I plan on putting the NEW Sony A9 thru the paces as I always do, but please feel free to put requests in on what you would like me to try etc..
New Sony A9 Breakdown
Lets start with the key features worth noting in a quick bullet point list for reference. Note: Highlighted in red is the stuff that jumps out at me.
Sony A9 Key Features:
24.2MP Full-Frame Exmor RS Stacked CMOS Sensor
BIONZ X Image Processor & Front-End LSI
693-Point AF System
20 fps Shooting
Blackout-Free Quad-VGA 3.7m-Dot OLED EVF
Internal UHD 4K Video Recording
5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
3.0″ 1.44m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
Silent Electronic Shutter
Dual SD Slots
New – NP-FZ100 Battery (7.2 VDC, 2280 mAh)
Integrated LAN and PC Sync Terminals
1/32000sec max shutter re-lease speed
Customizable My Menu Area
AF/AE live-view tracking
Looking at the New A9 from the front, we see the familiar A7-series style camera body for the most part. What is notable different to my eye is the new dual shooting mode dial which is on the right side just above the A9 logo. Also, the control wheel located in the grip just below the shutter re-lease looks to be flat as apposed to angled slightly on the A7r II, for example. The height of the A9 is almost identical to the A7r II, so don’t worry about the camera being much larger or anything. Were talking millimeters here…
From the back be sure to note the new Record button location, AF-On button, and little joystick style nub controller above the Fn (function) button. You can also see the new stacked dials on the left top of the camera above the C3 button. This body is really well thought out and much more accommodating to the hands-on users in particular. I like physical buttons much more than menu driven buttons/ options. It just make sense to have a button to do something rather than going into a menu system to find it. Clearly some options need to be kept in the menus, but the basics like shooting modes and such should be incorporated into the camera body. Pro’s really demand this as they should. It’s way to time consuming going thru the menu to find a basic feature when in the heat of the moment for example…
From this angled rear view, you can see the a bit more depth to the buttons and dials. A very well refined full frame mirrorless camera body from an engineering perspective I would say.
From this arial view you can get a better idea how the new dual mode dial on the left side works. Basically the top dial turns to give you quick access to drive mode options and then the little tab on the lower dial allows you to select the AF shooting mode. It looks really well designed to me from these images. A special note for those wondering what the icon is just above the exposure compensation wheel on the left side. That is the sensor depth location within the camera body, for measuring purposes if needed. Useful for calculating depth of field in macro modes and things that in particular.
From the port side we have a totally new door. Basically the USB and HDMI ports got moved down, the Audio ports moved to where the HDMI and USB ports used to be, and now the new PC and Flash Sync ports were added. I like the new design overall, and the location choices make sense to me.
FTP file transfer
A new terminal for wired LAN connection lets you transfer still images to an FTP server for viewing and management. Since FTPS (File Transfer Protocol over SSL/TLS) is supported, image files can be encrypted while being transferred.
Below that is a flash sync terminal, which is very helpful for those in studio environments. The alternative is using an adapter on the hot-shoe, which has been the solution until now… I personally use a flash trigger unit that sits in the hot-shoe, but sometimes that is not the best solution depending on the circumstances and lighting configuration.
Sony A9 Sensor
So the New Sony A9 24mp full frame sensor is now the Exmor RS Stacked CMOS style technology that has been around for a while, but only in the smaller sensors until now. Only 24mp which leads me to believe an A9R will be coming out at some point with a possible 50MP sensor… This stacked design is a really big deal and should offer some better performance in a number of areas based on the smaller sensors that are also the stacked design. The 693-point AF system which is embedded in the sensor, should really take the AF performance to the next level. Although the AF is quite good on the A7r II currently, it’s still not as good as the DSLR A99 II AF performance as an example. Perhaps the A9 will perform closer to the A99 II in the AF department, but I’m thinking it will still not be as good due to the obvious advantages the mirror, and large stand alone AF module has in the A99 II. You really can’t get that kind of performance by embedding microscopic af modules into the sensor yet, although that technology continues to improve each generation. Its sort of apples and oranges when you compare the actual AF sensor modules in the A99 II vs the embedded af sensor modules found in the mirrorless camera sensors. They are so much larger on the A99 II compared to the embedded sensor units, it’s not really a fair comparision as far as hardware goes. Moving on the A9 is capable of shooting 20 frames per second and that is an industry leading number folks! Incredible to say the least and thanks to the Front-End LSI processor technology the information can be processed fast enough to allow for up to 362 continuous frames in JPEG format and up to 241 frames in raw format. Very impressive if you ask me 😉
Sony A9 Sensor promo Video from Sony
New Battery – Finally!!
Next we have a NewNP-FZ100 Battery (7.2 VDC, 2280 mAh), which has almost double the A7r II NP-FW50 Battery (7.4 VDC, 1020 mAh). This will allow for a claimed 480 shots (Viewfinder) / approx. 650 shots (LCD monitor) per cycle. That is hugely better than the Sony A7r II which can comparatively go for approximately 290 shots per battery cycle.
This battery upgrade to the Sony Mirrorless camera line was long overdo and hopefully all future cameras will incorporate this new battery.
The next logical question would be, will this new battery work in the A7 mirrorless cameras, and the answer is no. It is physically larger in size and will not fit, although the next generation A7 series cameras could certainly fit the battery into the grip I am sure of it!
Another new feature that is of Pro importance in my opinion, is the dual SD memory card slots
My Menu & new menu interface
A new My Menu feature lets you register up to 30 menu items for instant recall, arrange items in any order, and erase unused items. Also, primary menus have been reorganized for smoother search and operation. Awesome news and finally this feature has been introduced. I have been asking for this since the Nex-6 😉
Non-mechanical electronic shutter eliminates blackout with typical SLR mirror action. An uninterrupted view of the subject is available even during shutter release, with 60fps live-view capability and minimal display lag in continuous shooting.
(A) Blackout-free shooting (B) Shooting with blackout
Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder
The new high-resolution 3686k-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) shows a clear image with fine detail. The legendary ZEISS® T* Coating greatly reduces reflections. Smooth EVF images realized by 120fps frame rate even allow you to easily track a subject in fast motion. Fluorine coating on the outermost lens provides improved protection from dirt.
5-axis image stabilization
New body-integrated 5-axis image stabilization unit offers a 5.0-stop shutter speed advantage. The live-view monitor image is also stabilized, so you can compose images easily even when shooting a fast-moving subject. (1) Yaw (2) Pitch (3) Roll
FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens – Breakdown
The FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens is one of those lenses that you will most often find in a pro photographers bag. The f/2.8 speed and GM optical quality provide what pros demand. Basically it has the speed required for low light photography such as weddings, and the versatility to take group portraits, landscapes, and much more without having to change lenses.
The price point is high at $2198, but that is what you can expect to pay for a lens of this caliber. I really look forward to using it on the Sony A9 over the next few weeks!