Sony a7R III -vs- a99 II 42.4MP Camera Showdown

Sony a7R III vs a99 II 42 mp Showdown

Who’s the winner in the battle between Sony’s 42MP fullframe cameras?

 
Here’s a look at how the E-mount Sony a7R III and A-mount Sony a99 II fullframe cameras compare depending on the way you shoot and the lenses you may already own.

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Camera Sony a7R III Sony a99 II
Sensor 42.4 MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor 42.4 MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
Lens Mount Sony E-Mount Sony A-Mount
Processor BIONZ X Image Processor & Front-End LSI BIONZ X Image Processor & Front-End LSI
Shutter 10 FPS Electronic / 10 FPS Mechanical Shutter 12 FPS Mechanical Shutter
Video UHD 4K30p Video + HLG & S-Log3 Gamma None
Buffer 76 Shot RAW Buffer (Specs not Listed)
Auto Focus 399 Phase-Detection AF Points 399 Phase Detection AF Points (On-Chip)
425 Contrast AF Points 79 Phase Detection AF Points (Off-Chip)
Dynamic Range 15 Stop Dynamic Range 14 Stop Dynamic Range
Pixel Shift Yes No
EVF 3.69m-Dot Tru-Finder OLED EVF 2.36m-Dot Tru-Finder OLED EVF
LCD 1.44m-Dot 3.0″ Tilting Touchscreen LCD 1.23m-Dot 3.0″ Tilting LCD
Sensitivity 100-32000 (Ext: 50-102400) 100-25600 (Ext: 50-102400)
Metering Range EV -3.0 – EV 20.0 EV -2.0 – EV 17.0
Connections Built-In Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Built-In Wi-Fi/Bluetooth
Card Slots Dual SD Slots Dual SD Slots
Ports USB 3.1 Type-C Port & PC Sync Port USB 2.0 Port & PC Sync Port
Dimensions 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9″ (W x H x D) 5.6 x 4.1 x 3.0″ (W x H x D)
Weight 1.445 lb / 657 g 1.868 lb / 849 g
Price (USD) $3,198 $3,198

OBJECTIVE: Sports or Wildlife Photography
WINNER: Sony a99 II

Sony a99 II’s Hybrid Phase Detection AF system with 79-point dedicated AF sensor working in tandem with a 399-point on-chip focus system and its 12 FPS with continuous AF and tracking gives a99 II an edge for action. Besides, when shooting with a massive 500-600mm lens the weight savings of the lighter E-mount body is rather negligible and the slightly larger size of the a99 II camera body is actually a plus since it makes it more grip-able when shooting with big glass – though you better be using your left hand to support the lens and only using your right hand the camera to guide it.

OBJECTIVE: Landscape Photography
WINNER: Sony a7R III

For maximum resolution when shooting landscapes, I’d rather not shoot through a translucent mirror if I can avoid it. Image quality loss from translucent mirror is about the same as using a high-quality UV filter (you’d be much worse off slapping a $15 UV filter over your lens.) You also don’t need lightning fast AF when shooting landscapes. Unless you have another compelling reason for choosing the larger a99 II body, save yourself half a pound and go with a7RII. Your shoulders will thank you!

OBJECTIVE: Portrait Photography
WINNER: Sony a7R III

Sony a7RII and a99 II are both great choices for portrait photography each offering great lenses for portraits but E-mount has the best glass. The FE 24-70mm 2.8 G Master, FE 85mm 1.4 GM, FE 90mm 2.8 Macro and FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM are all substantial upgrades over the A-mount versions. A-mount gets points for the incredible 135mm 1.8 ZA, but with a Sigma FE 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art lens on the way to slam the door on that argument.

>OBJECTIVE: Shooting with Adapted Lenses
WINNER: Sony a7R III
Because of its thin 18mm Focal Flange Distance, Sony a7RII allows you to adapt virtually any fullframe lens. The same cannot be said for a99 II since A-mount has a 44.5mm Focal Flange Distance that makes it far less viable for using adapted lenses. (Read More: Guide to Understanding Flange Focal Distance)

OBJECTIVE: Shooting with Minolta AF Lenses
WINNER: Sony a99 II

Sony a99 II is the clear winner if you’ve got lots of Minolta AF lenses (or screw drive Sony A-mount glass). While Sony’s LA-EA4 adapter will allow AF with screw drive lenses on E-mount bodies, LA-EA4 uses the rather antiquated AF system from a65 which is not nearly the speed or coverage you get from a99’s Hybrid AF that combines a dedicated 79-point PDAF + 399-point on sensor PDAF system.

OBJECTIVE: Shooting with E-mount Lenses
WINNER: Sony a7R III

If you’ve got lots of E-mount glass stick to Sony a7RII. While Sony E-mount’s thinner bodies allow you to use of A-mount glass on E-mount cameras, the reverse is NOT true. You can’t use E-mount lenses on A-mount cameras.

OBJECTIVE: Battery Life
WINNER: Sony a7R III

This used to be a win for Sony a99 II but the new Sony NP-FZ100 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery used in a7 III, a7R III & a9 actually beats the battery life of a99 II’s NP-FM500H Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery.

OBJECTIVE: Lowest Noise at High ISOs
WINNER: Sony a7R III

Sony a7R III wins by 1/2 a stop. Light loss from Sony a99 II’s translucent mirror is roughly 1/2 stop, but with this excellent back-illuminated senior, that’s barely visible.

OBJECTIVE: Low Light AF
WINNER: DRAW

Sony a7R III focuses stopped down, a99 II focuses wide open. While a7R III’s -3 EV metering sensitivity is one stop better when shooting wide open, a99 II rules when shooting stopped down in low-light.

OBJECTIVE: Street Photography
WINNER: Sony a7R III

Weighing in at 22.05 oz, Sony a7R III is nearly half a pound lighter than the 29.92 oz Sony a99 II. Plus a7RII is thinner and smaller for a stealthier appearance on the street so it won’t attract as much attention from the people you want to photograph…or thieves…

OBJECTIVE: Street Photography with a Fast 35mm Lens
WINNER: Sony RX1R II

Sorry, a99 II and a7R III, but Sony RX1R II was MADE FOR THIS!!! What? You forgot there was a third Sony camera rocking this 42.4 mp sensor??? If 35mm is the perfect focal length of you, you won’t find a higher quality 35mm F/2 lens than the Zeiss lens built-into RX1R cameras.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY:

Sony a7R II ($3,198.00 – Order from B&H Photo | Amazon)
Sony a99 II ($3,198.00 – Order from B&H Photo | Amazon)
Sony RX1R II ($3,898.00 – Order from B&H Photo | Amazon)

And the Winner Is….

Sony shooters who can choose Sony’s top-of-the-line 42.4MP back-illuminated sensor in both A-Mount and E-Mount…or even in fixed lens RX1R II if you prefer.


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28 thoughts on “Sony a7R III -vs- a99 II 42.4MP Camera Showdown”

  1. “Sorry, a99 II and a7R III, but Sony RX1R II was MADE FOR THIS!!! What? You forgot there was a third Sony camera rocking this 42.4 mp sensor??? If 35mm is the perfect focal length of you, you won’t find a higher quality 35mm F/2 lens than the Zeiss lens built-into RX1R cameras.”

    i want the same 35 for my A7R III…

    1. Can’t be the same size. RXIR II cameras are actually built around the lens which nearly touches the sensor. That’s not possible with interchangeable lenses.

  2. I am lucky enough to have two a99iis and a new a7riii. I still use the a99ii for wildlife for one BIG reason … the Sony 500mm f/4. Going to Africa next week and can only pack two bodies. Considered a7riii, but don’t want to deal with two batteries and two mounts, so just taking the a99iis.

  3. Calling it a draw on low-light AF doesn’t seem right unless we’re assuming that max aperture will always be used?
    Kind of made me start wondering how the AF of the different generations of A7 would handle studio work. Have often found myself working at f/8 to f/11 in rather dimly lit surroundings and sometimes using autofocus just to get the focus in the right ballpark after moving around.

    1. In true low-light photography you generally shoot wide open.

      I wouldn’t consider studio photography to be in that category unless you failed to pay your electric bill, however it’s important to note that when using a7 Series cameras that offer Phase Detection AF (such as a7R III) you’ll want to stay at F8 or brighter to enable PDAF. Once you stop down past F8 you drop to Contrast AF only.

  4. michael w bourque

    I have an a99 with plenty of a-mount glass sony 70-200 2/8 sony 70-400 f4 zeiz 24- 70 2/8 + other sony a Minolta and Tamron lenses. Not sure if I should a99ii or a7riii with a lens adapter. looking for experience advice

  5. I have a reasonably large investment in A-mount lenses (20mm Zeiss, 50mm f1.4 Zeiss, 135mm f1.8 Zeiss, 16-35mm f2.8 Zeiss, 24-70mm f2.8 Zeiss, 70-200mm f4 Sony, 500mm f8 AF Sony, 90mm macro Minolta, 35-105mm Minolta and 100-300mm Minolta) and am looking towards video, as much as photo usage. I tried out an A7R II with an LA-EA3 adapter and not one of the Sony Zeiss lenses above worked in video mode.
    I am considering buying an A99 II but know that it is probably the last a-Mount camera that Sony will make. I am also getting close to retirement, so spending large amount on replacing all of the above glass is really not an option (plus that 500mm mirror Sony Lens is really nice and light and small to have in your bag.
    Given this situation, do I just accept that the A99 II is the last camera I am ever going to buy that will give me video with those lenses or is looking into an A3R III or A3R IV and using the LA-E3 a viable option, given the need for video?

    1. For video AF with a7 Series cameras using A-mount lenses you’ll meed LA-EA4, Same is true for sScrew drive lenses like the 135mm ZA, 500 FB Mirror and all the Minolta lenses you mentioned.

      A-mount represents a tiny fraction of Sony camera and lens sales at this point and many of the advances Sony has made in mirrorless are simply not possible with SLT which should give you a pretty clear idea of the direction of future development.

      My suggestion would be to take the plunge with mirrorless a7 Series and replace the lenses that you use most and adapt the rest. Sony a7R IV adds video Eye AF which is pretty mind blowing – but it won’t work with adapted lenses. You’re probably not using that with a 500mm mens anyway – but it’s a game-changer with a lens like the Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM

      That’s what I’d do.

  6. One more question that will help with this decision – are there ANY Sony mirrorless cameras (e.g. A9 or A9II) that will provide video autofocus using the LA-EA3 and these Sony Zeiss lenses?

    1. SAL 135mm F1.8 ZA is a screw drive lens which only allows AF with LA-EA4. The other Zeiss lenses are SSM lenses so you can get AF for stills with LA-EA3, but video AF requires LA-EA4

  7. After much thought on this, I have decided to buy an A99ii.
    Sony really has made it very difficult for A-mount users interested in video to move to the a7 series. As they have blocked the use of all a-mount lenses for video with the LE-EA3, you are forced to give up the very reason for going to the a7 series in the first place (improved AF being a major one) and are forced to use the LA-EA4, with an ancient AF mechanism, even for lenses that have SSM focusing.
    The only option that you are left with, to get the a7 benefits, is to try and sell all of your a-mount lenses (including your top quality Sony Zeiss lenses) for a 1/4 of the price of equivalent e-mount lenses and to start buying e-mount lenses from the ground up.
    That option, financially, is simply too great a cost to chose, so unfortunately, the only realistic option that I have is to go down the dead end that Sony has artificially created by preventing any a-mount video using the LA-EA3 (which would allow the a7 focus to be used with these lenses) and buy an a99 ii, despite knowing it will be the last Sony camera I will be able to trade up to. At least I will be able to use all of my lenses and use them for video (despite the also artificially introduced f3.5 limitation, that has been removed from every a7 and a9 camera with firmware updates).
    What this means is that, unless Sony (or someone else) comes out with an LA-EA5, at the end of the life of the a99 ii I will probably be moving to Canon or Nikon due to the disgraceful behavior by Sony in introducing these artificial limitations to drive loyal customers to throw away virtually brand new and thoroughly expensive lenses.
    I can not describe the disappointment I currently have in seeing this callous behavior by a company that I trusted with $10-20k of purchases over the years.

  8. Indeed, the more loyal a customer you have been to Sony in the past, the more their behavior of artificially limiting the use of your lenses with new cameras hurts you.

    1. Technology has advanced dramatically since the days of screw drive autofocus. As for Sony SSM lenses, they adapt much better than Nikon but not as well as Canon.

      1. A large number of the lenses I have are top-of-the-line Sony Zeiss prime and zoom lenses. They also don’t work in video mode on any of the Sony a7 or a9 cameras. There is no reason for this other than Sony blocking their use with these cameras, as their a99 ii product manager admitted in a YouTube video.

  9. I own an A99 and A99ii with a range of nice glass. I love in particular the images I get with e A99ii paired with the Sigma 35mm Art and Sigma 50mm Art and this accounts for most of my image making these days. However, I am thinking of the future and for that reason I am seriously considering buying the A7Riii (which can be had here in UK for very reasonable price now) along with the new Sony LA-EA5 Adapter when this becomes available. That will then give me a two camera set up for 95% of my image taking – the two Sigma lenses will effectively be attached to the A99ii and A7Riii. This will make me both very happy and I fortunate too!

  10. Just as a quick addition to the above. I am thinking of the EA5 rather than the EA3 or EA4 simply as it appears to be able to handle more of the different lenses (I own screw driven, SAM and SSM) in a more effective way. I understand that full capability is currently restricted to the A7RIV but am hoping some sort of firmware may make this available to the A7Riii at a later date. Even if not, then the EA5 still appears to be a better option for me when I buy the A7Riii. Unless I am missing something? Thank you.

  11. Antonio Raffaele

    ciao Brian permetti una domanda ma utilizzando il sal 300 f2.8 su aRIII è più performante con La-ea3 o La-ea5 grazie

  12. A7RIII e A99II sono le due reflex per qualità / prezzo più riuscite di casa Sony di questi ultimi anni. Una cosa ho chiara avendo provato entrambe che la A7 RIII non è affatto superiore alla A99II che possiedo con lenti di alta qualità. L’unica scelta visto le limitazioni dell’adattatore LA-EA5 sarebbe la Sony A1 ma il suo prezzo la rende per adesso fuori portata per molti utenti Sony A-mount. Speravo almeno in una Sony A99III ma visto che sarà difficile ciò non escludo di passare ad altri marchi che hanno più rispetto per i propri clienti.

    1. Sì, Andrea, a7R III e a99 II sono entrambe ottime fotocamere. È un peccato che, come Minolta prima di loro, Sony A-mount non sia mai stata in grado di andare oltre un lontano terzo posto nell’universo DSLR. La leadership di Sony nella tecnologia mirrorless ha lasciato Canon e Nikon a seguire il leader.

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