Sony SLT-A99


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    Sony SLT-A99

      In summary

      Buy this camera if:
       - You’re looking for a high-resolution DSLR that provides good ergonomics for shooting video and can record high-quality stills and Full HD video clips.
       - You want minimal noise at high ISO settings.
       - You want body-integrated image stabilisation that works with all lenses.
       - The current range of available lenses meets your needs.

      Don’t buy this camera if:
       - You don’t like electronic viewfinders.
       - Essential lenses aren't available for the camera body.

      Full review

      As the top model in Sony's Alpha line-up, the SLT-A99 is also Sony's most feature-packed and sophisticated camera to date. It sports a  24-megapixel sensor, a new BIONZ processor, an improved SLT viewfinder, a sophisticated AF system with 102 cross points and on-sensor phase detection and a weather sealed body. What's not to like?

       
      Angled view of the Sony SLT-A99 shown with the Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70mm f/2.8 ZA SSM lens, which was provided for our review. (Source: Sony.)

      The A99 is quite different from the DSLR-A900 and DSLR-A850 'full frame' Sony DSLRs that preceded it in 2008 and 2009.  Forsaking the styling and configurations of the past, the A99 adopts the modern SLT 'look' and re-affirms Sony's commitment to its Translucent Mirror Technology with a 2.4 million dot electronic viewfinder (EVF). It also introduces a new hybrid AF system

      The A99 enters the market at a time when Sony's main competitors, Canon and Nikon, are also releasing new 'full frame' DSLRs, both with optical viewfinders and both with lower price tags. The table below compares the three cameras.

       

      Sony SLT-A99

      Nikon D600

      Canon EOS 6D

      Sensor

      36 x 24 mm CMOS  sensor

      24.7 million total pixels
       24.3 effective pixels

      35.9 x 24.0 mm CMOS sensor
       24.7 million total pixels
       24.3 million effective pixels

      35.8 x 23.9 mm CMOS sensor
       22 million total pixels
       20.2 million effective pixels

      Processor

      BIONZ II

      EXPEED 3

      DIGIC 5+

      A/D processing

      14-bit

      12- or 14-bit

      14-bit

      Stabilisation

      Body integrated; 2.5-4.5 EV compensation

      Lens based

      ISO range

      Auto, ISO 100 - 25600,  expandable to ISO 50

      Auto, ISO 100 - 6400 expandable to ISO 50 or ISO 25600

      Auto, ISO 100 - 25600 plus L (50), H1 (51200), H2 (102400) expansion

      Max. still image size

      6000 x 4000

      6016 x 4016

      5472 x 3648 pixels

      Movie format(s)

      AVCHD & MP4

      MOV (H.264/MPEG-4)

      MPEG-4 AVC / H.264

      Movie resolution

      1920 x 1080 at 50p, 50i, 24p; 1280 x 720 at 30 fps, 1440 x 1080 and 640 x 480 at 25 fps

      1920 x 1080; 30 p (progressive), 25 p, 24 p
       1,280 x 720; 60 p, 50 p, 30 p, 25 p

      1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps), 640 x 480 (25, 30 fps)

      Selectable All i-frame or IPB compressions with embedded time code

      AF sensor

      Hybrid AF system with on-sensor phase detection array; 102 sensor points (all cross type)

      Nikon Multi-CAM 4800 with 39 focus points (including 9 cross-type sensors); Detection range: -1 to +19 EV

      TTL-CT-SIR CMOS sensor with 11 points with centre cross-type point sensitive to EV -3

      AF configuration tool (Case 1-6)

      Metering sensor

      TTL metering with 1200-zone EXMOR CMOS sensor

      Metering range:  EV -2 to 17

      TTL exposure metering using 2,016-pixel RGB sensor
       Metering range: EV 2 - 20

      TTL full aperture metering with 63 zone Dual Layer SPC
       Metering range: EV 1 - 20

      Metering modes

      Multi-segment, centre-weighted, spot

      3D colour matrix metering, centre-weighted average (75% given to 8-20 mm circle in centre of frame, Spot (4%)

      Evaluative (linked to all AF points), Partial (8%), Spot (3.5%) linked to active AF point, Centre-weighted average

      Viewfinder

      1.3 cm colour EVF with 2,359,296 dots; 100% frame coverage, approx. 0.71x magnification,

      Eyepoint: 22 mm,  -4.0 to +3.0 dpt, full data display

      Eye-level pentaprism, approx. 100% frame coverage, Approx.0.7x magnification,

      Eyepoint: 21 mm, 3.0 to +1.0 dpt; Type B BriteView Clear Matte Mark VIII screen

      Eye-level pentaprism, 97% frame coverage, Approx.0.71x magnification,

      Eyepoint: 21 mm, 3.0 to +1.0 dpt; interchangeable focusing screen

      Monitor

      Tilting 3-inch LCD, 1.2288 million dots

      3.2-inch TFT LCD, 921,000 dots

      3.2-inch TFT LCD, 1.04 million dots

      Shutter speeds

      1/8000 to 30 seconds

      1/4000 - 30 seconds

      Exposure compensation

      +/-5 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps

      Continuous shooting / buffer memory

      Max. 6 fps full frame / 18 Large/Fine JPEGs, 13 ARW.RAW

      5.5 fps

      4.5 fps / up to 1250 full-resolution JPEGs, 17 RAW with a UHS-I SDHC or SDXC card

      Memory format

      Dual slots for SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-1 compatible); Top slot MS compatible

      Dual slots for SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-1 compatible)

      Single slot for SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-1 compatible)

      Built-in flash

      No

      GN 12 (m/ISO 100)

      No

      Built-in Wi-Fi

      No (Eye-Fi compatible)

      No (accessory available)

      Yes

      Battery

      NP-FM500H

      EN-EL15

      LP-E6

      Battery capacity (CIPA)

      Approx. 410 with EVF, 500 with LCD

      Approx. 900 shots/charge

      Approx. 1090 shots/charge

      Dimensions

      147 x 111.2 x 78.4 mm

      141 x 113 x 82 mm

      144.5 x 110.5 x 71.2 mm

      Weight (body only)

      Approx. 733 grams

      Approx. 760 grams

      Approx. 680 grams

      ARP (body only)

      AU$2999

      AU$2499

      AU$2499

      Because our First Look was written on the basis of a fairly brief hands-on with a pre-production camera, we weren't able to cover the physical qualities of the A99 in detail, although we did provide a summary of key features in the new camera. The deficiencies in our initial report will be addressed in this complete review.

      Build and Ergonomics
       Physically, the A99 has a strong physical resemblance to  the SLT-A77 and is only a little larger and heavier. Its rounded body  styling is characteristic of the latest SLT cameras and its smooth contours make it comfortable to hold and operate.

      Front view of the SLT-A99 with no lens showing the rounded body styling and large image sensor. (Source: Sony.)

      The grip is deeply indented and ideal for users with medium-to-large hands. A sensor for the wireless remote commander is embedded in the front of the grip, Above the grip is the front control dial and there's a large AF-assist/self-timer LED embedded in the upper front panel between the grip and the lens mount. Below this LED and close to the base plate is a depth-of-field preview button on the side of the lens mounting.

      On the left side of the lens mount is the usual release button with a custom button located above it.  This is one of five buttons that can be programmed to access various frequently used functions, the other buttons being AEL, ISO, AF/MF and Preview.

      Functions that can be assigned to these buttons include exposure compensation, drive or flash mode, flash modes, AF area or smile or face detection, ISO, metering, white balance, Creative style, Picture Effect, image size or quality. There are 33 options in all.

      Below the lens release button is a prominent button for accessing the silent multi-controller, which lets users change a camera setting without changing the screen. It's used to provide access to a variety of functions for stills and movie shooting without generating and camera noises that could be picked up on movie soundtracks or detected in areas where silence is required.

      Functions available for stills shooting include focus mode, AF are  selection, exposure compensation, metering mode and ISO. In movie mode you can add in audio recording level, shutter speed and aperture adjustment.

      Rear view of the SLT-A99 with the monitor reversed onto the camera body. (Source: Sony.)

      The rear panel of the camera has a similar tilting/swivelling TFT Xtra Fine LCD monitor to the A77's, although its resolution is higher at 1,228,800 million dots, compared with 921,600 dots on the A77. The controls layout is almost identical to the A77's, although the latter's Info button now includes an AF range control for shooting and serves as a delete button in playback mode.
       The viewfinder is the same 1.3 cm XGA (1024 x 768-pixel) OLED Tru-Finder as the A77's. It has a resolution of 2,359,296 dots and covers the full field of view of the sensor. Unlike the A77, the A99  allows eye start AF to be switched on and off.

      The top panel of the SLT-A99, shown with no lens fitted. (Source: Sony.)

      The main differences between the top panels of the A99 and the A77 is that the A99 lacks a built-in flash and its stereo microphone grilles are slightly larger than those in the A77. The hot-shoes, mode dials and button controls are essentially the same in both cameras and both have the same LCD data panels.

       Side views of the A99 body showing the memory card and interface compartments. (Source: Sony.)

      Dual SD card slots are housed beneath a slide-out cover on the right hand side of the camera body. Both slots support SD, SDHC and SDXC  cards and offer  UHS compatibility, while the upper slots can also accept Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Users can configure how data is written to each card, with options including using one card as a back-up and writing different file types of each card.

      Four hatches on the left hand side cover the camera's interface ports. The flash synch and remote controller terminals lie beneath the upper front hatch, with the DC IN terminal below them, separated by a three-hole speaker grille. The camera's GPS receiver appears to be located there, too. Microphone and headphone jacks are positioned below the upper rear hatch, with the HDMI  and USB terminals in the one below.

      As usual, the battery compartment is located in the base of the camera. The A99 uses the same NP-FM500H rechargeable lithium-ion battery as the A77. It's rated for approximately 410 shots/charge with viewfinder shooting or 500 shots/charge with live view.

      The table above shows power consumption to be a weakness of the A99, when compared with its main rivals. An optional vertical grip allows users to add two more batteries, trebling the available capacity. The camera will switch automatically to a fresh battery when required.
       A very solid looking metal lined tripod socket is located on the centre line of the base plate, in line with the optical axis of the lens. Left of the tripod socket are the connection points for the vertical grip, under a lift-up cover. 

      Controls
       The A99 offers the same range of controls as the A77 and the 'Quick Navi' menu system is logical and makes it easy to locate most of the frequently-adjusted settings. The locking mode dial has 12 settings, covering AUTO, Programmed AE, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual shooting modes plus three Memory registers, Scene Selection, Sweep Panorama, Tele-zoom Continuous Advance Priority AE and Movie. 

      There are eight settings in the Scene Selection sub-menu: Portrait, Sports Action, Macro, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Hand-held Twilight and Night Portrait. Shutter speeds range from 30 seconds to 1/8000 second and there's a Bulb function that appears to be unrestricted. Flash sync is at 1/250 second. 

      The A99's autofocusing system uses on-sensor phase detection with 102 cross-type sensor points embedded in the surface of the sensor. They complement the conventional contrast-detection focusing system that is normally used for live view shooting. In movie mode, an AF Duration control keeps the subject in focus when obscuring objects pass in front of the camera while a clip is being recorded.

      The AF-D (depth) setting takes advantage of the hybrid AF system enabling the camera to build depth maps of a scene to make focusing faster when shooting subjects that move erratically and more accurate when backgrounds are cluttered. A new AF range control enables users to limit the range over which a lens will focus, minimising the risk of hunting. And when compatible SSM or SAM lenses are used, the focus mode can be adjusted from the camera, regardless of how it is set on the lens.

      Four AF area selections are available: wide, zone, spot and local. Focus tracking is available when the camera is set to Continuous AF or Depth Map Assist Continuous AF.  

      A focus indicator is provided to show where the lens is focused and the camera displays the focusing distance in the viewfinder and/or on the monitor screen. Face detection and Smile Shutter modes are also available.

      AF micro adjustment is available for customising the focusing position to a specific lens under different shooting conditions. Up to 30 lenses can be registered. Focus peaking displays are also available in red (the default), yellow and white and the displayed image can be enlarged up to 11.7x by pressing the Focus Magnifier button.

      Three grid overlays are available, including a rule of thirds grid. A dual-axis level gauge helps users to ensure level horizons and minimise perspective distortion in shots. It can detect pitch and roll and display each with a different colour. In-camera correction is available to correct vignetting,  lateral chromatic aberration and distortion.

      A comprehensive selection of white balance settings is provided with an Auto mode plus pre-sets for popular types of lighting, all of which are individually adjustable across 15 steps in the G/M and B/A axes. A Custom measurement mode is also provided, along with Kelvin temperature adjustments between 2500K and 9900K. There are also two levels of WB bracketing: Lo, which shifts colour values by 10 mired and Hi, which changes the colour balance by 20 mired.

      Popular features carried across from earlier SLT cameras include Dynamic Range adjustments (DRO and Auto HDR) and Creative Style and Picture Effect settings. Bracketing options include exposure, white balance and DRO  bracketing. A built-in GPS module allows location data to be recorded in image metadata for playback via the supplied Play Memories Home software.

      It's surprising not to find built-in Wi-Fi as this facility is provided in the latest NEX cameras. However, the A99 is compatible with available Wi-Fi cards.

      Sensor and Image Processing
       The 24-megapixel sensor on the A99 is a brand new chip with a higher fill factor that allows each photosite to capture more light. Although it uses the traditional Bayer filter design, a new anti-aliasing filter overlaid on the chip reduces the incidence of moiré without compromising the ability to record detail.

      The sensor has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, which provides a maximum image size of 6000 x 4000 pixels. Users can also access a 16:9 aspect ratio, which crops the top and bottom of the frame.  The graph below shows typical image sizes for all image size and quality settings.

      Image size

      Pixels

      Aspect ratio

      Approx. File size

      Extra Fine

      Fine

      Standard

      Raw

      6000 x 4000

      3:2

      28.4MB

      RAW+JPEG

      6000 x 4000

      39.4MB

      L: 16M

      6000 x 4000

      3:2

      20.48MB

      10.04MB

      6.02MB

      M: 8.4M

      4240 x 2832

      10.67MB

      5.57MB

      4.03MB

      S: 4M

      3008 x 2000

      6.65MB

      3.85MB

      3.05MB

      L: 14M

      6000 x 3376

      16:9

      17.66MB

      8.83MB

      5.39MB

      M: 7.1M

      4240 x 2400

      9.31MB

      5.07MB

      3.74MB

      S: 3.4M

      3008 x 1688

      5.95MB

      3.58MB

      2.89MB

      Panorama (Standard/ Horizontal)

      8192 x 1856

      4.4:1 (approx.)

      6.17MB

      Panorama (Standard / Vertical)

      3872 x 2160

      1.8:1 (approx.)

      4.30MB

      Panorama (Wide / Horizontal)

      12,416 x 1856

       6.7:1 (approx.)

      8.98MB

      Panorama (Wide/ Vertical)

      5536 x 2160

      2.56:1 (approx.)

      5.28MB

      3D Sweep Panorama (Standard)

      4912 x 1080

       

      7.53MB

      1920 x 1080

       

      2.51MB

      3D Sweep Panorama (Wide)

      7152 x 1080

       

      9.85MB

      The BIONZ image processor supports sensitivity settings from ISO 100 to ISO 25,600 for still photos to ISO 100-6400  for movies. The Auto setting encompasses ISO 100 to 6400 by default and users can set upper and lower limits.  Manual over-rides provide extensions in 1/3Ev steps to ISO 50.

      High ISO noise-reduction processing is applied by default with three settings available: Low, Normal and High. Long-exposure noise-reduction processing is also available and with the Multi-frame Noise Reduction setting, you can specify the ISO sensitivity within a range of ISO 100 to 25,600 and the camera will combine multiple exposures to create a single image with reduced noise levels.

      The standard continuous shooting setting can record full resolution still images at up to six frames/second. In the Tele-zoom Continuous Advance Priority AE mode the capture rate rises to approximately 10 fps with 2.3x magnification for full frame capture or 1.5x zooming at APS-C  image size. A second setting supports  eight fps with1.5x zooming. In the continuous Low speed mode, the capture rate is 2.5 frames/second.

      Video
       One of the best features of Sony's A99 is the ability to use the EVF when shooting movies (a capability absent from cameras with optical finders). Because the screen is clear, bright and colour accurate, you can see exactly how movie clips will look, even in bright outdoor lighting, where LCD monitor provides a compromised view and can be difficult to use.

      Full HD Movie shooting is supported at 50/60 fps (PAL/NTSC) frame rates using the AVCHD (Ver. 2.0) format for higher resolutions and MP4 for 1440 x 1080 and VGA.

      The table below shows the resolutions and frame rates available for the PAL format.

      Video format

      Aspect ratio

      Picture Mode

      Picture size
        (pixels)

      Frame Rate

      Bit rate

      AVCHD

      16:9

      PS

      1920 x 1080

      50p

      28 Mbps

      FX

      50i

      24 Mbps

      FH

      50i

      17 Mbps

      FX

      24p

      24 Mbps

      FH

      24p

      17 Mbps

      MP4

      4:3

      1440 x 1080

      30/25 fps

      12 Mbps

      640 x 480

      3 Mbps

      A 'clean' stream of video data can be output directly from the camera via the HDMI cable. Manual focusing and the P/A/S/M exposure modes are available while shooting video and phase detection ensures accurate focusing. The A-99 provides displays for audio levels, AF tracking duration, auto slow shutter selection, HDMI information and GPS data logging in movie mode.

      Of the two optional remote commanders available, only the RMT-DSLR2 can be used for movie capture and it can only start and stop recordings. The camera must be set to Movie mode.
       
      Playback and Software
       Nothing much has changed since the SLT-A77, save for the ability to select which memory card to playback from. Because images and video clips are stored in separate folders, you must use the Still/Movie Select function in the menu to choose between Folder View (Still), Folder View (MP4) and AVCHD View.

      No software was supplied with the review camera but we assume the A99 will come with the latest versions of Sony's standard software applications: Image Data Converter, Play Memories Home and Remote Camera Control.  Fortunately, raw files from the A99 can be processed in the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw, our preferred raw file converter.

      Performance
      The review camera was supplied with two lenses: the Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70mm f/2.8 ZA SSM and the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G, both of which we have already reviewed. The 24-70mm lens was reviewed in March 2008 and the 70-200mm lens was reviewed in October 2009.

      Like the A77, the A99 is a very responsive camera and certainly fast enough to use for photographing action – with one proviso. However, because the EVF displays the shot you've just taken, it can be difficult to take a sequence of quick shots in single-shot mode unless you turn the Auto Review function off in the menu (the default setting is two seconds).

      Aside from that, the refresh rates for the monitor and EVF were fast enough to allow moving subjects to be tracked without losing apparent sharpness. The EVF screen didn't appear to black-out when the shutter was triggered.

      Autofocusing was generally fast and accurate, provided the correct sensor array pattern was selected. The camera proved able to track moving subjects with the 70-200mm lens and keep them in focus. Low-light autofocusing was also fast and accurate.

      The built-in stabilisation system enabled us to use shutter speeds as slow as 1/30 second with the 70-200mm lens at 150mm and have more than half of the shots acceptably sharp. Shutter speeds as slow as 1/4 second were possible with the 24-70mm lens at 70mm.

      Subjective assessments of test image files show them to be as detailed as you would expect fort the sensor's resolution. The dynamic range in JPEG files taken in sunny conditions was also nice and wide. Colour reproduction was natural with the default Standard Picture Style.

      We conducted our Imatest testing with the Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70mm f/2.8 ZA SSM lens, which delivers slightly better performance than the 70-200mm lens. The sensor's very high resolution will require the best possible lens as even trivial defects will be revealed.

      The highest resolution came with the 35mm focal length at f/4 and JPEG files came close to expectations, while raw files exceeded expectations with ISO 100 sensitivity, which appears to be optimal for the sensor and processor partnership.  Resolution with both file types declined gradually at sensitivity was increased, as shown in the graph below.

       
       Shots taken with high ISO settings were remarkable for their clarity and freedom from noise right up to ISO 6400 and beyond. To give an example, we've included a crop from a 3.2-second exposure at ISO 25600, which was enlarged to 100% among the sample images. Despite the presence of noise artefacts, this image produced good looking prints at snapshot size and held up well to enlargement on an HDTV screen.

       Auto white balance performance was better than average and the review camera came close to removing the warm cast associated with incandescent lighting and almost totally cancelled out the green cast of fluorescent lights. For both lighting types, the pre-sets over-corrected colours slightly but the manual measurement system delivered a neutral colour balance. As with the A77, plenty of in-camera adjustments are provided for tweaking images as you shoot and white balance bracketing is also available.

      Video quality was extremely good with all settings provided and, like the A77, the A99 supports the use of the A, S and M modes for movies. Autofocusing was very fast and mostly accurate in the video clips we recorded and the camera appeared able to follow focus both during pans and with moving subjects. No rolling shutter effects were observed.

      Soundtracks were also very clear, even without an external microphone and the wind filter was surprisingly effective outdoors. However, it couldn't eliminate all wind noise in gusty conditions. We detected no camera operating sounds in any of the movie clips we recorded.

      Our timing tests were carried out with a 32GB  SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC U1 memory card, one of the fastest available. The review camera took just under a second to power up but shut down almost instantly.

      Capture lag was negligible, regardless of whether the subject was pre-focused and the degree to which the lens was defocused when the shutter button was pressed. It took 2.5 seconds, on average to process each high-resolution JPEG file, 2.8 seconds for an ARW.RAW file 3.1 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair.

      Shot-to shot times averaged 0.55 seconds. In the high speed continuous shooting mode, the camera recorded 10 full-resolution images in 1.4 seconds. It took 8.1 seconds to process this burst.  The same capture rate applied when raw file and RAW+JPEG capture were selected, but it took just over 8.3 seconds to process the raw file burst and 9.1 seconds for the RAW+JPEG pairs.

      Conclusion
       The A99 is an exciting camera that will challenge most photographers but is enjoyable and very satisfying to use. Its ergonomics and high-resolution EVF make it better suited for shooting movies than its main rivals because you can record video while using the viewfinder.

      Photographers who have an existing suite of A-mount lenses they are happy with will find the A99 provides the 'missing' full-frame body many have waited for.  For photographers considering the A99 body as the basis of a DSLR system, considerations should be given to whether the lenses currently available will meet your requirements.

      Sony currently offers three lens 'families', based on price (and build/optical quality). The Carl Zeiss T* are the leaders and priced between AU$1000 and AU$2500. There are three primes and three zooms, with the longest focal length at 135mm.

      Extending the Zeiss range is the Sony G range, again comprising three primes and three zooms. However, these lenses extend focal length options to 300mm (RRP AU8699) and 500mm (RRP AU$14,999) and include a fast (f/1.4) 35mm prime.

      Sony's 'budget' lenses include six zoom lenses, with the longest focal length being 250mm. There are also six budget prime lenses, including an 84mm f/2.8 'portrait' lens and a 50mm f/2.8 macro lens.

      The total range is smaller than the ranges of rival manufacturers, Canon and Nikon, and it lacks those companies' depth, particularly in the super-tele and macro areas. No fisheye lenses are included and architectural photographers won't find any tilt-shift lenses.

      Third-party manufacturers are filling some, although not all, of these gaps and Sony will probably add more lenses in the future. But it is also devoting resources to developing lenses for its E-mount NEX cameras, for which even fewer lenses are available, so it will be a big ask to expect deficiencies to be made up quickly in the current economic climate.

      Buy this camera if:
       - You’re looking for a high-resolution DSLR that provides good ergonomics for shooting video and can record high-quality stills and Full HD video clips.
       - You want minimal noise at high ISO settings.
       - You want body-integrated image stabilisation that works with all lenses.
       - The current range of available lenses meets your needs.

      Don’t buy this camera if:
       - You don’t like electronic viewfinders.
       - Essential lenses aren't available for the camera body.

      SPECS

       Image sensor: 36 x 24 mm CMOS  sensor with 24.7 million photosites (24.3 megapixels effective)
       Image processor: BIONZ II
       A/D processing: 14-bit
       Lens mount: Sony α lenses, Minolta and Konica Minolta AF lenses
       Focal length crop factor: 1x
       Digital zoom: Approx. 4x (stills & movies), Smart Zoom: M = 1.5x, S = 2.3x
       Image formats: Stills – ARW.RAW, JPEG (Exif 2.3), RAW+JPEG; Movies – AVCHD 2.0, MP4
       Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2 aspect ratio - L (24M): 6048 x 4032; M (13M): 4400 x 2936; S (6.1M): 3024 x 2016; 16:9 aspect ratio - L (21M): 6048 x 3408; M (11M): 4400 x 2472; S (5.2M): 3024 x 1704; Movies: 1920 x 1080 at 50p, 50i, 24p; 1280 x 720 at 30 fps, 1440 x 1080 and 640 x 480 at 30/25 fps
       Image Stabilisation: SteadyShot image-sensor shift mechanism
       Dust removal: Charge protection coating on Low-Pass Filter plus image sensor-shift mechanism
       Shutter speed range: 30 to 1/8000 seconds plus Bulb; flash synch at 1/250 sec. (1/200 sec. with SteadyShot on)
       Exposure Compensation: +/- 3 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV increments
       Exposure bracketing: Continuous/Single, with 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 2.0* EV increments, 3 or 5 frames selectable. (*2.0 EV bracketing limited to 3 frames)
       Self-timer: 2  or 10 seconds delay
       Focus system: Hybrid AF system with on-sensor phase detection array; 102 sensor points (all cross type); can build depth map of scene to assist the conventional array
       Focus modes: Single-shot AF, Auto AF, Continuous AF, Direct Manual Focus, Manual Focus
       Exposure metering: TTL metering with 40-segment honeycomb-pattern SPC; Multi Segment, Centre-weighted, Spot metering patterns
       Shooting modes: Program AE (AUTO/P, with program shift), Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual
       Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
       ISO range: Auto, ISO 100-25,600 in 0.3EV increments; expandable to ISO 50
       White balance: Auto, Preset (Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash), Colour Temperature (2500 - 9900k with 19-step Magenta/Green compensation), custom (3 memories)
       Flash: External flash unit; supports ADI/ Pre- flash TTL flash; modes include Auto, Fill flash, Rear Sync, High-speed sync, Slow sync and Wireless with compatible flash 
       Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 3EV (0.3/0.5 EV increments)
       Sequence shooting: Max. 6 frames/second at 24MP for approximately 14 Large Extra Fine JPEGs, 13 ARW.RAW frames or 11 RAW+JPEG pairs
       Storage Media: Dual slots for SD/SDHC/SDXC cards; UHS compatible and fully configurable 
       Viewfinder: 1.3 cm XGA (1024 x 768-pixel) OLED Tru-Finder with 2,359,296 dots plus 100% frame coverage
       LCD monitor: Tilting 3.0-inch, 1,228,800-dot, Xtra Fine LCD with 100% field of view
       Live View features: Evaluative & subject recognition lock-on AF
       Data LCD: 19 x 21mm monochrome display
       Playback functions: Single-frame, Index (4 or 9 frames), Enlarge (7.2x  to 14x), Slideshow, Picture rotation (auto mode available), Histogram (independent luminance/RGB available), Shooting information
       Interface terminals: USO 2.0, HDMI (Type C Mini) supports 'clean' video feed-out; Video out (PAL/NTSC selectable); DC-in; remote terminal adaptor; 3.5 mm stereo microphone jack, Bravia Sync with Sony TV sets
       Power supply: NP-FM500H rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 410 shots/charge with viewfinder shooting or 500 shots/charge with live view
       Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 147 x 111.2 x 78.4 mm
       Weight: Approx. 733 grams

      RRP: AU$2999 (body only), US$2800; AU$5299, US$4800 (as reviewed with SAL2470Z Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70mm f/2.8 ZA SSM lens)
       Distributor: Sony Australia; 1300 720 071; www.sony.com.au.

      TESTS

       JPEG images

      z

       
       Raw images converted with  Adobe Camera Raw 7.1.

       

       

       

       

       

      SAMPLES

       

       Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.

      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.

      30-second exposure at ISO 100; 35mm focal length, f/2.8.

      6-second exposure at ISO 6400; 35mm focal length, f/8.
       

      6-second exposure at ISO 12800; 35mm focal length, f/11.
       
       

      3.2-second exposure at ISO 25600; 35mm focal length, f/11.

      Crop from the above image, enlarged to 100%.

       

      Stabilisation test with 70-200mm lens; 150mm focal length, ISO 6400, 1/30 second at f/4.
       
       

      200mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/1000 second at f/4.5.
       
       

      200mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/5.6.
       
       

      200mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/640 second at f/6.3.
       
       

      180mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/5.6.
       
       

      Strong backlighting; 70mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/800 second at f/8.

      200mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/640 second at f/6.3.

       

      150mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/400 second at f/6.3.
       

      60mm focal length, ISO 12800, 1/15 second at f/3.5.
       
       

      55mm focal length, ISO 5000, 1/6 second at f/3.5.
       

      Still frame from Full HD video clip in PS mode at 50p.

       

       Still frame from Full HD video clip in FX mode at 50i.
       
       

      Still frame from Full HD video clip in FH mode at 50i.
       

      Still frame from Full HD video clip in FX mode at 24p.

      Still frame from Full HD video clip in FH mode at 24p.

      Still frame from MP4 video clip at 1440 x 1080 pixels.

       

        Still frame from VGA video clip. 
       

      Rating

      RRP: AU$2999 (body only), US$2800; AU$5299, US$4800 (as reviewed with SAL2470Z Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar 24-70mm f/2.8 ZA SSM lens)

      • Build: 9.0
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Still image quality JPEG: 8.8
      • Still image quality RAW: 9.0
      • Video quality: 9.0

      BUY