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Cameras

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.

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.

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 IV Nikon D810 Sony Alpha SLT-A99 Sony 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 24mm 35.9 mm x 24mm 35.8 x 23.9mm 35.9 x 24mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.0x 1.0x 1.0x 1.0x
OLPF Yes No Yes No
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 Yes Yes Yes Yes
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-sync 1/8000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync 1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync 1/8,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync
Shutter durability 150,000 cycles 200,000 cycles 200,000 cycles 300,000 cycles
Metering 150,000-pixel RGB+IR with 252 zones 91,000-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering III 1,200 zones 1,200 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 @ 24MBps XAVC S UHD 4K 2160/30p, 25p, 24p @ 100Mbps; 1080/120p @ 100Mbps
Audio mono; mic input; headphone jack stereo; mic input; headphone jack stereo; mic input; headphone jack stereo; mic input; headphone jack
Manual aperture and shutter in video Yes Yes Yes Yes
Maximum best-quality recording time n/a 20 minutes internal
40 minutes (with external pack)
n/a n/a
Clean HDMI out n/a Yes Yes Yes
IS Optical Optical Sensor 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 SDXC 1 x CF (UDMA mode 7), 1 x SDXC 2 x SDXC 2 x SDXC
Wireless connection Wi-Fi, NFC Optional
(WT-4A Wireless transmitter or UT-1 Communication Unit with WT-5A)
None Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth
Flash No Yes No No
Wireless flash Yes Yes No Yes
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 2016 July 2014 October 2012 November 2016

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