Hands-On Review: the Sony SLT-A99

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In this B&H Video, Larry Becker walks us through some of the features of the Sony SLT-A99 digital camera. The flagship full-frame camera from Sony, the A99 is a 24.3MP gem that creates high resolution, low-noise photos and shoots Full HD 1080p video at 60 frames per second. The most distinguishing attribute of the A99 is its translucent mirror technology, specifically categorizing it as a DSLT, as opposed to a DSLR. Because its mirror can reflect an image and allow it to pass through to the sensor, it does not need to flip up between shots. This offers a host of advantages including its fast dual autofocus system.

Other features specific to the A99 that have caught Larry’s favor are the controllable autofocus range, the multi-angle TruBlack 3.0” LCD, the all-info mode display and the weather-sealed body that is lightweight without feeling fragile. He discusses its numerous video-specific features such as the stereo microphone and headphone jacks, the XLR audio compatibility and the silent multi-controller dial. And, as any Sony user will be pleased to hear, the A99 has incorporated a universal hot shoe mount and an adapter to fit the Sony/Minolta mount.

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
Image Sizes 3:2
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 1152 (2M)
16:9
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)
Sweep Panorama
Wide Hor.: 12,416 x 1856 (23M)
Wide Ver.: 5536 x 2160 (12M)
Standard Hor.: 8192 x 1856 (15M)
Standard Ver.: 3872 x 2160 (8.4)
Image Quality Modes RAW, RAW & JPEG, JPEG Extra Fine, JPEG Fine, JPEG Standard
RAW Output 14 bit
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, SDHC, SDXC
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, Cloudy, 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, Handheld 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, 3/5 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)
Field Coverage 100%
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 steps 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 Zoom 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 connectory (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 8 (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
Speaker Built-in monaural
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)

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