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Sony A99 vs A99 II

The Sony Alpha SLT-A99 and the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and September 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The A99 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the A99 II provides 42.2 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Sony A99   Sony A99 II
Sony A99 Sony A99 II
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Sony A mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
24 MP, Full Frame Sensor 42.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/60p Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 100-25600 ISO 100-25600
Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots) Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)
3.0" LCD, 1229k dots 3.0" LCD, 1229k dots
Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen) Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)
6 shutter flaps per second 12 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
500 shots per battery charge490 shots per battery charge
147 x 111 x 78 mm, 812 g 143 x 104 x 76 mm, 849 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha SLT-A99 and the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II? 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.

Body comparison: Sony A99 vs A99 II

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A99 and the Sony A99 II is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Sony A99 vs Sony A99 II
Compare A99 versus A99 II top
Comparison A99 or A99 II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A99 II is notably smaller (9 percent) than the Sony A99. However, the A99 II is markedly heavier (5 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 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 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)
Camera
Model
 
Sony A99» 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony A99
 
Sony A99 II« 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
 
Pentax K-3« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299- i Pentax K-3
 
Sony A7 III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
 
Sony A7R III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
 
Sony A9« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
 
Sony A7R II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
 
Sony A7S II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.1 oz 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
 
Sony A77« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 25.8 oz 470 Y Aug 2011 1,399- i Sony A77
 
Sony A850« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Aug 2009 1,999- i Sony A850
 
Sony A900« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Sep 2008 2,999- i Sony A900
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The A99 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 13 percent) than the A99 II, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony A99 vs A99 II

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. 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 A99 II 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 A99 II sensor measures

With 42.2MP, the A99 II offers a higher resolution than the A99 (24MP), but the A99 II has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 5.96μm for the A99). Yet, the A99 II is a much more recent model (by 4 years) than the A99, and its sensor will 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 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 inch or 101 x 67.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 31.8 x 21.2 inch or 80.8 x 53.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 26.5 x 17.7 inch or 67.3 x 44.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A99 are 30 x 20 inch or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24 x 16 inch or 61 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.3 inch or 50.8 x 33.9 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 SLT-A99 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600. The Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II offers exactly the same ISO settings.

A99 versus A99 II 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"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Sony A99» Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589Sony A99
 
Sony A99 II« Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792Sony A99 II
 
Pentax K-3« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680Pentax K-3
 
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096Sony A7 III
 
Sony A7R III« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100Sony A7R III
 
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792Sony A9
 
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498Sony A7R II
 
Sony A7S II« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385Sony A7S II
 
Sony A77« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.280178Sony A77
 
Sony A850« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-23.812.2141579Sony A850
 
Sony A900« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-23.712.3143179Sony A900

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A99 II provides a better video resolution than the A99. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the A99 is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony A99 vs A99 II

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 A99 II offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the A99 (2400k vs 2359k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A99 and Sony A99 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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
Camera
Model
 
Sony A99»2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 6.0 n Y Sony A99
 
Sony A99 II«2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 n Y Sony A99 II
 
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 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
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 and the A99 II 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 A99 only has one slot. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.

 

Connectivity comparison: Sony A99 vs A99 II

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

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Sony A99»YstereomonoYYmini2.0---Sony A99
 
Sony A99 II«YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A99 II
 
Pentax K-3« »YmonomonoYYmini3.0---Pentax K-3
 
Sony A7 III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7 III
 
Sony A7R III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7R III
 
Sony A9« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A9
 
Sony A7R II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R II
 
Sony A7S II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S II
 
Sony A77« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony A77
 
Sony A850« »Y----mini2.0---Sony A850
 
Sony A900« »Y----mini2.0---Sony A900

It is notable that the A99 II offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the A99 does not offer wifi capability.

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

The A99 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the A99 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A99 was succeeded by the Sony A99 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.


Review summary: Sony A99 vs A99 II

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A99 or the Sony A99 II – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A99:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.6 EV of extra DR).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (13 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2012).


Advantages of the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 24MP), which boosts linear resolution by 33%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.71x).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the A99 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A99 II is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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.

A99 04:12 A99 II

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony A99 and the Sony A99 II place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A99 or the A99 II. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews: Sony A99 vs A99 II

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Sony A99»-84/1004.5/5o4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony A99
 
Sony A99 II«-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
 
Pentax K-3« »-83/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i Pentax K-3
 
Sony A7 III« »+ +89/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
 
Sony A7R III« »+ +90/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
 
Sony A9« »+ +89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
 
Sony A7R II« »+ +90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
 
Sony A7S II« »+-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
 
Sony A77« »91/10081/100-4.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,399- i Sony A77
 
Sony A850« »-75/100-4/54.5/5 Aug 2009 1,999- i Sony A850
 
Sony A900« »+ ++ +4.5/54/55/5 Sep 2008 2,999- i Sony A900
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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.

Sony A99:
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Sony A99 II:
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Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, 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: Sony A99 vs Sony A99 II

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Sony A99 Sony A99 II
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Sony A mount lenses Sony A mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2012 September 2016
    Launch Price USD 2799 USD 3199
    Sensor Specs Sony A99 Sony A99 II
    Sensor Technology CMOS BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.8 x 23.8 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 852.04 mm2 861.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 24 Megapixels 42.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6000 x 4000 pixels 7952 x 5304 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.96 μm 4.52 μm
    Pixel Density 2.82 MP/cm2 4.90 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/60p Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100-25600 ISO 100-25600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50-25600 ISO 50-25600 ISO
    Image Processor BIONZ X BIONZ X
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 89 92
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 25.0 25.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 14.0 13.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1555 2317
    Screen Specs Sony A99 Sony A99 II
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.71x 0.78x
    Viewfinder Resolution 2359k dots 2400k dots
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 1229k dots 1229k dots
    LCD Attachment Fully flexible screen Fully flexible screen
    Shooting Specs Sony A99 Sony A99 II
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000/s 1/8000/s
    Continuous Shooting 6 shutter flaps/s 12 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy200 000 actuations300 000 actuations
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium MS or SDXC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    UHS card support UHS-I UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Sony A99 Sony A99 II
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication no NFC NFC built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Geotagging GPS built-in
    Body Specs Sony A99 Sony A99 II
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NP-FM500H power pack NP-FM500H power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)500 shots per charge490 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 147 x 111 x 78 mm
    (5.8 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
    143 x 104 x 76 mm
    (5.6 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 812 g (28.6 oz) 849 g (29.9 oz)

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