Sony SLT-A99 : Full Frame DSLR with Translucent Mirror Technology

The Sony SLT-A99 is sold $2,800, body only.

Finally a Full Frame DSLR in Sony’s range. The latest was the Alpha 850. But beware, if the new 24-megapixel full frame DSLR Sony shines with its technological and functional offer, it belongs to the family of EVF Digital SLRs and it will never offer the gorgeous optical viewfinder of the Alpha 900.
See also the Sony RX1 and NEX-6.

Sony SLT-A99: 24MP Full FRame Sensor

As the beautifully designed compact camera unveiled also today, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1, the Sony SLT-A99 gets the new Full Frame 24 megapixels CMOS sensor developed by Sony . This sensor was highly anticipated. With a definition smaller than the 36-megapixel Nikon D800 but still high-def, it should deliver superb images at high ISO sensitivity. It ranges from ISO50 to ISO 25,600. ISO 50 could possibly offer a sky high dynamic range, certainly more 14EV. I’ll check that in the SLT-A99 review.


Sony SLT-A99
The Sony SLT-A99 DSLR, Full FRame, fast, gifted for video, a camera aimed at pro photographers and videographers.


SLT technology

As the SLT-A57, SLT-A77, etc … The SLT-A99 has a translucent mirror which diverts a portion of the luminous flux of the lens to the video system that feeds the electronic viewfinder or screen. This is a “video DSLR” and it has not got any optical viewfinder as we appreciate on conventional SLRs. Photographers will have to deal with that. This will be tough for photographers experienced the reflex viewfinder, easier if we never tried pro or semi-pro full frame SLR viewfinder…. But in return for this sacrifice, the Alpha 99 wins autofocus performance, a phase detection system, even in video, (hybrid AF here), and high speed burst rate. Sony did pay attention to the EVF though and placed the OLED EVF of 2.36 megapixels, the same as Fuji chose and even improved in the X-E1 announced last week. I appreciated it in the NEX-7 that I put my hands-on last year at the IFA 2011 in Berlin. The image through this high-quality EVF is beautiful, smooth, with bright colors, and it offers the advantage of covering 100% of the image framed. It also allows photographers to view he impact of their settings, to check the white balance, the exposure correction, etc. … WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get). So it i snot 100% bad, it just implies a huge change of habits.

Video : 1080p / 60fps


Another advantage of the Sony DSLR SLT-A99 : its video mode is extremely powerful. The SLT-A99 records video in Full HD in 50p/60p for a bitrate of 28 Mbps compressed in AVCHD format V2.0 and has a 24p mode for cinema-like image. Thanks to the “Translucent Mirror Technology”, the SLR offers continuous phase detection autofocus in video with subject tracking (customizable, 3 levels). Here is the target of the SLT-A99, videographers, for who it will undoubtedly be among the best choice among HDSLR. The large size of the sensor will create very smooth bokeh.


sony alpha 99
The Sony SLT-A99 or Alpha 99 has no optical viewfinder but oustanding EVF / screen combo.


Sony SLT-A99 : a fast camera

The key argument of the Alpha 99 in addition to its beautiful Full Frame sensor is its velocity : 10 fps burst rate, 19 points with 11 cross type sensors and 102 assitance points AF, subject Tracking with subject recognition. Sony has adopted a muscular shutter that achieves 1/8000s. Robust, it is given for 200,000 cycles. This is a figure that speaks to professional photographers.


Price and availability of the Sony SLT-A99

Sony SLT-A99 positioned on the pro weather-sealed higg-definition and full frame DSLR has a magnesium alloy frame, fully customizable ergonomics, a high sensible 35mm surface, outstanding video capabilities… and its sale price is as tough as its technical specs : $2,800 and €2,800. Yes, the price of the Nikon D800, a few hundreds dollars less than the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. It will be available in October 2012.

CCD shift
optical corrections
Panorama: hor. 12416 x 1856 (23M), green. 5536×2160 (12M)
magnesium / tropcalisé.


The Sony SLT-A99 is sold $2,800, body only.


Sony Alpha 99: main technical specs

– 24MP Full Frame CMOS EXMOR sensor
– Sensitivity: ISO 50 to 25,600, ISO 102,400 in multiframe mode
– Built-in CCD-shift image stabilisation
– Autofocus: TTL, phase detection, 19 AF points, 11 cross type sensors, 102 assisting points
– Shutter: 1/800s – 30s + Bulb
– Flash sync: 1/250s
– Burst rate : 10fps for 24 frames in JPEG, RAW 17, 16 in RAW + JPEG
– Metering: TTL 1,200 segments
– D-range Optimizer
– Video: 1920 x 1080 pixels / 60p – 28 Mbps / AVCHD or MP4 2.0 / Continuous AF
– Sweep Panorama Mode
– Auto and Auto + modes (multiview for HDR, night photography without tripod, bokeh …)
– Creative styles: Standard, Vivid, Bright, Bright, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, black and white, night scenes, Sepia, and settings of contrast, saturation and sharpness.
– Photo Effects: Color Partial (4 colors available) Color POP Soft High-key, soft focus, Posterize (Black / White color), High Contrast Monochrome, Monochrome Ton rich, HDR Painting, Toy Camera, Retro Photo, Thumbnail
– Electronic viewfinder: 2.36 megapixel OLED XGA / covers 100% / 0.71x magnification / contrast 3500:1
– Eye-start
– White Magic LCD / 3 “/ 1,228,800 dots / 4:3 aspect ratio
– Memory card: Memory Stick PRO Duo / PRO-HG Duo / SD / SDHC / SDXC
– Magnesium Alloy frame
– Weather sealed camera body
– Dimensions: 147 x 111.2 x 78.4 mm
– Weight: 733 grams without battery nor card
– Battery: NP-FM500H
– Battery life: 500 photos in liveview / EVF with 410 pictures

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