Sony A99 vs RX100
The Sony Alpha SLT-A99 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and June 2012. The A99 is a DSLR, while the RX100 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (A99) and an one-inch (RX100) sensor. The A99 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the RX100 provides 20 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Sony A99||Sony RX100|
|Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Sony A mount lenses||28-100mm f/1.8-4.9|
|24 MP, Full Frame Sensor||20 MP, 1" Sensor|
|1080/60p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO 100-25,600||ISO 100-6,400 (100 - 25,600)|
|Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)||No viewfinder, LCD framing|
|3.0 LCD, 1229k dots||3.0 LCD, 1229k dots|
|Fully flexible screen (no touchscreen)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|6 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||Lens-based stabilization|
|Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|500 shots per battery charge||330 shots per battery charge|
|147 x 111 x 78 mm, 812 g||102 x 58 x 36 mm, 240 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha SLT-A99 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A99 and the Sony RX100. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX100 is considerably smaller (64 percent) than the Sony A99. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A99 is splash and dust resistant, while the RX100 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 has a lens built in, whereas the A99 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
Concerning battery life, the A99 gets 500 shots out of its NP-FM500H battery, while the RX100 can take 330 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the RX100 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Sony RX100||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||240 g||330||n||Jun 2012||649|
|Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A5100||110 mm||63 mm||36 mm||283 g||400||n||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony RX100 III||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||290 g||320||n||May 2014||799|
|Sony RX100 II||102 mm||58 mm||38 mm||281 g||350||n||Jun 2013||749|
|Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||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.
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 RX100 was launched at a lower price than the A99, despite having a lens built in. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A99 features a full frame sensor and the Sony RX100 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX100 is 86 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24MP, the A99 offers a higher resolution than the RX100 (20MP), but the A99 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 2.41μm for the RX100) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A99 is a somewhat more recent model (by 3 months) than the RX100, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A99 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A99 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony RX100 are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
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 corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many 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 review, the A99 provides substantially higher image quality than the RX100, with an overall score that is 23 points higher. This advantage is based on 2.4 bits higher color depth, 1.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2 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||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony RX100 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67|
|Sony RX100 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.5||12.4||483||67|
|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 can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60p).
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A99 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the RX100 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A99 and Sony RX100 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony RX100 III||1440||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
|Sony RX100 II||optional||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y|
One feature that is present on the A99, but is missing on the RX100 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.The A99 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the RX100 does not have a selfie-screen.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the A99 and the RX100 write their files to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A99 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the RX100 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 SLT-A99 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX100 III||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX100 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A99 has a hotshoe, while the RX100 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A99 (unlike the RX100) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the A99 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the A99 and the RX100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The RX100 was replaced by the Sony RX100 II, while the A99 was followed 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.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A99 and the Sony RX100? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A99:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (23 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (2.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2 stops ISO advantage).
- 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 flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 3 months after the RX100).
Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100:
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the A99 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 147x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the A99).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2012).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A99 is the clear winner of the match-up (20 : 7 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 and the Sony RX100 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A99 or the RX100 perform in practice. 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 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.
|Sony A99||..||84/100||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Sony RX100||+ +||78/100||4/5||5/5||5/5||Jun 2012||649|
|Panasonic GH5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Pentax K-3||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Sony A9 II||..||..||5/5||..||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A9||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A99 II||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7 II||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A5100||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2014||549|
|Sony RX100 III||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||799|
|Sony RX100 II||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||749|
|Sony NEX-5R||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|Sony A77||91/100||81/100||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|Sony NEX-5N||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|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 above review scores should be interpreted 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 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 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 use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 200D vs Sony RX100 III
- Canon 350D vs Sony RX100 III
- Fujifilm X-T200 vs Sony A99 II
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony RX100 IV
- Nikon D1H vs Sony RX100
- Nikon L840 vs Sony RX100 II
- Olympus E-30 vs Sony RX100 III
- Panasonic GX1 vs Sony RX100
- Panasonic TZ100 vs Sony RX100 VII
- Panasonic ZS100 vs Sony RX100 III
- Sony A7S vs Sony A99
- Sony A99 vs Sony NEX-7
Specifications: Sony A99 vs Sony RX100
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||Sony RX100|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony A mount lenses||28-100mm f/1.8-4.9|
|Launch Date||September 2012||June 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 2,799||USD 649|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A99||Sony RX100|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.8 x 23.8 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||852.04 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.96 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.82 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||89||66|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.0||22.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.0||12.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1555||390|
|Screen Specs||Sony A99||Sony RX100|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k 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||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fully flexible screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A99||Sony RX100|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||6 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens-based stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A99||Sony RX100|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Sony A99||Sony RX100|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
147 x 111 x 78 mm
(5.8 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
102 x 58 x 36 mm
(4.0 x 2.3 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||812 g (28.6 oz)||240 g (8.5 oz)|
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