It's not every day that a digital SLR manufacturer releases a new full-frame camera -- in fact, it's not even every year. Sony's last top-end model, the A900, was first released four years ago, so you better believe its successor offers an overflowing boatload of enhancements. The Alpha A99 is a flagship if ever there was one, crushing every other Sony still camera in terms of capability, both when it comes to stills, and in the HD video realm as well. With this $2,800 behemoth, the company is targeting both professional photographers and leading filmmakers, with plenty of features that will appeal to both. The centerpiece is an all-new 24.3-megapixel Exmor sensor (nope, it's not the rumored 36MP chip you might be expecting), which features an increased photodiode area for boosted low light quality (up to ISO 102,400). The camera also features what Sony's calling the "world's first dual-AF system," which includes two different phase-detect AF systems, including the same 19-point system on the A77, plus an additional 102 points on the imager itself.
Video shooters will find 1080/60p and 24p options with AVCHD 2.0, including uncompressed output through HDMI (with simultaneous output to a monitor) and phase-detect focus support in video mode. There's also a 6 frames-per-second burst mode, 14-bit RAW output for stills, the same 921k-dot Xtra Fine twilt-and-swivel LCD included with the A77 with WhiteMagic and TruBlack, and the same OLED viewfinder found on the A77, NEX-6 and NEX-7, that offers slightly boosted functionality thanks to the full-frame sensor, letting photographers snag a realtime depth-of-field preview without dimming the finder. It also offers a 34-degree viewing angle and color tone adjustment control. Because the A99 offers a translucent mirror, Sony was able to eliminate the pentaprism to keep the size and weight at bay, making the DSLR lighter than the Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III. Jump past the break for our hands-on.