We take a first 'hands-on' look at the Sony a99 II camera with Sony's Ben Pilling


The Video Mode recently got the chance to gets its hands on Sony’s Alpha 99 II – the company’s flagship A-mount camera. Among the camera’s headline specs are 12 frames per second shooting, 42.4 megapixels, Hybrid Phase Detection AF with 79 cross focus points + 399 AF points, a 5-axis in-body image stabilisation system and 4K video recording with full pixel readout without any pixel binning.

It’s fair to say that, due to its frame rate, the camera is probably more squarely aimed at shooting wildlife and sports stills but for videographers the standout feature is the 4K full pixel readout without pixel binning. 4K video works in 35mm full-frame mode with a non-cropped full-frame image without teleshift. In Super 35mm mode it is said to collect 1.8x as many pixels as are required for 4K movie.

We spoke to Sony’s Ben Pilling, who explained: “Another feature of the Alpha 99 II is 4K movie recording and, of course, it can record in Full HD as well. But on this camera if you shoot in the Super 35mm mode, so that basically means the APS-C area of the sensor, you get what we call full pixel readout without pixel binning.”

He continued: “It’s taking more information than it needs for 4K recording. Here we read out 15 megapixels of information so we are over-sampling; we’re having more information than we need for that 8 megapixel image and we’re treating each individual pixel to actually process that image into a 4K movie. The result is you get a really detailed 4K movie coming out of that.”

The a99 II is significant for the fact that it is the first Sony A-mount camera to offer 4K video but it is actually UHD 4K (3840×2160 at up to 30p) rather than cinema 4K. Creative video options include the possibility to shoot anywhere from one frame per second up to 120fps (1080p) in the camera’s Slow and Quick modes, thus allowing for anything from a 60x fast motion effect to a 5x slow motion effect.

The other key video features include S–Log3/S-Gamut3, Picture Profile, Timecode and HDMI Clear Out. The camera also has a 3.5mm headphone and mic jack. The Mark II camera is actually smaller in size than its a99 predecessor and will run alongside the Alpha 7 II at the top of the Sony Alpha range.

Find out more
To find out more about the technology in the new Sony a99 II for shooting both video and stills just click on the play button in the video window at the top of this article. You can also view a short sample movie from Sony, that showcases 4K footage shot with the a99 II, by clicking on the play button in the video window in the middle of this article.