Only 6 Sony lenses will be compatible with the 102 AF points on the a99

Thephoblographer discovered something that nobody has reported so far:  only 6 Sony lenses (SAL2470Z, SAL2875, SAL50F14, SAL300F28GII, SAL70400G and SAL50050F4G) will be compatible with the new 102 AF points on the Sony a99:

The news is/or at least my impression at the time of launch was that the 102 AF points would work alongside the 19 point AF to ensure a more precise focus. The truth is that the 102 AF points will only work in the new AF-D mode of the camera which can sense depth and continuously track objects very accurately. The big news to me and the staff was that the camera only currently supports 6 lenses at this point of time.

The specifications on Sony's website confirm this statement:

New AF-D Mode

This highly advanced Continuous AF mode uses 19 AF points with reliable depth-direction focusing performance to steadfastly capture subjects and is strongly assisted by the 102-point multi-point focal-plane phase-detection AF sensor. It continues to accurately focus on the subject whether the subject is moving in depth or plane direction4.

In the footnotes it says:

4. Note that at the time of launch the following lenses support AF-D: SAL2470Z, SAL2875, SAL50F14, SAL300F28GII, SAL70400G, SAL50050F4G.

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  • Harold Ellis

    it is ok, all those points are centered so make no sense anyway.

    first cam to spread af points at least to golden ratios h/v wins lot of hearts

    • Steve

      This is a limitation to PDAF. CDAF can already do this but of course it is slower.

    • Troll Prozac


    • Ugh

      The paid shill speaks again.

      Or at least I hope he gets paid. If he doesn’t, what a waste of a life posting such things on the interwebs….

      • Troll Prozac

        I don’t like some of his posts either. But in this case he’s right.

    • Sahaja

      I’m surprised that the new on-sensor PDAF points aren’t more spread out. I would have thought that putting them on the sensor would have allowed this.

      • Sky

        On-sensor PDAF has got enormous issues with an angle light is falling onto the sensors. You can spread them nicely only if you make an entire system with that one thing in mind (Nikon 1 was made for that) – otherwise on-sensor PDAF works well only in a very centre of the frame.

  • Manus

    “The big news to me and the staff was that the camera only currently supports 6 lenses at this point of time.”
    “4. Note that at the time of launch the following lenses support AF-D”

    That just means that other lenses will be support with an update of the firmware. So this is not a big problem.

    • PR admin

      If that’s the case, they should have mentioned that in the press release.

      • genotypewriter

        Not going to happen… my guess is the lens needs to communicate distance information back to the body.

        Firmware updates can’t magically add features like that.

        • jec6613

          Exactly correct, it requires distance communicated from the lens to the body, which is a hardware change, not a firmware one. This is the same as Nikon AF-D they put in place in 1992. Sony and Canon have been doing this as a (mostly) silent feature upgrade as they update lenses, Canon in the last 7/10 years and Sony obviously even more recently.

          Nikon jumped on the bandwagon early because their meters could support it, and the latest metering systems not only tell how far to the subject, which is important for proper flash exposure, but also how far to other objects in the frame under other AF points – and with a segmented color meter, can meter the foreground for flash and background for ambiet light simultaneously. This is just a guess, and I haven’t read the spec sheets, but the Sony A99 should do exactly the same thing with a distance coupled lens since it also meters in color (through the image sensor).

          So not only should you get more AF points with a D lens, you should get better exposure, as well.

        • J Shin

          But a firmware update can make the sensors available in other modes, no?

          • jec6613

            On-sensor PDAF moves at the sensor strobe rate, usually 60 Hz (in this case, definitively 60 Hz). The dedicated 19 point AF array runs at a much faster rate, often 1 khz or faster.

            Without distance information, the 60 Hz refresh just isn’t fast enough to keep up and give decent focus performance. This is why the 60 Hz PDAF on the Canon EOS-M really isn’t any faster than CDAF on a 120 Hz M4/3 sensor like in the Panasonic GH2. The Nikon 1 system gets around this by having less glass to move.

      • Ragnarok

        But that’s very different than saying that thephoblographer discovered something -they didn’t- because it was well known by those that cared. See my comment below.

        • Sky

          Yep. It’s not a news at all. Sony Alpha Rumors reported it long ago, so did dPreview and many other websites.

          thephoblographer tries to imply something they never did. Yea, perhaps it’s a news for writers out there, but most of the people interested in camera knew this in a day of release.

    • Sahaja

      Other lenses are supported. Just not with the additional AF points.

      They should all work just as before with the regular PDAF points.

  • MacPaul

    It’s a lame AF system anyway; not enough modes (at least in the Alpha 77, guess it’s the same with the Alpha 99), to much centered and not on par with Canon/Nikon regarding speed. Not a real winner.

  • ageha

    lol, no news at all. It got mentioned everywhere since the announcement day. It even gets mentioned in Sony’s specifications.

  • c

    ridiculous that there aren’t any points to the sides of the frame so if you are shooting a person in portrait you can’t put a focus point on their face without recomposing…dumb, dumb, dumb

  • Joe Fotosiamo

    Yup, this was reported during the Photokina release. I had it when I did my article on it on Sept 12. (it’s towards the end):

    • Ragnarok

      David Kilpatrick (or however you write it) also mentioned it in his article about the A99, and it was discussed in DPReview’s forums. So no, it was not a secret.

      The fun part was that initially DPReview reported that Sony also launched a new 28-75 f/2.8 lens because they were handed the A99 along with it, and they didn’t realized it was just the old rebranded Tamron lens and that Sony was giving A99s with it because that was the smallest zoom lens that could support the new AF. It was it or the heavy and expensive Zeiss or the 50mm prime. And I said it was lame :)

      • pjpo

        So should the Tamron 28-75mm also work with the 102 points? I guess we may have to wait for it to be released and tested by individuals to find out. There’s certainly no point in paying an extra $400 just because it says Sony.

        • Ragnarok

          I don’t know. But people that have used the Sony NEX 18-200LE and the Tamron version claim that the Sony is not just a rebrand and that the quality -of construction and image- is better. maybe it’s the same with the 28-75. If the former is true.

        • ageha

          Of course not, there won’t be any support from Sony for 3rd part lenses.

  • Rob

    I hope that the 70-200 G can be included as it’s a really good lens with fast AF and a great color rendition. Here’s a pic I took on Monday with my copy.

  • Sahaja

    All other A-mount lenses are still compatible with the camera and will work as usual with the regular PDAF points.

    • Sky

      Yep, just one feature will be crippled. Otherwise camera is perfectly fine with other lenses, including 3rd party :)

  • ewm19

    all the AF point just focus in the centre of the screen? Wonder if the focus can be width so can cover the tail of the animal??? :) haha

  • Martin

    Sorry, no news. At least not for german speaking people

  • Art

    These six lenses were named at Photokina. This is not a new news.

    Also, Sony Japan said that by early 2013 more these lenses will be supported after lens firmware upgrade. That future supported lenses include, SAL85f14Z, SAL135f18Z, SAL70300G, SAL70200G, SAL100f28 Makro.

  • iphoto27

    Two lenses are craps.

    One is very slow, but Sony wants $2,100.00.

    Sony 300/2.8 is out of budget for many beginners.

    Sony 500/4.0 no fool is going to buy this when they invested in Canon/Nikon’s 400/500/600 lenses.

    Why do you think Sony shows & reviewers review only on the Sony Carl Zeiss 24-70/2.8 Lens? It’s the only one that is affordable or that can zoom required by demanding photographers with AF-D.

    Also, Sony wants $2,100.00 for this kit lens.

    Over $5,000.00 dollars without the flash and grip would be hard pressed for beginners & even struggling pros to cough out.

    Take for examples:
    We have so many pros are leaving the wedding fields because beginners are willing /or can do a wedding for less than $5,000.00.
    Some pros have no choices but to buy ATG/Red/Leica/Hasselblad to be above those shooters.
    Many pros are trying to make end meets by teaching & posting on youtube and selling eBooks.

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