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September 12, 2012

Sony Announces Full-Frame A99 with 1080P 60FPS and Uncompressed HDMI

Sony today unveiled the A99, a camera we discussed back in August that had been rumored for months. From the spec sheet, it seems Sony is listening to video users and trying to pick up the pieces from Canon's somewhat less-than-stellar Mark III offering. While that camera's still image quality is well above average, its video features were a bit lacking. Sony, on the other hand, took every criticism anyone had for that Canon DSLR and put them all into one body: uncompressed HDMI, 1080p 60fps, and a swivel LCD. Sony, at least for the moment, can claim the top spot as the cheapest full-frame camera with all of these video features. Check out the videos below for some sample footage from the camera.

Here are the specs for the camera:

  • Full-Frame 24.3MP Exmor CMOS Sensor
  • 3.0" TruBlack Tilting LCD Display
  • Uncompressed HDMI
  • XGA OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  • Full HD 1920x1080 60p Video Recording
  • (Partial) Data/Frame Rates: AVCHD: PS - 1920 x 1080/60p@28Mbps -- FX 1920 x 1080/24p@24Mbps
  • Still Image ISO: 100-25600 (Extended Mode: 50-25600)
  • Video ISO: 100-6400
  • Simultaneous Still Image/Video Recording to Dual SD Card Slots
  • Internal SteadyShot Image Stabilization
  • Auto HDR Mode
  • Release Date: November 2012
  • Price: $2,800

This is really the most fully-featured DSLR (SLT) to date. While other companies are working on products with just as many features (like Panasonic with their GH3), none can claim that they are doing this with full-frame sensors. Nikon's D800 was an admirable offering from Nikon, but Sony has been doing video for a lot longer and they've really tried to improve the video capabilities of the camera. Here is one interesting bit from the production description:

Area-Specific Noise Reduction: The noise reduction system used by the A99 divides your images into various parts based on their patterns including edges, textures and gradients. It then processes these areas using the best and most appropriate settings to optimize image quality, and reduce noise. This is all in addition to the conventional noise reduction techniques employed by the camera, and helps to produce images with low noise throughout the wide 9-stop ISO range of 100 to 25600, and expanded to include ISO 50.

I don't know how exactly that will apply in video mode (if at all), but it's certainly an interesting idea that is finally pushing noise reduction into a new generation. Since the A99 employs a new continuous dual autofocus system, it should work a lot better during video recording (even if it won't be perfect). There is a lot to like about this camera, but the only thing that will still prevent some users from switching over is the Alpha mount, as many DSLR users already own many Nikon or Canon lenses, and these can't really be adapted to the Sony mount (there is an exception, but it's not even worth worrying about). Sony's E-mount is far more versatile, and it's interesting that they are sticking with the A-mount even while pushing their E-mount in most of their other cameras. While the E-mount lenses have been designed for APS-C, that lens mount can technically take full-frame E-mount lenses -- so we may actually see some of those in the future depending on Sony's plans.

It's a little interesting that Sony PR would pick the iPhone announcement day to introduce this camera (as well as a few others that made this post a little cramped), but it's definitely putting Sony at the top of a few lists for people who need stills and video in a small package. You can pre-order the camera from the link below as well as read more in-depth specifications from the Sony website.

Links:

[via The Verge]

Your Comment

60 Comments

is it too much to ask for the worthy successor of the mkii after all these years ? do none of these companies smell the demand .... including, especially, canon ?

the flood of entries lately have all missed the mark one way or the other .... including black magic.

power, lens mount, codec , media ... why the hell isn't anybody listening ?

i'll tell you .... when someone DOES listen, eventually ... they're going to eat canon's lunch.

September 12, 2012

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timeoutofmind

There is no perfect camera, and there never will be.

September 12, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

This!!

September 12, 2012

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Jerome

Arri SRII. No digital camera will ever be perfect, but there are many examples of film cameras throughout history that fit the bill (or very nearly).

September 15, 2012

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Jonathan

No camera will be perfect, period; even film cameras have their limitations. Can they all fit easily into a 3D workflow? Are they all quiet? Are they all small enough to be put in compact spaces? Can they all record for hours at a time?

As nostalgic as film cameras are, they are no more perfect than digital cameras. Pretty much every artist's tool can (and has been) upgraded, and they will continue to be improved because they are inherently imperfect.

September 17, 2012

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Edge

Can you adapt lenses for this camera to other cameras?

September 12, 2012

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moebius22

Kind of - really the only fully automatic option is adapting the A-mount lenses to E-mount using Sony's own adapter.

September 12, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

What are the actual issues w/ adapting say, Nikkor AI lenses, M42 lenses and Contax lenses to the A-mount? Obviously an adapter is needed, but is it a headache or worth the effort? Because this camera is beast enough to make me think of switching over.

September 12, 2012

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KahL

M42 lenses will work, not sure about Contax - it should theoretically work? For Nikon it's not worth dealing with - check out the link above for the only Nikon adapter I've ever seen that's not just a Macro adapter or one needing a piece of glass inside.

September 12, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I have an a77 and mainly use legacy Zeiss m42 lenses as well as the modern Zeiss ZS lenses which are M42 versions of their ZF/ZE lenses.

You can adapt some Contax lenses (I have the 50mm 1.7) but you need to physically unscrew the rear mount and put a new one on. Leitax.com can supply the replacement mounts and instructions but you can get a lens shop (like Duclos) to perform the adaptation instead if you'd rather not unscrew the lens yourself!

September 12, 2012

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Marcos Avlonitis

Which makes this Mount my deal breaker... Since my shooting suite is all N-AIS Glass, FACK! ... This looks so good too..

September 12, 2012

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Cleon

I've heard that the Sony A99 has a RAW 14 bit HDMI output.

This says it has "uncompressed" HDMI output

Question for the audience: Let's say I bought the Sony A99 as an alternative to the Black Magic cinema camera.

What kind of device would I record the HDMI output with? the Black Magic Hyperdeck Shuttle 2 records 10 bit uncompressed, but not 14 bit RAW.. any ideas on a device that does this?

September 12, 2012

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The A99 will not be sending out RAW video, the signal out of the HDMI is likely 8-bit 4:2:2.

September 12, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Hi Joe, 4.2.0 according to my DP guys. Not sure where they got that info, but we were discussing it driving back from the DV Expo last week.

September 24, 2012

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I've heard 4:2:2 from my sources, so if that changes, I'll definitely update.

September 24, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

It's impossible for the a99 to have Raw output...

September 12, 2012

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Frank

Looks great. As an FS100 owner, though, it's too bad Sony's dslrs have different mounts than the NEX line.

I'm still eager to see the Nikon that's rumoured to be announced tomorrow.

September 12, 2012

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Tom

By "NEX line" I mean the e-mount cameras like the fs100.

September 12, 2012

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Tom

If they don't cripple it like they did with the VG10 and VG20, the VG900 is the most interesting product announced today: it should have all the goodies from the A99, but it is (even) more video-centric.
Let's wait and see how the video quality is out of each of these...

September 12, 2012

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Sony VG900 was just announced too. The first ever Full Frame Camcorder. And its e-mount. I think thats a bigger news for this website than the A99 should be since it for video (with photo capabilities too). Its like the A99 in a VG series body..and its awesome.

September 12, 2012

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Quobetah

Sony announced like 50 cameras today, hold on a second :)

September 12, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

:D

September 12, 2012

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guto novo

Christ Joe...get on it! xD

September 12, 2012

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sean

This camera is a beast. Old school manual lenses should be as straightforward as any other camera system. E mount would have been amazing, but you can't have everything. Sample footage seems to have a pretty good dynamic range with no discernible aliasing. I'm impressed.

September 12, 2012

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Will there be any way to adapt Canon lenses to this camera?

September 12, 2012

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McKay

Nope, will never be a way.

September 12, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I see. So what are the best lenses for video for this camera, in your opinion?

September 12, 2012

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McKay

Well Sony's lenses, first, and you can also get Zeiss lenses in the Alpha mount. You can adapt Leica R and M42 lenses to this camera as well. Zeiss will probably be the best lenses you can put on this camera. I'll be honest, these Alpha cameras are pretty much the only DSLRs I've never owned, so I haven't had to deal with not being able to adapt my Nikon primes, which will not work on this camera properly.

September 12, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Aside from the A-Mount what I lament the most about is the Internal Codec, 28mbps AVCHD... Could you not do at least 50Mbps internal? I hate using external recorders only slightly less than I hate the AVCHD Codec.

September 12, 2012

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David

28mbps can be superior to 50 (like canon uses) depending how it is implemented.

September 12, 2012

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JEF

here's another video from Sony Japan:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBJI_wVtDl8

September 12, 2012

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producerx

The only thing i am really interested in is the actual sharpness. Not the blurry/muddy DSLR 1080 we are used to as DSLR owners... If the Alpha99 could produce a picture as sharp as...a fs100 (even slighty worse) would be amazing and a total buy for me...
Does anyone know how the menus are in these Alphas? I own a 60D and love the canon menu but absolutely hate the Nikon menus for example...

September 12, 2012

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Lukas

Another lens adapter question, Joe, would it be possible to use old manual Olympus OM lenses with the A99? Is there such a thing as an OM-to-A-mount adapter, or could one be manufactured?

September 12, 2012

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jimbee

I guess adapters exist, since the flange distance works. So you can add those lenses to the list of ones that can be adapted to this camera.

September 12, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

"Since the A99 employs a new continuous dual autofocus system, it should work a lot better during video recording (even if it won’t be perfect). "

From what I've gathered, dual autofocus system won't work when shooting video. In other words, on-sensor phase detect modules remain useless in video mode.

September 12, 2012

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TomTom

When you say uncompressed HDMI - is that for a true HD picture on an external monitor or do you mean you can send the picture to an external recorder like a black magic or nija?

Thanks

September 12, 2012

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david

Both the A99 and VG900 will have clean HDMI out to allow for uncompressed recording to a device such as the Ninja 2. 8 bit 4:2:2 but this is pretty neat for a full frame sensor. The highly adaptable e-mount on the VG900 is also a really nice draw.

September 12, 2012

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Mo

The latter.

September 12, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I really dont get all the hate so far about this camera from people. For one the photos it is making look amazing and my only real question is what the buffer is like on this camera. Next everyone is saying AVCHD is bad and why did Sony do this? Well is it really that bad the FS100 and FS700 both have it but the A99 also have HDMI out something Canon Fanboys have wanted for a long time. Well Sony A99 has it. The videos that Ive seen online seem to be sharper and more detail then the Canon 5D Mark 3 but I cant say anything because I havent seen downloaded video. For me right now Its either going to be the A99 or the Black Magic Camera and Im leaning towards the A99 since I make most of my money with Photography but my clients are now starting to want more film.

September 12, 2012

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Russell

Sonys video looks like video trying to look like video.
Canon has a more filmiccontrolled look.
A-mount sucks for anyone invested in nikon or canon lenses.

September 12, 2012

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vinceGortho

I think the way you do your Grading has a lot to do with how it looks.

September 12, 2012

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Russell

Also everything is shown filmed in 60 fps. Just shoot it in 24 fps and the color grade it and BAM.. Film look.

September 13, 2012

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Did not like the video showing of video quality... I understand that with the harsh lighting they were trying to show off the dynamic range, but it was very cheesy. The bokeh was also disturbing... some shots very out of focus (hand on guitar) and the bokeh is just not pleasing to the eyes. Of course... this is due to the lenses and not the body, but this is why I don't recommend Sony cameras... lack of luster in lenses.

September 12, 2012

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Antony Alvarez

Also, they didn't even acknowledge what ISO they were shooting at.

September 12, 2012

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Antony Alvarez

Where does everyone get this lack of Lenses stuff on Sony, Ok the mount might not be the best but they have plenty of Lens to get work done. I work with people who think the same. I mean how many people really need the tons of lenses that Canon offers. Ya they are nice but you can get your work done with the Sony ones along with Sigma and Tamron ones that fit the A Mount.

September 12, 2012

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Russell

Is only to me or those videos are a lot "videoish" ...

September 12, 2012

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atd3d

It's not just you. The 'Sound Quality' video of the band looks like it was shot with a camera phone. I love the look of the Sony F3 and F65 with the wider dynamic range. But these cameras don't seem to push the video quality of the DSLR footage we've seen in the past. At least in these promo videos.

September 12, 2012

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Casey

the image quality looks a little weak i think

September 12, 2012

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Ali

the video quality sample looks great when the dancer is outside, but the low light indoor shots don't look very clean. still, the first FF with 1080p60. put an e-mount on it and it'll be much more appealing.

September 12, 2012

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The low light performance is what I'm interested in. If it can be comparable to the D800 or 5D (high iso, low noise, extra stop of light) then this camera would be the best full-frame offering for video. But with SLT, I'm skeptical that it can. And if it does fall considerably short in that category, then I'd rather pick up the much cheaper APS-C camera: the A57. Almost all the goodies of this camera but at a fraction of the price.

But props to Sony either way. In-body IS, good autofocus in video mode, and 60fps at 1080p are great features their Alpha line has that shouldn't be ignored.

September 12, 2012

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