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Sony Alpha A99-II SLT Camera Review

The 42.4 megapixel Sony Alpha A99 Mark II an SLR shaped Digital SLT with high-speed 12fps continuous shooting and 4K video recording.

| Sony Alpha A99 II in Digital SLRs

Sony Alpha A99-II SLT Camera Review : Sony Alpha A99 II (2)

The Sony Alpha A99 Mark II was announced at Photokina 2016, and uses the same 42.4 megapixel Full-Frame BSI CMOS sensor as found in the Sony Alpha A7R Mark II, and offers 12fps continuous shooting, 4K video recording, and a number of professional features. The A99 II is available for £2999 body only. 

Sony Alpha A99 II Features

Sony Alpha A99-II SLT Camera Review : Sony Alpha A99 II (6)

The Sony Alpha A99 Mark II is 8% smaller than the previous version, the A99, and with a built-in 5-axis image stabilisation system it is possible for it to compensate for 4.5 stops. The battery life of the A99-II is rated at 390 shots when using the viewfinder, or 490 shots when using the rear LCD screen.

The new A99 Mark II shows that Sony is still committed to the Sony Alpha A-mount system, despite the focus on their mirrorless range. (The last new A mount lenses from Sony were announced in 2015). There is also continued support for the Sony A mount from thirds parties like Tamron, Samyang, and Laowa to name a few.

The Alpha 99 II features Full-frame 4D focus and a 42.4 megapixel 35mm BSI CMOS sensor. The camera is a newer version of the A99, released back in 2012. The newly developed Phase Detection AF System is capable of ‘full-time AF’ and is the first implementation of 4D FOCUS in the full-frame Alpha series, bringing a new level of AF performance to Alpha 99 II users.

The Hybrid Phase Detection AF System is enabled by combining a precision 79-point dedicated phase detection AF sensor with 399 focal plane phase detection AF points to produce a 79 hybrid cross AF point array. These cross points deliver incredibly precise autofocus performance and advanced subject tracking of any moving objects right across the image, at high speed. In addition, as there is no moving mirror, Translucent Mirror Technology (TMT) enables continuous AF operation and the finder image remains unaffected during any type of shooting, including live view and movie recording.

The Alpha 99 II has internal 4K movie recording with a host of pro-orientated movie features, 100mbps and multiple frame rates, including 30/25/24fps. 

The A99 II shoots at 12fps in continuous shooting mode, at the full-resolution of 42 megapixels, making it one of the fastest full-frame digital cameras available with a high resolution. In comparison, the Leica SL offers 11fps at 24mp, the Canon EOS-1D X II offers up to 16fps at 20mp, and the Nikon D5 offers up to 14fps at 20mp.

The menu system has been updated with a larger font, updated design, and the layout has been improved in an effort to make it easier to find and use the menu system. 

Sony Alpha A99-II SLT Camera Review : Sony Alpha A99 II 2 Wbg

If we look at the differences between the A99, and A99 Mark II, there have been several updates, and it is also a good indication of how far technology has progressed over the last 4-5 years.

Sony Alpha A99 Sony Alpha A99 Mark II
24mp sensor 42mp sensor
ISO50 - ISO25600 ISO50 - ISO102400
19point AF, 102point PDAF 79 / 399 AF points
3inch screen, 1,229K dots 3inch screen, 1,229K dots
2.359K dot EVF, 0.71x magnification 2,359K dot EVF, 0.78x magnification
6fps continuous shooting (full-resolution) 12fps continuous shooting (full resolution, with C-AF)
Steadyshot image sensor 5-axis Steadyshot image sensor
FullHD video 4K video 
Mic, and Headphone sockets Mic, and Headphone sockets
Built-in GPS Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth
410shot / 500shot battery life (EVF/LCD) 390 / 490 (EVF/LCD) battery life
812g (with battery, memory card) 849g (with battery, memory card)

A number of features have upgraded, with the camera doubling the continuous shooting speed for full-frame images, FullHD video has been upgraded to 4K video recording, and there are now 4 times as many focus points. The screen remains the same, and whilst the viewfinder resolution is the same, magnification has been improved. One area where we would have liked to see improvement, is in battery life, with 390 or 490 shots depending on whether you use the EVF or LCD, it is nowhere the battery life offered by some other professional full-frame DSLRs. The camera no longer has built-in GPS, but with built-in Wi-Fi, it's possible to get GPS location data from a smartphone if needed, however, the A99 II does not support the installation of Sony's PlayMemory Apps on the camera. 

Sony Alpha A99-II SLT Camera Review : Sony Alpha A99 II (8)

Key Features

  • 42.4-megapixel Full-Frame BSI CMOS sensor (with copper wiring)
  • Sony A-mount, no optical low-pass filter
  • 5-axis image stabilisation sensor
  • 3inch 1228K dot tiltable screen
  • 2360K dot XGA OLED EVF, 0.78x magnification
  • 399 phase detection AF points
  • 79 hybrid cross AF points
  • -4EV AF sensitivity
  • 4K (UHD) video recording, S-Gamut, S-Log
  • Clean HDMI out
  • ISO50 - ISO102400
  • 12fps continuous shooting (with AF/AE tracking)
  • 300,000 shutter life rating
  • Updated menu system
  • Top LCD display
  • Dual SD / SD/MS card slots
  • Remote tethering, Bluetooth connectivity
  • Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body

Sony Alpha A99 II Handling

Sony Alpha A99-II SLT Camera Review : Sony Alpha A99 II (2)

The Sony Alpha A99 Mark II offers traditional DSLR handling, with a large handgrip that has ample rubber grip that continues onto the rear of the camera. As part of the grip, there are dual memory card slots, so you can use two SD memory cards in the camera (or one Sony MS, and one SD card). The left hand side of the camera is also covered in rubber grip, and there are a number of ports under rubber covers, including a flash sync socket, microphone, headphone, HDMI, Multi/USB, Remote and DC in. There's also a front control wheel, with a central button, and the click of this can be switched on and off.  

There's a cornucopia of buttons on the back of the camera, including a joystick that is easily in reach of your thumb, and is used to adjust the focus position. There are two custom buttons: C1 on the back, and C2 front left (from the view above).

The Fn (Function) button brings up an overlay of controls on the rear screen, and these can be customised, so you can put your favourite settings here. On top there is an auto locking mode dial, with 3 custom modes, and you need to press the button to turn the mode dial. Top LCD illuminates when you press the small light button next to it...

Sony Alpha A99-II SLT Camera Review : Sony Alpha A99 II (4)

The camera is weather and dust sealed, with great build quality, feeling very well-made thanks to a metal body. This is as you would expect, considering the price of the camera, which is just under £3000.

There are an impressive number of focus points, up to 399, and up to 323 focus points are selectable, covering a wide area of the image. The screen looks good, and has a wide range of positions thanks to the multiple hinges on the screen. This makes it possible to move the screen to accommodate awkward shooting angles, and visibility is good.

The camera automatically switches between the electronic viewfinder (EVF) and the rear screen when you hold the camera up to your eye, but you can also set this manually with the finder/monitor button on top of the camera. The EVF has dioptre correction, so you can set this up for in case you wear glasses. The EVF has a high resolution of 2.36m dots, and this looks great, with a higher magnification than the A99. 

Sony Alpha A99-II SLT Camera Review : Sony Alpha A99 II (1)

Continuous live-view shooting at up to 8 fps with AF/AE tracking has been setup to shoot with minimal display lag so that the viewing experience is no different from that of an optical viewfinder.

Menus – The menus are now colour coded, so that each main section has it's own colour, for example, Photo1 (Photo options) is colour coded in red, Photo2 (Mostly movie options) is colour coded purple, etc. This is welcome, however, the photo section now has 12 pages of options (up from 4 on the A99), and the movie section has 9 pages of options (up from 2 on the A99). This is because Sony has organised the options into more logical categories, however, this means that some pages have only 1 or 2 options on them. You can see the options and layout of the menus in the video below: 

Wi-Fi, and NFC are built-in and the A99 M2 supports remote operation from a smartphone or tablet. The A99 M2 also features Bluetooth, and this can be used to add location data to images. You can use Wi-Fi to send photos to a smartphone, a computer, view images on a TV, as well as use NFC to set up the connection. 

Sony Alpha A99-II SLT Camera Review : Sony Alpha A99 M2

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 390 / 490 (depending on whether you're using the EVF or LCD). Battery life is reasonable, but not as good as some of the other full-frame DSLRs.

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JJGEE 18 8.1k 18 England
5 Apr 2017 11:46AM
Worth perhaps mentioning that this camera & in fact any Sony camera come with a free license for Capture One Express ( For Sony ) with a reasonable upgrade price to Capture One Pro ( For Sony )

( For Sony as it suggests, only support Sony Cameras but otherwise fully functional )

5 Apr 2017 8:34PM
I just don't see, in this day and age, with digital cameras having the ability to work at higher ISO's than we ever could with film, why Not having a built in flash is a Con on your verdict. I am trying to think of hardly Any top end camera that has a flash. Even the Panasonic GH5 got rid of flash.

But I guess some people like it to trigger there other flashes, and for fill flash. But those days are just about gone for that stuff.

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