Sony Alpha 99 review

December 15, 2012

Overall Rating:


Sony Alpha 99

  • Metering:
  • Features:
  • AWB Colour:
  • LCD viewfinder:
  • Dynamic Range:
  • Build/Handling:
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Price as Reviewed:


While Sony’s 24.3-million-pixel, full-frame Alpha 99 has a glittering specification on paper, the true test is how the camera handles a number of demanding situations in the field. Read the Sony Alpha 99 review...

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LCD, viewfinder and video

When I tested the Alpha 77 it had the best EVF around, with smooth, crisp and vivid detail. I even went as far as to say that at times it is easy to forget it is an EVF rather than an optical type. The Alpha 99 also uses an XGA OLED EVF with a 2.359-million-dot resolution, 100% field of view and 0.71x magnification. A direct comparison of the two EVFs shows that the Alpha 99 has marginally improved on the Alpha 77. Detail is even smoother, and the display is less ‘vivid’ and more ‘authentic’.

In good-contrast light, the auto setting of the EVF display is a little darker than the optical viewfinder of the Alpha 900. It is worth manually brightening the display to its brightest setting (+1). In low-contrast light, however, the EVF is generally more useful than an optical type because its display can automatically be adjusted to brighter than real life. Also, exposure preview is undoubtedly handy, showing changes to exposure such as white balance. The colour temperature of the display can be adjusted, and at times I found the overall temperature a little cool, so I adjusted it to -1. In certain situations, moiré patterning can be seen in patterns such as a brick wall.

There is an eye sensor below the viewfinder to automatically switch between displays, and AF can be performed each time one places the finder to the eye.

These auto controls can be deactivated. Like the Alpha 77, the 3in LCD screen of the Alpha 99 features a unique tilt-and-swivel design, which is the most versatile camera screen I have used. The screen is articulated from a hinge on its underside, which is in turn attached to a tilt plate that comes out from the camera body. Combining the tilt and swivel allows for LCD viewing above from the camera’s front. The resolution of the screen is 1.228 million dots, which includes a white pixel for every red, green and blue pixel to improve the brightness of the screen. We have seen this set-up in Sony’s Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 and it is indeed bright.

Video users are well catered for, with full HD 1080p recording possible at 24fps, 25fps, 30fps, 50fps and 60fps. Sound levels can be monitored using the audio level display, and there is support for XLR and a separate headphone and microphone jack. Video output, as well as live view to an external screen, is possible via the HDMI port.

  • External mic: Yes
  • Video: AVCHD: 1920 x 1080 pixels (at 50fps or 25fps PAL); MP4: 1440 x 1080 pixels (25fps pal); VGA: 640 x 480 pixels (at 25fps)
  • White Balance: Auto, 9 presets, Kelvin, plus three custom settings
  • Built-in Flash: No
  • Dioptre Adjustment: -4 to +3 dioptre
  • Shutter Type: Electronically controlled focal-plane shutter
  • Memory Card: SD, SDHC, SDXC or Memory Stick Pro Duo
  • Viewfinder Type: 2.359-million-dot XGA OLED EVF
  • Field of View: Approx 100%
  • LCD: 3in LCD with 1,228,800 dots, tilted and articulated
  • Output Size: 6000 x 4000 pixels
  • White Balance Bracket: Yes, 3 images over 2 steps
  • AF Points: Dual phase detection: 19-point with 11 cross types and a 102-point focal-point sensor
  • Sensor: Full-frame, 24.3-million-effective-pixel, CMOS sensor
  • Focal Length Mag: 1.5x
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/250sec
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion NP-FM500H battery
  • Weight: 812g approx including battery and card/s
  • Exposure Modes: Auto, PASM, 3 custom, tele-zoom burst, scene modes, sweep panorama
  • File Format: Raw, JPEG, raw + JPEG simultaneously
  • Drive Mode: 6fps continuous high, single, timer, remote, bracketing
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/8000sec in 1⁄3EV steps plus bulb
  • Exposure Comp: ±5EV in 1⁄3EV or 1/2EV steps
  • Compression: 2-stage JPEG
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • RRP: £2,299 body only
  • Lens Mount: Sony Alpha mount
  • ISO: ISO 100-25,600 (extended to ISO 50)
  • DoF Preview: Yes
  • Focusing Modes: Manual, single-shot AF, automatic AF, continuous AF, depth map, face detection
  • Dimensions: 147 x 111.2 x 78.4mm
  • Metering System: 1,200-zone evaluative metering, centreweighted and fixed centre spot
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed, HMDI, separate 3.5mm headphone and microphone jack
  • Tested as: Enthusiast SLT

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