Passion for the Camera: Sony α99 II

By Shinya Yoshimori

The performance of AF and continuous shooting is an advantages over the α7R II

As a professional photographer I often use new models of different camera manufacturers. Recently there have been some cameras which I thought are “better than expected”. Of such cameras the Sony α99 II is the most impressive. The line of the top cover and the shape of the grip are different from the predecessor, the α99. But the overall size and the layout do not change much.

Evolution of specifications and functions, however, are surprising. The number of effective pixel of the 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor has increased from 24.3MP to 42.4MP (back-illuminated type). Yes, this full-frame camera catches up with the α7R II, Sony’s flagship mirrorless camera.

Furthermore, the performance of AF and the continuous shooting is outstanding. I thought that the α99’s 19-point (11 cross points) phase detection AF sensor and 102-point focal plane phase detection AF sensor were amazing when it was released (it is still so). But the α99 II’s AF outperforms it: 79-point (15 cross points) phase detection AF sensor and 399-point focal plane phase detection AF sensor. It’s just amazing.

As for the continuous shooting ability, the α99 had AF tracking at a maximum of 6fps. The α99 II is equipped with AF/AE tracking at a maximum of 12fps―twice faster than the predecessor. 42MP, AF/AE tracking and 12fps are big advantages over α7R II, a flagship mirrorless camera (AF/AE tracking at maximum 6fps).

I was not happy with the performance of AF of most of the 35mm full-frame cameras. It was not because of the number of AF points. The problem was its arrangement. Even if you have many AF points, too much of them are gathered at the centre.

In that respect, the α99 II’s 399-point focal plane phase detection AF sensor, which covers far wider area, is good. It is said to be expanded by 61%. It is reliable when shooting fast-moving subjects such as running animals and vehicles.

Images of a flying pelican on the rock near water were shot continuously (see below). When you shoot this kind of subject, you realise it changes a lot between frames. But with the α99 II you could shoot higher frame rates.

Currently Sony has two types of interchangeable lenses. One is A Mount passed down from Minolta alpha lenses. The other is E Mount designed for mirrorless cameras. It is the latter that attracts more attention: the α7 series have better pixel and image quality. The αfour-digit series has better mobility such as the continuous shooting.

But the α99 II combines those features (though high sensitivity is “satisfactory”). Its continuous shooting ability is superior to the α7R II. And if we have 42MP, we can still have 18MP when cropping to APS-C size (for example, we crop to APS-C size to increase the telephoto effect). This is brilliant! Have a go at it.

Sample images

Shinya Yoshimori

He is a professional photographer in Japan. He comments on cameras and lenses and is regarded in the industry as the man who likes cameras the most in the world. He loves everything about cameras from taking photos to seeing to touching to buying and dreaming of cameras. Not surprisingly, he collects a variety of cameras from digital to compact to classical to silver salt. The column title expresses his deep passion for them in his native accent (Hiroshima in western Japan)―Washa camera ga sukinajya (I love cameras).

New name: the title of Yoshimori’s column has been slightly changed from “My Passion is the Camera”.

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