The new a9 takes the rapid autofocusing,
burst modes and plentiful AF points of Sony’s
popular a6000 series and melds them into the
full-frame body of the a7 series. The result is
a 24-megapixel, full-frame mirrorless camera
with 693 phase-detect and 25 contrast-detect
AF points covering 93 percent of the sensor
that can burst at up to 20fps with AF tracking.
The buffer can hold a generous 222 RAW +
JPEG images. AF metering is available
down to -3EV.
The 24-megapixel stacked CMOS image
sensor is back-illuminated and can process
data up to 20 times faster than the second-generation a7 models. It has a native ISO
of 100-51,200 (expandable to 50–204,800).
Both Sony’s BIONZ processor and the
front-end LSI have been upgraded to cope
with the data demands of the new a9. This
one-two processing punch enables the a9
to perform AF/AE tracking calculations up
to 60 times per second. AF performance
clocks in about 25 percent faster than the
a7R II, Sony says, and eye tracking is 30
percent more accurate.
Like the a7 models, the a9 offers in-body
image stabilization good for up to 5 stops
of correction, per CIPA standards. You can
record 4K video (3840 x 2160) at 30p across
the full width of the sensor with no pixel
binning (a Super35mm crop option is also
available) or full HD up to 120p.
You’ll enjoy mechanical shutter speeds
up to 1/8000 sec. and there’s an electronic
shutter capable of a brisk 1/32,000 sec.
There’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for connecting
to mobile devices.
While the a9 hews rather closely to the design
established by the a7 series, Sony did make
a few tweaks. The best is a new joystick on
the back of the camera to help you select AF
points (you can also use the 3-inch touch screen
display to adjust focusing points). Other design
tweaks include the addition of drive mode and
focus mode dials on the top of the camera and
an AF On button. You can assign AF areas to
the camera’s custom buttons so you can pull
them up quickly, a new feature Sony is calling
AF Area Registration. A group of specific
settings, such as exposure and shutter speed,
can now be grouped together and mapped to
a single custom button for easy recall.
The movie record button, which Sony used
to wedge awkwardly into the hand grip, is now
located more conveniently by the EVF. Speaking
of which: The 3.86K OLED viewfinder is
extremely bright, sharp and, with a choice of
60 or 120 fps refresh rates, it’s speedy enough
to keep pace with quickly moving subjects.
It’s incredible but even more impressive is the
lack of blackout during high-speed shooting.
The a9 offers a pair of memory card slots,
but only one supports speedy UHS-II SD cards.
At least it’s marked clearly on the interior of the
memory card door. At 24 ounces, the a9 is three
ounces heavier than the a7 R II but compared
to the full-frame DSLRs it’s competing against,
it’s a piker. Nikon’s D5 is 49 ounces while
Canon’s 1D X Mark II is a chunky 54 ounces.
gear & techniques PrODuct reVie Ws
pdnonline.com OCTOBER 2017
Few companies have disrupted the market for professional
cameras quite like Sony, but the a9 may be the company’s most
ambitious model yet. While Sony’s a7 cameras have lured pros
in need of high resolution or extreme sensitivity, there was
still a yawning performance gap between those models and the
flagship DSLRs that dot every sideline at every major sporting
event around the world.
With the a9, Sony isn’t looking to narrow this gap. It wants to
leap over it entirely, setting a new benchmark for autofocusing
and continuous shooting speed. We worked with N.J. photographer
and director David Patiño ( www.davidpatino.com) to see if the
a9 made the jump.
BelOW: While the a9 is optimized for speed, don’t overlook its stellar image quality for stationary subjects.
aBOVe: Sony’s a9 is the company’s most ambitious mirrorless camera to date.
OPPOsite Page: Sony made a number of improvements to the design of the a9,
starting with a new top dial and a repositioning of the movie record button.
re Vie Ws
Hands-on with Sony’s a9, Nikon’s D7500
and Sigma’s 135mm f/1.8 Art lens.
BY GREG SCOBLETE