I bought a Sony HX-99 compact mirrorless camera about a month ago to replace my previous Sony compact the HX-80. I thought the HX-80 was a very good compact and the HX-99 is very similar with some significant improvements.
The significant improvements you get with the HX-99 are
- Ability to use Sony raw
- Eye auto focus like what I have in my Sony A7iii
- Face and Smile auto focus
- Touch screen with same limits as on A7iii
- Improved electronic viewfinder
- Improved rear view screen
- Adjustment ring around the lens for a variety of things it can do that can be set in the menu
- Additional button on the back of the body that can also be programmed for different adjustments
- 4K video in 24 and 30p
All of these features for $69 more than I paid for the HX-80. Total price is $449. In my humble opinion this is a screaming deal. The carry over significant features from the HX-80 are
- Very compact size. Easily fits into small pockets. Thicker than a smartphone but smaller over all.
- Steady shot vibration reduction
- 24-720 mm optical focal range!
- Built in electronic viewfinder
- Can be completely auto with very good auto recognition of scenes and excellent exposure control. But also a full compliment of M, A, S, and P settings.
- Built in flash
- Very complete menu with bracketing and HDR
- Very fast and accurate auto focus
- Zebras and histogram in back screen and viewfinder
- Excellent video capability with good built in microphone
I sold my Sony HX 80 compact because it could not use raw photo files. I bought the Sony HX 99 when I found out it could. But I did not expect that this little gem of a camera would add things like eye auto focus, 4K, touch screen, improved viewfinder, and two more programable controls. To show you how good this camera can shoot long telephoto shots take a look at this Panda I shot at the Zoo today.
If you pixel peep you can see a bit more noise than if I had used my A7iii with a 500mm lens, but this is not a noisy photo.
This camera is excellent for street-type photos.
I like to shoot raw. But if you want to not bother this camera puts out very good jpegs.
The auto focus on this camera is excellent. Much better than my iPhone XS max. It is very similar to my Sony A7iii. With a much smaller sensor than my A7iii the auto focus on this camera sometimes is better than the A7iii. This happened to the yellow flower shot two rows of photos up. I also used my Sony A7iii for this same group of flowers. The HX 99 grabbed the flowers better than the larger camera. I would guess that with the much bigger sensor of the A7 that the much smaller depth of the filed of focus allowed the compact camera to out focus it’s big brother.
If you pixel peep using Lightroom you can see that the image files from the full frame A7iii have much less noise than from the little camera. In most cases you just add some noise reduction and it is fixed. But of course you lose some detail when you put in the noise reduction. The Sony HX 99 has about 50% more mega pixels than my iPhone XS max. The Sony also has a nice quality Zeiss lens and the iPhone does not. If I had to pick if the HX 99 or the iPhone XS max gave better results in general I would say the HX 99 is better by a little at 58mm and down and that the Sony is far better for tele shots where you can use it’s long lens. But I have been able to get some really remarkable files from the Apple when it used smart HDR.
The Sony HX 99 handles like a regular small camera. All the usual camera controls are on it unlike a smartphone. But the big screen of the iPhone works very well as a viewfinder. The Sony has direct controls that work when you tell them to. Apple has put a computer between the camera operator and the camera itself. So that means that when you tell the iPhone to flash or smart HDR the computer has the last say. I like cameras that do what you tell them to do. I hope Apple goes back to the way the flash and HDR worked just a couple of software upgrades ago. I used to be able to set HDR and it would just do it, now, who knows. I would guess that this fall when Apple adds a predicted third camera with longer telephoto that I will have to revisit if that iPhone is better than this camera. For now the Sony is better. But then I paid $449 for it and no phone included.
In almost all cases a full frame camera like the A7iii is going to be better than a compact like the HX 99. But most of the time you don’t need better than the compact. Most of the time unless you look carefully you will not be able to tell the difference.
Sony A7iii update.
The secret of the Sony menu system for me has been to just get used to it and remember where things are. If you are coming from Nikon like I did then Sony menus are just really different. But at this point I am used to them. By the way, the Sony HX 99 and A7iii are almost the same. If you know one the other is easy.
The Sony A7iii is still not as comfortable in the hand as the Nikon DSLRs I had.
I have recently bought a very high quality Sony / Minolta 100 mm f2.8 macro and Sony / Minolta 100-400mm lens. They both work great adapted on my A7iii. I will put up a post soon about those lenses. The 100mm is just stupendously beautiful in its results. A gorgeous lens.