Sony Alpha SLT-A99 DSLR Review
The new SLT-A99 is Sony’s first full-frame camera with an electronic viewfinder. While former Sony full-format cameras like the A900 or A850 offered a standard SLR system, the new A99 offers an electronic viewfinder with extremely high resolution (2.3 million RGB dots). Due to the SLT system with fixed mirror, which allows use of a classic AF system based on phase detection, the camera is very fast and can even utilize the AF system while recording videos.
The A99 sports a very versatile swivel LCD. Its sophisticated swivel joint allows the user to turn the LCD to the front or the back and to rotate the screen in nearly every direction, helpful for stills but especially when recording videos. It records movies in high bit rate AVCHD and offers additional “cinema style” video recording with 24 frames per second (fps).
The A99 is very fast. The AF system proved to be very accurate, fast, and reliable. The A99 is able to shoot up to 10 fps in full resolution, but this high speed is only available in a special image mode that can be selected with the mode dial.
The camera offers numerous custom settings, including user-defined image modes. The camera also has an integrated GPS system which allows users to tag images directly and automatically with geo data information that becomes integrated into the EXIF data of each image.
Color: The camera showed a very good performance in our color tests. The saturation is nearly perfect (99.28 percent) and color errors are on a very low level. Skin tones are nearly perfect. The automatic white balance system showed a clearly noticeable shift into the green direction when taking images with fluorescent light systems. The differentiation of color nuances is fine, but not perfect. Some areas in the red T-shirt of our model show only minor differentiation.
Sharpness: Sharpness and resolution test results are only on an average level for a camera with a full-format sensor system. The A99 yields a maximum of 3279 lines of nominal 4000 lines in picture height. This result is based on an intense sharpness filtering which causes some overshot effects and halos on contour lines, like the slanted edge in the test chart. Sharpness in real-life images is very good, but at times we noticed some overshot effects. The 24MP images show no moiré or aliasing effects, while videos often show these effects in fine details like metal structures or tiled roofs.
Noise: The Sony camera offers clean and noise-free images up to ISO 1600. Luminance noise is very level even in higher ISO speed settings like 6400. In images taken with higher ISO speed settings (more than ISO 3200) you will notice color noise artifacts and some anti-noise filtering effects like color clouds in homogeneous-colored areas. But even these effects are on a low level up to ISO 12,800. Only in the highest ISO setting of 25,600 did we notice high color noise levels and noticeable reduction of image details due to the anti-noise filtering.
+ Very handy swivel LCD which can be flipped up- and downward and rotated to the front of the camera
+ Massive and robust body
+ High resolution of 24MP
+ Full-format sensor for shallow depth of field photography; automatic switch to crop mode when using lenses for the APS-C-sized cameras
+ Full HD video recording with high frame and bit rates; clean HDMI output
- Color moirés/aliasing effects in videos
Lab results and test images by BetterNet, our TIPA-affiliated testing lab. Edited by George Schaub.
The Sony Alpha SLT-A99 has a list price of $2799. For more information, visit www.sony.com.
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