Okay sports and wildlife photographers, Sony has a camera you’ll want to look at. The new full-frame mirrorless camera, with what Sony claims is the world’s first full-frame stacked CMOS sensor and 24.2-megapixel resolution, is said to deliver blackout-free continuous shooting at up to 20 fps for up to 241 RAW / 362 jpeg images.
The alpha 9 also offers 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; an Ethernet port for file transfer; Dual SD card slots; and extended battery life.
The camera also has 5-axis in-body image stabilization with a 5.0 step shutter speed advantage.
Sony says the full-frame stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor enables data speed processing at up to 20x faster than previous Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras. The sensor is paired with a new, upgraded BIONZ X processing engine and front end LSI that maximizes overall performance.
The 693 phase detection AF points cover approximately 93 percent of the frame, so the fasting moving subjects are reliably captured and tracked across the frame.
The a9 also features a vibration free, fully electronic, completely silent anti-distortion shutter with “absolutely no” mechanical mirror or shutter noise.
The new Z battery is said to deliver approximately 2.2x the capacity of W batteries.
One of the dual SD media card slots supports UHS-II cards.
The processing power of the camera’s components deliver faster AF/AE calculations while also reducing EVF display latency. The processor and front end LSI are also responsible for the larger continuous shooting buffer.
The camera’s 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.
The Fast Hybrid AF system – pairing the speed and tracking performance of phase detection AF with the precision of contrast AF – achieves approximately 25 percent faster performance when compared to the a7R II, claims Sony.
The a9 features an all-new, high-resolution, high-luminance Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder delivering “extremely accurate, true-to-life detail reproduction.” The new Tru-Finder, with what Sony says is the highest resolution viewfinder ever for a Sony alpha camera, incorporates an optical design that includes a double-sided aspherical element, helping it to achieve 0.78x magnification and “outstanding” corner to corner sharpness. The EVF also utilizes a Zeiss T* coating to greatly reduce reflections, and has a fluorine coating on the outer lens that repels dirt.
This all adds up, according to Sony, to a luminance that is 2x higher than the XGA OLED Tru-Finder from the a7R II, creating a viewfinder image with a brightness level that is nearly identical to the actual scene being framed, says the company. The frame rate of the Tru-Finder is customizable, with options to set it for 60 fps or 120 fps to best match the action.
For those who thought the sync terminal was a thing of the past – tada! – there is a sync terminal as well, enabling external flash units and cables to be connected directly.
Sony notes the a9 has several new and updated focus functions that support faster, easier focusing in a variety of situations. The camera features a multi-selector joystick on the back of the camera, allowing shooters to easily shift focus point within the frame by pressing the multi-selector in any direction up, down, left or right when shooting in Zone, Flexible Spot or Expanded Flexible Spot focus area modes. The new model also offers touch focusing on the rear LCD screen for easily selecting of and shifting focus towards a desired focus point or subject.
New for Sony E-mount cameras, the a9 includes the addition of 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.
Additional new capabilities include the “AF Area Registration,” which allows frequently used focus area to be memorized and recalled via custom button assignments. There is also the ability to assign specific settings (exposure, shutter speed, drive mode, etc.) to a custom button. The camera can memorize and automatically recall the last focus point used in a vertical or horizontal orientation as well, instantly switching back to it when that specific orientation is used again.
For enhanced customization, a “My Menu” feature is available, allowing up to 30 menu items to be registered in a custom menu for instant recall when needed.
The a9 camera features an all-new Sony battery with 2.2x the capacity of previous Sony full-frame models.
The sensor is back-illuminated, allowing it to capture maximum light and produce outstanding, true-to-life image quality, says Sony. The sensor also enables an ISO range of 100 – 51200, expandable to 50 – 204800.
The a9 also supports uncompressed 14-bit RAW.
Video? Of course. 4K video? Absolutely. It offers 4K (3840 x 2160p) video recording across the full width of the full-frame image sensor. When shooting in this format, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 6K of information, oversampling it to produce high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth. Recording is also available in the Super 35 mm size.
Additionally, the camera can record Full HD at 120 fps at up to 100 Mbps, which allows footage to be reviewed and eventually edited into 4x or 5x slow motion video files in Full HD resolution with AF tracking.
There are a number of new accessories including grips and multiple battery adaptors.
The Sony alpha 9 will ship in May for about $6,000.