Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

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David Kilpatrick
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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby David Kilpatrick » Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:06 am

Doc, I finally have my report up on line - it needs to be more like 20,000 words...

http://www.photoclubalpha.com/2012/12/2 ... n-dilemma/

David

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby waardij » Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:51 pm

The thing I mostly read is disappointment. Hardly a good base for an objective review.
Four years ago it was the Nikon that was more expensive, and by a little more then what we are talking about now. I would think that people that really have a need for a certain camera do not care to much about the price. The D3x sold rather well. I switched from Nikon (D2x), to Sony then, because I could not justify the price for the D3x. switching to Sony was cheaper, including buying all the lenses I needed. And now Nikon is less expensive, but I would not dream of switching back. And not because now the difference is so much smaller, but since the a99 for me is simply a much better camera. The live view of both the d600 and d800 is so primitive, compared to the a99. And high iso is to me of no consequence. we all have our own need. But all this talk about how the a99 is much too expensive and how Nikon is so much more attractive, to me only indicate that there is no real need. the difference between the two solution is big enough to make the price of less importance, they are simply different camera's.
There is another thing I like about Sony, and discovered with the a900; the color. There has been talk that Sony sacrifices some sensitivity by using a different CFA set. if this is so, for me this is well worth the loss in high iso. For some reason Sony files are more easy to print (talking RAW files here). The a99 still has these great colors.

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bfitzgerald
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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Thu Dec 27, 2012 2:58 pm

I thought it was one of DK's best articles (and I'm not one for agreeing with DK at times)
Not because it was critical (a requirement sadly lacking on many review sites today)

But because it was fair and balanced, and punches were landed when needed, praise given where appropriate.
I agree on a number of points esp the EVF indoors quite comfortable in that respect with SLT, outside I think it's quite a bit less appealing
With the comments on Sony's positioning I agree there as well very much so.

Sony do see themselves as a premium camera brand, but I believe that they are deluding themselves in this approach. Their TV and Hi-fi business was very strong years ago, before the Korean makers turned up and basically priced Sony off the market (Sony are around but no longer can they command premium prices in this segment)

The camera industry will follow exactly the same path as the consumer electronics one/computers, cheaper prices, customers expecting more for their money. In years past people paid £1000 and quite a bit more for a decent pc, now one can be had for a third of the price yet it is more efficient, much faster and has a lot more storage capacity.

Full frame represents the next phase of this market. The battle is underway now and the D600 and 6d will be heavily price cut to encourage adoption. Sony IMO cannot afford to be left behind. If they are going to sell SLT to people (whatever your views on that might be) if there is no cost incentive to do so (and as DK pointed out Sony's lens range isn't priced cheap or as broad), then Sony are in danger of being left behind. Imagine the reception of the A99 for UK buyers if the price was significantly lower and trading blows with the D600?

Some folks are kidding themselves the A99 is a 5dMkIII rival. You can't compete with Canon's massive user base or system, you can compete on price/appeal

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Greg Beetham
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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:53 pm

Well there is a solution to the EVF being good indoors and not so hot outdoors where the OVF is better, just get one of each type…see that was easy, what’s the next question? :lol:
Greg
Ps the A99 is too expensive, the customers are going to stay away in the droves, but it might all work out ok, Sony might have a strategy to make it pay by recovering costs from the smaller number who do buy it. Their assembly line worker can only turn out so many A99’s a week anyhow. :roll:

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bfitzgerald
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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:05 pm

Bit concerned about the battery life couple of hundred shots is pretty sad for a camera like this. Might be ok for a budget compact but if it's that bad just on it's own that will turn people off. A57 seems ok you get near 500 ish maybe 450 that's ok, A99 is sucking down a lot of power. On APS-C DSLR's I shot one and 1100 shots later it still had 25% left in the battery, you'd get less off a FF DSLR but probably near 800 odd if not a bit more.

The problem with sell less get more profit is you would actually make more profit by selling more units. Once you mix in flashes and Zeiss lenses with even better profit margins it becomes quite a questionable strategy to sell small numbers. Sony are not Leica, not by a long shot.

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Greg Beetham
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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:49 pm

It’s apparently the GPS and the EVF that suck the power that’s why they only put one processor in the A99, two processors would have killed the battery even faster, I reckon turn the GPS and the EVF off if you are looking like using up the battery power you have left for the day, either that or go out loaded for bear with the three batteries, two in the grip and one in the camera. (and maybe a spare or two just to be safe)
Speaking batteries, how come the two genuine batteries I got with the KM5D still hold a charge that lasts for ages while the A100 that I got maybe a year and a half later with two genuine Sony batteries that have seen a lot less use are both history, one is actually no good now the charger light blinks when I put it on the charger so it’s a goner and the other doesn’t hold a charge for long either.
Greg

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby Bob Janes » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:38 pm

Usage won't affect the life of Li-Ion batteries, which tend to lose 5% of capacity over the course of any one year, even if stored in ideal conditions.

Abuse, such as shocks from dropping, shorting or even storage at extremes of temperature can increase the loss significantly.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby mikeriach » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:54 pm

bfitzgerald wrote:Bit concerned about the battery life couple of hundred shots is pretty sad for a camera like this. ....


I know a grip plus 2 additional batteries will help but one of the plus points for me is that it is only a fraction bigger than the A77 so is better for travel etc however adding a grip adds a lot of weight and extra unwanted and obtrusive bulk.

My only other significant gripe would be the lack of full frame coverage of the focusing system.

Otherwise I want one (but can't afford it - sorry, the 3rd gripe).

Mike
Some Sony stuff and now some Nikon stuff (shock horror). Sony cannot supply what I want so rightly or wrongly I'm branching out to someone who does.

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bfitzgerald
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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:11 pm

I had one Sony battery with the A200 and that went a bit off after a few years ie it would discharge a bit camera powered off.
I did buy another genuine Sony for the A57 can't really comment at this point on the longevity of the 2 genuine ones. The 2 KM ones are working though with a bit less capacity but not shockingly so. I got one ebay job for that (works ok so far few years old) and this year one 2power branded one stellar so far.

One reason I distrust DPR now is they refused to add battery life as a con for the a99, in other words they are pulling their punches because they like SLT as a concept. Yet the K-30 gets marked down for it...usual excuse on the A99 was it's part of the SLT package, but I feel they are now unwilling to offer a proper critique based on a love of a concept. DPR's "Enough for a days shooting" is probably just nonsense..a days shooting doing what? Not a hope one battery would last a day shooting a wedding, it might last a day toying around doing some scenic and candid stuff with a relatively low shooting rate.

I don't think Sony have thought this through properly, whilst I'm ok with the A57 battery life it's similar to the Km5d overall, things have moved on a lot DSLR wise. It's quite typical to get a lot of shots and last a day on a battery, D7k hassles or not battery life was stellar I have to give them that you would not even need to change a battery even with heavy shooting. I think the A580 had great battery life too

That constant EVF drain and FF sensor sucks a lot more power, it looks like the grip is going to be mandatory for the A99, and at least 2-3 spares if not more. That adds to the cost quite a bit, grip is expensive as the batteries are far from cheap. Obviously no AA option as they'd not last 5 minutes..yet I could power a D7k and D90 all day long with AA's

I'm sure we'd all like to "try" the A99, but there are too many compromises for this model and this one one of them. Could have made a new A900 with movie and live view with focus peaking on the back LCD and most would be happy enough.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby alphaomega » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:24 pm

None of us know the production rate of the A99 and the demand. Could be Sony are near enough selling what they can produce and if SLT is cheaper than OVF then the margins may be quite satisfactory at the current price level. We will soon enough find out. If the price comes down or we see a $/£100 rebate popping up then we can conclude that inventories are building up and not moving. I bought a RX100 a month ago with a £50 rebate from Sony so the net cost was £407 delivered, so Sony needed to move inventory. Within David Kilpatrick's suggested price range. If customers are holding back, waiting for a price drop then the drop will come. A bit like the stand-off between retailers and shoppers before Xmas here in UK. Who blinks first? Decide when you see when the sales start. Looks like shoppers won here.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby agorabasta » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:13 pm

David Kilpatrick wrote:http://www.photoclubalpha.com/2012/12/2 ... n-dilemma/

Thanks, could not possibly write a better hands-on review myself ever.
You really have there all the positive/negative issues reflected in the very most hands-on manner possible.

I've only got two small points to stress - 24Mp with FF is a res too low, the same 24Mp with APS deliver better total res; the back LCD arm design on that a99 is the absolute best available (and it's not a small issue).

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Bruce Oudekerk
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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby Bruce Oudekerk » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:05 pm

As usual this is a great well balanced review and it puts emphasis on what is obvious to many: the price point of the a99.

The dilemma that is posed by the Sony a99 is all management derived timidity. I suspect that it is a result of panic in upper level management whereby they perceive that tentative steps are needed to preserve company wide fiscal stability. Personally I think a bold stroke is needed to maintain any market momentum.

If we look back a few years, Sony saw an opportunity to spearhead a new approach to advanced video in dSLRs and simultaneously create a market wedge. They introduced the SLT concept and in the short run they are betting the farm on it. Eventually most cameras will be forgoing even this half step, whereby all system cameras will have some semblance of mirrorless technology. Sony failed to introduce a timely a700 successor because of SLT development and lost some momentum in the market. They can ill afford another momentum loss.

And now, when Sony has this relatively short time in which they can exploit this SLT technology, they are being timid…at least in the FF market. Even though the a99 is a stellar camera, all by itself it is not enough to compete and insert itself in this market segment and CERTAINLY not at this price point. Unlike David, I’m not so sure the a99 is inherently overpriced, but for sure it is wallowing in a very unclear market niche. For that reason alone, upper level Sony management is making a huge mistake. Personally I think they should have thrown in the D800e sensor and a huge buffer and added a few hundred dollars to the price and put it out there. To do that it would also have necessitated introducing an additional camera with vaguely a99 specs at $700-$800 less than the existing a99 price. At the very least they could make money on FF lens sales….which BTW I think Canikon are doing. What amazes me is how there are so many on-line comments about ‘getting sick of high priced complaints’ or ‘how fair the a99 price is’. Porsche can get away with extraordinary priced accessories on top of an outrageous base price. Because they sell, by definition they are worth it. In this market segment…Sony isn’t selling. Since the a99 is a excellent camera…it must be overpriced.

And this all comes back to Sony management which is struggling to make sense of their company-wide fiscal predicament and, to me at least, appear to be in hysterics and making just-plain-stupid mistakes. I hope I’m wrong and that they have some new ground breaking technology under wraps that they need time to develop and they are just using stall tactics until new products can be released. But regardless, for right now they have backed themselves into a marketing corner with only one FF product and their ONLY move right now is to drastically lower the price of the a99… and soon. I see NO move, in the climate of this ultra conservative managerial environment, leading to lack of sales and to eventual cancellation of all Sony FF cameras. I think we’ve already seen a Sony vision of this in the ‘last half-hearted OVF’a580. They slid a decent product out there with NO media/advertising backing and watched it fail. It’s a “I told you so” example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The bottom line is that Sony needs market share.

Bruce

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby Dusty » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:15 am

Bruce Oudekerk wrote:..... I think we’ve already seen a Sony vision of this in the ‘last half-hearted OVF’a580. They slid a decent product out there with NO media/advertising backing and watched it fail. It’s a “I told you so” example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The bottom line is that Sony needs market share.

Bruce


Bruce, I agree with some of what you said, but these last to I want to address separately.

The 580 failed, in part, because they promoted the A55 above it, made it more available, and gave it the GPS, which you could not get on the 580 no matter how much money you had. So I agree with you there, and probably only fleshed out one of the reasons.

Sony needs market share? Sony drives away market share! Let's kill the OVF, and cripple the last model with it, let's not produce a full line up of lenses, let's not replace aging tech in a timely fashion, let's not listen to customers, but rather tell them what they should like, etc., etc., etc. - That's the Sony mantra.

I work for a marketing company. To gain market share, you must have at least one of the following: Superior product, superior price, superior service/support or superior availability.

Sony has none of that, except for sensor tech. You may argue for the SLT, but they never really let people decide. They just put out the 560/580 against the 55, stripping the former of GPS and being much more expensive to boot. Then that SLT technology, that was supposed to be a cost savings as well, has never dropped the cost of future models, they're just as expensive as similar competitors, if not MORE expensive.

And now we have the new shoe vs the i-shoe. I didn't like the old shoe, but after I put a lot of bucks into i-shoe flashes, I didn't want to have to put silly adapters on them to make them work on future models!

Sony needs to think like a camera company to win photographers, but they never will. So, Sony's market share will continue to shrink, and I'll no longer care, because sooner or later I'll be on another mount.

Dusty
A couple of a350's, an a700 and now an a580, plus even more lenses.

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bfitzgerald
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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:27 am

I think there are clearly mixed signals and some confusion within Sony as to their direction. This is quite clear over the years in various "experiments" with models and the range. Sadly we can talk about this and the desire for another OVF Model, but this seems to fall on deaf ears and we get the "take it or leave it" approach which leaves me and others a bit cold.

I'll be blunt Sony are a place to shove my A mount lenses..(ie to use them) were it not for that the appeal would be fairly small
I watched the youtube video from Gary showing the wireless flash delay and it's another one of those odd gremlins that screams "hey we didn't field test the product properly" scary long delay and something that needs sorting out.

The only way to get market share is to pull something amazing off. I remember the playstation era they can do it a market dominated by 2 major players and they blew them away. But they did it with slick marketing, and a good product. This market is not a playstation...Sony will have to buy market share with better prices and they are sooner or later going to have to take users views onboard and make products that meet their needs, not try to tell people what they should be using.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:34 am

If Sony can’t make an FF SLT for less than $3000 (initial price) how much do you think an OVF A900 replacement that has video compromises would be…$4000, $5000? And it would be in competition with the D600 if it used the same sensor or the D800 if it used the 36MP sensor (that’s how the market thinks) how many would Sony sell at that price?

We need more MP’s…(like a hole in the head)
No one wants to guess over there at dpr as to how many MP’s were used to make this A3 sized text photo, anyone here want to take a stab? http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3344716 you have to click on ‘original size’ and wait a bit and then click on the image to magnify it more. Apparently you are wasting your time using anything less than 16MP for anything, but if you are serious you need at least 24MP or even more.
Greg


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