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Sony RX1R II versus Sony A99 II

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II and the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in October 2015 and September 2016. The RX1R II is a fixed lens compact, while the A99 II is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 42.2 megapixel. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Sony RX1R II vs Sony A99 II

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony RX1R II and the Sony A99 II. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size 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 RX1R II – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony RX1R II vs Sony A99 II
Compare RX1R II versus A99 II top
Compare RX1R II and 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 considerably larger (102 percent) than the Sony RX1R II. It is noteworthy in this context that the A99 II is splash and dust-proof, while the RX1R II does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX1R II has a lens build in, whereas the A99 II 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 RX1R II gets 220 shots out of its NP-BX1 battery, while the A99 II can take 490 images on a single charge of its NP-FM500H power pack.

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 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)
Sony RX1R II» 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.9 oz 220 n Oct 2015 3,299 i i
Sony A99 II« 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Leica Q Typ 116« » 5.1 in 3.1 in 3.7 in 22.6 oz 300 n Jun 2015 4,249 i i
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i
Pentax K-1« » 5.4 in 4.3 in 3.4 in 35.6 oz 760 Y Feb 2016 1,799- i
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 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7S II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.1 oz 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A6000« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.1 oz 360 n Feb 2014 599- i
Sony RX1R« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i
Sony A99« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799- i
Sony RX1« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. 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: Sony RX1R II vs Sony A99 II

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras 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 RX1R II and Sony A99 II sensor measures

Even though the A99 II has a slightly larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 42.2 megapixel. This implies that the A99 II has a lower pixel density and marginally larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 4.50μm for the RX1R II), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the A99 II is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the RX1R II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

RX1R II versus A99 II MP

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"). Of the two cameras under review, the RX1R II has a notably higher overall DXO score than the A99 II (overall score 5 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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 Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony RX1R II» Full Frame 42.2 7952 53041080/60p25.813.9320497
Sony A99 II« Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187
Leica Q Typ 116« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
Pentax K-1« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60i25.414.6328096
Sony A7R III« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498
Sony A7S II« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170
Sony A6000« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.113.1134782
Sony RX1R« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791
Sony A99« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589
Sony RX1« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. 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 RX1R II. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the RX1R II is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony RX1R II vs Sony 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 RX1R II (2400k vs 2360k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony RX1R II and Sony A99 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony RX1R II»2360 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 4000 5.0 n n
Sony A99 II«2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Leica Q Typ 116« »3680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 10.0 n n
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Pentax K-1« »optical Y 3.2 1037 full-flex n 8000 4.4 n Y
Sony A7R III« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7S II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y
Sony A6000« »1440 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n
Sony RX1R« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Sony A99« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 6.0 n Y
Sony RX1« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n

Both the RX1R II and the A99 II are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The RX1R II replaced the earlier Sony RX1R, while the A99 II does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Sony RX1R II vs Sony A99 II

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony RX1R II or the Sony A99 II – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II:

  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a build-in lens, while the A99 II requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (113x65mm vs 143x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a build-in lens (unlike the A99 II).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in October 2015).


Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha ALT-A99 II:

  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • More flexible LCD: Has full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (490 versus 220) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A99 II is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 6 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.

RX1R II 06:10 A99 II

In any case, 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 RX1R II and the A99 II in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony RX1R II»-82/100-rev4.5/5 Oct 2015 3,299 i i
Sony A99 II«-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Leica Q Typ 116« »-80/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249 i i
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i
Pentax K-1« »-84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2016 1,799- i
Sony A7R III« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199 i i
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7S II« »Rec-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i
Sony A6000« »Rec80/1004.5/55/55/5 Feb 2014 599- i
Sony RX1R« »--4/5rev4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799- i
Sony A99« »-84/1004.5/5rev4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i
Sony RX1« »-79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i

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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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