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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Light but large

Control synergy

Connectors

Dual card slots

Rube Goldberg's LCD

Back controls

Mode dial

Top LCD

New hot shoe

AF Range Control

The A99 is one of the lighter mirrored interchangeable-lens full-frame bodies, but it's still rather large. Of course, that makes it more comfortable to use when you're shooting with a fast, quality lens. It has similar construction to competitors, with a magnesium alloy chassis, dust-and-moisture seals, and a 200,000-cycle shutter.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
If you've ever used one of Sony's prosumer camcorders you'll recognize this multicontroller dial, which allows you to quickly and quietly change settings such as aperture and exposure while shooting video.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
In addition to offering an almost complete set of connections, the implementations seem very nice. For instance, via the headphone jack you can monitor audio either live or synced to playback, and the camera can output uncompressed, clean HDMI.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
While I prefer a combination of CF and SD card slots -- you can still get faster CF cards -- dual SDXC slots are welcome.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The A99 has the same complex articulating LCD design as the A77's. It's more flexible than the typical flip-out-and-twist versions, but I also find it takes more concentration to get it properly positioned than I like to devote to an LCD.
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While the A99 has a complete set of direct-access controls that are laid out for streamlined shooting, I've never been fond of the bubbling-tar bulbous look of them.
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The locking mode dial features the basics plus a few extras: three slots for custom settings, a manual-control movie mode, Continuous Priority AE shooting, and panoramas. The A99 also has a built-in stereo microphone on top of the camera.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Like other cameras in its class, the A99 has a status display on top.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The A99 incorporates Sony's new Multi Interface Shoe, which uses some extra custom connectors on the inside in addition to ISO standard hardware. Sony will offer an adapter so that you can use your old Konica Minolta flashes with the new shoe. The extra connectors make add-ons like the XLR Adaptor kit possible.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The A99 provides a new control that lets you specify a distance range to limit the autofocus system.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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