After months of rumours Sony managed to spring a surprise and announce the new Alpha 9 on 19th April. This new compact system camera is aimed at professional sports photographers and has the same pixel count as the existing Sony A7 II. It begs the question, Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: What are the Key Differences?

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Sensor

They may have the same pixel count (24 million) but the Sony A9’s full-frame sensor has a different structure from the A7 II’s. Like other recent cameras from the manufacturer, including the Sony A99 II and Sony A6500, the A9 has a stacked CMOS (Exmoor RS) sensor. This stacked design separates the circuitry from the photosensitive layer to enable the receptors to be made larger. While the A99 II and A6500 have a front-end LSI, the A9’s sensor takes this processor-support concept further with integral memory being built into the chip.

Meanwhile the A7 II has an older style Exmoor sensor.

Sony Alpha 99 II review

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Continuous shooting

When its electronic shutter is in action the Sony A9 can shoot at up to 20fps (frames per second) at full resolution and with the full autofocusing and metering capability. What’s more, that speed can be maintained for up to 362 top quality jpegs or 241 compressed raw files. The A7 II doesn’t have an electronic shutter and can only shoot at a maximum rate of 5fps and for 52 jpegs or 28 compressed raw files.

Further good news brought by the A9 for speed and action photographers is its ability to provide a continuous view of the subject when shooting continuously at 20fps. This blackout-free design means its easy to keep track of a fast moving subject.

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Autofocus system

Like the A7 II, the A9 has a hybrid autofocus (AF) system that combines contrast detection with phase detection. However, with 693 phase detection points covering 93% of the imaging area, the A9 trumps the 117 phase detection point (plus 25 contrast detection point) system of the A7 II.

The A9’s AF system is also considerably more sensitive, operating at -3EV, -2EV lower than the A7 II’s.

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Image stabilisation

Both cameras has 5-axis stabilisation but Sony claims that the A9 can extend the safe hand-holdable shutter speed by 5EV, 0.5 EV more than the A7 II’s system.

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Video resolution

While the Sony A9 is able to shoot 4K video at up to 30fps and 100mbps with full pixel readout, the A7 II can only muster Full HD (1920×1080) recording at 50 or 60fps and 50mbps.

The A9 also has Sony’s S&Q mode which allows you to set frames rates between 1-120fps for slow or quick motion playback. The A7 II is much more limited managing just 1080p at 60fps and having no Quick mode.

One surprise we discovered when delving in the A9’s menu however, there are no S-log modes for producing footage designed to produce better footage for grading. Sony’s Picture Profiles are also absent. Surely this will be rectified by a firmware update as even the older A7 II has S-log2 and Picture Profile options.

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Viewfinder

While both cameras have the same size viewfinder (0.5-inch), the A9 has an OLED unit with 3,686,000 dots, 0.78x magnification and a refresh rate of up to 120fps. The A7 II’s OLED EVF however has ‘just’ 2,360,000 dots, 0.71x magnification and a refresh rate of 60fps.

Sony Alpha A6500 review

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Screen

The big difference between the A9 and A7 II’s 3-inch screens is that the A9’s screen is touch-sensitive to enable you to set the AF point. With 1,440,000 dots the A9’s screen also has a higher resolution than the A7 II’s 1,228,000-dot screen.

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Card ports

While the A7 II has just one card port, the A9 has two and one of them is UHS-II compatible. Slot 1: SD(UHS-I/II compliant), Slot 2: Memory Stick Duo/SD(UHS-I).

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: LAN Connection

Thanks to it’s LAN port its possible to connect the A9 to a server and upload images directly – that’s something that sport’s pros are likely to appreciate.

Sony A99 II autofocus test

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Menu

Sony has received some stick for its menu systems and the A9 has the improved A6500 style along with the addition of a customisable menu page.

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Battery

The Sony A9 has a much larger battery than the A7 II. The new NP-FZ100 also has double the capacity of the older NP-FW50 battery and Sony claims it enables 480 images to be taken when the viewfinder is in use. Switch to shooting with the screen and you can expect to get 650 shots from a single charge. This compares to 350 shots with the A7 II.

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Mini Joystick

While you can tap on the screen of the A9 to set AF point, there’s also a mini-joystick on the back of the camera which falls conveniently under your thumb to allow the AF point to be selected quickly and easily with the camera to your eye. No such luck with the A7 II.

Sony A9 vs Sony A7 II: Size and weight

The A9’s vital statistics are: 126.9 x 95.6 x 63.0mm compared with 126.9 x 95.7 x 59.7mm for the A7 II so not very much size difference. The A9 is also 74g heavier than the A7 II, weighing 673g with the battery and a card.