Sony has surprised everyone and announced the Sony A9 II – price tag $4500/£4,800/€5,400 – an update to its flagship full-frame mirrorless camera designed for sports and fast-moving subjects.
The Sony A9 II retains the same stacked 24-megapixel full-frame sensor as its predecessor, the A9. However, Sony is promising more precision and faster operation thanks to the addition of its latest Bionz X processor.
The A9 II also retains the A9’s much-lauded 693-point phase detection AF system, which also includes 425 contrast AF points. It also incorporates Sony’s Real Time Eye-AF, Real Time Tracking and Fast Hybrid Focusing modes.
The Sony A9 II also retains the A9’s capability for speed, shooting at 20fps without black-out.
Sony A9 II vs A9: what’s different?
Some of the bigger changes in the A9 II vs the A9 are in its design, which borrows from the recently announced Sony A7R IV. New weather-proofing around the A9 II body should appeal to professional users. Sony has reinforced the areas around ports and battery and memory card doors to prevent ingress of water.
Sony has also given the A9 II a deeper grip and larger controls. In particular, the A9 II’s AF joystick is larger than before, as is the AF-On button.
Other design tweaks include relocating the rear control dial to the top plate.
Another new addition to the Sony A9 II is a built-in 1000BASE-T Ethernet terminal, enabling gigabit communication for high-speed data transfer.
The Alpha 9 II also adds a new Voice Memo function that allows users to attach voice memos to specific images that can be replayed when the images are reviewed.
Sony says that ‘by combining wireless voice / image transfer and automatic voice to text conversion with the ability to auto transfer images with attached voice memos via FTP, it is possible to shoot and transfer the results to an FTP server without ever having to operate a smartphone.’
With the A9 II you’ll also get improved battery life, a new anti-flicker system for when you’re shooting in artificial light and the option to power the camera via its USB 3.2 Type C port.
Sony A9 II Price & Release Date
The Sony A9 II price tag will be $4500/£4,800/€5,400 for the body only. Its release date is expected in October.
Official Sony A9 II Press Release
Sony today announced Alpha 9 II (model ILCE-9M2). The latest model from Sony’s acclaimed line-up of α™(Alpha™) full-frame interchangeable lens cameras has been created specifically to support working professionals in the fields of sports photography and photojournalism.
The new Alpha 9 II builds on the impressive legacy of the original Alpha 9, maintaining ground breaking speed performance including blackout-free continuous shooting[i] at up to 20 frames per second[ii] with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking, 60 times per second AF/AE calculations[iii] while incorporating even more functionality driven directly from the voice of professionals. Updates include significantly enhanced connectivity and file delivery, continuous shooting at up to 10 fps with mechanical shutter, evolved AF performance with newly optimised algorithms, a re-designed build to enhance durability and operability and more.
“The voice of our customers is absolutely critical to Sony – we are always listening,” said Yann Salmon Legagneur, Director of Product Marketing, Digital Imaging, Sony Europe. “The Alpha 9 II is the direct result of countless feedback sessions with agency, sports and news photographers since the launch of the original Alpha 9. We’ve added connectivity and network capabilities that drastically improve the professional workflow, while also making subtle adjustments to design, interface and processing power that complete the user experience. Complemented by our extremely versatile E-mount system – with 55 native lenses introduced at this point, including the super-telephoto 600mm and 400mm G Master™ series lenses – this new camera is a tool unlike any other for professionals either in the field or on the field.”
Raising the Bar for Built-in Connectivity in the Professional’s Workflow
The Alpha 9 II includes an in-built 1000BASE-T Ethernet terminal, enabling gigabit communication for high-speed, stable data transfer operations. Additionally, File Transfer over SSL or TLS encryption (FTPS) is supported for increased data security and PC remote (tether) shooting performance is improved, with decreased release time lag and reduced live view screen delay when using the ‘Remote Camera Tool’ desktop application[iv]. The speed of the camera’s built-in wireless LAN functionality has also been increased, adding a stable and fast 5 GHz (IEEE 802.11ac)[v] band, in addition to the 2.4 GHz provided in the Alpha 9. IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards are all supported.
Designed to improve the speed of news agencies’ workflow, the Alpha 9 II features a new Voice Memo function that allows spoken information to be attached to images in the form of voice memos that can be replayed when the images are reviewed. The voice data can also be included with images sent to an editor, giving them important information needed for effective editing. Alternatively, a field photographer can also use the ‘Transfer & Tagging add-on’ “Imaging Edge™” application[vi] to transfer voice tags with the images to their mobile device and have the voice memos automatically[vii] converted to text and added to the JPEG images in the form of IPTC metadata[viii]. All of this can be done automatically or manually, selectable by the photographer.
By combining wireless voice / image transfer and automatic voice to text conversion with the ability to auto transfer images with attached voice memos via FTP, it is possible to shoot and transfer the results to an FTP server without ever having to operate a smartphone. FTP settings within the app can also be sent to a camera via Bluetooth®, allowing for a faster workflow.
The Platinum Standard for Speed and Auto Focus Performance
The new Alpha 9 II shares the same acclaimed 35mm full-frame stacked 24.2 MP[ix] Exmor RS™ CMOS image sensor with integral memory as the original Alpha 9, giving it the same unmatched speed performance and outstanding image quality. The new model can shoot continuously and completely silently[x] at 20 fps for up to 361 JPEG images[xi] or 239 compressed RAW images[xii], with no viewfinder blackout, allowing the photographer to follow the subject and action with no interruption to the EVF during picture taking. For times when mechanical shutter is preferred or required, the new Alpha 9 II has been improved to shoot at up to 10 fps, about 2x the speed of the Alpha 9.
The camera is able to function whilst continuously calculating Auto Focus and Auto Exposure at up to 60 times per second, with newly optimised AF algorithms that provide notably enhanced AF precision and performance, ensuring that even the most erratic subject motion, often experienced in sports, is captured with high precision. Also useful for sporting events, the camera now offers an anti-flicker[xiii] shooting mode that automatically detects and adjusts for the presence of fluorescent or artificial lighting to maximise image quality.
The advanced focusing system in the new Alpha 9 II is comprised of 693 focal-plane phase-detection AF points covering approximately 93% of the image area, as well as 425 contrast AF points. This Fast Hybrid Auto Focus system achieves extremely fast and accurate performance, ensuring all fast-moving subjects are accurately captured. Additional notable focusing capabilities include Real-time Eye AF with right eye / left eye selection, Real-time Eye AF for animals[xiv] – augmented with a new algorithm, Real-Time Eye AF for movie[xv], Real-time Tracking,[xvi] selectable focus frame colour, Touch Pad focus point control while using the viewfinder and more. AF can continuously track even in continuous shooting is greater than F16[xvii], providing further accuracy for shots that require slower shutter speeds.
Refined Build and Operability
Upgraded BIONZ X™ image processing engine gains maximum benefit from the sensor’s fast readout speed. Processor works with front-end LSI to enhance speed in AF/AE detection, image processing, face detection and accuracy, and more
Upgraded dust and moisture resistant[xviii] design to meet the needs of professionals in even the most challenging outdoor conditions. Stronger sealing provided at all body seams as well as the battery compartment cover and media slot
Latest image-processing algorithm reduces noise in the medium-to-high sensitivity range while improving subjective resolution and image quality
5-axis optical in-body image stabilisation system that provides a shutter speed advantage of 5.5 steps[xix]
Improved grip configuration for even greater comfort and sure hold. Compatible with Sony VG-C4EM Vertical Grip
Improved button design and feel. Increased diameter and feedback of the ‘AF-ON’ button; a refined multi-selector joystick design; an exposure compensation dial lock button and a redesigned shape and new position for the rear dial
Redesigned shutter mechanism to suppress even the slightest movement that can cause image blur. Tested for durability in excess of 500,000 shutter cycles[xx]
USB Type-C™ connector that supports fast USB 3.2 Gen 1 data transfer
Dual media slots that are both compatible with UHS-I and UHS-II SD cards, allowing higher overall capacity and faster read/write speeds
Digital audio interface has been added to the camera’s Multi Interface Shoe™ (MI Shoe) enabling the new ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone or XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit to be connected directly to the MI Shoe for cleaner, clearer audio recordings
Pricing and Availability
The Alpha 9 II will ship in Europe in October 2019, priced at approximately £4,800 / €5,400 Ireland.