The Sony a99 II is a Low Light Monster

Sony’s latest E-mount mirrorless cameras have wowed photographers with their low light and high ISO capabilities. Now it looks like its latest A-mount SLT, the new Sony a99 II, will do the same. Above is a 2-minute video showing its performance at ISOs up to 25600 in a room lit only by two candles.

“The sensor is spectacular, the level of detail is astonishing,” writes YouTuber bramansde, who posted the video. “High ISO […] essentially same or close of Sony A7Rii which uses the same sensor: when images are downscaled to 12MP, the noise at high ISO becomes equivalent to the A7s!”

bramansde also published a 10-minute video showing how the Sony a99 II performs at high ISOs in still photos by pixel peeping at some 100% crops:

They posted this sample ISO 102400 photo shot in “fine” JPEG with no noise reduction or post-processing:


The Sony a99 II is set to hit store shelves later this month with a price tag of $3,200. Main features include a 42MP full frame sensor, 4K video, a hybrid AF system, 12fps shooting, a 5-axis stabilizer, and 14-bit RAW.


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  1. Reply Pardal Linho November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Id like to see a JPG/RAW low-light and DR still photo side-by-side comparison between the a99II and the a7RII. From the start the a99II looked like a remarkable feature packed camera worth the long wait. But I was under the impression the sensor would be the same as the a7RII. Looking at this video, I cant get footage as clean as this at the same ISO setting with my a7RII so I am assuming that probably this is a revised/improved version of the 42MP sensor.. or the Bionz Processor is doing some extra tricks. A fantastic camera that totally demisidentifies that high count megapixel sensors have low-light capability trade-offs. We have already past that point. Once again, Sony is moving on doing great sensor design and engineering.

  2. Reply dslrforever November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    It feels like we are reaching diminishing returns on the current sensor technology. It used to be that each new generation of sensors was just absolutely amazing compared to the one released just a year or two again (Look at the difference between a Nikon D100, D200, and D300 and D3), but now if you look at the difference between this “new” sensor and say a lowly D750 released last year, the difference is very small. Yeah I know it’s better, but it’s like with the iphones. Most people hold on to their bodies for 3-5 years now vs. 1-2 years.

  3. Reply Mohd Shamsul November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Its now like the megapixel wars. All academic and makes no difference to 99.9% of applications. Even the iPhone is not bad in low light.

    • Reply JasonsArgonauts November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Not really. The fact that I can now take an incredibly clean shot on a Nikon D5 at ISO 25000 means it opens up significant creative opportunities for me when shooting both with and without a flash at a wedding or a night time commercial shoot. Compared to the Canon 5D3’s I was using at the beginning of last year which were good only up to about ISO 3200/6400 at a push, it makes a massive difference to me as a working professional photographer at nearly every job I shoot.

      • Reply Peter Kelly November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

        Precisely! Modern cameras are a whole new world. Learn their strengths and weaknesses and there are few limits.

  4. Reply Chris Giles November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Another low light monster?

  5. Reply Daniel November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Just impressive

  6. Reply Paolo Bubu November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    How is that a low light monster if it has the same sensor of the A7RII but with a translucent mirror that cuts some light?

    Edit: Ok I’ve seen the video and there is a big flaw in the methodology and now I see how the camera seems as good as the A7RII: if you expose for a certain time at ISO 100 and then adjust the shutter for the 100k ISO exposure you are actually already compensating the loss of light due to the mirror in the initial exposure.

    The true test would be against another camera with the same setting and expecially the SAME EXPOSURE TIME so that the two cameras receive the same amount of light.

    P.S. for everyone who said that, 1/3 of a stop is not small, especially in low light situation. Wheter that is a worth tradeoff for the SLT autofocus is another story, but let’s say I’m not gonna choose an SLT camera for shooting starry nights 😉

    • Reply Rafael Perez November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      I agree with Athanasius. A third stop of light is not much, and considered how is used for the new AF system, it is a good tradeoff.

    • Reply Stéphane Fortin November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      A camera it’s not just a sensor… It’s an image processor. (*from The Angry Photographer)

    • Reply Athanasius Kirchner November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      It only loses about a third stop of light. Signal processing has most likely been enhanced thanks to the front LSI. It could well be that Sony performed other tweaks to the sensor, or is simply benefitting from the enhanced heat dissipation of the much larger body. This can all lead to improved performance.

      The A7RII *is* a low-light monster, anyway.

      • Reply Paolo Bubu November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

        1/3 of a stop less light is A LOT

        • trailsurfer November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

          So its like this if I understood you right:
          The A7RII and the A99II (quite same sensors) will have the same
          level of noise at ISO 6400 (A99II) and at ISO 8000(A7rII) at same other settings ??

        • Ben Olry November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

          It is more like they have the same noise behaviour at any given ISO but the A99II’s exposure will be 1/3 of a stop darker. If you want the exposures to be equal than you need to raise the A99II’s ISO accordingly. So same difference, kind of.

        • User Colin November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

          The A99II will not create a photo 1/3 of a stop darker even in manual mode. The ISO isn’t some absolute standard like 3 amps, and is influenced by the SLT mirror, the sensor and the electronics all delivering an image of a given brightness for a given shutter speed and aperture.

        • Paolo Bubu November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

          Exactly, unless Sony somehow pulled off some miracle compared to the A7RII (which I can guarantee you, they didn’t) this camera will be about 1/3 of a stop worse in low light than the original because of the mirror.
          Ofc if you are testing it alone the exposimeter will make up for he loss of the 1/3 stop so you won’t notice a difference, but in the real world where you might be restricted by a maximum shutter speed it will be a thing.
          As I said, for most uses isnt’ a big deal and a lot of photographers will trade 1/3 of a stop for constant autofocus, but for extreme low light it’s not the right technology.

        • Athanasius Kirchner November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

          A third of a stop is a trifling amount these days. It’s less than going from f/3.5 to f/4.

        • Bob Thane November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

          Or it’s like going from ISO 6400 to ISO 8000, which actually is fairly significant.

        • marius November 25, 2016 at 3:53 pm

          Or from 100 to 125. Seems like not so much, is the same though. 1/3 stop is not that much. its like going from 1/4th of a second to 1/3rd of a second.

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