Upload & Sell: On
Re-resurrecting this thread to say that, while I don't regret waiting, I am thrilled to be a new a99 owner. My initial impressions....
The EVF... I really like a good optical VF. It was one of the things that drew me to the a900 in the first place, but even that suffered in comparison with finders built for MF camera systems. If that maximum transparency between your eye and your subject is critical to your enjoyment of photography, the a99 is probably not the best investment. I've had my reservations about EVFs in the past. The EVF-2 on the EP2 and now the GXR was and is usable, and the NEX-7 was a nice technological leap ahead from usable to more positive experience. While the EVF in the a99 doesn't make a comparable leap, it completely refines that experience to the point where it's a pleasure to use, even in tracking moving subjects. You never lose the feeling that you're looking at an electronic view, but it's a good enough screen to make me willingly give up that reflected view for its ease of use in low light situations and magnification with a couple of clicks to achieve critical focus. I'm not surprised that it's proved to be the best manual focus solution available, I'm just impressed that it's so well implemented.
Ergonomics... The a900 always looked like an ergonomic torture test to me, but in practice, it's very comfortable for my big hands. The a99 got smaller, but in all the right places. The grip remains comfortable enough for all-day shoot. There are plenty of customizable buttons to keep your most used functions in easy reach. I'm loving the front knob. I've got mine set to control ISO. The articulating back panel I find completely worth the extra bulk involved. It makes waist level and low angle shooting a pleasure, the screen's bright and crisp, and you can easily swivel it out of direct light without losing usability. The top LCD gives you all of your exposure information, so the rear screen can be completely clear of everything but the image. It's also nice to be able to turn the rear screen in on the body when it's not in use. Build quality is excellent. Light but very solid. I'm not sure how the mics on top of the EFV will fair in my use, but I'm hoping that would only matter to someone who cares about video. The included flash adapter is solid enough for extended use if you, like me, have the old style flashes.
Functionality... I'm not the best qualified to speak on this topic since my goal with any camera is to get the few functions I do use mapped to buttons I'll remember and then only have to go back into the menu to format a card. I don't bracket or use exposure comp or do in-camera panos or HDRs, but all of that seems fairly accessible and fine tunable given the amount of clutter... options they have in the menus. I'm more excited by the dual SD slots. I will happily say goodbye to compact flash. No hiccups or odd behavior yet, but it's only been a few days. I haven't test AF yet, but I doubt the Maxxum 50/1.7 is going to provide interesting results for anyone. I just need to make sure it works. Then the mirror goes. Auto WB accuracy is an improvement over the a900, but still tends to skew cool, particularly in mixed lighting. The WB-by-pictogram performance is the same.
IQ... sucks. Well, okay, it doesn't suck, but it loses a lot of omph above ISO 6400.
I've posted other shots from the Butterfly Pavilion in the Leica R thread, and that's where I'll be posting mostly as I go through all of my lenses to see how they do on the a99, but I'll update here if I come up with any problems or tips. Below are some shots I didn't post there, all with APO-Elmarit-R 100 Macro. I popped the color a little more on these than I normally would with the Mac, but they're butterflies. They deserve a little pop.