Small form, big feature set, even bigger price: Sony takes a shot at photographic perfection with version two of its A-mount flagship, the A99
US$3130 (body) / sony.com
A giant sensor, turbocharged autofocus, 4K video… cameras don’t come much better-equipped than the A99 II. While it’s not quite the most expensive snapper made by Sony (that honour falls to the new E-mount A9), this is the flagship model in the A-mount range – the company’s DSLR equivalents.
With a translucent mirror and a viewfinder that’s electronic rather than optical, the newer A-mount cameras can’t strictly be called DSLRs, but to all intents and purposes this is Sony’s answer to the top full-frame models from Canon, Nikon and Pentax. Hence its $3000 asking price.
The good news is, the lack of a traditional mirror-and-pentaprism setup makes the A99 II more compact than an equivalent DSLR. For an interchangeable-lens camera with a full-frame sensor, it’s impressively bijou – and even 8% smaller than the old A99.
More importantly, it offers both great all-round performance and some features you won’t find on any rival model. 1 Unbreakable Like most high-end DSLRs, the body is built on a magnesium alloy frame for toughness, and the controls, dials and ports are weather-sealed. A large grip on the right and a rubbery material wrapped around most of the body will keep it locked in your hands. 2 Untouchable There’s a 3in LCD on the back that tilts out and twists, allowing you to view it from almost any angle. It’s a good-quality screen in terms of detail and brightness, but it’s not a touchscreen, which means the A99 II misses out on touch-to-focus capabilities. 3 Unfathomable We miss having a quick way to toggle between auto and manual focus. For this, and a lot of other settings, you must venture into the vast, labyrinthine menu system. Thankfully, you can assign custom controls to certain buttons from within those menus.