »||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999||-||Sony A850|
|Sony A900« »||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999||-||Sony A900|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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.
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.
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.
|Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89||Sony A99|
|Pentax K-3« »||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.7||13.4||1216||80||Pentax K-3|
|Sony A7 III« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A9« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7R II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7S II« »||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A77« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.2||801||78||Sony A77|
|Sony A850« »||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||23.8||12.2||1415||79||Sony A850|
|Sony A900« »||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||23.7||12.3||1431||79||Sony A900|
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.
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.
|Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||Y||Sony A99|
|Pentax K-3« »||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||Y||Y||Pentax K-3|
|Sony A7 III« »||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A9« »||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||Y||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7R II« »||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7S II« »||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A77« »||2359||Y||3.0||921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y||Sony A77|
|Sony A850« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||Y||Sony A850|
|Sony A900« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A900|
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.
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.
|Sony A99||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A99|
|Pentax K-3« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Pentax K-3|
|Sony A7 III« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A9« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7R II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7S II« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A77« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A77|
|Sony A850« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A850|
|Sony A900« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A900|
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.
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).
|Sony A99||-||84/100||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799||-||Sony A99|
|Pentax K-3« »||-||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299||-||Pentax K-3|
|Sony A7 III« »||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999||Sony A7 III|
|Sony A7R III« »||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A9« »||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499||Sony A9|
|Sony A99 II« »||-||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199||Sony A99 II|
|Sony A7R II« »||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199||-||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7S II« »||+||-||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999||Sony A7S II|
|Sony A77« »||91/100||81/100||-||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399||-||Sony A77|
|Sony A850« »||-||75/100||-||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999||-||Sony A850|
|Sony A900« »||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999||-||Sony A900|
|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.
|Camera Model||Sony A99|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 2799|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.8 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||852.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.96 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.82 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-25600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50-25600 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|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fully flexible screen|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations|
|Silent Shooting||no E-Shutter|
|Time Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-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|
|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|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Type||NP-FM500H power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge|
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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