Most haggard old pros gave their souls up to Nikon and Canon long ago. Too bad for them because the Sony SLT-A99V is the kind of DSLR the pros of the future might be looking for: small, fast and furious.
Like the SLT-A99V's natural competitors, the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800, it's got a full-frame sensor. In the A99V's case it's a 24-megapixel 35.8mm x 23.9mm sensor, so it's slightly higher resolution than the 5D Mark III, but still leagues lower-res than the 36-megapixel D800.
So what makes this camera so special? You'll notice the difference as soon as you pick it up. At just 733 grams it's noticeably lighter than Nikon's D800 and even lighter when compared to the 950g 5D MK III. It's also smaller than both of the other cameras. If you've ever lugged a camera around all day, you know that makes a difference. That said, the build definitely doesn't feel as sturdy as the Canon and Nikon cameras.
The camera also sports a sparkly new autofocus technology that uses not one but two phase-detection sensors for increased speed and accuracy when trying to lock on to a subject. Will that make a difference? We'll have to wait to try it out -- especially since the 5D's new AF-system is so fantastic.
As for video, the A99V appears to be stacked. Unlike its competitors, it shoots 1920x1080 at up to 60 frames per second. It's also the first pro-DSLR to have continuous autofocus while shooting video (the Canon EOS 650D also has continuous autofocus while shooting video, but it doesn't work very well).
Many traditionalists will want to write off the Sony SLT-A99V, because unlike other full-frame cameras it doesn't have an optical viewfinder. It also uses Sony's proprietary translucent mirror technology instead of standard single-lens-reflex design. Yes, these facts come with potential disadvantages. Some claim translucent mirrors leak light, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a pro who doesn't swear by an optical viewfinder. [Sony]
• Price: $3500 expected RRP in Australia (body only) • Sensor: 24.3MP, full-frame (35.8m x 23.9mm) • Max ISO: 25,600 (stills)/ 6400 video • Image: Up to 6000x4000 pixels • Video: 1920x1080 24/60 • Max Drive: 6fps at full resolution • Screen: 1.229-million dot, 3-inch LCD • Weight: 733g (body only)