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Will the Sony A99 Be the Full-Frame DSLR Video Shooters Have Been Waiting For?

08.28.12 @ 3:49PM Tags : , , , , ,

It’s now being reported that Sony will be announcing a new full-frame DSLR (they call it an SLT since the mirror is translucent) on September 12th called the A99. The last big announcement from Sony, the A77, introduced a lot of new features but didn’t quite take hold in the world of independent filmmakers. Rumored specs seem to indicate Sony is pulling out all of the stops on this one, but the real question is, will this be the best full-frame DSLR for video?

Here are some of the key specs that have been reported so far from Sony Alpha Rumors and Photo Rumors:

  • 24.3MP full frame CMOS Exmor sensor
  • Translucent mirror technology
  • ISO range: 100-25,600 (ISO-low 50 is also available)
  • 10fps and Shutter life of 200,000 shots
  • 2360k dots XGA OLED viewfinder
  • 3″ tiltable 921k dots LCD screen
  • Full HD video recording at 1920×1080/60p
  • HDMI output [Ed. Note. - Clean?]
  • New multi-segment low pass filter
  • Selective noise reduction
  • Two memory slots: SD and SD+MS cards
  • Very light, weather sealed magnesium alloy body
  • Weight: 730 g.
  • Announcement September 12 — Available in stores in late October
  • Price: around $2,800

If these turn out to be true, this is truly a next generation DSLR rather than just an evolutionary step. While mirrorless will likely be the dominant camera type in the not-too-distant future, this hybrid technology from Sony is the best of both worlds because it allows native mounting with Sony’s Alpha lenses as well as phase detection autofocus during video recording. While the Alpha lenses might be less popular than Nikon and Canon, they are still comparable. The only problem is that if you haven’t bought into the Sony system before, you’ve got to invest a lot of money in new lenses since almost nothing is compatible (except for Leica R and M42). So while Leica R is truly the Swiss Army Knife of lenses, they will not be the cheapest solution.

Either way, if the HDMI is clean as the specs seem to indicate, and Sony has developed a different low-pass filter for video consideration, then this could be the first real full-frame camera that doesn’t throw away its resolution but also avoids aliasing and moire. If Nikon and Canon don’t have a counter and the video on this camera is as good as some think it will be, you could potentially see a lot of users jump ship to Sony to take advantage of a clean picture and that “magical” full-frame look.

We’ll find out soon enough whether this will be ultimate full-frame camera, but it will be interesting to see what Canon and Nikon will develop in response (especially since Nikon uses many Sony sensors in their cameras).

If you aren’t a Sony Alpha user already, would any of you move over to Sony if this camera had good resolution and clean HDMI?


[via The Verge]


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Description image 36 COMMENTS

  • Main weakness, the Alpha mount. Do not want.
    Would be just about perfect had it been E-Mount.

    • if A99 triumphs, i bet NEX-VG900 will be as good or even better than A99, which is an E-mount camcorder with the A99 sensor.

  • Great News!!! Looks like Sony wants to take it all. As for the magic of full frame, maybe you guys can explain to me something I never got to understand. The size of the sensor has no relation to the size of the lens? I mean, if you put a full frame camera with a lens in a ‘magic’ shrinking machine ,and scale to half it’s size, wouldn’t that be still a full frame camera?

    • To get equivalent field of view with a smaller sensor size, you need a wider lens, but in most cases those wider lenses aren’t fast enough to match the depth of field at full frame. Putting a 50mm lens on a full frame camera and shooting at F/1.4 is something you can’t quite recreate on smaller sensors. This isn’t to say that smaller sensors are worse, but that’s usually what people are referring to when they talk about that.

  • I’m new to the camera-buying world, and I haven’t invested much into lenses yet. I jumped on the Sony train with my NEX-5N purchase in January and with the way Sony cameras are looking right now, I’m very happy I did. Though I’m in no position to purchase the a99, it’s still exciting to see where things are headed! Definitely more excited about this than I was about the 5D3 or the D800.

  • I will wait for the NEX-9, FF.

  • I just shot a wedding video with the NEX-5n and I love that little camera. Does a great job in studio shooting stills, shooting video and generally in good lighting conditions, but it does not come with a fast lens. there are a few options lens wise, but hey are definitely limited. I have been reluctant to invest in Sony A-mount, Nikon or Canon ‘fast’ glass because whatever investment I make will need to work with whatever next camera I will be buying. Right now I am leaning towards a Mark-III, but this new Sony system could be a game changer and allow me to get a really good low-light camera and have access to fast lenses within the Sony family and use those on both cameras with the LA-EA2 adapter which brings Phase Detection focus to the NEX system. Thanks for the post!!!

    Also, I have seen conflicting specs on other sites. More specifically on tis one:

    -36.9 Megapixel Exmor Sensor (3mos)
    -no Bayer filter
    -ISO 100-102400 and extendable to a 204800 & 409600

  • So you can’t adapt Nikon lenses to this?

  • timeoutofmind on 08.28.12 @ 5:03PM

    or canon lenses ? no adapters ?

  • timeoutofmind on 08.28.12 @ 5:14PM

    also …. canon could kill these guys right at the gate by releasing a firmware hack that frees up clean hdmi out.
    i’m holding my breath.

  • I love my A77 and my alpha glass ( I have alpha line, G series, and some Minolta primes). The combination really produces fantastic images for stills or video. I am however very excited for this camera and if it does everything that it’s supposed to I may have to turn the 77 into my B camera. We shall see in September.

  • Nice, but will not be purchasing. If i was coming in fresh, maybe. But Sony also have a pro video division to protect.

    Favourite recent comment from star photographer while we were both covering the same event: ‘You shoot Sony?’ I asked. ‘They pay me,” he replied, shrugging.

  • Erwin (Netherlands) on 08.28.12 @ 6:30PM

    It’s nice to know that Sony is going to offer a full-frame camera that might finally offer the kind of specs that thousands of videographers hoped to get from the Canon 5d Mark III. The mark III was the camera I was going to get, mostly for the full frame video function. But no clean HDMI out and rather disappointing resolution on Full HD video made me decide to look elsewhere. If the A99 has the kind of very high Full HD resolution the (hacked) Panasonic GH2 has and is full frame, it might become my next camera. Would be even nicer if it could shoot video in raw or have uncompressed 12 bit HDMI out. We’ll see. (we’re using these cameras for company video’s and documentaries)


  • Just a word of thanks to Joe for taking time to answer noobs like me when we ask simple questions. I have learned a lot patronizing ur site over the last year.

    • No problem! That’s what I’m here for – if I have the time I try to answer as many questions as possible, no matter how simple or advanced they may be.

  • Full HD 60p is great; Alpha mount is not. This really needs a universal mount to be tempting…

  • Wrango Davenlo on 08.28.12 @ 6:43PM

    The VG900 will be the same sensor, and it will be an E-mount. The A99 is said to be a lower end version of this camera.

    My problem with Sony is, their video doesn’t look to emulate the feel of film like Canon dslrs do. Sony’s video looks like video trying to be video.

  • It would take a lot to move me off of my D800. For video work, it’s not perfect, but Nikon has slowly but surely upping their game in the HDSLR space, and F mount is by far my favorite for video work with a DSLR. As a still camera, the D800 may be close to, if not the best DSLR ever created in terms of IQ. It will be interesting to see what the Sony A99 is capable of in terms of IQ, in particular if the dynamic range surpasses the D800.

    But I’ve always been kind of intrigued by Sony’s DSLR line. I thought their A900 and A850 were both superb, but their APS-C SLT line, while interesting, never really did it for me.

    One drawback of Sony using Zeiss optics in their professional lenses is that Zeiss doesn’t make the Z series lenses in Alpha mount. AFAIK, there are no Zeiss ZA lenses, only ZE (Canon), ZF (Nikon), and ZK (Pentax) primes.

  • Probably not, but I’m an FS100 owner already.

  • So mich detailed brought back from RAW! Way sharper than the FS100s! What more if he shot at F1.4?!?! Thats it, the BMCC is the best video camera that exists today!:D (Yeah its got its shit together even against RED,ARRI and F65 considering all things like size and cost)

  • Wrong thread.

  • Alpha- What??

  • Jim Chisholm on 08.29.12 @ 7:19AM

    Has Sony solved all of the overheating issues that came with the first SLT’s like the A55?

  • I’ll wait for an APS-C or full frame Camera with raw. DSLR Video is cool, but the A99 will probably have a lousy bitrate and I think (compressed) RAW is the way to go now.

  • One thing you should keep it mind:

    Though it’s a FF camera, it may not do FF when shooting video for the sake of electronic image stabilization.
    Take a look at A77. When shooting video, it crops about 1.2x portion of images so it can do electronic image stabilization and there’s no way you can turn it off. It’s always there.

    I hope Sony wouldn’t be stupid enough to make same mistake especially when they’re dealing with FF cameras.

  • Hello,

    I’d suggest everyone thinking about buying the A99 to take some time to test it at a local dealer or after ordering it (if you have the possibility to return in the first 14 days or so like we Germans have). I really loved the A700 and love my A850 much more but SLT is the thing which lead me to plan to switch away from Sony on the long run. My father owns the A77 and I don’t like photographing with EVF and filming is much worse with the A77 than with the NEX-5n.

    For filming I bought the NEX-5n directly after the release last year and was mostly happy until some days ago where the codec mostly ruined my material I shot then with extrem color banding and really bad noise (ISO400 only) – same problem with the A77 B-Cam. But handling is much better on the NEX-5n than it’s on the A77 cause I have one manual mode where I can press the record or the photo shutter release and get the current settings applied. In the Video mode the A77 doesn’t even let you use focus magnification (the cheap NEX does). This is only an example which I wanted to explain to you to show you the problems a bit. There are some points where Sony totally fucked up video on this cams so don’t expect too much.

    When you look at the F3, the NEX-FS100/FS700 and the NEX-VGs you definitely see that Sony gives you what you pay for so why should they now give you a too god cam for this price?

    PS: I don’t want to be offending but give you some thought from a long time Sony user (started with the A100 after my analog Minolta). My father and I have good lenses so I’d love to see Sony bringing some real A850/A900 successor but after the last years and with SLT only future I’m going planing my switch with the next camera :-(