Camera - - WHAT’S NEW -

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

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