Sony today announced the Sony Alpha A99, the world’s first full-frame camera to use Sony’s translucent mirror technology and effectively a full-frame version of the A77. Priced at $2800 and available from October, it’s already available for pre-order from Adorama and Amazon in the USA and Wex Photographic in the UK. Highlights from the full specification include:
24.3MP CMOS Full-frame Sensor
Unique dual AF system – phase detection on sensor
Improved BIONZ processor
ISO 100-12800, with options for ISO 50 and 25600 with boost.
Six frames per second at full resolution, 10fps in cropped mode
AVCHD video at Full HD 1080 60/24p
Video features include external mic and headphone sockets, clean HDMI output
In a little over a week’s time, a new Sony camera will arrive that is essentially a full-frame version of the A77. It’s to be called the A99 and will have all the advantages of the A77 plus a bigger sensor.
The full specs will be:
24.3MP full frame sensor
ISO range: 100-25,600 (ISO-low 50 is also available)
14 bit RAW output
1/8000 maximum shutter speed
Shutter life: 200,000 shots
102 points AF system
2360k dots XGA OLED viewfinder
3″ tiltable 921k dots LCD screen
Full HD video recording at 1920×1080/60p
Built-in stereo mic
Built-in flash with guide number of 12
Two memory slots: SD and SD+MS cards
Weight: 730 g.
Price: around $2,800
A full announcement is expected on September 12. Latest updates are at Sony A99 News.
One of the more interesting features of the A77 is focus peaking, which aims to make accurate manual focusing easier and more precise. The EVF show a bright colour – you can choose between yellow and red – to show the edges of exactly what’s in focus. It’s easier to understand by viewing a demonstration:
Although you might not want to have this on all the time, it’s a useful feature to have when manual focus is critical. What’s interesting is that none of the makers who have gone for ‘retro’ or ‘rangefinder’ styled cameras have copied this feature, even though some of these cameras have become popular for use with legacy manual-focus lenses. It must be be a really useful feature with manual focus lenses on the Sony NEX-7, which also has it, along with most of the other bells and whistles of the A77.
The A77 is a complex camera and the manual is written in the typical style of Japanese camera companies – technically correct, but not always easy to understand. Having some books gives us good alternatives.
Sony seem to have production fully working now and the A77 is reappearing in retailers. But unlike late last year, the kit with the 16-50mm f2.8 lens is now easier to find than the body-only. Probably Sony concentrated on getting kits out to make up for their lack of availability previously.
The shortage of available A77s caused by the flooding in Thailand earlier in the year means that used A77s are appearing at prices above the recommended retail, and it looks as if some of them are selling too. Amazon has a couple of kits – Sony A77 With 16-50mm F2.8 lens from $2200 and the Sony A77 – Body Only from $2399 new and $1699 used. The Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 kit lens is available separately at the normal price of $699. The Sony A65 seems to be in similarly short supply, with only one used kit at $1999. The one thing that does seem to be freely available, the Sony VG-C77AM Vertical Grip, isn’t a lot of use without the camera.
Buyers who don’t fancy these prices and who can’t wait until Sony gets production and stock flowing again have a few other options: DigitalRev in Hong Kong are listing the A77 body as available, although delivery in 1-2 weeks, and have the A65 as shipping within 24 hours. In the UK WEX Photographic have the Body, though not the kit.
This can’t be an entirely happy time for Sony, who clearly intended to take market share from Canon and Nikon with the A77, and now find themselves unable to meet demand due to circumstances beyond their control. Let’s hope they are back to full capacity soon.
Vertical Grip For A77 - Available Now, Unlike Everything Else
Although we’d all like a slightly faster, more useable camera with better picture quality, my experience with firmware upgrades is that it’s usually best to wait for a few days to allow any problems to be ironed out. I won’t be upgrading until I’ve seen people posting that it all works and makes noticeable improvements.
CNet Asia reported that Sony have restarted production of the A77: “The electronics giant has confirmed reports that production of its SLT and NEX-series cameras has restarted after the flooding which occurred in its Thai production facilities last month.”
Worldwide, stocks of the A77 are difficult to find. DigitalRev in Hong Kong and WEX in the UK have the A77 body-only in stock, but no kits. A few used A77s are selling – at a premium – on Amazon US.
And Techradar has a new, full review of the A77. They conclude that although the A77 has a few niggles, “when weighing these up against a superb level of image quality when shooting in most conditions, great handling, good build quality, industry-leading EVF, quick full-time phase detection AF system and a comprehensive set of exposure modes, we have little trouble with recommending this excellent camera.”