Sony just announced its most advanced full-frame camera for professional photographers yet. The new A9 is designed to pose a formidable challenge to Canon and Nikon, with a full-frame stacked CMOS sensor (24.2 megapixels), incredible continuous shooting capabilities, and 693 autofocus points. The A9 shoots 4K video, features 5-axis in-body stabilization, dual SD card slots, and it’s even got an ethernet port. It launches May 25th for $4,500 in the United States.
But the continuous shooting is the story here, and is what Sony hopes will sell sports photographers and other pros with fast-moving subjects on the A9. It offers blackout-free — so you’ll never lose sight of your subject — continuous shooting at up to 20 frames-per-second for up to 241 consecutive RAWs (or 362 JPEGs). That’s... very impressive.
The camera’s maximum shutter speed is 1/32,000sec, and Sony says the camera is capable of “calculating AF/AE at up to 60 times per second — regardless of shutter release and frame capture.” The 693 phase-detect AF points cover near 93 percent of the frame. There’s a focus joystick on the back to help you better pinpoint your subject.
Sony claims the A9’s 35mm full-frame stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor is “the world’s first of its kind” and allows data speed processing twice as fast as the company’s prior full-frame cameras.
The A9 also houses Sony’s sharpest electronic viewfinder ever. It’s a Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder with approximately 3,686k dots and sounds like a joy to look through. From Sony:
This all adds up to a luminance that is 2x higher than the XGA OLED Tru-Finder from the α7R II, creating a viewfinder image with a brightness level that is nearly identical to the actual scene being framed, ensuring the most natural shooting experience. The frame rate of the Tru-Finder is even customizable, with options to set it for 60fps or 120fps to best match the action.
Also important: the camera’s battery provides 2.2x the capacity of previous Sony full-frame cameras. Battery life has consistently proven to be a weak point of mirrorless cameras, so it’s good to see Sony working to extend how much time you can spend shooting. That’s critical for the target market here. The company also claims that the camera can operate silently and free of any vibrations up to its maximum shutter speed (so long as you use the electronic shutter).
Sony is also positioning the A9 as a serious performer in 4K video. “Full pixel readout with no pixel binning makes it possible to condense the equivalent of the amount of data required for 6K into 3840 x 2160 4K output. This oversampling process plus full-frame pixel readout without binning results in the highest possible 4K movie image quality.” Below is an example of what the end result looks like.