SONY PROLONGS ITS DSLR PROGRAM
WITH THE ASSEMBLED press largely expecting Sony to announce an A9 flagship full-35mm mirrorless camera, the company surprised everybody by upgrading its A99 flagship fixedmirror D-SLR. The A99 II may have a fixed reflex mirror, but it’s still a D-SLR and the belief was that Sony was done with this category of camera as its mirrorless A7 Series continues to do great business. Appropriately though, it’s the tenth anniversary of Sony’s debut in the D-SLR business, after acquiring the Konica Minolta program and launching the debut A100 in 2006.
The A9 may well be yet another victim of the long delays caused by earthquake damage to Sony’s sensor facility earlier in the year, but the A99 II gives the D-SLR camp a shot in the arm. It’s actually a very different camera from its predecessor, downsized so it’s now as compact as the ‘APS-C’ A77 II and with the same 42.4 megapixels (effective) ‘Exmor R’ back-illuminated CMOS sensor as the A7R II. Sony opted for the fixed (i.e. pellicle) mirror design because it allows for faster shooting and also maintains phase-difference detection autofocusing with live view and video. The A99 II builds on this by having a continuous shooting speed of 12 fps with full AF/AE adjustment, and a new hybrid AF system with 399+79 focusing points. However, the term “hybrid” here means a combination of a dedicated AF sensor – with 79 points – and an imaging-based system using 399 points… but both employ phase-detection measurements. The benefits are a very wide scene coverage, faster tracking and low-light sensitivity down to EV -4.0.
The A99 II gets most of the goodies from the current A7 models, including five-axis sensor-based image stability which gives up to 4.5 stops of correction, an XGA OLED-type EVF (remember that the reflex mirror is fixed so you can’t have an optical finder) 4K video (using the Super 35 format and without pixel binning), time code support, an 8-bit 4:2:2 colour output from the HDMI connection, a three-axis tiltable monitor screen, and dual memory card slots (each SD and MemoryStick compatible).
The A99 II has a fully weather-sealed body and an all-new focal plane shutter assembly that’s rated to 300,000 cycles. The top shutter speed remains at 1/8000 second and the sensor’s ISO range is equivalent to 100 to 25,600, expandable to 50 and 102,400.
Availability with be from November with the US market price set at US$3200 for the body only (local pricing has yet to be announced). Incidentally, a significant endorsement of Sony’s increasing importance in the high-end camera market is Profoto’s announcement of a compatible AirTTL wireless controller. This will allow the A99 II as well as the A7 II, A7S II and A7R II mirrorless cameras to be used with Profoto’s TTL-equipped pro flash systems, giving automatic exposure control and high speed sync (HSS) at up to 1/8000 second.
For more information visit www.sony.com.au