A99 ramblings and thoughts...

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bfitzgerald
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A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:02 pm

I thought I would post some of my experiences using the A99 - it may or may not be of interest for potential A99 buyers. As prices continue to fall it still has some appeal for bargain FF A mount users. I will add to this over time
David's article on the A99 is here:
http://www.photoclubalpha.com/2012/12/2 ... n-dilemma/

I agree with much of it - not sure what DK is using now, as he rarely makes an appearance on the forums.

As I purchased s/h here from a forum member, take that into account. The initial price was around £2500 - a fairly heft investment and one I would likely not have made at that time, purely because I felt as DK pointed out in his article, the price was above maybe lesser cameras... however Sony never offered a more affordable full frame body - and that is a mistake I believe they made some time ago.

Onto the camera the first obvious difference with the slightly larger body from the A77, is that the EVF is much less noisy in low light. The speckled noise patterns could be distracting on the APS-C camera. The shadows are also much less blocked up, showing more detail in these areas. So whilst they might have the same spec on paper, they are quite different in use. Of course it's not an OVF for clarity, still a good improvement on the A77 EVF.

Shutter release is different to the A57 with a notable feel with that cheaper camera, the A77 a bit less but you can still feel the actuation point. Less so on the A99, have to be careful not to half press too hard to avoid accidentally taking a picture.
Overall build as you would expect is very good, and quite comfortable. I prefer a slightly smaller body myself - and in comparison to say a 5dMkIII, the a99 is a fair bit lighter.

Battery life:
When I first got the camera I thought the endurance was terrible it ran down quickly. However after the usual playing around for a few days, tweaking things - I don't think it's so bad. Doing a few experiments I am not entirely convinced the GPS is the only culprit. That back LCD sucks down the power quite a lot (this is the white magic one v the A77 which isn't), I now use the power saving mode to turn it off after 20 seconds, I assume this also cuts out the GPS searching. 10 sec is an option too for even more results, both are working well enough to say I'm not unhappy with the battery life. Not as good as the A77 or A57 (which is the best so far, the newer cheaper models are said to be even better probably the lower res display/smaller EVF)

AF:
DK covered this in detail - and I agree at that time, and at this price point it is puzzling why they transplanted the A77's AF system into a FF body. On the crop sensor the 19 points are fairly well spread out, much less so on full frame body where they fail to get to rule of third marks (a bit less). I would have expected more side AF points. However in use they seem to be a bit more accurate v the A77 in lower light. I was never unhappy with the A77 for AF static or tracking, but learnt for many subjects the group mode is the way to go (too easy to lose the AF point on a specific area ie runners etc where I have been using all 3 cameras more.

AF-D:
I have all of one lens that supports this (at the moment). The Minolta 100mm F2.8 Macro D
The other AF points cover more top/bottom and not much extra on the sides. They can hold focus if the subject moves outside the normal phase detect array. To me it's not that useful - perhaps it might be if I get more lenses that do. Either way it seems like they crippled the feature, with most A mount lenses not supporting it. Maybe it's a technical reason, I suspect it isn't as the A99II also has limited support for some lenses with it's hybrid AF. If you have third party lenses which share the supported lens ID (ie Tamron 90mm etc) - then they also allow it to work, I'm not sure if they are accurate the 90mm seemed OK.

Focus limiter:
This was the first body to have this function and it can be very useful to have for many types of shooting. I need to use it more, but obvious candidates are action sports and macro allows more fine tuning of the AF v the limiter on the lens.

Part II coming soon ... ;-D

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Sun Sep 15, 2019 11:46 am

Carrying on with my ramble...

M mode with Auto ISO
Very useful more so than I expected. I tend to shoot in A mode most of the time, not always but 90% then M for the times you need to control everything. The problem with A mode and auto ISO is you can't set the limit or min speed - most of the time it isn't an issue. However if you want to freeze action then you'll need a certain speed, or in low light the default shutter is focal length based. That's fine some times, but not always. The M with Auto ISO gives you control over the shutter and aperture at the same time, just set the auto ISO limit to what you are comfortable with. You can still get the normal full manual simply by selecting a specific ISO speed, and you can use the exp comp to adjust the exposure.

I did a quick video on it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfJ0Boa3znU&t

Examples there are action, but it could also be useful for flash etc. I am using the A99 to show the function
I am using it more often, though still use A mode. I didn't find it a show stopper on older bodies that didn't have it, there are ways around it, nice to have it on the A99
As a side note when I was using Nikon you could specify the min shutter speed for Auto ISO. Problem with that is depending on focal length you have to keep diving in there to change it, when you zoom in or change lens. So I didn't like it that much -with steady shot you can on the fly adjust shutter/aperture in M mode and it's a better solution overall

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby peterottaway » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:16 am

I bought my A99 II for two reasons - It was available on special at a time when the A7R III was on back order and because I still have a collection of A mount lenses. Plus even though I do own the Sony EA 3 and 4 and the Metabones and Sigma EF adapters I prefer to " go native " as it could be said on my FE cameras and to keep the size and weight down. These days I only use the Sigma 24-35 and 24-105 adapted on a regular basis ( very useful when not wanting to change lenses ) and still light enough to be acceptable.

So I have ended up with a system with two Minolta 7 film cameras plus Sony A68, A77 and A99 II cameras plus a VG-C77AM grip. Which when you look at it does seem to be more than enough. But if Sony don't make any more A mount cameras, should keep me going.

For lenses I still have the Tokina 11-16, the Sony 16-50 / 2.8 and the Sony CZ 16-80 zooms in APS. And for full frame I have the Sony CZ 16-35 / 2.8, Sigma 24-105 / 4, Minolta 28-70 / 3.5 G, Minolta 85 / 1.4 and 100 / 2.8 SF, Minolta 80 -200 / 2.8 HS, Minolta 100-300 APO and the Sony 70-400.

Looked at it in many ways It would seem I don't really have any time left for using my Sony, but in practice it gets as much of a workout as the A mount kit. it's just that it has become more of a replacement to my old Pentax 645 NII film camera - I never went digital.

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:17 pm

The A99II would be off the radar for me, at least at the moment. I'm not sure I'd want to invest in the cost - no doubt some could justify it. Only reason the A99 is around is the price I got it for, can't complain at all. Would I have paid full price - no absolutely not I agree with DK's assessment that it's initial price was too high. Shame Sony didn't make a more budget friendly version I think it would have done well
Hard to say what people should do if they don't have any investment in the mount, it's still a great bargain - depending on what you want. For me 24mp is plenty, don't really need or want more - most of the older lenses hold up pretty well, some are still useful on the crop bodies too. I'd be unlikely to use different mounts, I'm not even sure Sony will ever bring a better adapter out, so we're into something is better than nothing land.

Recent events (bereavements in the family) have hammered home something pretty important - whilst I like playing with gear, comparing stuff and looking at improvements etc. What really counts is the photos we make - this stuff is still more than good enough for that task.

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby peterottaway » Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:04 am

I got my A99 II with a double discount - a dealers Black Friday sale was on at the same time as Sony was having a distributors sale. But given the price of the present A7R IV and any future A99 III, they have definitely priced themselves out of my pay grade.

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Fri Sep 27, 2019 1:55 pm

The price has crept down a bit on the A99II, still at £2500 seems a fairly hefty outlay. You can bag a grey market one for considerably less, I see them about for sometimes €2000 odd. I would find it hard to justify the price of any of the 3 cameras currently for sale - none are as cheap as they should be for their age.
How things change go back 10+ years and you got heavy discounts even months after a new camera was out - and 12 months later the price was way way cheaper.

Cameras like the A99 whilst dated in some ways - well price is only going to get lower over time. A99II looks nice, not really sure I have much need for 42mp, if they had a 24mp one at a lower price that might have appealed a little more. If you got it at the right price that always helps. A7RIV is £3500 - and 61mp is even less needed than 42mp ;-D

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby mikeriach » Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:03 pm

Hi Barry, glad to hear you've warmed to the A99. With good glass it really produces superb images and though I'd love to see what 36mp, 42mp etc would look like, I really do not feel I need more than 24. My laptop couldn't cope and I'd need bigger cards and backup storage. I dabbled with 14bit uncompressed raw on my Nikon but returned quickly to 12bit losslessly compressed as I really couldn't tell them apart. It's a bit like HiFi, if you can't hear the difference buy the cheaper one.
In comparison with the D750, the A99 feels better built and more solid. The D750 is verging on sounding tinny with a very loud clack when the shutter fires. The images are very similar in quality but even now I still struggle with the colour balance.
It's good to hear your views and I hope you are enjoying using it.
Mike
Only an A77II and Tamron 16-300 left sadly. Sony cannot supply what I want so rightly or wrongly I've branched out to someone who does and I'm very happy.

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby classiccameras » Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:08 am

Interesting topic re the A99 and later versions, As mentioned, the more the pixels the more the knock on effect with other bits in your system. I moved away from A mount to Micro 4/3, but that was for other reasons. Having played with HI FI for decades I came to the conclusion the higher up the system you went the diminishing returns become more evident. I totally agree with Mike on this
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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby mikeriach » Sat Sep 28, 2019 10:12 pm

Pete,
I listened to several £500 CD players and they sounded so much better than my old one. But the guy said just listen to this and decide if it's worth an extra £600. A Naim CD, not even a powered tray but like going from an AM radio to FM. Incredible sound quality but just too much more than I was prepared to spend. Now if the lottery came along.......
Only an A77II and Tamron 16-300 left sadly. Sony cannot supply what I want so rightly or wrongly I've branched out to someone who does and I'm very happy.

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby classiccameras » Sun Sep 29, 2019 9:31 am

Mike
You have to draw a line somewhere, I recently resurrected my old Rega Planar 3 deck and Creek amp, all ancient kit now and gone back to vinyl. love it. changing the subject, are Ffordes photographic any where near you, I have looked at their used list several times but find them expensive

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby mikeriach » Sun Sep 29, 2019 11:22 am

I've used Ffordes in the past when starting with Nikon. Bought some secondhand stuff, think 18-55 and 70-300. Some stuff is expensive but I just shop around. WEX, MPB, LCE and a few others. They're a good distance from me maybe 130 miles. There are no decent camera shops anywhere close by so I have to mail order almost everything and it's annoying as I cant get any touchy feely if you know what I mean.
A Rega, very nice and great value for money.
Mike
Only an A77II and Tamron 16-300 left sadly. Sony cannot supply what I want so rightly or wrongly I've branched out to someone who does and I'm very happy.

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Sun Sep 29, 2019 2:53 pm

I think it's more to do with "good enough", the words that strike fear into camera makers. For me the A99 is good enough
Plus mix in the long time collection of FF Minolta lenses, it gave me a body to put them on. So I got huge bang per buck as they say

I can see the flaws too, if I were a sports/action shooter often I would find the AF coverage narrow and disappointing, buffer is about the same size as the A77, just clears a bit quicker and you hit it less hard at 6fps. These are things which would make you think - even more so at the eye watering £2500 price it cost new when released.

As a new buy at that price, nope wouldn't invest that much. As a s/h purchase it's a great buy, and only likely to get cheaper over time. In short I'd buy another one, hence doesn't really matter to me what Sony does, or doesn't do.

I would tend to agree that at a certain point you do pay a premium, and get less and less the higher up you go. Same for many products, CPU's general tech. Not to say always buy the cheapest, but once you move up past mid or upper mid pricing you pay a lot extra for smaller jumps. I could honestly say whilst there are a couple of bits I might like, what I have now gets the job done. If someone handed me a large sum I can't say I'd be investing it into G master/E mount stuff - for my needs quite pointless, and modern lenses are horribly overpriced, I like using the vintage stuff it's not all about technical excellence, the look also counts

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby mikeriach » Sun Sep 29, 2019 4:17 pm

Barry, if I didn't major on aviation and wildlife. the Sony kit would have done me for a good few years yet and as you say there are some great old lenses for A mount. I loved the KM 17-35, 70-200G f2.8 and 70-400G all of which were great on the A99. I struggled a bit to find a good wide-tele zoom having played with things like the 28-105 etc. Never found one which really floated my boat, they were all good but just needed a wee bit more to finish off my kit. The ancient 35-70 f4 macro was surprisingly good though.

All the lenses bar the 70-400G were secondhand so I'm totally with you on that and yes maybe if the lottery produced a decent win, I might be tempted to review my opinions of the E-mount (for action etc it wasn't ideal and neither was the battery life). Things seem to have improved on all fronts but the prices seem to be sky high. The A99 was the single most expensive gadget I have bought even with the great deal I got at the at the time.

I found the A99 battery life was worst when doing touristy type things over the course of a few days (10 shots here, 10 shots there...) but with intensive use over a couple of hours of action, I got twice the number of frames. It was the pathetic battery life which made the early E mount cameras completely unworkable for me (350 - 400 images per charge in ideal conditions), I can shoot up to 2000 images in a day. The Nikons regularly do 1200+ images on a battery but with the same reduction if taken over a number of days.
Only an A77II and Tamron 16-300 left sadly. Sony cannot supply what I want so rightly or wrongly I've branched out to someone who does and I'm very happy.

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby bfitzgerald » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:57 am

Mike I think wildlife shooting is very much more a crop sensor advantage than full frame, I say think because it's one area I've almost never done anything on - might give it a try sometime.
Lenses vary a lot, that's what I have found testing multiple copies of some. Also different people have their own concept of "good" or "usable". For example the copy I have of the 50mm F1.7 is to me very usable wide open, it's not as good as stopped down - most lenses are not but it's decent. I tested the Canon 50mm F1.4 and wide open I would say it's passable just (more so for lower light), it's not as good at F1.8 as the 50mm is at F1.7 (not tons in it but I used both a lot)

Likewise the Canon 70-200mm F4 I have tested that, quite a different lens to the beercan. AF is quite fast, CA is much less an issue and it's good at F4 in the middle across the range. What it's not so good as it across the frame, where the Minolta is perhaps a touch behind middle at 210mm F4 (still quite good IMO), the older lens does much better edge to edge where the Canon needs to be stopped down to get there. Which lens is better depends on what you do or want.

I've heard people say the 50mm lenses need to hit F2.8 to get good resolution, the older ones I'm talking about. Yes that's true they improve quite a bit from wide open to F2.8..but does it mean you should shoot them at F2.8 or lower, IMO no half the point of having a fast lens is it's erm fast!

I think people get too carried away with absolute resolution, and forget there are other areas to consider. It's true there are ropey lenses around out there, I've used a few the Tokina 24-200mm was pretty hopeless, the film kit lenses were never that good (28-80mm was poor, 28-100mm was passable). The older 28-85mm does just fine, stopped down. The 35-70mm F4 is silly sharp, though doesn't have the most appealing rendering

I don't doubt the new mirrorlesss lenses are superior - but at a price, and with quite a lot of corrections going on. Makers now use this to ignore distortion and vignetting (to a point in some examples they are very heavily corrected). In short I see makers going for absolute resolution, at the expense of everything else. Many new lenses have pretty nasty rendering (bokeh), true I have a few mediocre ones myself, not always a problem..but I saw that with Fuji when I used some of theirs, sharp but nasty looking - so yeah that kinda bothers me with some lenses. It's not all roses in mirrorless land IMO, and as I'm never likely to use 61mp the oldies hang in there pretty well on 24mp.

I just don't find mirrorless that exciting, except playing around with adapters and older lenses which can be fun

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Re: A99 ramblings and thoughts...

Unread postby mikeriach » Mon Sep 30, 2019 12:11 pm

Yes the A77 gave extra reach but I found the IS wanting at 400mm. In Nikon land the VR in the 200-500 is outstanding allowing me to hand hold at 500mm on a crop body at 1/60 but the short end is too long if you know what I mean. Every system has compromises, we just pick what suits best.

It's clear from DKs experience that there are some peaches of lenses out there so yes I agree being able to adapt is a great way to exploit the vast library of lenses.
Only an A77II and Tamron 16-300 left sadly. Sony cannot supply what I want so rightly or wrongly I've branched out to someone who does and I'm very happy.


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