Sony’s flagship fullframe A-mount camera finally gets a remake and it’s a Big One!
Sony a99 II ($3,199.95) gets Sony’s top-of-the-line 42.4 MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor and a all-new processor and LSI turbocharged for more processing horsepower than any Sony camera to date. It’s packed full of new features – some are totally new features, some are new to fullframe and others are new to A-mount. These are my favorites.
1. Hybrid Phase Detection AF
NEW TO FULLFRAME: Sony a99 II is the first fullframe camera to get 4D predictive focus. Sony a99 II Hybrid Phase Detection AF combines a dedicated 79-point Phase Detection AF module with the large 399-point on-sensor PDAF system found in a7RII and RX1R II for the best focus tracking ever.
Dual-Pixel AF systems found in DSLRs can only use one system or the other – but never both together. Sony’s Hybrid Phase Detection AF system uses both systems together continuously – not separately. Unlike DSLRs, a99 II focuses with both systems continuously – even when the camera is recording. This is only possible with translucent mirror cameras.
This combination allows you to continuously track moving subjects at a high rate of speed with extreme accuracy – even in challenging lighting conditions.
2. Shoot 42.4 MP at 12 FPS
• Fast AF/AE tracking at up to 12 FPS
NEW FEATURE: Sony a99 II is the FIRST fullframe camera over 24mp to offer 12 FPS continuous shooting. And thanks to Sony’s fastest processor ever, you can shoot 50 continuous frames of full res RAW + Jpeg before hitting the buffer. That’s slightly more than a 4-second burst.
Continuous shooting while maintaining reliable AF and AE tracking requires serious processing power and speed. Sony a99 II is able to do this with a 42.4 effective megapixel image sensor that allows high-speed readout, BIONZ X processing, and a newly developed front-end LSI for controlled noise processing at higher resolution. The shutter unit itself has also been redesigned for faster response. These refinements work with Hybrid Phase Detection AF to allow continuous auto focus and auto exposure at up to 12 FPS. Yup, focus and exposure are NOT locked on the first frame – even at 12 FPS.
• Live View with Minimal Lag at up to 8 FPS with AF/AE tracking
FIRST IN A-MOUNT: With the a99 II you can even use live view while shooting continuously at up to 8 FPS with full AF and AE tracking, thanks to an improved display algorithm. Display lag is so small that viewing is essentially no different from an optical viewfinder. Continuous live view shooting speed can be set to 8 fps, 6 fps, or 4 fps to match a variety of subjects
Can’t wait to test it out with this Bad Boy!
Sony a99 II + Sony 300mm F/2.8G II Lens
3. First Fullframe DSLR with 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilization
NEW TO A-MOUNT: Taking a cue from Sony a7 Mark II cameras, a99 II gets a brand-new full-frame optical 5-axis in-body image stabilization system developed specifically for A-mount cameras. Advanced 5-axis image stabilization not only helps to realize the full resolution potential of the body”™s 42.4 megapixel sensor, but also works effectively for video as well as stills. The redesigned system implements precision gyro sensors that are capable of accurately detecting even the smallest camera motions that might cause blur, providing up to a 4.5 step shutter speed advantage.
4. Reliable Low-Light AF Down to EV -4
NEW TO A-MOUNT: Although low light can be a challenge for many autofocus systems, Sony a99 II maintains reliable, accurate autofocus right down to EV-4 brightness levels at the dedicated phase detection AF sensor”™s central focus point – matching the performance of Sony’s low-light monsters a7S & a7SII. That means you can take full advantage of the camera”™s excellent low-light imaging capability with uncompromised AF performance even when shooting in near darkness at high ISO.
5. 4K Recording
NEW TO A-MOUNT: Sony a99 II allows you record 4K video from the FULL WIDTH of the fullframe sensor…unlike some other DSLRs. Or you can select to shoot over-sampled 4K in Super35 crop mode with full pixel readout and no pixel binning or line-skipping.
6. Silent Shooting Mode NEW TO A-MOUNT: This popular feature found in Sony a7S, a7RII and a7SII, makes its way into Sony A-mount cameras offers the options to shoot in total silence.
UPDATE: (4:30pm 9/21/16) Sony Japan presented Sony USA with specs for a99 II that included Silent Shooting Mode and that’s what Sony USA presented to me.
I triple-checked all the specs before posting and have since re-confirmed that Silent Shooting Mode is on the list of specs I was given. This error either came from Sony Japan or was simply “Lost in Translation.”
6B. Eye Focus
NEW TO A-MOUNT FULLFRAME: Eye AF automatically detects and focuses on the ideal focus point for portraits: the subject”™s eye. In the a99 II it provides reliable detection within the relatively narrow depth of field of the full-frame sensor, The detected eye is indicated in the viewfinder for pre-shoot confirmation. Eye AF can be assigned to a custom button for quick access when needed.
7. Flicker-Free Shooting
NEW FEATURE: Flicker from fluorescent lights and other artificial lighting can ruin still images if it and the shutter timing are out of sync. The a99 II automatically detects flicker and adjusts shutter timing to minimize its effect. Exposure and color anomalies that can occur at the top and bottom of images shot at high shutter speeds are reduced, as are exposure and color inconsistencies between continuous shots
8. Custom File Naming
NEW TO A-MOUNT: This great feature first found in a6300, allows you to set Custom File Names for the images you capture. This is a great feature for anyone shooting with multiple cameras or wedding and event coverage with multiple photographers.
9. Embed Your Copyright Notice
NEW TO A-MOUNT: First introduced in a7RII, allows you to save your copyright notice into the copyright field of your EXIF metadata of your photos so it’s there right from the start in case you forget to add it later.
10. Image Storage Selection for PC Remote
NEW FEATURE: When the camera is tethered to a computer, still images can be stored in the camera as well as on the computer so they can be reviewed without having to leave the camera position. And when shooting RAW+JPEG it is possible to transfer only the JPEG files to the computer to reduce data volume and allow transferred images to be reviewed almost immediately
11. New Metering Modes & Improved Spot Metering
NEW FEATURE: With this totally new option, you can select between Highlight Weighted Mode and Full-frame Average Mode. Improved Spot Metering allows you to link the metering spot to focus area and Spot Metering Area can be set Standard or Large.
12. Fast and Slow HD Video Recording Modes
NEW FEATURE: Sony a99 II offers 120FPS for 5X Extreme Slow Motion and 1 FPS for Time Lapse HD video recording.
This video that shows how it works:
13. S-Gamut/S-Log and Gamma Display Assist
NEW TO A-MOUNT: S-Log3 and S-Log2 gamma are now included making wide dynamic range shooting (1300%) possible without blown highlights or blocked shadows. Gamma Display Assist lets you view images with natural contrast while recording in S-Log gamma setting, converting S-Log2 and S-Log3 into ITU709 (800%) gamma for monitoring* images, or checking focus while enlarging an image on the LCD screen or viewfinder.
14. Extract Stills From Video
NEW TO A-MOUNT: You can extract high-quality 8 megapixel stills from 4K video and stored separately.
15. XGA OLED Tru-Finder with Zeiss T* Coatings
NEW TO A-MOUNT: Sony a99II gets the top-of-the-line XGA OLED 0.78 Magnification Tru-Finder with a high-resolution, high-contrast organic light-emitting diode EVF found in a7RII and a7SII. A viewfinder magnification function provides up to 15.5x magnification for precise manual focus.
What it DOESN’T Have…
Like the other A-mount cameras, Sony a99 II is not compatible with Play Memories Camera Apps.
GPS won’t function through Sony’s all-metal body and pro-camera shouldn’t be made out of plastic. But for those of you who need GPS, location data can be acquired from mobile devices via Bluetooth and recorded to still images.
The camera can be paired to the PlayMemories Mobile app installed on a compatible smartphone or tablet, allowing it to acquire location data from the mobile device and record that data with still images or movies. The PlayMemories Home application can then be used on a personal computer to organize images imported into the computer on a map.
Bluetooth connectivity available with the following terminal devices (at the date of release):
• Android (Android 5.0 or later, Bluetooth 4.0 or later)
• iOS (Bluetooth 4.0 or later)
Sorry, they don’t put pop-up flash in pro cameras.
HUGE THANKS to Sony Digital Imaging Samurai Mark Weir for his technical assistance in breaking down these great new functions!
48 thoughts on “Top New Features of Sony a99 II”
Wondering what your take as a professional portrait photographer is about EyeFocus and whether you might know any details about EyeFocus implementation on this camera, like whether it’s usable for professional work, what lenses it will work with.
Yes it has Eye AF though I’m not certain which lenses are compatible with it. I have Eye AF on most of my cameras. I never use it, but some people love it.
As one of the tiny band of A-mount users (the A77II), I am seriously interested in the A99II as an upgrade. HOWEVER, is there some way to set manual exposure for video (or at least to set shutter speed), while also having access to autofocus to shoot video? If not at launch, will Sony offer this as a firmware upgrade?
A7 series cameras have manual, aperture priority and shutter priority video modes. I would hope that carries over to a99 II.
Hi Brian, I don’t think you answered this specific question. He was asking if AUTOFOCUS will be available in Manual video mode. I am also very interested in this, as AF-C could be very useful while shooting in Manual video exposure mode. Please advise!
According to a Sony rep at Photokina, no, you’re limited just like the A99 Mark I. If you want to set shutterspeed or aperture manually, you have to manually focus in video. A significant let-down in an otherwise amazing camera.
I read an A99 (mark I) owner say that set the movie mode to manual, but that they could use the AF/MF button on the back use AF when needed.
I have an A77II, which I have not shot video with (I use my other camera for video), so I will test that trick out and see if it works. I really don’t understand why Sony would put all these great video specs in the A99II, but leave out AF when using manual exposure. I really hope they change that, maybe by firmware update.
I tried that, it doesn’t work. You’re stuck at f3.5 aperture unless you make physical modifications to the lens.
Does the new A99II require the AF to be fine tuned in order to calibrate each lens to the camera, like traditional DSLRs, or not, like mirrorless cameras?
I see specs how says that the calibration can be automaticaly do 😉
In A99Mark I, one issue is the shutter lag is long ( no data, but felt like longer than 100 – 200ms), so for shooting such as dancing ( with flash, that you cannot rely on high fps), compare to 1Dx ( shutter lag is some where at less than 50ms), it was really an issue. Wonder what is the shutter lag on the A99 II?
I have no idea…
So Sony told you no Play Memories Apps for the A99ii? That’s really too bad as I was hoping I could remotely control functions with my iPhone. My A77ii has only very basic remote control functions available (unlike the A7 series). Also do you know if you can manually input lens data with this camera (cannot with A77ii)?
That’s right. No PMCA apps on a99 II. You should not need to manually input lens data from A-mount lenses, but it’s quite likely there’s a SteadyShot lens menu setting for manual lenses like Lensbaby.
What is the difference between the Sony a99II and the Sony a7RII? I have been considering to upgrade my Sony NEX 5n. I also have invested in the new Sony G-Master lenses! Or should I wait for the Sony’s next generation?
I’m working on a breakdown of the two cameras, but in short, Sony a99 II is an A-mount camera. If you’re already invested in E-mount glass stick with it.
why no XDD’s???…isn’t that a Sony technology?
Is the resolution in APS-C (crop) mode known?
Same a a7RII, roughly 18mp (just divide by 2.36)
Aha, thanks 🙂
Does the Sony a99ii operate w/o lens attach? Would like to use for astrophotography.
I haven’t gotten my hands on a99 II yet, but every Sony interchangeable lens camera I’ve used has a “Release w/o Lens” menu option that allows the use of non-electronically coupled lenses such as Samyang, Rokinon, Lensbaby,etc. so you should be fine. Just be sure to enable that.
Brain does it have the silent shutter built in, not sure you made it clear with the error or not, if it does would be amazing and probably prompt me over from E mount but for weddings the silent shutter is a godsend
No silent shooting mode. Sony USA was told it did, but it does not.
any idea when we will see some real life tests of this thing? The no silent shutter is definitely a negative…
You’ll probably see reviews closer to release. I don’t view the lack of silent shutter as a big loss. Sony SLT cameras are very quiet to begin with.
Ah ok, I know my a7r2 is pretty loud so good to know SLT will be better. The apps thing is too bad as smooth reflection is something I use all the time and it works great for water and even sunsets… Guess I will have to go filter shopping. Will it still transfer to my phone? I use that feature a ton
when will raw files be supported? sitting with this thing for a week not able to open raws….
I’d expect a99 II, a6500 and RX100 V RAW support in the next Lightroom, Photoshop and Capture One updates. Neither Adobe or Capture One announces when software updates will be released until they announce them.
Until then I always suggest shooting RAW + Jpeg with any brand new camera until your software of choice supports the RAWs.
I purchased the Sony A99II but have some issue:
The Controller is very awkward to use jumping up & down.
The GPS coordinates recorded via Bluetooth link with Playmemories on Android can only be read on Desktop Playmemories and NOT on Lightroom Maps.
Could I ask you to help particularly with the issue of the GPS as i use LR to catalogue my images.
Thank you in anticipation.
I’m not aware how Lightroom treats GPS as I don’t use it, but compatibility is an issue that you’d have to bring up with Adobe as a bug fix request. They’d probably need a sample file.
I found the solution with the help of Adobe!
You need to do the following while importing:
1) ADD and not copy or move
2) NONE for metadata
Once imported you can then fill in your COPYRIGHTED & your COPYRIGHT fields.
Hope this will be of help to other LR users.
Is there a way to tag photos on the Sony 99 II, so that the tagged photos appear in fiirst place when using PhotoMechanic?
good post brian, I am shooting 2 a99ii’s this year for weddings, they have been absolutely fantastic so far apart from the odd black screen lockup which required batteries out to fix! extremely intermittant problem but annoying non the less!
I have seen a definite improvement in my photography, not just image quality but the way the a99ii allows me to shoot more creatively using the swivel screen
if Sony put too many features in the DSLR video section then it would hurt they Proline Video Cam sales.. Hence the no Auto focus in Manual Mode.
Hi Jeff or Brian
Any rumors on updated Sony Alpha Cameras with e-mount lens?
Do you mean new Sony E-mount cameras? Yes, it’s called a9 and it’s spectacular!
Does this camera have a built in tele-converter?
After over 30 years of loyalty, I am leaving the Minolta and Sony fold. No other highly regarded camera manufacturer has so poorly treateditd lots customers. After significant investment in bodied, lenses, etc to just abandon the a mount without warning and alternate provisions, they just left us out their yo dry with out support. What’s to stop them from doing the same with the newer e mount? Guess it’s time to bit the proverbial bullet and go with the customer loyal like canon and nylon. I hope I am salvage something worthwhile from the over $12,000 I invested in Sony equipment. They deserve abandonment by all of us who can afford to do that. It will not break my heart if they end up become extinct. They deserve what they get.
Unfortunately despite all the loyal A-mount users, A-mount was never more than a distant third-place behind Canon & Nikon.
Rather than follow. Sony chose to lead. Canon and Nikon are playing catch-up now that they too have realized the future is mirrorless.
I’ve been urging a switch to E-mount to anyone willing to listen. Sony SSM lenses adapt quite well – they’re just not as responsive or quite as good optically as native FE glass.