Sony Full Frame Camera Crazy – SLT-A99 VG900 RX1

Sony's gone Full Frame crazy with several new cameras announced recently. I won't go into details too much as i'm sure you've been hearing about this on other blogs, but I just thought i'd share some highlights. The new SLT-A99 is a Full Frame DSLR t offers a full 1080p @ 60fps and Uncompressed HDMI Output to facilitate external recording, and starts under $3K. No other brand has been able to offer this so far.

Sony SLT-A99
find-price-button Sony Full Frame SLT-A99 DSLR Camera

The new Sony NEX-VG900 is the first Full Frame interchangeable lens Camcorder. There's just so many things going on with this camera for an estimated $3300 dollars, there's plenty of reasons current DSLR video shooters will jump to this with a full frame sensor, uncompressed HDMI out, XLR audio (optional adapter), etc. I've never been a strong fan of earlier NEX-VG cameras, but I seriously want to give this one a go.

Sony NEX-VG900
find-price-button Sony NEX-VG900 Full Frame Camcorder

Finally the new Sony RX1 is a Full Frame compact camera with a fixed Zeiss 35mm F/2 lens. It's a very niche camera priced around $2800 dollars - targeted to a very specific audience. Key phrase here is 'Full Frame' that other cameras in this compact market aren't offering, especially at this price. Too rich for my blood, but still a great camera.

Sony RX1
find-price-button Sony RX1 Full Frame Compact Camera

I remember years ago when I first started shooting and testing out different Digital SLR Cameras. After trying out different cameras from Nikon, Fuji, and Canon, I finally decided that Canon was the true innovator (at that time) releasing the best DSLR Cameras at the best prices one after another. Even at the start of HDSLR Video, the Canon 5D Mark II and 7D were just outdoing it's current competitors. For the last few years, Canon has failed to offer such features that Nikon, Panasonic, and Sony are bringing to the consumer market, and I feel like i'm just watching their market share slip away. What do you guys think?

38 thoughts on “Sony Full Frame Camera Crazy – SLT-A99 VG900 RX1

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  2. Luis

    I agree with all said about Canon. I am a big canon fan but I honestly can see that they are just trying to milk us as much as posible and the reasons they got most of our business is the glass and like said above the 5DII reputation that stuck with many out there. I am totally thinking to jump to a better option out there if canon does not gives the same better options like Sony is doing.
    CANON if you are reading this and I really hope you are. Step it up or good bye!!

  3. I watched that promo video for the A99 and the more I was watching it, I kept thinking they should have named it the 5dmk3K, with "K" meaning killer. This camera, depending of course on its image quality in high ISO, is what the 5Dmk3 should have been. The one thing I noticed is that in the promo video the guy said (in German) that the HDMI out would provide 4:2:2 to a recorder, whereas the announced specs mentioned it would actually have 14-bit raw. I'm wondering if Sony decided to go for the jugular and offer RAW output in the final release model, learning from Canon's "too little too late" dumbass policy.

  4. If I were Sony right now, I'd either develop an electronic adapter to make EF glass work with the A99 or --if they don't want to do it for political and prestige reasons-- fund Metabones to do so. If there were a Metabones adapter with autofocus and a reasonable price Sony could kill right now, with Canon continuing to lag behind the curve in every camera they bring to the market. If the rumors for the 6D are correct, it's going to be another too little too late for Canon.

  5. The 5Dmk3 is a camera that should have appeared in 2010, not in 2012. When the 5Dmk2 appeared, it caught Sony off guard, it destroyed Sony's dominance in the video camera market and Sony got pissed. None of the other makers have Sony's manufacturing capability and industrial base, and Sony does not like to come second. If you remember how quickly it brought the FS100 to the market, by essentially polling DSLR shooters about what features they needed, you can understand how quickly it can react. Canon, on the other hand, rested on its laurels, i.e. the unexpected and unprecedented success of the 5Dmk2, and tried to force people to the C300 etc, expensive feature-poor cameras when the market essentially overtook them throughout in all price points, from the Scarlet, to the GH2 to the BlackMagic to this deluge of cameras that Sony just released. Canon's last line of defense, and I speak as a Canon shooter who bought several GH1 and GH2 cameras the past year and no Canons, is, of course the glass. Like other people commented, the only reason people are not getting ready to jump to the A99 is the glass. Canon has a few months to react, maybe less. They better get the message quickly and offer cameras that can at least match the A99 or beat it, or the 5Dmk2 will go down in history as the camera that brought unprecedented market share to Canon, but at the same time it also brought a false sense of security, lack of innovation and arrogance, that ultimately hurt Canon more that it helped it. You better wake up Canon, and fast.

  6. Paul Abrahams

    I got an old sony hdr fx7 and since I've gone whole hog into canon gear, its going. Still a pretty good event camera but the NEX-VG looks like a winner. Not sure what Canon are up to. They coud be happy with their market share in the C range. Video for DSLR was an add on. Other cameras will come onto the market... like BMC and start to take people really interested in shooting filmic quality video away from the DSLR market. Thats the dilema we all face as we learn our craft and see better tools come onto the market. I don't think Canon will kill their C range by upping the anti on their DSLR's. I think they still see DSLR's as a still shooters domain. They might start investing more in mirrorless? thats seems to be next phase in evolution for DSLR but that of course depends on market interest. Sometimes great ideas get shelved cause their isn't enough return on investment. One thing for sure, canon & nikon can afford to lose a bit here and there more than Sony can.

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  8. Emm

    Post author

    @Eirik - Not sure, but I don't think FS100 owners should worry. I don't see Sony making something better than one of their most popular selling professional cameras. The VG30 will have it's limitations.

  9. Glen

    Damn! I'm interested in seeing how the VG900 will be. I just invested in the FS700 last month, had I known the VG900 was coming I might of waited, but I do love the FS700.

  10. mike_tee_vee

    Awesome lineup, but Sony is still intentionally crippling certain features to protect the FS100. The A99 tops out at ISO 6400 in video mode, and the maximum gain on the VG900 is 30dB (equiv. ISO 3200). Even the old 5D mkII can shoot at higher sensitivies.

  11. omar


    I completely agree with you on how canon hasn't really been improving there dslrs. I think they just got too cocky and now its biting them in the butt. It gets me frustrated because Canon could of easily stayed #1 but instead chose to not really upgrade their cams. Canon is letting us down 🙁

    On the other hand, I'm happy their are other companies listening to us dslr filmmakers! Hopefully Canon will respond.

  12. I will wait just a little bit. I live in Las Vegas and have about 40% of my clients coming from Los Angeles wanting to do Documentaries, Seminars, conventions, etc.. but what amazes me is that they always request for 5D Mark II's or 7D's.

  13. @Tony - I'm ready to switch to all NEX...I'm just waiting for the right moment. The 'look at all these Canon lenses I have' argument isn't holding water anymore when I can buy full frame manual focus lenses that are optically as good or better than Canon L primes, still in fantastic condition, are lighter, smaller, and less than 1/3 the price in most cases.

    Since focus peaking was introduced with the NEX cameras, I've used very little autofocus and don't miss it...even for sports.

    If they introduce more full frame cameras in small packages, I could see myself selling my Canon gear within the next year.

  14. Bart

    I agree. I was a bit disappointed with the Canon 5D Mark lll. I expected more for the price. The problem is they do not want to give features seen in the C100 and C300 line. I think they are missing the boat with their 5D line. For me I am already invested in Canon glass and it would cost to much for me to switch plus I shoot more stills than video. They just came out with the 24-70 lens ll. Even though it has no IS all the reviews say it is the best lens Canon has come out with and and they doubled the price. I have been waiting for that lens but the price really sucks.

  15. Mat

    I’m no pro, but I went with a Sony A65 and I’ve been really happy with it. It’s not full-frame but it gets great footage (1080p 60fps 28mbps) and can capture at 10 fps (@12 mp), which beats the hell out of any Canon/Nikon in its price range. Full time phase-detection autofocus doesn’t hurt either, the SLT design is really quite clever; it might not matter to focus-pulling pros but the AF absolutely smokes the T4i for speed and accuracy.

    Some people are skeptical of the EVF, which is the same as the one on the A99, but those people will probably go away after a few generations of these EVFs, it basically makes the top LCD superfluous, and focus peaking in your VF is just plain fun.

    As far as lenses, you can get Zeiss glass if you like spending the big money, or you can choose from an ocean of cheap vintage Minolta lenses on craigslist (on second thought, stay away from Alpha-mount cameras).

    If the low light performance is good, the A99 is the next camera I’m buying, the imaging division at Sony is clearly the best run part of the company right now.

  16. Emm

    Post author

    @Tony - I've already moved all my point and shoot cameras to Sony. Sold off everything else I own, and also bought (2) of the RX100 cameras. I was peeking through Sony Alpha lenses for Full Frame (not e-mount), and they have a great lineup with great pricing. At this time, i'm hopeful about the VG900 and want to really get my hands on it. I know it may not be the highest quality, but it sure seems to fit as the most convenient for lots of work I do. Also interested in hooking up the Atomos Ninja recorders to the uncompressed HDMI to get a higher bitrate.

  17. Tony

    Yes, Sony is driving innovation...BUT are shooter buying and moving over in droves? The worst thing we can do as Canon and Nikon gear owners is say "I'll wait to see what Canon and Nikon offers." People have been reluctant with switching to Sony Pro gear due to lack of lens, proprietary, etc. I'm not gonna say all I have to say here, but unless we start showing Sony some commitment and sales...I believe this "surge" can taper off real quick. I have been a Canon and Panasonic shooter for years...but I want to move to a One Maker "look" from photos, to large sensor video and small sensor video. I'm not getting that with Canon (weak XF-series) and Panasonic (weak large sensor video cameras with pro form factor and features). Full frame is great, but it's not for every shoot type. Sony fills the gap in great... Let's give Sony the support it deserves..dont' dwell on their past. Hopefully it will be a move like the FCP ---> Adobe Premiere exodus and that will really get Canon and Nikon antsy.

  18. with canon lagging further and further behind in innovation, i'm going to seriously consider holding off on buying any more EF lenses. a lot of people are stuck with canon because they are too invested in the lenses, while i believe companies like panasonic and sony should be rewarded for pushing the market forward.

  19. @Arturo - and that isn't even something from Canon themselves 😉 ... their EOS C-series are not to be underestimated though, yet I think their C100 is just a tad too expensive - certainly when compared to the fact that Sony can get me a 35mm fullframe camera for way less 😉

  20. @RyanC - the camcorder records 1080/60i/60p/24p, and most likely also 50i/50p/25p for us in the EU. I'm not all smiles with the 28Mbps bitrate, but heck, it's got uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 HDMI out - so a simple external recorder can fix that

  21. RyanC

    FINALLY. Someone who can offer 60fps at 1080p for a decent price. Is this offered on the camcorder too, or just the DSLR model?

  22. it's impossible to keep up with all these new cameras. I feel like every few days a new camera comes out w/ new specs and new features. I would say the SLT-A99 sounds pretty bad-ass but I'm so heavily invested in canon that to switch now would take too much time/effort/cost. Besides, it's inevitable that Canon follows suit...

  23. I'm very curious to see some tests of this cam in the wild. This is a 24MP sensor, and yet FullHD is only a mere ~2MP so there is bound to be moiré and antialiasing. Unless Sony did a more than great job on this camera.

    All we (read: I) need now is a new Metabones EF > E adapter (or something alike), since the current Metabones adapter only covers a crop sensor I believe, so there needs to be a EF > E(FF) adapter. Would be a shame not to be abled to use my current lenses.

    Interesting times!

  24. Canon loves to give us just what it thinks we need - and then cuts us off. They have been doing it for years. But we get so invested in one company with all our lenses, it becomes a major decision to part ways.

  25. I think Sony is proving that they're out to compete in all market segments. The rampant development of the NEX platform is proof of that. And with the new RX1, they're showing that they're out to get more niche brands like Fuji with their X100.

    I just hope they have Leica in their sights too. Now that it's been proven that a small camera can hold a full frame sensor AND that the E mount can as well, the next step is a combination of the two.

    Sony has also shown that they can keep a secret...nobody saw the RX1 coming (those who handled the beta, pre-release don't count)...that leaves me with high hopes we'll see a NEX-9 sooner, rather than later.

    It hasn't been perfect for any of these manufacturers but the more I use my NEX-7 along side my 7D, the more I long for the day when the 'big black camera' is no longer a symbol of a pro. I can't honestly say that I can work with a small mirrorless camera right now. My clients would not take it seriously and my reputation isn't strong enough to overshadow the equipment I do or do not use.

    I hate to say it but I hope Canon and Nikon follow suit as it's likely the only way that perception will change. I think a client would sooner take an EOS-M seriously as a pro camera before a NEX simply because it says 'Canon EOS' on the front.

  26. So true re: Sony and Panasonic doing what Canon was doing a few years back. In addition to what you mentioned above, the VG30 looks interesting too. The earlier VG models seemed to be poorly designed and implemented. I'm really interested to see how these new models shape up. Now if I can only find a good inexpensive way to adapt all this Canon glass I've bought....

  27. Joseph

    The only thing stopping me (for the moment) are all my lenses... even so I'll probably make the jump, well done Sony!
    I will still use my 7D but moving slowly to Sony...

  28. Emm

    Post author

    @KC Gonzalez - There's a big market of people who don't need RAW video with Post Color Grading, etc. They just need a great image, interchangeable lenses, XLR audio, power zoom (new sony lens just released), and uncompressed HDMI output for even more options. At this price it's pretty amazing, this is what the VG10 or VG20 should have been from the start.

  29. KC Gonzalez

    I'm interested to see how the NEX-VG900 holds up. I've always wondered why no one has made something like this, but I guess now they have. Very interesting!

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