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Sony readies the A99 Mark II A-mount full-frame camera for action

With a new everything -- body, sensor and autofocus system -- Sony's targeting pro sports photographers with the updated version of its fixed-mirror camera.

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Lori Grunin
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Lori Grunin

Senior Editor / Advice

I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.

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Editors' note, September 19, 2016: Updated with a correction about the size and comparative specifications.

I liked a lot of things about the Sony A99, the company's fixed-mirror full-frame dSLR-style camera, but it's sat around for over three years while competitors have introduced improved models. Sony finally succeeds it with the A99 Mark II, bringing all of its A-game technologies with the hopes of attracting professional action photographers.

It incorporates the same 42.4MP Exmor R CMOS that's in the excellent A7R II mirrorless. There's also a new adaptation of its 4D Focus hybrid autofocus system with 399 phase-detection AF points on the sensor in addition to a separate module with 70 points, for 79 cross-type and sensitivity down to -4 EV. Five-axis sensor-shift stabilization and 4K uncompressed video with all Sony's bells and whistles complete the package. The body is slightly smaller than before and is still dust- and moisture-resistant.

View at almost any angle with the Sony A99 Mark II's LCD

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Unfortunately, the battery life is still miserable for a professional camera: 390 shots with the viewfinder and 490 shots via the LCD. That means you'll probably need the battery grip, which defeats the purpose of shrinking the camera body. It also still has dual SD card slots, which is ironic given that the much faster XQD format, used by Nikon in the D5 and D500, is Sony's.

Sony plans to ship it in November at $3,200 for the body. I don't have UK or Australian pricing yet, but that directly converts to about £2,450 and AU$4,240.

Comparative specifications

Canon EOS 5D Mark IVNikon D810Sony Alpha SLT-A99Sony A99 Mark II
Sensor effective resolution "30.4MP Dual-Pixel CMOS n/a 14-bit""36.3MP CMOS 12-channel readout 14-bit""24.3mp Exmor CMOS n/a 14-bit""42.4MP Exmor R CMOS 14-bit"
Sensor size 36 mm x 24mm35.9 mm x 24mm35.8 x 23.9mm35.9 x 24mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.0x1.0x1.0x1.0x
OLPF YesNoYesNo
Sensitivity range ISO 50 (exp)/100 - ISO 25600/102400 (exp)ISO 32 (exp)/64 - ISO 12800/51200 (exp)"ISO 50 (exp)/ISO 100 - ISO 51200/ISO 102400 (exp, via multishot NR)"ISO 50 (exp)/ISO 100 - ISO 25600/102400 (exp)
Burst shooting "7fps 21 raw/unlimited JPEG (with AF/AE fixed on first exposure and IS off)""5fps n/a (6fps in DX mode, 7fps with battery grip)""6fps 13 raw/14 JPEG""12fps 54 raw/60 JPEG"
"Viewfinder (mag/ effective mag)" "Optical 100% coverage 0.71x/0.71x""Optical 100% coverage 0.70x/0.70x""OLED EVF 0.5-inch 2.4 million dots 100% coverage 0.71x/0.71x""OLED EVF 0.5 in/1.3 cm 2.4 million dots 100% coverage 0.78x/0.78x"
Hot Shoe YesYesYesYes
Autofocus "61-pt High Density Reticular AF II 21 cross-type at f5.6 20 cross-type at f4 and f5.6 20 horizontal at f5.6 5 dual cross-type at f2.8 and f5.6 61 to f8; 21 cross-type""51-pt 15 cross type 11 cross type to f8 (Multi-CAM 3500-FX)""dual phase-detection system 19pt 11 cross type; 102pt focal plane""Dual phase-detection system 79 points 15 cross-type points 1 center to f2.8 399 points focal plane "
"AF sensitivity (at center point)" -3 - 18 EV-2 - 19 EV-1 - 18 EV-4 - 18 EV
Shutter speed 1/8000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync1/8000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync
Shutter durability 150,000 cycles200,000 cycles200,000 cycles300,000 cycles
Metering 150,000-pixel RGB+IR with 252 zones91,000-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering III1,200 zones1,200 zones
Metering sensitivity "0 - 20 EV (-4 - 20 EV in Live View)"0 - 20 EV-2 - 17 EV-2 - 17 EV
Best video "QuickTime MOV Motion JPEG DCI 4K (4,096 x 2,160) 2160/30p @ 500Mbps, 720/120p; 1080/30p HDR""H.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/60p, 50p @ 42Mbps, 1080/30p, 25p, 24p @ 24Mbps"AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24MBpsXAVC S UHD 4K 2160/30p, 25p, 24p @ 100Mbps; 1080/120p @ 100Mbps
Audio mono; mic input; headphone jackstereo; mic input; headphone jackstereo; mic input; headphone jackstereo; mic input; headphone jack
Manual aperture and shutter in video YesYesYesYes
Maximum best-quality recording time n/a"20 minutes internal 40 minutes (with external pack)"n/an/a
Clean HDMI out n/aYesYesYes
IS OpticalOpticalSensor shift"Sensor shift 5 axis"
LCD "3.2 in/8.1 cm Fixed touchscreen 1.62m dots""3.2 in/8 cm Fixed 921,000 dots plus extra set of white dots""3 in/7.5 cm Articulated 921,000 dots plus extra set of white dots""3 in/7.5 cm Multiangle 1.2m dots"
Memory slots 1 x CF (UDMA mode 7), 1 x SDXC1 x CF (UDMA mode 7), 1 x SDXC2 x SDXC2 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi, NFC"Optional (WT-4A Wireless transmitter or UT-1 Communication Unit with WT-5A)"NoneWi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth
Flash NoYesNoNo
Wireless flash YesYesNoYes
Battery life (CIPA rating) "900 shots (VF), 300 shots (LV) (1,865 mAh)""1,200 shots (1,800 mAh)""410 shots (1,650mAh)""390 shots (VF); 490 shots (LCD) (1,600 mAh)"
Size (WHD) "5.9 x 4.6 x 3.0 in 151 x 116 x 76 mm""5.8 x 4.9 x 3.3 in 146 x 123 x 81.5 mm mm""5.9 x 4.5 x 3.1 in 147 x 111.2 x 78.4 mm""5.6 x 4.1 x 3 in 143 x 104 x 76 mm"
Body operating weight "31.4 oz (est.) 890 g (est.)""34.6 oz 980 g""29.2 oz 827.8 g""29.9 oz (est.) 849 g (est.)"
Mfr. price (body only) "$3,500 £2,630 AU$5,200""$2,800 £2,140 (est.) AU$4,500""$2,000 £2,050 AU$2,500"$3,200
Release date September 2016July 2014October 2012November 2016
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