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

09.12.12 @ 8:19AM Tags : , , , , ,

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 1920×1080 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.


[via The Verge]


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Description image 87 COMMENTS

  • timeoutofmind on 09.12.12 @ 8:27AM

    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.

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

      • This!!

      • 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).

        • 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.

  • Can you adapt lenses for this camera to other cameras?

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

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • Marcos Avlonitis on 09.12.12 @ 12:06PM

        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. 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!

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

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

    • Nope, will never be a way.

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

        • 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.

  • 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.

  • here’s another video from Sony Japan:

  • 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…

  • 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?

    • 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.

  • “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.

  • 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?


    • 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.

    • The latter.

  • 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.

  • Antony Alvarez on 09.12.12 @ 12:40PM

    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.

    • Antony Alvarez on 09.12.12 @ 12:42PM

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

      • 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.

  • Is only to me or those videos are a lot “videoish” …

    • 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.

  • the image quality looks a little weak i think

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Can somebody please remeber that 4:2:2 is not “uncompressed”? 4:4:4 is uncompressed, 4:2:2 half chroma info.

    • It’s only slightly clever language, they’re giving you an uncompressed 4:2:2 signal, meaning the image reaches the output untouched from encoding (that’s really all uncompressed refers to). Cameras have been doing this forever and we’ve been referring to their HD-SDI or HDMI as uncompressed even if the chroma is subsampled.

  • Very close to a camera purchase. So much interesting stuff going on. Would be great to see a revised DSLR cinematography guide with all this new activity. And interesting to see where it all goes once things die down and there is a lot of comparative reviews. Even though there’s been a lot of activity in the cinema camera arena, I still feel like I’m the kind of user that wants a hybrid model. Something that does great photo’s as well as great video. And since I don’t own any lenses at all, I guess the sky is the limit. Have to say this camera does look good and the LCD is a very nice design.

  • I also like that they paid attention to internal sound and are demoing that side of things specifically. Often such a neglected feature.

  • I never understand why they don’t put out at least one video with 24 fps and color grading. These 60 fps are great to show off broadcast quality video and slow motion but the 24 fps is what shows off the film look. (Still surprised that some here don’t understand that they can change the look from video to film by selecting 24fps).

    The A77 and A57 can’t go above1600 ISO when shooting video so the ability to shoot at 6400 is a step up… Still don’t know why they won’t let us go higher and deal with any noise in post like the other DSLR’s.

  • Canon had released an anti moire filter for some of its camaras, how is the moire with this one and also Nikon 600?

  • looks like crappy video look to me.. I had my hopes up with all the features, but my old DVX100b has a better film look than this.

  • I’ve noticed it does not record 30p (29.97). I’m really not a fan of 24p. What’s the workflow of 60p like? I often do work for broadcast, so I’m a bit worried about this not being an option.

  • Do they sell an adapter that allows Leica M lenses be used on the Sony A99?
    What about Zeiss C/Y lenses?

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