Sony Introduces the Alpha SLT-A99 Full-Frame HDSLR
The new Sony Alpha SLT-A99 digital camera features a 24.7MP Full Frame, 35mm-sized Exmor CMOS sensor. The BIONZ image processor gives the A99 ample speed for large file sizes and offers support for quick focusing, low-light sensitivity and noise reduction. Additionally, the A99 integrates an innovative Dual AF system, which makes use of two distinct phase-detection AF sensors. The combination of these technologies enables the A99 to produce professional-quality photos and HD video. The A99’s DSLR form factor has a robust magnesium-alloy body and also incorporates an XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF, a tiltable LCD monitor and dual memory card slots for Memory Sticks and/or SD cards.
Dual AF and Translucent Mirror Technology
Utilizing Sony’s Translucent Mirror Technology, the A99 is capable of continuous autofocusing in any of its shooting modes. By replacing the conventional swinging mirror found in a standard SLR, the A99’s fixed translucent mirror is able to divert light to both the imaging sensor and AF sensor at the same time. This enables the camera to work in a full-time phase detection focus mode, acquiring focus throughout use, while the imaging sensor is able to constantly monitor exposure conditions. Monitoring through the EVF and/or LCD monitor is possible no matter in which mode you are working.
Furthermore, the light being diverted to the AF sensors is now split between two separate AF sensors in order to utilize distinct focusing styles simultaneously, for precise focusing and subject tracking. Both of these AF sensors utilize a phase-detection method for determining focus, but are geared differently to suit the two converse applications of standard AF modes. One sensor features 19 focus points and 11 cross-type points, for more critical focusing and greater depth perception. The other, a 102-point focal plane phase detection AF system, gathers wider coverage of the entire scene. When combined, these two sensors offer precision and wide coverage for a faster and more in-tune method of achieving sharp focus regardless of the subject matter.
Dual AF is most heavily utilized when working in the "AF-D" focus mode, which stands for Depth Map Assist Continuous AF. This mode uses the 19-point sensor for maintaining focus on sedentary or slow-moving subjects, while the 102-point sensor tracks faster-moving subjects and allows for greater breadth in coverage across the entire scene. When working in busy environments, the AF Range control allows you to maintain focus on your subject no matter how busy or complex the scene is. When working with this tool, simply press the AF Range button and determine the nearest and furthest distances you would like to keep in focus, and the camera will remain locked on your subject within that range. This is especially useful when photographing on busy streets where cars or other moving elements may interfere with your view of the subject; with this mode activated the focus system will ignore these disruptions in order to selectively continue holding focus on the main subject. Additionally, the focus-tracking method has been enhanced and will make use of predictive algorithms to ensure your moving subjects are recognized and kept in focus.
Four distinct area modes can utilize these focusing technologies in different ways. Wide focus mode uses the main 19-point focus sensor to determine focus for general applications. Spot-focus mode uses only the center focus point for highly selective focus situations. Local-focus mode allows you to select any focus sensor. Zone-focus mode enables you to give priority to the left, center or right zone. Manual focus is also separated into two modes: manual and Direct Manual Focus, wherein a zoomed-in view facilitates critical focus tuning. When working in manual focus, peaking is also available, which highlights the edges of objects that are in focus.
Because the A99 has done away with a swinging mirror, the Translucent Mirror Technology enables faster response times, and shutter lag requires only 0.05 of a second to fully release the electronic front curtain shutter. You can capture up to 6 full-resolution frames per second when working in Continuous Advance Priority AE mode, or up to 10 frames per second when working with Tele-Zoom High Speed Shooting mode, which will slightly crop the image and result in smaller file sizes. Both shooting modes employ continuous AF while recording, making it ideal for very fast-moving subjects.
24.3 Megapixel Full-Frame Exmor CMOS Sensor and BIONZ Image Processor
The A99 integrates a full-frame 24.7MP CMOS sensor for capturing detailed imagery with a wide dynamic range and low noise characteristics. Compared to its predecessor, the A900, the A99’s image sensor is approximately 1.5 times more light sensitive and twice as effective at reducing random image noise. The equivalent sensitivity range runs from ISO 100-25600, allowing for effective working possibilities in low light situations. The Exmor CMOS design features on-chip, column A/D conversion with dual noise reduction capabilities. This technology uses thousands of parallel, analog and digital converters to translate light into digital 14-bit RAW signal output and cancel noise before and after conversion.
The physical construction of the sensor has also been altered and now features two technologies to increase the amount of light each pixel can collect. First, the height of the circuitry within the sensor has been lessened, making it more receptive to light. Secondly, the photo diode structure has been altered, to make room for larger individual diodes that are better at gathering light. This ability to gather more light results in a wider dynamic range and smoother gradations into shadows and highlights.
The optical low-pass filter has also been redesigned into multiple segments, providing a more pure filtration of light before it reaches the sensor. The segmentation of the filter contributes to the reduction of moiré, but also scatters the light in a more controlled manner in order to maintain the highest level of sharpness possible.
This Exmor CMOS sensor is backed up by the BIONZ image processing engine, which is able to produce 14-bit RAW image data, preserving a greater amount of the detail gathered through the sensor’s conversion process. The processor also contributes heavily to the noise-reduction capabilities by dividing the image into distinct areas and applying specific noise-reduction techniques to each area.
In addition, the BIONZ processor works to improve other variables that can affect image quality, by taking into account the specific lens you are using. When using a supported A-mount lens, automatic compensation can be made to counter the effects of vignetting, lateral chromatic aberrations and optical distortion. Each of these corrections can also be manually activated or deactivated. SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization can also be deployed to effectively reduce camera shake or image blur, allowing you to capture sharp images at shutter speeds 2.5 to 4.5 steps slower than would otherwise be possible and, because this technology is located inside the camera, it is compatible with any A-mounted lens.
XGA OLED Tru-Finder and 3-Way Tiltable LCD
Translucent Mirror Technology facilitates an electronic viewfinder, which takes full advantage of continuous AF properties. The XGA OLED Tru-Finder features a very high resolution of 2,359,296 dots for remarkably clear monitoring that is easy to see regardless of the lighting situation. Other advantages of an EVF include the ability to previsualize all of your image settings, adjustable brightness and—because no backlighting is required—rich blacks and greater image contrast. Moreover, the EVF provides 100% frame coverage.
The EVF can also display numeric feedback and a variety of information displays. A focus magnifier (up to 11.7x in full frame mode) can be used for finely tuned focusing at great distances. It can also modify the angle of view seen when working in APS-C crop mode, depending on the lens you have mounted. When working with a full-frame lens, the scene will be shown as is, and when working with an APS-C lens, the view will be cropped to show only the area that the lens will cover.
The 3.0” LCD features a 3-way tiltable movement scheme. Tilting and rotating the screen makes it easier to use the camera at unconventional viewing angles and in either vertical or horizontal orientations. The finder has a resolution of 1,228,800 dots and incorporates WhiteMagic technology for more effective use in all conditions. By including a white layer in addition to the traditional RGB structure, the brightness capability is effectively doubled for greater viewing in bright sunlight.
Menu Infrastructure and Body Design
New features include a histogram, a digital level gauge and a redesigned menu structure, for more intuitive navigation and easier access to the camera functions that you use most. The Quick Navi Pro interface automatically displays all major shooting options on the display so you have more expedient access to these, without having to delve into more complex menu trees. The Silent Multi Controller permits smooth selection and adjustment of image settings, including focus mode, ISO sensitivity, focus area and metering method. The controller is both a dial and button, and its silently geared construction limits internal noise when altering settings while recording audio.
The A99 features two memory card slots. A dual slot accommodates either Memory Sticks or SD cards, and the second slot is for SD cards only. In addition to providing the option for more memory, this setup can be configured in many ways. For example, you can record photos or videos to both slots for an instant backup, or record specified file types to a specified card.
At 1.8 lb with a battery and memory card, the A99 is among the most lightweight cameras in its class. The body is constructed from magnesium alloy with plastic for protective external shielding and stainless-steel components. The individual parts are designed to interlock for dust and moisture protection. Most buttons and dials are sealed, and gaskets around the LCD and viewfinder prevent water from entering the body. Rubber-based covers protect the interface jacks and memory card slots. The shutter is tested for 200,000 cycles to endure fast continuous shooting modes and insure precise exposure lengths of up to 1/8000 of a second.
A new Multi Interface Shoe expands the compatibility with other system accessories, including standard hot-shoe-mounted flashes and other accessories for both still and moving images. Newly introduced accessories that make use of this shoe include an XLR adapter kit (XLR-K1M), external shotgun microphones and a ring light kit.
High-Definition Movie Recording
The A99 can shoot video at 1080/60p. HD video recording employs AVCHD Version 2.0 and makes use of continuous autofocusing. When working with HD video, intelligent subject tracking uses the two-part phase detection method, which can be set to three levels. Full manual operation is also possible, and standard P/A/S/M modes offer flexible control depending on your priorities. Non-compression HDMI output, with display info turned off, facilitates external recording.
Audio recording can be done using the built-in stereo microphone or an external microphone. An optional XLR Adapter Kit allows the use of professional, external microphones and gives you the ability to alter left- and right-channel input for more simplified editing. Sound monitoring can be done via an integrated headphone jack, and a visual audio level display is available for both left- and right-channel adjustment in 32 steps.
Exposure Metering and Shooting Modes
The A99 makes use of several technologies to help achieve accurate, wide-ranging exposures. A 1200-zone evaluative metering sensor carefully takes into account the values across the entire scene and determines the best exposure settings for clear rendering. Alternatively, spot metering is available for precisely defined metering in a chosen area. Exposure bracketing and compensation is possible, in 3 or 5 frames or +/- 1/3 or 1/2 steps between +/- 5 steps, respectively. White balance can be manually controlled with a two-axis system, permitting finer tuning than the auto white balance setting. The two-axis system gives you the ability to adjust in either the amber/blue or green/magenta axes for personalized color balancing.
For automated image enhancements, built-in Auto HDR, Multi Frame NR and DRO help to refine the exposure values to gain the widest dynamic range possible with the least amount of image noise. Auto HDR combines several exposures in-camera in order to maintain adequate shadow and highlight values, emulating a much longer exposure-value range than possible with a single image. DRO (Dynamic Range Optimizer) functions similarly and also helps to extend the effective range of exposure values possible, which is ideal when working in backlit situations or other high-contrast scenes. Multi Frame NR helps to effectively reduce noise levels by building up exposure, allowing you to use a lower ISO than normal for low-light shooting. By building up your exposure with 6 frames, you can avoid long exposure times or the use of extremely high ISOs.
|Sony Alpha 99|
|Camera Type||Interchangeable-lens digital camera|
|Lens Compatibility||Sony A-mount lenses, operation with Minolta/Konica Minolta lenses confirmed|
|Image Sensor Type||35mm full-frame (35.8 x 23.9mm, Exmor CMOS sensor)|
|Effective Number of Pixels||24.3MP|
|Actual Number of Pixels||24.7MP|
|Anti-Dust System||Charge protection coating on low-pass filter and image sensor shift mechanism|
|Recording Format||JPEG (DCF Ver. 2.0, Exif Ver. 2.3, MPF baseline compliant), RAW (Sony ARW 2.3 format), RAW & JPEG|
35mm L: 6000 x 4000 (24M)
35mm M: 3936 x 2624 (10M)
35mm S: 2640 x 1760 (4.6M)
APS-C L: 3936 x 2624 (10M)
APS-C M: 2640 x 1760 (4.6M)
APS-C S: 1728 x 976 (2M)
35mm L: 6000 x 3376 (20M)
35mm M: 3936 x 2216 (8.7M)
35mm S: 2640 x 1488 (3.9M)
APS-C L: 3936 x 2216 (8.7M)
APS-C M: 2640 x 1488 (3.9M)
APS-C S: 1728 x 976 (1.7M)
Wide Hor.: 12,416 x 1856 (23M)
Wide Ver.: 5536 x 2160 (12M)
Standard Hor.: 8192 x 1856 (15M)
Standard Ver.: 3872 x 2160 (8.4M)
|Image Quality Modes||RAW, RAW & JPEG, JPEG Extra Fine, JPEG Fine, JPEG Standard|
|Picture Effect||Posterization (Color), Posterization (B/W), Pop Color, Retro Photo, Partial Color (R, G, B, Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera, Soft High-key, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Rich-tone Mono, Miniature|
|Creative Style||Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Clear Deep, Light, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Night scene, Autumn leaves, Black & White, Sepia (Contrast: +/- 3 steps, Saturation: +/- 3 steps, Sharpness: +/- 3 steps)|
|Dynamic Range Functions||Off, Dynamic Range Optimizer (Auto/Level [1-5]), Auto High Dynamic Range (Auto Exposure Difference, Exposure Difference Level
(1-6 EV, 1.0 EV step)
|Color Space||sRGB, Adobe RGB|
|Movie Recording Format||AVCHD Ver. 2.0 (Progressive) / MP4|
|Video Compression||AVCHD Ver. 2.0 compliant / MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)|
|Audio Recording Format||Dolby Digital (AC-3) / MPEG-4 AAC-LC, 2ch|
|Image Size (Pixels, NTSC)||AVCHD: 1920 x 1080 (60p/28Mbps/PS, 60i/24Mbps/FX, 60i/17Mbps/FH, 24p/24Mbps/FX, 24p/17Mbps/FH)
MP4: 1440 x 1080 (30fps/12Mbps), 640 x 480 (30fps/3Mbps)
|Image Size (Pixels, PAL)||AVCHD: 1920 x 1080 (60p/28Mbps/PS, 50p/28Mbps/PS, 60i/24Mbps/FX, 50i/24Mbps/FX, 60i/17Mbps/FH, 50i/17Mbps/FH, 24p/24Mbps/FX, 25p/24Mbps/FX, 24p/17Mbps/FH, 25p/17Mbps/FH)
MP4: 1440 x 1080 (30fps/12Mbps, 25fps/12Mbps), 640 x 480 (30fps/3Mbps, 25fps/3Mbps)
|Movie Functions||Audio Level Display, Audio Rec Level, AF Tracking Duration, Auto Slow Shutter, HDMI Info Display (On/Off selectable)|
|Media Type||Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, SD,
|Media Slot||Slot 1: Multi slow for Memory Stick PRO Duo/SD (UHS-1 compliant) memory card
Slot 2: SD (UHS-1 compliant) memory card only
|Recording Mode on Two Memory Cards||Simult. Rec (Still), Simult. Rec (Movie), Simult. Rec (Still/Movie), Sort (JPEG/RAW), Sort (Still/Movie), Copy|
|Noise Reduction||Long exposure NR: On/Off selectable, available for shutter speed longer than 1 sec.
High ISO NR: Normal/Low/Off selectable
|Multi Frame NR||Auto/ISO 100 to 51200|
|White Balance Modes||Auto, Daylight, Shade, Clousy, Incandescent, Fluorescent (Warm White, Cool White, Day White, Daylight), Flash, Color Temp. (2500 to 9900K) & color filter (G7 to M7, A7 to B7), Custom (3)|
|Auto White Balance Micro Adjustment||Yes (G7 to M7 [15 steps], A7 to B7 [15 steps])|
|Bracketing||3 frames, H/L selectable|
|Focusing System Type||TTL Phase-detection AF|
|Focus Sensor||Detector 1: CCD line sensors, Detector 2: Focal Plane Phase Detection Sensors|
|Focus Point||Detector 1: 19 points (11 cross type), Detector 2: 102 assist points|
|Sensitivity Range||Detector 1: -1 to 18 E (at ISO 100 equivalent, with f/2.8 lens attached)|
|Focus Mode||Direct Manual Focus, Manual Focus selectable|
|AF Mode||Single-shot AF (AF-S), Automatic AF (AF-A), Continuous AF (AF-C), Depth Map Assist Continuous AF (AF-D) selectable|
|Focus Area||Wide (auto, 19 points), Zone, Spot, Local selectable|
|Exposure Metering Type||1200-zone evaluative metering|
|Exposure Metering Sensor||Exmor CMOS sensor|
|Exposure Meter Sensitivity||-2 to 17 EV (at ISO 100 equivalent with f/1.4 lens attached)|
|Exposure Metering Modes||Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot|
|Exposure Modes||AUTO (iAUTO, Superior Auto), Programmed AE (P), Aperture priority (A), Shutter speed priority (S), Manual (M), Scene Selection, Sweep Panorama, Tele-zoon Continuous Priority AE, Movie (Programmed AE (P), Aperture priority (A), Shutter speed priority (S), Manual (M) selectable in manual focus mode)|
|Scene Selection||Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports action, Sunset, Night portrait, Night scene, Hand-held Twilight|
|Exposure Compensation||+/- 5 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 steps|
|AE Bracketing||Bracket: Continuous, Bracket: Single, with 1/3 EC, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 2 EV, 3 Ev increments, 2/5 frames (2 EV, 3 EV: only 3 frames) selectable|
|ISO Sensitivity||Still: ISO 100-25600, AUTO: ISO 100-6400, Movies: ISO 100-6400|
|Viewfinder Type||XGA OLED, 1.3cm (0.5 type) color EVF|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2,359,296 dots|
|Brightness Control||Auto, Manual ( 3 steps between -1 and +1)|
|Color Temperature Control||Manual (5 steps)|
|Magnification||Approx. 0.71x (with 50mm lens at infinity, -1m)|
|Diopter Adjustment||-4.0 to +3.0m|
|Eye Point||Approx. 27mm from eyepiece lens, 22mm from eyepiece frame
at -1 diopter
|LCD Type||3" / 7.5cm TFT drive|
|LCD Resolution||1,228,800 dots|
|LCD Brightness Control||Auto, Manual (5 stpes between -2 and +2), Sunny weather|
|Adjustable Angle||Tilt: 140° upward and 180° downward
Rotate: 180° CW, 90°CCW
|LCD Focus Magnifier||35mm full frame: 5.9x, 11.7x / APS-C: 3.8x, 7.7x|
|Peaking MF||Yes (Level: High/Mid/Low, Color: White/Red/Yellow)|
|Clear Image Zoon||Approx. 2x|
|Digital Zoom||Smart Still Images: Approx. 1.5x or 2.3x, Digital Zoom Still Images and Movies: Approx. 4x|
|Smart Teleconverter||Approx. 1.4x / 2x|
|Lens Compensation||Peripheral shading, chromatic aberration, distortion|
|Shutter Type||Electronically controlled, vertical traverse, focal plane type|
|Shutter Speed Range||Still: Bulb and 30 to 1/8000 sec., Movies: 1/4 to 1/8000 sec. (1/3 step)|
|Flash Sync Speed||1/250 sec.|
|Image Stabilization Type||Still: Image-Sensor Shift mechanism, Movies: Electronic|
|Compensation Effect||Equivalent to 2.5 to 4.5 steps in shutter speeds|
|Flash Control||ADI, Pre-flash TTL|
|Flash Compensation||+/- 3 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 steps|
|Flash Bracketing||0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 2.0, 3.0 EV steps; 3/5 frames (2 and 3 EV: only 3 frames) selectable|
|Flash Modes||Flash off, Autoflash, Fill-flash, Rear sync, Slow sync, Red-eye reduction (on/off), Hi-speed sync, Wireless|
|External Flash||Sony Alpha system flash compatible with multi-interface shoe, attach with shoe adapter|
|Drive Modes||Single shooting, Continuous shooting (Hi/Lo selector), Self-timer (10/2 sec. delay selectable), Bracket: Cont, Bracket: Single, White Balance bracket, DRO bracket, Remote Control (optional)|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||Up to 6 fps (full resolution)|
|No. of Frames Recordable (SD-UHS1 Card)||Continuous Shooting Hi- Extra FINE: 15, FINE: 24, STD: 29, RAW: 15, RAW+JPEG: 12|
|PC Interface||miniB, USB 2.0|
|HD Output||HDMI mini connector (Type C), BRAVIA Sync, PhotoTV HD|
|Other Interface||Sync terminal, Multi Interface Shoe, Microphone terminal (3.5mm stereo minijack), DC IN terminal, Wired remote terminal, Headphone terminal (3.5mm stereo minijack), Vertical grip connector|
|Compatible Operating System||Windows XP (SP3), Windows Vista (SP2), Windows 7 (SP1), Mac OS X (v. 10.3-10.8)|
|Microphone||Built-in stereo microphone or optional ECM-ALST1, ECM-CG50, or XLR-K1M|
|Power Source||NP-FM500H rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack|
|Battery Life||Approx. 410 shots (with viewfinder), approx. 500 shots (with LCD), approx. 155 min. (with viewfinder or LCD)|
|Body Material||Magneisum alloy and high rigidity engineering plastic exterior|
|Operating Temperature||32-104°F / 0-40°C|
|Dimensions||5.8 x 4.5 x 3.1" / 147 x 111.2 x 78.4mm|
|Weight||1.8 lb / 812 g (with battery and memory card)|