Previewed: Sony Alpha A99, new full-frame flagship has a Translucent Mirror


posted Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 12:03 AM EDT


Though Sony already had an impressive full-frame camera, the company completely rethought their flagship SLR with the introduction of the Sony Alpha SLT-A99. Instead of forging new classic design as the A900 did, the Sony A99 builds on the design of the speedy A77, a more modern look with sloping shoulders and organic curves. As expected, the Sony A99 includes a full-frame version of the company's Translucent Mirror Technology, using a transparent mirror to reflect a small amount of light up to a phase-detect sensor just beneath the Sony logo. This eliminates the traditional moving mirror, allowing for faster frame rates and constant autofocus, rather than the necessarily interrupted focus systems of other professional SLR systems. It also means the A99 uses an electronic viewfinder rather than optical. The kicker is, the Sony A99 doesn't stop there: it also integrates phase-detect sensors in the imaging sensor itself for even greater accuracy. It's unclear why they needed this extra boost -- perhaps to tune one system with the other, or to handle more difficult subjects -- but it's hard to discount the value of extra autofocus sensors.

The rest of the Sony A99's features read like a checklist of amazing technology you'd need if you wanted to make a camera to challenge the hegemony of Nikon and Canon in the professional marketplace: A 35mm 24.3-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor, 14-bit RAW files, Sensor-shift image stabilization, Sweep Panorama mode, Full HD video at 60p, Dual SD/Memory Stick slots, Max ISO of 25,600, continuous full-frame shooting at up to 6fps (10fps in Tele-zoom mode), and stereo microphone and headphone jacks, just to hit on a few high points. (See below for more technical details.)

Pricing is expected to be around US$2,800 body-only when the Sony A99 ships in October 2012.

Want to know a whole lot more about the A99, and some of the accessories Sony has launched alongside its new flagship Translucent Mirror model? Read our hands-on Sony Alpha A99 preview!

Sony Alpha SLT-A99
Camera Type SLR
Manufacturer North America: A99
Dimensions 5.8 x 4.4 x 3.1 in.
(147 x 111 x 78 mm)
Weight 28.6 oz (812 g)
Planned Price $2,800
Planned Availability October 2012
Image Capture
Sensor Type Sony CMOS
35mm (approx. 1.69 in. diagonal)
24.70 megapixels (total)
24.30 megapixels (effective)
Filter Type RGBG
Focal Length Multiplier 1.00
Aspect Ratio 3:2
Image Dimensions 6000 x 4000 (24.0 megapixels)
6000 x 3376 (20.3 megapixels)
3936 x 2624 (10.3 megapixels)
3936 x 2216 (8.7 megapixels)
2640 x 1760 (4.6 megapixels)
2640 x 1488 (3.9 megapixels)
1728 x 1152 (2.0 megapixels)
1728 x 976 (1.7 megapixels)
12416 x 1856 (23.0 megapixels)
8192 x 1856 (15.2 megapixels)
2160 x 5536 (12.0 megapixels)
2160 x 3872 (8.4 megapixels)
Capture Speed Continuous: 6.0 frames per second for 15 frames
Image Quality 3 levels
Image Preview / Review
Viewfinder Yes, EVF type; 1.3cm (0.5-inch) 2,359K-dot XGA OLED, 100% coverage, 0.71x magnification, 22mm eyepoint at -1 diopter (CIPA standard), -4 to +3 diopter, eye sensor.
LCD 3.0 in. diagonal1,228,800 dots
Playback Zoom 16.7
Image Stabilization Yes
Focusing System Dual Phase-detection: 19 points (11 points cross type) CCD line sensors, 102 assist points focal plane phase-detection sensors; Wide (auto, 19 points), Zone, Spot, Local selectable
Has AF assist lamp
Manual focus possible
ISO Sensitivity Auto (100-6400 with selectable limits), 100-25600 in 1/3 EV steps, extendable down to ISO 50; Multi-frame NR up to ISO 51200
Shutter Speed 30 - 1/8000 second
Exposure Modes Program, Aperture, Shutter, Manual
Metering Modes 1200-zone Evaluative, Center-weighted, Spot
Exposure Compensation +/- 5.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White Balance Image Sensor - Auto WB, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent (Warm white/Cool white/Day white/Daylight), Flash, C. Temp 2500 to 9900K, C Filter G7 to M7 (15-step), Custom, AWB micro adjustment
Internal Flash Modes: Auto, Off, Fill-flash, Rear sync, Wireless, High-Speed sync, Slow sync, Red-eye reduction: On/Off
Flash Exposure Compensation +/- 3.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Scene Modes Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports Action, Sunset, Night Portrait, Night Scene, Hand-held Twilight, Sweep Panorama, Telezoom Continuous Priority AE
Digital Zoom 1.4x / 2x
Self Timer Yes, 2, 10; 3 or 5 frames after 10s seconds
Movie Format AVCHD 2.0 / MP4; Audio :Dolby Digital (AC-3) / MPEG-4 AAC-LC with audio
Movie Resolution / Frame Rate 1920x1080 @ 60p/28Mbps/PS or 60i/24Mbps/FX or 60i/17Mbps/FH or 24p/24Mbps/FX or 24p/17Mbps/FH, 1440x1080 @ 30p/12Mbps, 640x480 @ 30p/3Mbps
Recording Medium Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo, SD/MMC including SDHC, SDXC
File System Complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File Format 14-bit RAW (ARW 2.3), RAW+JPEG, JPEG (EXIF 2.3)
Other Type-C HDMI Mini Connector (BRAVIA Sync, PhotoTV H); Wired Remote Terminal, External Stereo Micophone Jack, External Stereo Headphone Jack, DC Input, Vertical Grip connector, Sync Terminal, Multi Interface Shoe
Battery Type Lithium-ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor Proprietary NP-FM500H
Product Bundle
Software Software CD-ROM (includes Picture Motion Browser, Image Data Converter 4, Remote Camera Control 3)
Battery / Charger 1 x Proprietary NP-FM500H Lithium-ion rechargeable battery and charger
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliant Yes
PictBridge Compliant Yes
Internal Microphone Yes
Internal Speaker Yes
Tripod Mount Yes
Remote Control Yes, Optional Wireless or Wired
Waterproof No
Notes 24.3MP full-frame image sensor, SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization, dual phase-detect AF, 200K shutter, AVCHD 2.0 video, hi-res OLED EVF, articulating 1.3M-dot LCD, 6 fps bursts at full resolution, up to 10 fps Tele-zoom mode, two card slots (SD/MS, SD), real-time Full HD video out via HDMI, built-in GPS.
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