The Sony A99 II has officially showed up to the lab and I did my normal 360 degree turn table recording of all the gear. I held the A99 II for some time and I can honestly say its an amazing camera design! It has everything I want in a camera body. The fully articulating screen on the back is awesome and why can’t this be included on the new Sony A9 I can’t help but wonder?
The build quality of the Sony A99 II is excellent! The port doors are really well designed and they actually soft lock open so they don’t close awkwardly or get in your way when connecting cables and stuff. The battery door automatically locks closed as it should, and the amount of physical buttons on this camera are astounding!
The top of the camera has the LCD screen which illuminates for dark shooting situations and I really like that feature.
In hand the camera feels awesome. Very solid and not near as heavy as I was expecting! It’s actually smaller than I was expecting as well which is worth noting.
The grip feels fantastic with all the little finger groves and the shutter actuator sounds serious!
The autofocus on the A99 II is so insanely fast and accurate it’s almost scary! The AF was set to AF-A mode when I started using it which stands for Auto pretty much. So if the camera sees movement, it will switch to AF-C (continuous) automatically which happened to me while playing around. You can then see the af points jumping around tracking the subject like a fierce predator… I was amazed by this when it happened, and could not help but feel giddy in the moment 🙂
My Sony A99 II Review is Now Up Here >>
A99 II frontal minus the sensor…
After using the camera for a few minutes I noticed that the thumb nob was not responding 100% of the time. I think I read that in a review a while back, and I’m kinda surprised by this. I will play with the camera a lot more, so don’t worry as I will report on this more if it continues to happen.
Overall the camera just feels great in hand. I really can’t help but wonder why I wanted a mirrorless camera so bad, but then I remembered about the size and weight differences once I picked up my Nex-6. That camera feels like a piece of paper compared to the A99 II. Compared to the A9 however, it’s not really that much of a different.
A99 II full frontal
I have the Sony Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm f/2.8 ZA SSM II Lens and Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM II Lens to play with on the Sony A99 II, so this really should be a eye opening review cycle for me. I have not reviewed a DSLR in a long time!
A Few Sample Photos
On the way to work today I stopped at the Basha Kill, because the light was pretty darn awesome, and I snapped a few frames. Here is one photo I just processed using the HDR Efex Pro software that google offers for Free here >>
I took 3 frames at 3ev apart using the bracketing feature for reference, and was shooting at 16mm, f/11 with the killer ultra wide angle Sony Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm f/2.8 ZA SSM II Lens
Basha Kill – HDR and be sure to click this photo for the ~2500px high res version!!
Here is one of Layla I thought looked pretty interesting with the ultra wide angle effect… Man is 16mm on a full frame camera wide!
My car was just asking for a portrait!
The paw print air fresher thru the front windshield of my car came out pretty interesting.
And another in my driveway…. I was amazed at how close I could get to the car and still fit in the peak of the house roof! I was about 2-3 feet from the car bumper I would say.
I also took a few snaps with the Sony A99 II and Sony 70-400mm f/4-5.6 G SSM II Lens
The moon was out during the day and I just pointed and shot. I cropped this image a bit, because as you can imagine, it was way smaller in the original image. I did not enlarge the image, just cropped in a bit in Lightroom, to be clear.
Jase with some killer 400mm separation.. I love the way portraits look when using a lens like this! Now imagine under exposing the background by about 1 full stop and then using an off camera flash to brighten up Jase! Now that would just be an incredible frame, and what I used to do in my Pro days all the time… Under exposing the background and illuminating the subject with an off camera flash light source creates the most incredible 3d pop ever!
A layering scene and this lens is absolutely razor sharp!
A flower on the deck.
I know this is just a first impressions type article and all, but clearly you can see the image quality is incredible coming off this camera and lens combos. I really can’t wait to get some more photos of stuff. I feel like a kid with a new toy and I have not felt so excited about a camera in a while! Granted I was definitely excited about the Sony A9, don’t get me wrong, but not like this.
Honestly I feel like the Sony A9 is way to expensive when comparing to the A99 II, and I can’t help but wonder why Sony left out so many features. These must have camera body and design features are all available on the A99 II and it’s $1300 less than the A9? So why does the A9 not have the fully articulating lcd screen on the back? Clearly Sony has the ability to put it on, but they chose not to. The port doors could have been made like the A99 II, but they chose to make them significantly less good for whatever reason. Why? I could see if the camera cost less, but it costs way more!
I really am feeling like I caught up in the mirrorless craze and completely forgot how awesome a DSLR really is. It’s better in almost every way, other than the weight I suppose, but even that is not an issue really anymore. I’m just speaking off the cuff here, so bare with me.
My mirrorless camera craze started with the Nex-C3 and the size to weight ration was insane considering the image quality. Then the ability to attach any lens was just incredible to me. I was hooked!!
Shortly after that I purchased the Nex-6 and I absolutely love the camera and still use it today for all my lab filming footage. It’s an awesome camera, but is missing all those killer DSLR features… Ever since then I basically wanted a DSLR in the size of the Mirrorless Nex-6. Well, that never really happened. Then the full frame mirrorless came out and I ended up getting the A7r, which is awesome, but suffers from all the same short comings as the Nex-6 really. It has very limited physical buttons, horrible battery life, and the Auto Focus is not very good. However, it’s awesome for attaching old school vintage glass and any other type of lens for that matter. The image quality is also stellar on the A7r!
So now after getting the A99 II I’m thinking I have been fooled by the mirrorless phenomenon. If the advantage is size and weight, then why do the camera bodies keep getting larger and heavier? If it’s just for using old school lenses for fun, then I really don’t need all the pro features that a DSLR like the Sony A99 II provides..
So then I go back to the Sony A9 and ask myself did Sony go to far? $4500 for a camera that does have awesome autofocus, great video, and great battery life, but still lacks a ton of physical features when compared to the much cheaper A99 II. The quality E-mount lenses are just as expensive as the A-Mount lenses, so I’m not really saving there either.
Well, I think I’m officially babbling at this point, so I will cut this off for now 😉
That is it for this article and overall my first impressions are the A99 II is an amazing camera and I would totally recommend it over the Sony A9 if you are a Pro Photographer! I know that might sound odd coming from me, but I clearly should have reviewed the A99 II a long time ago… I still have a ton of time with the A99 II, so stay tuned as I put it and the lenses thru the SonyAlphaLab style review process.. I plan on pumping out articles like crazy, similar to the Sony A9 coverage last month..
Gear used for this article: