10 reasons the Sony a99 is the best full frame for video

sony-a99-logo

A couple of months ago Sony released the a99 the newest addition to the Alpha line up showing that they are committed to the full frame camera market with video capabilities and even if most of the HDslr market is dominated by Canon because basically Nikon was unable to respond with a reliable full frame option. The camera is full of features purposely designed towards the video market due to the large amount of videographers using SLR to do professional work, note that this is an SLT because of the translucent mirror. Anyways here are features that I do consider matter when you are going to invest this kind of money in a gear you are going to be using for years to come.

1- 1080p 60fps (AVCHD or MP4)

sony-a99-video-format

Loads of people have been complaining about not being able to capture above 30 fps when shooting 1080p, but with the a99 you can easily increase the frame rate to slow things down in post production and get the slow motion you have been waiting to do ever since SLR’s started capturing video. With the rest of the cameras you are restricted to shoot 720p if you want to use the 60fps and upscale in later in post production. Even lets you select between recording in either AVCHD or MP4.

2- Uncompressed 4:2:2 clean output while recording on camera

One of the things that I really hate about SLR video is the compression 4:2:0 they do record internally (Link in Spanish) and means so much color information its being tossed to garbage and while the new breed of Nikon cameras such as the D4, D800 and D600 are able to output clean uncompressed 4:2:2 1080p video you have to remove the internal memory to be able to do so. Which defeats the purpose of dual video capture or maybe you just want to snap a picture in between shots you can forget about it. But the a99 will sure let you record in both sides at once when you have to with simultaneous recording.

3- On camera steadyshot

The main reason why are forced to purchase camera rigs, glidecams, video monopods is to eliminate the shakiness that shooting handheld with a SLR produces. But the Sony a99 has on camera Steadyshot, the sensor shifts in order to counter unwanted movements. And if you are an SLR video shooter you are most likely using primes so none of your lenses have any kind of built-in optical stabilization giving you a hard time when shooting outside of the safety of your tripod. Not saying that you won’t need any kind of handheld stabilization at all, just saying is going to be even better with this kind of feature! If you use a Glidecam + Steadyshot you are increasing the chances to have a smooth video. The main reason why Sony uses sensor shift is because none of their lenses have optical stabilization so instead of creating another one from scratch they decided to stick with sensor shift that they already had expertise. Remember professional Sony Alpha lenses are made by Carl-Zeiss with a huge reputation behind that name you will never have a problem with any of these lenses.

4- Full time dual autofocus

sony-a99-tmt

Since Sony cameras have been using the translucent mirror to keep both the sensor and the autofocus module exposed to the light you can have full time autofocus while shooting video and even has special tracking with those extra focus points so even if the subject moves around you will still be able to track it to keep it in focus. Even though if you are a professional you are most likely using manual focus or even a follow focus at any times, but is a nice feature to have sometimes.

5- Focus peaking

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A feature most of the dSLR shooters have only seen in external monitors and EVF. Well this camera has it built-in and works flawlessly. Never squint your eyes to try to manually acquire focus while shooting video. Works with any lens all the time, and you have option to select between white, yellow and my favourite red to make it more noticeable. For those whom don’t know what it is, works by overlaying a color in the borders of the plane in focus and forget those blurry shots for good.

6- Zebra

This is the perfect companion for the focus peaking. By giving you a warning showing diagonal stripes the areas that are currently being blown out so you can expose better based in the minimum exposure you setup, most commonly between 75% to 100%. Again this is one of those features commonly found in professional camcorders and now you have it right in the camera with the a99. Again zebras should be used as guidance only, but still awesome to have it.

7- built-in stereo with optional professional grade xlr audio input

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When the rest of the dSLR are still providing mono microphone built-in, the a99 stands out by providing stereo multi-directional mic that evenly records everything, still prone to wind noise because is naked and unable to use any kind of windshield but better than the rest.

sony-a99-xlr-mic

And to make it even more easy for professionals to record quality audio with the new multi interface hot shoe you can use the Sony XLRK1M Balanced Audio Adapter with two inputs and recording crystal clear audio without the need of external boxes that won’t necessary work this way, plus this is going to be using the new interface so even simpler for those with one-man-band kind of situations.

sony-a99-xlr-controls

sony-a99-xlr-port

Also the controls will let you set everything to AUTO if you don’t really want to mess with the settings, in case you have a big XLR mic the box can provide phantom power to it. With two channels will let you have an on-board mic and maybe a wireless link to something else and mix it right on camera. One step solution here

8- Quiet multi dial for a silent video adjustments

sony-a99-silentknob

If you aren’t shooting in a studio with well controlled environment you are most likely going to run into situations where you cannot stop recording but must change some settings to the video and the traditional wheels produce a “click” feedback that will both translate into some kind of vibration in the video and mess up the internal sound recording. This is basically a wheel that turns smoothly with a button, both with a complete silent operation so you have access to most common settings such as WB, ISO, Aperture, Shutter, Exposure Bias, etc. Specially regarding changing the WB and ISO on the fly while moving from poorly lit areas to sunny outdoors for example. Again no other camera has it and is the kind of improvement in control that makes you think why if they are also designing cameras for videography they forgot about silent controls before.

9- Tilt 3” LCD

sony-a99-tilt-screen

We all get into those awkward positions just to have a clear look of the LCD while shooting to focus and frame properly, Well with the 3” screen in the a99 borrowed from the a77 you won’t have to since now you just move it until you feel comfortable. I like this design better than flip out you find in cameras like the Nikon D5100 and Canon 60D because if you put the camera in a rig space might not allow fully flip it out, plus with that design you are required to fully extend to angle the camera vertically. The way Sony built it is that you no longer need to stick it to the side because it is also able to tilt up to 180° vertically and can rotate up to 270° horizontally making getting that ultra low shoot no longer a challenge. And don’t forget this is the ONLY full frame camera with this kind of feature.

10- dual memory card slots for instant backup

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The most important step after capturing that amazing video is having a proper backup. With dual slots you can just record in both at the same time having instant backup and by doing that you can even increase the memory capacity because a lot of people are reluctant to use anything bigger than 8gb or 16gb to avoid putting all eggs in one basket. If you do format the memory cards with your camera and buy brand name memory such as SanDisk and Lexar I don’t think you will have any trouble. In all the years never had a corrupt memory card, but that is no excuse to properly backup the footage.

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9 comments
SEO Company in Chennai
SEO Company in Chennai

Hey Alonzo,

 

Its very huge and lots of information about Sony, of course very good points to buy SONY A99. Not only the photographers, even any one will start to do their 'clicks' :-)

 

Isaac Alonzo
Isaac Alonzo

Well the Sony looks good but the kind of sound you can capture is limited by that tiny capsule. Why don't you rather take this offer at amazon and you get the Rode VideoMic Pro with Sennheiser HD201 Headphones for less than you have to pay for that Sony mic. That way you have better audio and a good isolated over-the-ear headphones to monitor the sound.

Ray
Ray

Thanks Isaac! Yeah, manual focus is the only way I can record without the lens noise. The XLR kit is a bit expensive but its so obnoxious, its really out there lol! I was looking for something compact and simple, I'm still new to all of this, do you think this mic here https://www.sony.co.nz/product/ecm-alst1 made by sony, would work with the A99? Thanks

Isaac Alonzo
Isaac Alonzo

Hey Ray, remember all these lenses were made for photography work and even though we use them for video their internal focus motors aren't optimized to be ultra quiet like the video lenses does. Why not try focus peaking (Specially RED) and focus manually. Honestly if you cannot afford the XLR box (I too think is too expensive and eventually will get cheaper) then try your best to purchase a good video mic to provide you with quality audio like the Rode VideoMic which is now only 149 dollars on amazon because since internal mics are mechanically attached to the lens itself then sounds can interfere during video mode. Have any footage to share?

Ray
Ray

Hey, Am i missing something? I tried shooting video with my A99, the quality is awesome, but with AutoFocus turned on, the audio was pretty loud with motor noise from the lens. I'm using a prime lens. 50mm F1.4 Sony.

makatron
makatron moderator

 @SEO Company in Chennai This looks like a winner to me, and remember Sony is the only manufacturer that offer Carl-Zeiss autofocus lenses so that is a huge plus!

 PBX
PBX

Yeah. Rode Mics are really high in quality. I use a Rode NT1 and never turned back since.

makatron
makatron moderator

 @ PBX yeah I love them! For SLR video they are just amazing with crystal clear audio, have you tried the Roland R-26?

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