Photography News Issue 41

Photography News | Issue 41 |

Camera test 48


Price £2999 body only Sensor 42.4-megapixels, 14-bit Exmor CMOS, back illuminated Sensor format 35mm (35.9x24mm), 7952x4472 pixels ISO range 100-25,600, expansion to ISO 50- 102,400 Shutter range 30secs to 1/8000sec plus B, flash Single, continuous (Hi+ 12fps, Hi 8fps, Mid 6fps, Lo 4fps). In Hi+, up to 54 Raws Metering system 1200 zone multi-segment, centre- weighted, spot Exposuremodes PASM, sweep panorama Exposure compensation +/-5EV in 0.3 and 0.5EV steps, AEB 3, 5, 9 frames Monitor 3in 1228k dots, tiltable Focusing Phase detect AF with two sensors, detector 1 and detector 2 at the focal plane Focus points Detector 1 79 points 15 cross type, detector 2 399 points, 323 selectable, 79 hybrid cross points Video XAVCS, AVHCD ver 2.0, MP4. XAVC 4K 3840x2160pixels (many more resolutions available) Connectivity HDMI micro, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, USB micro Storage media Dual slots. Slot 1 multi-slot for MemoryStick PRO Duo and SD, slot 2 SD only Dimensions (wxhxd) 142.6x104.2x76.1mm Weight 849g body with card and battery Contact sync 1/250sec Drivemodes

Sony A99 II £2999 Some photographers want lots and lots of pixels while others want very fast continuous shooting. Some want both and if this is you the Sony A99 II could be your dream camera

Words and pictures by Will Cheung

Sony stands out among the camera brands as having very strong hands in the 35mm full-frame, APS-C and compact system camera (CSC) segments of the imaging market. Canon and Nikon have powerful stables of 35mm and APS-C DSLRs but both are comparatively weak in the CSC marketplace. The Sony A99 II is the latest full- frame newcomer and as a top-of- the-range DSLR it is rich with great features, not least being able to shoot at 12fps with exposure and focus tracking and give full-size Raws from its 42.4-megapixel sensor. The sensor is a back illuminated CMOS design boasting a native range of ISO 100-25,600 and expandable to ISO 50-102,400. Pivotal to the camera’s fast shooting capability is Sony’s translucent mirror technology whichmeans there’s no reflexmirror clacking up and down and a very advanced autofocusing system. The downside of the translucent mirror is a less bright viewfinder image

and the A99 II does suffer slightly in this respect. The viewing image certainly isn’t dim but contrast could be better. The camera uses a hybrid phase- detection AF system that uses sensor phase-detection focus points at the focal plane positioned behind the translucent reflex mirror working in combination with an above-the-mirror phase-detection AF sensor. Theon-sensorAFsystemuses399 points – of which 323 are selectable – positioned to give a wide coverage across the image area and these are overlaid with 79 hybrid cross AF points. The same number of AF points is used in the phase-detection sensor and 15 of these are cross AF points. The central AF point is also highly sensitive enabling pinpoint AF in light as -4EV. The AF zones can be set in different patterns such as wide, zone as well as spot and expanded flexible spot. As you can appreciate, the AF system takes a bit of setting up and

getting used, or you can cut to the chase and do what most pros do and use a single zone and move that around to suit the subject. The upshot of all this AF technology is, according to Sony, ‘fast precise autofocusing for just about any type of subject’. Certainly, the AF is very responsive including with the Sony AF 300mm f/2.8 lens I tried. The many AF points does make the EVF very busy if the sensor points are switched on and you are tracking a moving subject. On a car, I found the zones were flicking on and off the whole time but I suppose that means you know that it is working okay. Tracking was good. At the fastest frame rate, big shiny cars moving in a predictable way was no problem. I didn’t get the chance to try the system on potentially more testing subjects like those with less strongly defined texture like horses or on subjects with less predictable movement like footballers. Definitely has potential, though.

I didn’t experience any serious issues with the A99 II’s exposure system. Keeping the camera in its 1200 zone evaluative pattern and using (mostly) aperture-priority I didn’t get any unredeemable exposures even in strong backlighting. The A99 II does take a bit of getting used to, which is probably no surprise given the camera’s lengthy specification and sophistication. Its body design and control layout doesn’t help either. The right-side back-plate, for example, has nine buttons and controls plus an input dial. Move onto the right-side top- plate and there is a good information LCD and another six buttons as well as the shutter release. Time and practice are needed to get to the point where you can confidently and correctly adjust a dial or control while the camera is up to the eye. Perseverance, though, will be rewarded because the A99 II is a very capable and talented picture-taking machine.

Above While the Sony A99 II looks a chunky DSLR its contoured handgrip means it fits the hands really well helping to give a stable shooting platform.

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