Sony Isn’t Quitting the A-Mount System, Announces New a99 II Full-Frame DSLR

Lately it’s been a road of uncertainty for A-mount system users, as Sony remained quiet on specific plans for their DSLR line while making leaps and bounds in the mirrorless world. Today Sony has made their intentions clear by announcing the new Alpha 99 Mark II, a 42.4-megapixel camera with 12 fps continuous shooting, internal UHD 4K video, 399-point autofocus, and 5-axis in-body image stabilization.

With Canon just recently announcing the 5D Mark IV, I believe there was critical timing in this announcement in order to retain the remaining A-mount system users before they gave up and jumped ship for fresher options. Those that did stay loyal to the A-mount seem to be in for quite an update with the new Sony a99 II. Neil Manowitz, Vice President of Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics, affirmed that a99 II’s “powerful combination of speed and resolution is simply unmatched in today’s market.”

The new A-mount camera features a magnesium alloy body, a redesigned grip, dual SD card slots, and is eight percent smaller than the original Sony a99. Sony defines the camera as being “dust and moisture resistant” by adding sealing around the buttons and dials, a media jack cover, and tongue-and-groove joints for enclosure edges. I really wish they would have made more of a promise in this area to make it an unstoppable outdoors camera and set it apart from the a7 series.

The a99 II uses a back-illuminated full-frame 42.4-megapixel CMOS sensor with a gapless-on-chip design. The ISO range is 100-25,600 with the ability to expand it to 50-102,400. There’s no optical low-pass filter and users now have the option to shoot compressed or uncompressed raw files.

The Sony a99 II features their 4D Focus system, a first in any Sony full-frame camera. It uses a Hybrid Phase Detection autofocus system which combines a 79-point dedicated AF sensor with 399 focal plane phase detection points. According to Sony, the AF system can perform normally in low-light conditions as low as EV-4 if using the central focus point. Like the original Sony a99, there’s the same Translucent Mirror Technology that uses no moving mirror to allow continuous autofocus operation and live image previews in both stills and video shooting.

The new camera can reach speeds of up to 12 frames per second with AF/AE tracking. There’s also continuous live view shooting of speeds up to 8 fps. Sony says that the large buffer of the a99 II allows shots to be reviewed immediately after shooting even if using high-speed 12 fps continuous shooting. This is a common complaint with their mirrorless a7-series cameras, which take a considerable amount of time to clear out the buffer before the user can review anything.

Sony first introduced 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization in their Sony a7 II-series cameras, and now for the first time it will come in an A-mount model. The 5-axis in-body stabilization compensates for movement in all axes and provides a 4.5-step shutter speed advantage.

Another first for an A-series camera is internal 4K video recording with full pixel readout and no pixel binning. The Sony a99 II can record at 100 Mbps in 4K and utilize the whole full-frame sensor. There’s a new “Slow and Quick” mode where frame rates from 1 fps to 120 fps can be selected in 8 steps for up to 60x quick motion and 5x slow motion recording.

The Sony a99 II will ship this November in North America with a price tag of $3,200 USD or $4,000 CA. That's just about exactly the same price as their mirrorless flagship, the Sony a7R II. Pre-ordering will begin on September 21, so current A-mount system users should definitely mark their calendars — the wait is finally over. Sample images can be found in the Sony Photo Gallery.

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21 Comments

Don't get me wrong its great they have finally released the A99ii but I'm pretty sure this will be Sony's last or if we are really lucky second from last camera with A77iii in early 2017, but either way the writing is on the wall for the A Mount.

Its a big shame as this model style has so much going for it, much better ergonomics, space for dual cards, etc but it seems an after thought, there is nothing really new is there. Same sensor that's been out for over a year, nothing ground breaking, just basic what you would expect if it was going to be released.

But there are down sides, you lose a little light with the fixed mirror (~1/2 stop [5%]) and a little detail. Battery life seems to be shocking on all Sony cameras.

It would be nice of Sony to make a mirrorless large body camera but for some reason they, like Canon, are convinced that anyone who wants mirrorless must want as small and as light camera as possible.

Spy Black's picture

Yeah, but if you're an A-user with an investment in A gear, your ship just sailed in. As an A mount, you also have a ton of old glass to fool around with, and you have 42 megs to see just how bad they are (at least until you stop down). :-)

Nothing really new, but lots of what you need. Do you know of any other camera that gives you 12fps at 42 megs? There's a lot of good stuff in this sucker.

Yes I would agree with that, if you already have all the gear then it would be a nice upgrade.

I have said this before but it would be nice if lens manufacturers would put a 'resolving rating' on each lens so you can see if you only have lenses that top out at 24mp then you are wasting your money buying the A99ii.

I wonder if the big earthquake stopped Sony from releasing anything else or even the A99ii with a new sensor?

Craig Jeffries's picture

You say the writing is on the wall for the A-mount??? I've seen these comments a lot in the last 12 months and I only see it as sensationalism. The only thing that is a fact is that it's been 4 years since the A99 was released. But hang on a second, how long has it been between the Canon 5DIII and 5DIV release - about the same time I believe.

There's only a downside to the the mirror if you see it that way. The mirror allows Sony to use a much better focusing system than the mirrorless cameras. I shoot cars and landscapes most of the time. At the racetrack, I'd rather have an accurate focusing system over having half a stop of light, that's nothing in the real world, I can always bring up the exposure by .5 in post without sweat - try unblurring a car. And for landscape, I'm always shooting with a tripod, once again, half a stop doesn't affect anything.

As for battery life, at an average car event over 8hrs, I'll shoot around 800 photos and use 2 batteries on my A99, I'm pretty happy with that. I have 4 batteries for when I go away for whole weekends without access to power, never used them all. Also did a timelapse job over 14hrs one day, , 11 scenes, 2650 shots, and 3 batteries, very happy with that. I would agree that battery life on A7 series might be a little short, but it's a small battery in a small body, there's got to be some trade-off.

Yeah Sony's been working the heck out of their mirrorless market, but I don't really care as an A99 user, my camera works really well, and I'm happy to only have an upgrade option once in 4 years - saves me spending dollars every couple of years for supposedly 'must have' features that don't actually make me any more $$$ as a photographer or actually make me a better photographer.

Looking at the spec sheet and everything else so far that's available for the A99ii, I think Sony knows me very well as a customer of their current A99 and have got it right. But it's only been 24hrs since the press release, I'll get my hands on one and actually try it for myself before standing by any of my speculative comments.

All good points. I was not aware the latest crop of mirrorless cameras still feel behind on the AF front.

I love the feel of the A77 / A99, far better than A7. It would have been nice to have a new sensor but I guess it's still a good sensor. It will be interesting to see what gives been image quality the A7r ii or this.

On the battery front, I know it's comparing apples and pears but when I go away with my friend who uses an A77ii, I take 2 or 3 times as many photos on my Canon DSLR and he is swapping his battery around 3 or 4 times as often. Hence my comment on Sony battery life, it's an issue with the type of camera not a slant on Sony but Sony only make those types of cameras so still accurate.

I will probably still get the A99ii (pending reviews) as it does look so good but I will always be wondering did that earthquake stop them from releasing a 70-80mp sensor?

Anonymous's picture

Why can't you let go of the doom and gloom. Is it so important to you to be adamant that the A mount is dead. Come on they just announced a new A mount camera along with the now shipping A68. What does Sony have to do to satisfy you.

You are right, and i hope this isn't the end and if it is then what a camera to go out on. I just really want into the A Mount series as they offer so much, possibly the A99ii if i can justify it or maybe A77ii / iii. But I am worried about investing so much money in a possibly doomed mount, but you are right Sony can't do much more than they are releasing A68 and A99ii, i think its because it feel like 9/10 new lenses seem to be for E Mount, that is what is influencing my thinking.

Spy Black's picture

Whoa, 12fps at 42 megs? That sucker better have a buffer the size of Texas! If the camera specs pan out, that's a hell of an update.

Sony just pulled a D500. A-users can exhale now..

looks like it does , check Matt Granger latest youtube video at 17:20 .

As an A99 user, I am definitely going to get at least one of these.

42mp, 12fps, 5axis IBS, dual card slots, 4k 4:2:2, clean HDMI out, less $ than a 5d mkIV. What is not to like?

I have not noticed any quality issues with the mirror, or the lenses for that matter (16-35mm and 24-70mm ZA, oh and the 500mm mirror, a newer Sony branded one). Should see me through for another 4 years which seems to be the cycle with the "9" cameras.

But you need to be compared to the A7rii, same sensor on the same lens.

I'm got saying it's a big difference but it does have to make some difference as you are cutting a percentage of the light out from reaching the sensor, it can't not make a difference.

I have compared it to a A7Rii, kind of. I have used one extensively, borrowed from another photographer, although I can't compare now as he returned it due to the AF not being good enough for his use. I am sure there will be some minuscule difference in some way, but then it does have newer soft/firmware and the new LSI chip so I surmise that the image quality will be similar. As a side note I never noticed a quality drop when using my Canon EOS RT or EOS 1n RS, both of which had fixed mirrors.

Just saying.

It will be interesting what will win between newer processing or clean lens to sensor setup. The A99 has so many other things going for it over the A7Rii its still a better camera anyway but just would have been nice to have a new sensor to go with the new camera but i think it was the earthquake rather than Sony that stopped that.

Rob Clark's picture

This actually looks really good and I'm a canon fanboy. 12fps is pretty sick for nature/wildlife/sports. Damn. I don't see them giving up on this line with a release like this. This thing looks awesome.

Fritz Asuro's picture

Sony A series has always been amazing. I actually think they always knock out Nikon and Canon most of the time when it comes to specs and features.
But as we all know it, Nikon and Canon still are the choice of many due to the brand itself, lens and accessory invested, and lack of 3rd party support.

Craig Jeffries's picture

Bravo Sony, bravo.

Personally I don't think I need 42MP as a replacement for my A99, but I'm not going to be critical of that, I'll get my hands on it and shoot it first. The rest of the specs look very delightful to me.

The biggest issue for me on the A99 was the focusing system, and it looks like Sony have addressed this with the A99ii's press release.

Also, with sports panning shots, the lag in the EVF when pressing the shutter made the number of keepers much less than when I've used a Nikon back to back, but you just had to work around it. Once again Sony are claiming to have improves this with the A99ii, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to be very happy with this camera.

If once I test it and it's not quite what I expect, I'll just keep shooting with my A99 - it's still a very good camera and I'll gladly keep shooting with it.

Anonymous's picture

Only 79-point dedicated AF sensor with 399 focal plane phase detection points?

Usman Dawood's picture

If I'm not mistaken that's more than the Canon flagship cameras right?

Anonymous's picture

It is, and I'm just joking as it seems like a whole lot of points, especially the 399!

Jason Vinson's picture

glad they finally released this. A bit to late for me, since I just sent off all my last remaining A-mount lenses.

Does anybody know if the Sigma 50-500mm would severely hold this camera back as the lens isn't up to 42mp?