Sony just announced its most advanced full frame mirrorless camera for professional photographers yet. The new Sony A9 goes head to head with pro bodies from both Canon and Nikon. This may just be the Sony that gets pro photographers to jump ship and head to Sony. It features a 24.2 megapixels full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, ridiculous continuous shooting rates and 693 autofocus points. The A9 includes 4K video, 5-axis in-body stabilization and finally has dual SD card slots.
It is available May 25th for $4,500… I won’t be buying one, because the only feature I want is dual card slots and better battery life and thats not worth the price of admission for me right now. I do more video production than sports photography and the Sony A9 is geared towards high speed stills capture.
So, the ridiculous continuous shooting of the A9 offers blackout-free shooting at 20 frames-per-second for up to 241 consecutive RAW files or 362 jpg images. It is kind of cool not to have the mirror flipping up and down and blocking your view like on a SLR. Twenty frames per second is impressive yes, necessary, no. If you’re mashing your shutter button down for 12 whole seconds hoping for one keeper in 241 shots you’re crazy.
The 693 phase-detect AF points cover nearly 93% of the frame. There’s finally a joystick on the back to move these focus points around.
“The camera’s innovative AF system tracks complex, erratic motion with higher accuracy than ever before, with the ability to calculate AF/AE at up to 60 times per second, regardless of shutter release and frame capture. Further, when the shutter is released while shooting stills, the electronic viewfinder functions with absolutely no blackout, giving the user a seamless live view of their subject at all times. This feature truly combines all of the benefits of an electronic viewfinder with the immediacy and “in the moment” advantages that not even the finest optical viewfinders can match, and is available in all still image modes including high speed 20 fps continuous shooting.” says Sony.
All New 24 MP Exmor RS Sensor
Sony says the A9’s 35mm full-frame stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor is “the world’s first of its kind” and allows image processing twice as fast as their previous sensors.
“The unique design of the α9 image sensor represents the pinnacle of Sony device technology. The 24.2 MP full-frame stacked CMOS sensor is back-illuminated, allowing to capture maximum light and produce outstanding, true-to-life image quality. The sensor also enables the diverse ISO range of 100 – 51,200, expandable to 50 – 204,800, ensuring optimum image quality with minimum noise at all settings.
The enhanced BIONZ X processor plays a large part in image quality as well, as it helps to minimize noise in the higher sensitivity range while also reducing the need to limit ISO sensitivity in situations where the highest quality image is required.
The new α9 also supports uncompressed 14-bit RAW, ensuring users can get the most out of the wide dynamic range of the sensor.”
Of course it shoots beautiful 4k video, it’s a Sony. “Full pixel readout with no pixel binning makes it possible to condense the equivalent of the amount of data required for 6K into 3840 x 2160 4K output. This oversampling process plus full-frame pixel readout without binning results in the highest possible 4K movie image quality.” The question here is has rolling shutter and overheating been resolved?
And here’s the cameras real selling point; the battery claims 2.2x the capacity of previous cameras. The tiny battery of the previous cameras is maddening, I always had two or three spares in my pocket for a day of shooting.
- World’s first full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, 24.2 MP resolution
- Blackout-Free Continuous Shooting at up to 20fps for up to 241 RAW/ 362 JPEG images
- Silent, Vibration-free shooting at speeds up to 1/32,000 sec
- 693 point focal plane phase detection AF points with 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second
- Extensive professional features including Ethernet port for file transfer, Dual SD card slots and extended battery life
- 5-axis in-body image stabilisation with a 5.0 stop shutter speed advantage
Extra Bits and Features
As you can see in some of the press photos it look like there are some extra dials. These include separate drive mode and focus mode dials, plus a new “AF ON” button that can be pressed to activate autofocus directly when shooting still images or movies.
The A9 has a new electronic viewfinder, a Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder with approximately 3,686k dots. “The α9 features an all-new, high-resolution, high-luminance Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder with approximately 3,686k dots for extremely accurate, true-to-life detail reproduction. The new Tru-Finder, which is the highest resolution viewfinder Sony has ever incorporated in an α camera, features an optical design that includes a double-sided aspherical element, helping it to achieve 0.78x magnification and a level of corner to corner sharpness that is simply outstanding. The EVF also utilises a ZEISS® T* Coating to greatly reduce reflections, and has a fluorine coating on the outer lens that repels dirt.
This all adds up to a luminance that is 2x higher than the XGA OLED Tru-Finder from the α7R II, creating a viewfinder image with a brightness level that is nearly identical to the actual scene being framed, ensuring the most natural shooting experience. The frame rate of the Tru-Finder is even customisable, with options to set it for 60 fps or 120 fps to best match the action.”
It has a touch screen! Excellent.
Conclusion and My Thoughts
I currently own and shoot most of Sony’s higher end mirrorless cameras. I use my A7Rii for stills and headshots at 42 megapixels, the A7Sii for lowlight stills and 4K video and the A6500/A6300 for a B camera or on the Ronin Gimbal. I don’t really shoot a lot of sports and only occasionally use the 10fps on the A6500. If I were going to shoot sports, I think I’d purchase a D500 + 70-200mm f2.8 for about the same price. I would like dual memory card slots in all my cameras, but knock on wood, the only time I’ve had a card failure is when I rolled over a GoPro card with my chair.
The battery life is better, but spares in my pocket works. I guess I’m just not ready to (can’t) spend $4500 on a Sony body that has features which should be included in their existing A7 range.
There’s a lack of long lenses for E-Mount, maybe Sony has some in the works. They did announce the 100-400mm but this is a serious sports and wildlife body and there’s no way to get a native 500mm or longer lens yet. It’s kind of like a canoe without a paddle at this point.
The Canon 1DX MKii is $6000 and the Nikon D5 is $6500. The Sony A9 has a litany of pro features and competes with these bodies even besting them in some important areas. I’ll find a way to get my hands on one for a few days to film and write a review. Stay tuned.
Since my wife would not be happy if I brought another camera in to our home, I’m skipping the A9 for now. Don’t get me wrong, I want one, it’s an awesome camera, my budget just doesn’t allow me to take the plunge right now.