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Sony A99 versus Sony A7R

The Sony Alpha SLT-A99 and the Sony Alpha A7R are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2012 and October 2013. The A99 is a DSLR, while the A7R is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The A99 has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the A7R provides 36.2 MP.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A99 and the Sony A7R. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. 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 A99 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Sony A99 vs Sony A7R front
A99 versus A7R top view
A99 and A7R rear side
Body view (A99 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7R is notably smaller (27 percent) than the Sony A99. Moreover, the A7R is substantially lighter (43 percent) than the A99. 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 comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A99 (⇒ rgt) 147 mm 111 mm 78 mm 812 g 500 YES 2012 2,799discont. check
Sony A7R (⇒ lft) 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 465 g 340 YES 2013 2,299discont. check
Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt) 141 mm 113 mm 78 mm 750 g 1230 YES 2014 2,299 latest check
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 YES 2013 1,999 latest check
Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 131 mm 100 mm 77 mm 800 g 560 YES 2013 1,299discont. check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 YES 2017 4,499 latest check
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 143 mm 104 mm 76 mm 849 g 490 YES 2016 3,199 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 YES 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 YES 2014 1,999 latest check
Sony A7S (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 489 g 380 YES 2014 2,499discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 474 g 340 YES 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt) 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 732 g 470 YES 2011 1,999discont. check
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 117 mm 82 mm 895 g 880 YES 2009 1,999discont. check
Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 117 mm 82 mm 895 g 880 YES 2008 2,999discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A7R was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 18 percent) than the A99, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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

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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A7R is 1 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 A99 and Sony A7R sensor measures
Sensor size

With 36.2MP, the A7R offers a higher resolution than the A99 (24MP), but the A7R has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 5.96μm for the A99). Yet, the A7R is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the A99, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A7R has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

A99 versus A7R MP
Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the A7R has a markedly higher DXO score than the A99 (overall score 6 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 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.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A99 (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 25.0 14.0 1555 89
Sony A7R (⇒ lft) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/60p 25.6 14.1 2746 95
Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.2 6016 4016 1080/60p 24.8 14.5 2956 93
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.2 6016 4016 1080/30p 25.1 14.4 2925 94
Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.1 6016 4000 1080/60i 23.7 13.4 1216 80
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 4K/30p 24.9 13.3 3517 92
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 25.4 13.4 2317 92
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 26.0 13.9 3434 98
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.9 13.6 2449 90
Sony A7S (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.0 4240 2832 1080/60p 23.9 13.2 3702 87
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 14.2 2248 90
Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24 13.2 801 78
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032 no 23.8 12.2 1415 79
Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032 no 23.7 12.3 1431 79

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60p).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A7R offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the A99 (2400k vs 2359k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A99, the Sony A7R, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony A99 (⇒ rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 1229 full-flex no 8000 6.0 no YES
Sony A7R (⇒ lft) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 4.0 no no
Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 tilting no 4000 6.0 12 no
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 4000 6.0 12 no
Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1037 fixed no 8000 8.3 13 YES
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 3686 no 3.0 1440 tilting YES 8000 20.0 no YES
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 12.0 no YES
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony A7S (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 921 tilting no 8000 5.0 no no
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no no
Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2359 YES 3.0 921 full-flex no 8000 12.0 12 YES
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 8000 3.0 no YES
Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 8000 5.0 no YES

Both the A99 and the A7R have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The A99 was replaced by the Sony A99 II, while the A7R was followed by the Sony A7R II.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A99 and the Sony A99? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha SLT-A99:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • More flexible LCD: Has full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 340) on a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2012).

Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 24MP), which boosts linear resolution by 23%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 147x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 347g or 43 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (18 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 1 month) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R emerges as the winner of the match-up (9 : 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.

A99 07:09 A7R

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A99 or the A7R 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. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Sony A99 (⇒ rgt) - 84/100 Gold 4.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2012 2,799discont. check
Sony A7R (⇒ lft) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2013 2,299discont. check
Nikon D750 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 90/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2014 2,299 latest check
Nikon D610 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 87/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,999 latest check
Pentax K-3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 83/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,299discont. check
Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt) .. 89/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 4,499 latest check
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) - 85/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 3,199 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 90/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 1,999 latest check
Sony A7S (⇒ lft | rgt) - 86/100 Gold 4.5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2014 2,499discont. check
Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 80/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2013 1,699discont. check
Sony A77 (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 81/100 Silver - 4.5/5 5/5 2011 1,999discont. check
Sony A850 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 75/100 - 4/5 4.5/5 2009 1,999discont. check
Sony A900 (⇒ lft | rgt) 90/100 HiRec HiRec 4.5/5 4/5 5/5 2008 2,999discont. check

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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 comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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