Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

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Greg Beetham
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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby Greg Beetham » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:43 am

bfitzgerald wrote:
The only way to get market share is to pull something amazing off.


I agree with the rest but this quote especially caught my eye, something amazing to me would be if Sony built a camera free of glitches and mistakes. That would be something to write home about.
Greg

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby classiccameras » Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:58 am

Are there any cameras free of glitches and mistakes.

The battery life on my Panny G3 is pretty poor compared to my old D5100.
These EVF's seem to drain batteries. They say in my A37 handbook to use the LCD if you want more shot capacity. Thats an admittance the EVF is going to drain the battery much quicker.
As Barry said what's in a days shooting, DPR skirted over that bit. For me it might be only 20 or 30 shots, for others it could be many hundreds.

Since I have been a member of this site which is not that long, it seems a high proportion of the threads are complaints about the Sony A mount cameras rather than praise. It would be interesting to see other forums with other brands and how many complaints say Nikon or Canon get from their owners.
There isn't a perfect camera, just some are more pefect than others.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby mikeriach » Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:16 am

Some scary reading if I were a Sony executive.

I have to be honest and say that if I didn't have such a good selection of A mount lenses I'd be tempted to look around for a new system. However when it comes to long telezooms Sony have the 70-400G which no one else can match (similar price range). They all have 70-200 f2.8 glass. Canon have the ancient 100-400L and Nikon the 80-400 both of which are desperate for a revamp. This is a focal length range I use a lot for aviation so without it I'll stay put with Sony.

I hear all of Barry's comments re Nikon but in many respects they come closest to meeting my requirements and I can only echo his comments re battery life. My mate has a pair of D80s and they go forever on 1 battery where I have to change regularly, even the A580.

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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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby waardij » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:13 pm

The review mentions the lack of processing power of the a99 compared to the a900, which would be due to the use of only a single Bionz processor. If I recall correctly, the dual bionz in the a900 was there to allow for the 5 frames/second. The a850 uses only one processor and has a reduced frame rate of 3 frames/s. The a99 reaches 6 f/s, suggesting more processing power, which is likely, since the newest version of the Bionz must be much more powerful than the version of four years ago (processing power doubles every 1.5 years, as a general rule of thumb).
Furthermore I think the review very evf centered. For me the LCD is as important, since when working from a tripod (most of the time), I usually prefer the LCD. Using a LCD, especially since it is articulating, gives so much more freedom in positioning the camera (without having to kneel or lay down on dirty or wet ground). The LCD is much improved over that of the NEX-7/a77, in that it now uses rgb plus white. As a result it is much better viewable in bright light. With the NEX-7 I often used a dark cloth, like in the old days with a view camera. With the a99 I have not needed that yet. Like mentioned above, there is a lot of complaining on this site, and often by people who do not even own the camera. I am one of those who is really pleased with my a99 and think that for my shooting style, it is the best compromise om the marked today. I have been considering the d800, but the compromises in live view are to severe for me. And the only thing I really like from Canon is there 17 en 24TSE. a shame they do not have a body with the dynamic range of Sony (or Nikon).
another positive thing mentioned in the DPR review is the fast clearing time of the a99, apparently it is more as twice as fast in clearing its buffer than either the d600 or the 6D. for people needing speed, this must be an important advantage.
And yet another thing witch gets little attention is the electronic first curtain. I know this is something a lot of Sony camera's have, but Nikon does not (and as far as I know, neither has Canon FF). The a900 shutter did give me vibration problems with longer lenses (critical times on tripod). The a99 is really perfect here, no bother with a mirror and no shutter induced vibration. I can use a 300mm at 1/30th or 1/15th and have perfectly sharp files (the lens being a Nikon 300mm f2.8 ai-s, converted to Sony mount, brilliantly sharp lens). I know the vibration can be solved by using a really heavy tripod, but I do have to carry the thing.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby classiccameras » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:27 pm

Mike

I have used a few DSLR's in the last few years and my little and cheap A37 is the best I have used in terms of ease of use, sensibly placed buttons and an Fn menu that leaves the rivals standing. I can do everything while looking through the EVF. I have a meagre collection of lenses, I.E. a KM 17-35 F/2.8 and a Minolta 24-85, plus the kit lens which is no mean performer either. I bought my Minolta lenses on E Bay at little cost so I have not invested heavily in the system.
If I sold this lot I would still get peanuts.
If I was to jump ship, I would dig out my D5100 with the 18-105 and use that. It takes 'stunning' pictures but my little A37 is nicer to use and much lighter.

People with big investment in their system would have to weigh it all up as just like used cars, you will never get your money back and there will be a fairly big financial loss.
Barry said to me that the grass is not always greener, so if you decide to jump, do it in the right direction but not with out careful thought first.
Pros will stick to a 'brand' usually for their whole working life and we know what 2 brands lead that field. Is this the club we should join?

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby pakodominguez » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:38 pm

classiccameras wrote:Since I have been a member of this site which is not that long, it seems a high proportion of the threads are complaints about the Sony A mount cameras rather than praise. It would be interesting to see other forums with other brands and how many complaints say Nikon or Canon get from their owners.
There isn't a perfect camera, just some are more perfect than others.

Pete

In other forums, people only complains. Or you have guys that think that been sarcastic or cynic make them smarter than the rest. Like here.

What happens with the A99 is that there were a lot of expectations about this camera -for different reasons: Video guys thought it will raise the bar really high (they were unhappy with the lack of innovation on the 5DIII) and it didn't. EVF have an edge over the APS cameras of any brand, specially the entry level models. But can not compete (yet) with the OVF of the A900. Noise control is finally in the same league as Canon or Nikon -but not really better. Image quality at 100 to 400 ISO is not really better than the A900. The new AF system doesn't seams faster or more accurate either, and reviewers (that usually are not sport or nature photographers, so better to take their recommendations with a grain of salt) still say that it is not a camera for sports or action photography...

Then, some people expect a cheap FF camera and it is a 2800$ body only -the A900 was 3000$ when introduced in 2008, experts in economics can do the numbers taking in account inflation, global crisis and other factors, and tell us how cheaper the A99 is in comparison with the A900.

So: what it is? an A900 replacement or "just" a FF A77? Most people think it is just and overpriced FF A77. I think that, unless Sony fixes the video IQ and someone proofs the AF really works better, the A99 is not a replacement for the A900.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby classiccameras » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:50 pm

There is a simple answer, if you don't like it, don't buy it and move on.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby waardij » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:17 pm

Well, it all depends of what you want to do with it. For me it replaces my a900. I think it to be better in every way. I do not care much for an OVF. And that there is no difference in the iso 100-400 range is not what I find. Base iso for the a900 is at best 160. for the a99 this is more like 80. The sensor is also better. in practice this means that there is less noise (18% noise, as DxO calls it). there is also substantially more dynamic range. if that is important, depends on the use. I do a lot of post processing and large printing, and for me the files out of the a99 are more robust, they are more like those out of digital medium format backs. Iso 80 (0r 50) gives super clean files, there is nothing out of the a900 that comes close to that. but once again, it depends on what you do with it. for everyday use and small to medium sized prints (or web use), this will not do much, good enough is good enough.
The only thing I was hoping on which did not happen, was 36Mp. I am not sure how bad that is. Reading comments from d800 users, it seems very hard to find lenses that can use the potential resolution. that is even hard with a 24Mp sensor. I do not think there is much Sony glass that could use 36Mp. some of the primes, sure, but the zooms? I recently bought a Samyang 14mm lens. comparing the results of that lens with the C16-35mm @ 16mm is brutal. I thought the zoom was pretty decent. It does not even come close, it is night and day. the Samyang beats in all the way, except for distortion (which is very easy to correct, with little loss of resolution). Using a great lens like that (when you can find a good copy) shows how much the lenses are still dominating resolution. And 36Mp will only show that more clearly. Not that I would not buy a 36Mp once it becomes available.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby classiccameras » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:01 pm

This is becoming a problem with FF, Its finding lenses that will do the FF sensor justice.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby pakodominguez » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:12 pm

classiccameras wrote:There is a simple answer, if you don't like it, don't buy it and move on.

Simple, as you said...
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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:38 pm

Simple maybe but it has implications for the development of A mount if the A99 is a flop sales wise.
So we might not care, but it could have a bearing on where A mount goes next of if Sony give up on full frame DSLR type products.

People do say good things about Sony, it's just it get lost in the constantly changing world of A mount. Over the years they have been quite unpredictable with releases and changing directions a lot. They lured in FF shooters with the excellent OVF of the A900 and Zeiss glass, then given them a take it or leave it SLT model. Ditto A700 which should have had an update a couple of years after this and probably lost them quite a few users to other makers. Then they dump OVF models entirely and just when you think you've got your head around that, they go and change the i-iso hot shoe to a non standard ISO one...failing to learn that if you take yet another proprietary road you could end up in trouble.

About the only thing Sony have not done is
- Change the mount
- Remove the AF motor in some bodies

There are IMO 2 reasons to look at Sony
- You have a nice bunch of Minolta lenses lying around
- You intend to hit ebay and buy a nice bunch of Minolta lenses for little outlay

A minor other reason is the in body AS which is somewhat attractive to buyers esp with the bargain glass.
If Sony ever break the use your Minolta lenses aspect that will probably cost them a good number of users (ie do a Nikon and restrict AF or metering on these lenses)

What we need now is consistency from Sony, nail down this silly stuff like wireless flash delays and other quirks and just get on with the job of making good cameras. And not wandering off in different directions trying to do a "shotgun" strategy, but concentrating on specific areas. I personally see no reason they could not make a few OVF cameras, they could but stubbornly stick to their plan of denying users a real choice. More to the point DK is dead on with the SLT saving money, yet Sony are not willing to sell cameras for less and make that part of the appeal, but simply trying to gouge out customers with increased margins. SLT is going nowhere unless it's price appealing.

Only the market leader can charge a premium that's why Canon will still sell tons of 5d MkIII's. To try to go head to head with that is insane and ill advised.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby waardij » Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:38 pm

bfitzgerald wrote: To try to go head to head with that is insane and ill advised.

Indeed, going head to head with CaNikon has little use. And that is likely a key motivator for the whole SLT type camera (and the NEX range), to offer something different. and this is only a first step, the next step is almost certainly to leave the mirror out completely. And apparently that is exactly what Sony is planning to do. Not everyone will appreciate such a change, but a number of people will. And for them that is enough reason to go with Sony rather then the big two. For Sony to gain market share, they must offer something different. Just lowering the price will gain them little, or they should sell camera's for say half the price, and that is simply impossible with such a mature product and such mature competitors, there is simply not enough margin to do that. and even without a mirror, there is no reason why it would not be possible to use alpha lenses, using an adapter. and hopefully full function adapters for other brands as well. Who knows, maybe I get to use these great Canon TSE lenses after all, on a Sony body.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby classiccameras » Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:51 pm

Has any one tried talking to Sony, would they even listen, do they read the camera media reviews?
Are they open to constructive critisism, I some how doubt it.

For all its short comings and funny foibles, I enjoy using my little A37 more than any other DSLR I have used and I am impressed with the picture quality and my legacy Minolta glass.
Sony just doesn't get it, they are ranked 3rd in DSLR sales world wide but its a distant 3rd compared to the market leaders. I say, don't try to compete, be different and show us SLT or NEX technoloy that works at a good price with products photographers want, not what you think they want cos that aint working is it?

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby jeep1 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:00 pm

bfitzgerald wrote:Simple maybe but it has implications for the development of A mount if the A99 is a flop sales wise.
So we might not care, but it could have a bearing on where A mount goes next of if Sony give up on full frame DSLR type products.

People do say good things about Sony, it's just it get lost in the constantly changing world of A mount. Over the years they have been quite unpredictable with releases and changing directions a lot. They lured in FF shooters with the excellent OVF of the A900 and Zeiss glass, then given them a take it or leave it SLT model. Ditto A700 which should have had an update a couple of years after this and probably lost them quite a few users to other makers. Then they dump OVF models entirely and just when you think you've got your head around that, they go and change the i-iso hot shoe to a non standard ISO one...failing to learn that if you take yet another proprietary road you could end up in trouble.

About the only thing Sony have not done is
- Change the mount
- Remove the AF motor in some bodies

There are IMO 2 reasons to look at Sony
- You have a nice bunch of Minolta lenses lying around
- You intend to hit ebay and buy a nice bunch of Minolta lenses for little outlay

A minor other reason is the in body AS which is somewhat attractive to buyers esp with the bargain glass.
If Sony ever break the use your Minolta lenses aspect that will probably cost them a good number of users (ie do a Nikon and restrict AF or metering on these lenses)

What we need now is consistency from Sony, nail down this silly stuff like wireless flash delays and other quirks and just get on with the job of making good cameras. And not wandering off in different directions trying to do a "shotgun" strategy, but concentrating on specific areas. I personally see no reason they could not make a few OVF cameras, they could but stubbornly stick to their plan of denying users a real choice. More to the point DK is dead on with the SLT saving money, yet Sony are not willing to sell cameras for less and make that part of the appeal, but simply trying to gouge out customers with increased margins. SLT is going nowhere unless it's price appealing.

Only the market leader can charge a premium that's why Canon will still sell tons of 5d MkIII's. To try to go head to head with that is insane and ill advised.


Very true, but one does expect the Minolta DNA to gradually be watered down and disappear. The A900 was a pleasant surprise really, a serious stills camera. As a long term Minolta user who lost the faith when Minolta seemed to be so slow in getting a DSLR together. I went with Canon, who at the time were leaders of the pack, using at first a 20D and then a 5D. I kept my Minolta glass as there were fantastic bargains with new Minolta lenses around at that time as people abandoned the brand and I was not prepared to part with mine for a song. By way of insurance I've also kept my Canon glass including T&S lenses and now also use them with my NEX system via the Metabones adapter.

I think Sony will evolve more in the NEX direction, I was hoping for a more radical full frame offering, now if they had kept sensor stabilisation, A mount, but got rid of translucent mirrors (I'm pretty sure that effective focussing could be achieved without it) and produced something like a beefed up NEX-7 with a 36MP sensor for the money they are now asking for the A99 then it might have been a winner, I would have bought one.

In the meantime I'm very happy with the A900, NEX-7 and NEX-5n and I really don't expect to buy another Sony 'DSLR' in the old sense.

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Re: Sony Alpha A99 Field Test Report

Unread postby Bruce Oudekerk » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:48 pm

I personally consider it a given that in an undetermined small number of years, all our system cameras will be mirrorless. And this begs a question that is vaguely germane to the review, the a99 specifically and certainly to some of the comments in posts above.

The a99 has some phase detect capabilities on the sensor itself and is certainly a prelude to things to come…I would think. I ponder the ramifications of similar On- Sensor Phase Detect to a camera that has no phase detect apparatus elsewhere in the camera? The easy answer is that at that point the SLT mirror is gone and we have a full mirrorless camera. Then, two things can happen.

One; we go merrily along with our a-mount system and everything is fine.

Or two; the pessimist in me thinks that being fine is naïve and that huge numbers of legacy a-mount lenses will cease to function adequately AF-wise. A work around is required. A logical way to do that would be to have a thin central body; a la NEX and supply an electrical pass-through adapter in the box for the new a-mount compliant lenses. That would allow the flexible functionality of NEX regarding non a-mount lenses, native use of Nex lenses and, with the use of a similar form factor adapter, allow full and transparent functionality with Legacy a-mount lenses via SLT.

This boils down to, what is the logical technology progression of On-Sensor Phase Detect that we see in the a99? ... or is what the a99 doing in this regard a blind technology path?

Bruce


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