Sony's full-frame A99 has been a long time coming, but has the wait been worth it? The What Digital Camera Sony A99 review finds out

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Sony A99

Overall score:89%
Image Quality:90%


  • Light body, bright and detailed viewfinder, most flexible LCD on any camera, high level of customisation, general image quality, superb handling, Smart Teleconversion function, high-quality video


  • Delay in changing exposure settings, slow start up, electronic viewfinder can stagger, 
occasional focus freezing issues, 
unhelpful error messages lead to dead ends in operation


Sony A99 Review


Price as reviewed:


Value and Verdict

Sony A99 review – Value

A comparison with its two most immediate rivals, Nikon’s D800 and Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III models, shows it to be currently priced a little higher than the latter and significantly higher than the former, although this is largely due to how long each has spent on the market. Purely from the perspective of specification, the D800 offers a higher pixel count as well as a faster start-up time, although it cannot match the A99’s burst rate, nor can it equal the LCD’s handy articulation. The EOS 5D Mark III, meanwhile, has a similar pixel count and burst rate (at least in its standard burst setting), but a marginally larger (fixed) LCD and an AF pattern with a wider spread.

Sony A99 review – Verdict

The A99 is a decidedly different proposition for the professional user than what we’ve seen previously. It clearly feels like a camera which has evolved from models beneath it in its range, rather than one designed specifically to satisfy a professional audience. Regardless of whether the SLT system is as relevant here as it is on cheaper Alpha models, it’s strange to find a full complement of professional options awkwardly blended with a range of semi-manual and novelty features; much of the camera’s functionality simply appears to be misplaced.

The limited spread of the focusing system will perhaps discourage a few, while the numerous delays which plague the camera’s operation are unlikely to please those who, at this end of the market, rightly expect negligible start-up time and minimal overall delays.

Still, certain factors which separate the A99 from the herd work very much to its advantage. The Silent Multi Controller and AF Range controls are clever and well-implemented additions, while the benefits of having an electronic viewfinder in darker environments shouldn’t be underestimated (the inclusion of which also translates to a reduction in overall weight). Video quality is also excellent, as is the implementation of the video functionality as a whole.

All of these issues mean the A99 ends up being a camera likely to be as embraced as it is disliked. Should the camera’s operational speed be remedied by a firmware update it will no doubt hold more appeal. As it is, it stands as a camera which delivers in some areas with aplomb, but falls down elsewhere where it matters.


Sample Photos:
Video:1920 x 1080p at 50p, 50i, 25p
ISO:ISO 100-25,600 (extendable to ISO 50 equivalent)
Built-in Flash:No
Lens Mount:A-mount
White Balance:Auto, daylight, shade, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent (4 types), flash, custom
Memory Card:SD, SDHC, SDXC, MS Pro Duo
Cable Release:Optional
Exposure Comp:+/-5.0EV in 1/3 and 1/2EV steps
PC Socket:Yes
Compression:Extra Fine, Fine, Standard
Viewfinder Type:2.4million dot OLED display
Output Size:6000 x 4000px
LCD:3in TFT LCD, 1.228million dots
Field of View:100%
Colour Temp Control:2500-9900K
AF Points:19 points (11 cross-type), 102 assist points with selected lenses
White Balance Bracket:Yes, 3 exposures
Sensor:24.3MP CMOS, full-frame
Max Flash Sync:1/250sec.
Focal Length Mag:none
DoF Prview:Yes
Dust Reduction:Yes
Metering System:1200-zone evaluative, centre-weighted, spot
Built-in Image Stabilisation:Yes
Movie Mode:1920 x 1080p at 50p, 50i, 25p
Exposure Modes:P, A, S, M, Auto, Scene
Live Mode:Yes
Connectivity:USB 2.0, HDMI
Power:Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
File Format:Raw (ARW), JPEG, Raw + JPEG
Dimensions:6000 x 4000px
Focusing Modes:AF-S (Single AF), AF-A (Auto AF), AF-C (Cont AF), AF-D (Depth Map Assist Continuous AF), DMF (Direct Manual Focus), M (Manual focus)
Shutter Speeds:1/8000-30sec, bulb
Drive Mode:6fps (10fps in Tele Zoom Continuous Priority AE mode)
Colour Space:sRGB, AdobeRGB
  1. 1. Sony A99 - Features
  2. 2. Design
  3. 3. Performance
  4. 4. Image Quality
  5. 5. Value and Verdict
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