This powerhouse camera is an update to the previous Sony Alpha A99 which came out four years ago and it brings together the advantages of the SLT line with features that were implemented in the models of the A7 series. The Sony SLT A99 II offers a high resolution, full-frame sensor on board with a lot of additional tech that permits 4K shooting with a great overall image quality.
The full-frame back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS 42.2MP sensor comes with a five-axis, sensor-based image stabilization system, the processor is BIONZ X and aside from these you also get:
– 399 on-sensor PDAF points as well as a dedicated PDAF sensor with 79 points
– 4K UHD 100Mbps recording and eight bit 4:2:2 4K output over HDMI. They also added a new ‘Slow & Quick’ option that permits the adjustment of the frame rate between one and 120fps and it also has S-Log profiles. You can output the clean footage through the HDMI port.
– 12fps continuous shooting in Raw with C-AF
– Dual SD card slots (UHS I)
– Shutter speed range between 30 seconds and up to 1/8000 seconds and the flash sync speed is set to 1/250 seconds
– Picture profile setting s with Log gamma curves and Wi-Fi with NFC and Bluetooth
– Weather sealed body with a 3-inch LCD screen that features a 1,228k-dot resolution. The viewfinder is centered around a 0.5 inch OLED panel with a 2,359k-dot resolution
– The menu system was reworked with color codes sections and they were categorized on aspects of the camera such as the Autofocus or Flash
– The images and videos can be sent to the SD, SDHC or SDXC media and there is support for the UHS-I standard as well as for the Sony Memory Stick Pro.
– The battery lasts for around 390 shots according to the rating if you are using the viewfinder and 490 with the rear LCD. For recording it lasts for 135 minutes of continuous recording.
Design and Handling
With the weather sealed body, the magnesium alloy that is resistant to dust and moisture, as well as the anti-dust sensor protection, the SLT A99 II is quite robust. The controls are arranged in a logical and intuitive manner and the overall size is a bit (eight percent according to Sony but it is slightly heavier) smaller than that of its predecessor.
Handling the camera is quite comfortable and after some practice you should know where everything is so the lack of any backlit controls won’t really be a problem. The screen can be used at a lot of angles but it cannot spin on the base so it is quite a bit more cumbersome than that of a professional DSLR.
The joystick controller on the rear is made for focus point selection and for the navigation of the menu and if you gold it down you can increase the speed of the commands such as going through the collection of images, shifting the focus point or quickly getting to the menu option that you want. The shutter mechanism has over 300k actuations now so it is at the same level as many of the professional DSLRs.
Autofocus and Performance
This model has the 4D Focus technology and it combines 399 phase-detect points on the imaging sensor with 79 phase-detect cross-type points on a dedicated AF sensor thus creating a hybrid system. The high amount of points can mean that it will sometime take some time to go through them with the joystick control and they can also come up as really small in some situations so for those moments you can reduce the array to only 63 or 15. The focus is precise and quick and it provides really great results in poor light. Sony rated their system as having a working range down to -4EV and that is a very impressive feature.
The electronic viewfinder has a 0.78x magnification and it offers a high level of detail across the frame but if the setting is darker then you will experience some linear details or artefacts as well as a rendering that isn’t ideal.
The LCD screen is a bit smaller than the regular size present on professional models and without any touchscreen functionality it may get some time to get used to it. You get to see it clearly from many angles and the image quality of 1,228 million dots is very clear. As this camera was designed to work outdoors or indoors there is a sunny weather option for when you need the LCD to be clear in nature but activating this will make the battery run out faster.
The A99 II can capture Raw and JPEG images at the full resolution at a speed of up to 12fps and it will capture about 59 images before slowing down. The camera indicates how many you can still record and this is much better than the status you get on many other models.
The sensor has a very impressive dynamic range and images that were underexposed at ISO100 can be recovered through post-production with very little noise, making it great for scenes where you want to underexpose so that the highlights are preserved. The noise level is generally very low and easy to deal with through the later processing. This is clearly due to the lack of an anti-aliasing filter that permits the retention of the images’ details.
You have five separate metering modes that allow the detailed adjusting of the camera to the scene and the video recording is also quite outstanding. There is a low level of noise and the audio is recorded accurately, while the Silent Multi Control on the front allows you to do adjustments without having them caught on the recording.
Among the minuses we have to mention the lack of any in-camera raw processing features but if that isn’t a big problem for you then this is a really good camera with excellent handling and a wide range of supporting features.