Sony Unveils the A99: The World’s First Full Frame SLT Camera

Sony has launched a beastly new full frame camera to wage war against the flagship DSLRs of rival camera manufacturers. The A99, which saw its share of leaks over the past couple of weeks, is the company’s new flagship professional camera, replacing the full-frame A900 and A850. It’s also the world’s first pellicle mirror full-frame digital camera, combining the image quality benefits of having a large sensor with the speed benefits of having a semi-transparent mirror.

The camera features a 24.3MP sensor, an ISO range of 50-25600, 6fps continuous shooting, 14-bit RAW files, a viewfinder with 100% coverage, a 3-inch LCD that tilts in three directions, and a high-res OLED EVF (the same one found in the A77, NEX-6 and NEX-7).

For photographers who demand the fastest and sharpest focus, the A99 features a powerful dual focus system. In addition to the main 19-point autofocus sensor similar to what you might find in other DSLRs, it also packs a 102-point focal plane phase-detection system overlaid on the CMOS sensor itself. Since there’s a semi-transparent mirror that splits light, both autofocus sensors are used simultaneously for optimal focusing speed and accuracy.

On the video side of things — a standard in digital cameras these days — the A99 features Full HD 1080/60p and 24p video recording, and can do full-time continuous autofocus during movie mode. It’s also capable of real-time full HD video output via HDMI, and can do ‘dual-card’ recording to both card slots. The front of the camera features a new multi-control dial that lets filmmakers quickly adjust camera settings during filming, settings such as exposure compensation, ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.

The A99 is designed to be both durable and portable. The body itself weighs just 733g, making it the world’s lightest full-frame interchangeable lens DSLR. On the other hand, it features weather-sealing, ruggedized buttons and controls, and a shutter thats rated to 200,000 actuations.

Check out this short promo video introducing the A99:

Here’s a first look at the new camera:

This video shows some samples showing the camera’s video quality:

The A99 will hit store shelves in October 2012 for the body-only price of $2800. If the image quality of this camera turns out to be solid — and there’s no reason it shouldn’t, since Sony supplies other camera makers (including Nikon) with sensors — then this camera should stack up quite nicely against full frame DSLRs such as the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800.

Since Sony is the only major camera maker offering serious pellicle mirror cameras, the A99 at the very least offers something different than the cameras that dominate the industry. Is different better, though? We don’t know — only time will tell.

  • Benicio Murray

    “full-time continuous autofocus during movie mode.”

  • James

    ‘If the image quality of this camera turns out to be solid — and there’s no reason it should’
    don’t you mean shouldn’t?

  • Michael Zhang

    Thanks for catching that! :)

  • JohnTh

    “…with the speed benefits of having a semi-transparent mirror.”
    At 6pfs where are the “speed benefits” ??? Canon 1DX does 14fps Nikon D4 10…

  • RealChangePH

    Finally. Does this mean that other manufacturers using the same sensor, or a variant of it, can now finally announce their own products? (Pentax K3 and Nikon D600)

  • Jan from Köln

    the viewfinder still sucks…. i have seen the a99 already in real life.
    OVF are still much better.. less infos maybe but better for photography.

  • 2323232

    video…… pfhhhhh

  • souny

    mmmm pellicle mmmmm1/3 stop mmmm crap canon left the pellicle in ’70 lol great sounyy

  • sierrarobba

    Will not be a big hit!

  • Johnjoe Nugent

    Finally a new FF from Sony but why 6fps? The A77 and A55 could do 10fps, what’s changed? and Will this overheat after 10mins? Can’t wait to see some hands-on tests!

  • OSAM

    Dont count on it being any good.

  • osam

    “The World’s First Full Frame SLT Camera” **

    ** since Canon used and abandoned the technology 35 years ago

  • matthew

    I agree…what a huge letdown! I was thinking of switching because my d800 is so slow during critical action shots. with just 6fps, the a99 really doesn’t offer anything over the D800 I have already. the only advantages now are an untested AF which sounds good on paper and zeiss lenses. Image quality is still up in the air but the best I can hope for is ‘matching’ current canon or nikon. Ugh

  • G

    Canon’s 14 fps is with mirror lock up, jpeg and no af. Dunno why petapixel claims 6 fps, because other sources says 10*. And unlike the Nikon and the Canon (which both claim 10 fps in “normal” mode) this is with AF that is truly continuous. Unlike on a SLR the AF tracks subjects when taking pictures also (a fixed mirror means the AF sensor always receives information).

    *Could be 10 fps is with some limitations; reduced resolution or something.

  • G

    Unlike for an SLR this is full time phase detection AF in video mode, not contrast detection.

  • Stu

    Because pellicle without evf means a dark viewfinder

  • Johnjoe Nugent

    Sony are improving in my opinion and are making headway, (it’s been only 6 years since they bought Minolta) I would love to buy the a99 but I don’t have the need or money. Zeiss lenses would be (expensive) great but if you already have the D800 and lenses would you really wanna change? and the a55 has 4 more fps, I would love if the 6fps was a typo

  • Coby Bray

    well i can get 12fps with sony I will buy 2 cheeper then your 1dx or d4

  • shade emry

    That tech was abandoned because of the fading or darkening issue, however, tech is so much more advance that it will take about…roughly if my understanding in chemistry is right…200 years? methods and tech change, and no multi billion dollar company would go forward with this if they didn’t think it was gonna falter . especially the japs. they honor their work.

  • Auto Motive

    Image quality is solid??? For $2800 for body only it better be excellent and tops in its class.