Sony a9: The New Leader in SPEED
Sony’s new flagship 24mp Sony a9 offers continuous shooting at up to 20 FPS with NO BLACKOUT with AF/AE tracking up to 60 measurements per sec (4-5 times the speed of Canikon) and Silent Shooting for vibration-free shooting up to 1/32,000 of a second! WHEW!!!
Featuring the World’s First full-frame stacked CMOS sensor with integral Memory for 20x faster data readout speed, Sony a9 can shoot 241 Compressed RAW or 362 Jpeg images before hitting buffer.
The 24.2mp Sony a9 ($4,499) takes aim at Canikon’s flagship DSLRs, the 20.2mp Canon EOS-1D X Mark II ($5,999) and 20.8mp Nikon D5 ($6,497).
READ: Tale of the Tape: Sony a9 -vs- Canon 1DX II -vs- Nikon D5
Sony a9 is NOT a replacement for Sony a7 Series cameras – rather it’s designed to exceed the specs of Canikon Flagship DSLRs.
Sony a7RII still offers the highest resolution of Sony’s fullframe mirrorless line-up, Sony a7SII offers pixel-for-pixel 4K readout with no line-skipping or pixel binning with incredible dynamic range even at extremely high ISO, and Sony a7II remains the bargain in the Sony fullframe mirrorless line-up.
Sony a9 + Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens • 1/500 • F2.8 • ISO 4000
• Up to 20 FPS with No Viewfinder Blackout
• 693 PDAF points cover 93% of the Fullframe Sensor
• World’s First Full-frame Stacked CMOS sensor with Integral Memory
• 241 Compressed RAW or 362 Jpeg Images Before Hitting Buffer
• ISO 100-25,600 (Expanded ISO 50-80 & 32,000-204,800)
• Dual SD Card Slots including one UHS-II compliant
• Silent & Vibration-Free Shooting
• New Larger NP-FZ100 Battery
• New 3.69 Million pixel EVF with 100 FPS Refresh Rate
• Built-in Wireless FTP + Ethernet Port
• 4D Focus 25% Faster than Previous Cameras
• Wide 14-stop Dynamic Range and 14-bit Compressed/Uncompressed Raw
693 PDAF Points Cover 93% of the Fullframe Sensor
Sony a9 features a whopping 693 Phase Detection AF Points covering 93% of the Fullframe Sensor – compared to Canon 1DX II’s 61 PDAF points, or Nikon D5’s 153 PDAF points – each covering a much smaller area. Sony a9 improved 4D Focus is now 25% faster than any current Sony camera.
World’s First Full-frame Stacked CMOS sensor
Sony has been using Stacked CMOS Sensors in smartphones and one-inch sensor cameras for the past two years but it’s very difficult to make larger Stacked CMOS sensors. Sony a9 features the World’s First Fullframe Stacked CMOS Sensor with Integral Memory allowing much faster data readout. Because data in not streamed to the edges of the frame – but straight through – the camera is able to calculate Exposure, AF/AE and Capture functions in parallel 20x faster than was previously possible.
Shoot up to 20 Frames per Second
For the first time ever in a fullframe camera, Sony a9 allows you to shoot up to a blazing 20 Frames per Second. (Canon’s flagship 1DX II max is 14 FPS and Nikon’s flagship D5 max is 12 FPS)
Sony a9 + Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM OSS • 1/1600 • F/2.8 • ISO 125
Sony a9 + Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM OSS • 1/1600 • F/2.8 • ISO 125
Silent & Vibration-Free Shooting
Sony a9 is totally silent and vibration free. Silent Shooting mode is ‘game changer’ according to members of the White House pool who are under fire to reduce camera noise by the TV networks. While Silent Shooting is already found on Sony a7S, a7RII, a7SII, a6300 & a6500 this marks the first time it’s appeared on a true flagship camera.
Silent Shooting Mode is ideal for shooting in situations like movie sets, courtrooms or funerals where shutter noise is either prohibited or frowned upon. Silent Shooting allows sports photographers to shoot in 100% Silence at times an audible shutter would not be allowed – such as the back swing of a golf putt or tennis serve.
Sony a9 | Sony 300mm F2.8 G II + Sony LA-EA3 | 1/5000 | F/2.8 | ISO 200 | (Click to Enlarge)
Sony a9’s stacked CMOS sensor allows 20X faster readout of the sensor than previous models. This greatly improves Silent Shooting Mode from previous Sony cameras making shutter speeds up to 1/32,000th of a second possible and all-but eliminating banding even under pulse lighting and jello-cam effects.
While Silent Shooting Mode’s electronic shutter is 100% silent, there are many times – such as portrait photography – when you might want a slight audible indication of shutter release. There’s a menu option that adds an audible shutter release sound and/or audio signals for other camera settings:
- Menu > Camera 2 > Audio Signals > On: All / On: other than e-shutter / On: e-shutter only / Off
Shutter Speeds up to 1/32,000 sec
Sony a9 features electronic shutter speeds faster than possible with a focal plane shutter – up to a lightning fast 1/32,000th of a second – four times faster than Canikon flagship DSLRs!
Dual SD Card Slots
You asked for it, and Sony a9 now sports Dual SD card slots that allow for redundant back-up. There’s also a latch to secure the card slot cover…not that I’ve ever had one fly open on me.
SD Card Slot 1 is UHS II compatible with Sony’s world’s fastest Sony SF-G cards featuring blistering fast 299MB/s Write Speed & 300MB/s Read Speed perfect for Sony a9’s 20 FPS burst shooting, 4K video, and other buffer-busting uses. If you plan to shoot video, you’ll want to stick to 64GB (or larger) SDXC cards for the best recording Codex.
Sony SF-G UHS-II SD are available in 32GB, 64GB & 128GB (Stick to 64 or 128 GB SDXC cards for video)
New Larger NP-FZ100 Battery
Size comparison of Sony a9 NP-FZ100 Lithium-Ion battery, left, next to NP-FW50 Lithium-Ion battery.
Sony a9 uses an all-new and larger NP-FZ100 7.2 V, 16.4 Wh, 2280 mAh battery ($78). After my first day of shooting, my battery still had 30% juice left in the tank after shooting OVER TWO THOUSAND continuous focus action shots with a mix of E-mount and adapted A-mount lenses. NP-FZ100 performed even better on second day of shooting with 60% battery remaining after shooting over 1400 action and portrait shots.
Built-in Ethernet FTP and PC Terminal
Sony a9 offers FTP File Transfer by both Ethernet and WiFi. It’s the first Sony camera with a built-in Ethernet Port for FTP image upload. Built-in WiFi transfer is now possible of both Raw and Jpeg images as is compatibility with MiFi Wireless Hot spots. Sony a9 is also the first E-mount camera that includes a PC Terminal. This is a welcome addition that I’ve lobbied for since the first generation E-mont cameras…
Sony a9 also includes the usual Multi-Terminal, HDMI Mini, Headphone and Microphone ports
Same Width as Sony a7 Series Cameras
Sony a9 measures the same width as a7R II pictured below it. Despite adding dual cards slots, a larger battery, an Ethernet port and PC terminal, Sony a9 is the same width as Sony a7 Series mirrorless cameras. The grip is slightly deeper to accommodate the larger NP-FZ100 battery which I view as a GOOD THING since the a9’s slightly beefier grip makes the camera easier to grip when using long glass.
Sony a9 adds Joystick Controller
In addition to the multi-function Control Wheel, Sony a9 adds a Joystick Controller that allows you to quickly move the focus point or quickly navigate through images in playback mode.
New 3.69 Million Pixel Quad VGA OLED Finder
Sony a9 features a new 3.69 Million Pixel Quad VGA OLED Finder with 120 FPS refresh rate that refreshes faster than the human eye. It’s by far Sony’s best EVF to date and so that even when panning, there’s no visible viewfinder lag. Unlike DSLRs, Sony a9 has no flippin’ flapping mirror . You can view continuously with no viewfinder blackout and autofocus and auto-exposure work seamlessly without the need for “predictive” AF/AE since the image is never lost from view.
First Tilt-Screen LCD in a Flagship Camera
Tilt-Screen LCD is a hallmark of Sony cameras – that’s not found on Canikon Flagship DSLRs. Sony a9 Tilt-Screen LCD will come as a very welcome feature to Canon 1DX & Nikon D5 users. Unlike Canikon flagship cameras, a9 does not require using a prism finder accessory to get a court level angle-of-view of basketball or tennis.
And I LOVE this…EVF/Monitor Switching is DISABLED when the a9 LCD Monitor is tilted upwards making it much easier to shoot from the hip with the LCD tilted upwards.
Sony VG-C3EM Vertical Grip Holds Two NP-FZ100 Batteries
Sony VG-C3EM Vertical Grip ($349) holds 2 NP-FZ100 batteries and adds a vertical release and second joystick controller. Photographers who are comfortable with the size of Canon 1DX or Nikon D5 may want the additional size of a9 with the vertical grip. Of course, photographers who want a compact, lightweight body will be happy the vertical grip is an add-on not a built-in.
Focus Mode and Shooting Mode Dials
New Dials on the left top side of the camera control Focus Mode: MF, DMF, AF-C, AF-S
Shooting Mode: Single, H Continuous (20FPS), M Continuous (10FPS), L Continuous (5FPS), Timer, Bracket
Relocated Video Record Button
The Video Record Button has been moved next to EVF which seems to be a more natural position for starting video recording with a press of your thumb. The new location also minimizes the chances of unintentional video recording when grabbing the camera. As with previous Sony mirrorless cameras, there’s a Menu Settings than allows you to limit video recording to Movie Mode Only. Video Recording can also be set the the shutter release button now if you prefer.
A-mount Lens Support up to 10 FPS using LA-EA3
Sony A-mount lenses such as the Sony 300mm f/2.8 G II pictured above will be supported across the full 693 Phase Detection AF Points at up to 10 FPS when used with Sony LA-EA3 Lens Adapter thanks to an upcoming firmware update.
UPDATE (5/25/17): Firmware Update for Sony LA-EA3 Adapter and FE Lenses
Third-party Smart Adapters including Metabones Smart Adapter IV, Metabones EF-E Speed Booster ULTRA 0.71x & Sigma MC-11 that are updateable, will likely get similar updates.
UPDATE (6/26/17): Metabones Smart Adapter Firmware Update v57 adds Sony A9 Support
PLEASE NOTE: It is possible to shoot at 20 FPS with third-party lenses – just not with AF or AE.
Mechanical Focal Plane Shutter for Flash Photography
In addition to it’s silent electronic shutter, Sony a9 also has a mechanical focal plane shutter option (with speeds up to 5 FPS) when needed for applications such as flash photography or when shooting under pulsing lights at high shutter speeds.
Sony a9 + Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM OSS • 1/200 • F/7.1 • ISO 100
LIGHTING: Profoto B1 500 AirTTL Battery Powered Flash | Profoto Air Remote TTL-S for Sony
By default, the C3 Button is set to select between Electronic & Mechanical Shutter.
All-New Menu with New Custom Button Setting Options
Sony a9 gets a new menu with settings: Camera 1, Camera 2, Network 1, Playback, Setup, My Menu
Custom Buttons can be assigned to Live View Setting Effect, APS-Super35 Crop and switching between Silent Electronic and Mechanical Shutter Shooting Modes. Those who want those settings may want to program them like this:
- Menu > Camera 2 > Custom Key Settings:
- Custom Button 1 > Live View Display > Setting Effect On / Setting Effect Off
Custom Button 2 > APS-C/Super 35mm > On /Auto/ Off
Custom Button 3 > Shutter Type > Auto / Mechanical / Elec
Custom Button 4 > (Favorite Setting of Your Choice)
Eye AF 30% Faster than Previous Sony Cameras
Sony a9 offers AF-C Eye AF that’s 30% faster than previous Sony cameras. Eye AF is a great setting for portraits using Wide or Zone Focus Area to focus on the iris of the nearest eye.
By default, Eye AF is programmed to the center button but I prefer to switch this function the the Focus Hold button of the lens since this puts it in a more natural position to activate.
- Menu > Camera 2 > Custom Key Settings > Focus Hold > Eye AF
For action, I use Face Detection instead of Eye AF since this gives the camera a larger tracking area.
AF Tracking Sensitivity Control for Stills
AF Tracking Sensitivity for still photography can be adjusted from 1-5 to control how slowly or quickly AF jumps off the subject when an object passes in front of it. This controls the duration that focus will remain when locked on the subject you’re tracking when it’s blocked from view. This of it as “sticky” focus control.
2.4 Times Over-Sampled 4K
Sony a9 features 2.4 times over-sampled 4K Video (24p/30p at 60M/100M) from the full width of the sensor with no line-skipping or pixel-binning.
High ISO Performance
I don’t like to make any definitive comments regarding High ISO performance until I’ve had a chance to run RAWs through Lightroom, Photoshop and Capture One (See Next Point). But based on early tests conversations with the Sony Engineers who worked on this camera, it appears that High ISO performance appears to be considerably better than a7II.
Expect Sony a9 Raw file support in Lightroom, Photoshop and Capture One around the time of the camera’s release.
UPDATE: (5/4/17) Capture One Pro 10.1 Adds Sony a9 RAW Support
UPDATE: (5/24/17) Lightroom CC 2015.10.1 / 6.10.1 / Adobe Camera Raw add Sony a9 Raw Support
The Bottom Line:
Sony a9 is aimed at the needs of photojournalists or sports photographers who can benefit from silent shooting at 20 frames-per-second with the fastest focusing camera on the planet. It should also appeal to wildlife photographers for it’s ability to track fast-moving subjects with no viewfinder blackout using an EVF that refreshes faster than the human eye.
On the other hand, if don’t need 20 FPS or best-in-class autofocus but want the resolution and low-light performance of a back-illuminated sensor – you might be happier with Sony a7RII. If you’re a video shooter or cinematographer who wants pixel-for-pixel 4K with huge dynamic range even in low light and features like S-Log3, then Sony a7SII might still be the best camera for your needs.
Sony FE 100-400 F4.5-5.6 OSS G Master Lens
And then there were FIVE.
Sony FE 100-400 F4.5-5.6 GM OSS (pre-order for $2,499) becomes the fifth lens in the Sony G Master lens line-up, joining the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM, FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS, FE 85mm F1.4 GM and FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS lenses. Roughly the size of Sony FE 70-200 F2.8 GM, it’s the first Sony FE lens over 300mm – but it will certainly not be the last…
- • E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
• One Super ED Element and Two ED Elements
• Nano AR Coating and Fluorine Coating
• Direct Drive SSM Focus System
• Two Floating AF groups for Fast AF
• Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
• Zoom Torque Adjustment Ring
• Internal Focus, Focus Range Limiter
• Dust and Moisture-Resistant Construction
• Nine-Blade Circular Diaphragm
• Focuses to 3.2 ft/0.98m for 0.35x magnification at 400mm
• Best-in-class 49 ounce lightweight design
• Focus Hold Buttons can be Assigned Custom Functions
• Compatible with Sony FE 1.4x and 2.0x Teleconverters
Two Floating AF groups for Fast AF to 3.2 feet
Fast focus can be a challenge with long lenses on mirrorless cameras, but Sony FE 100-400 F4.5-5.6 GM OSS utilizes two Floating AF groups – both a Direct Drive SSM and a double-linear motor – for fast AF across the entire focal range. It focuses all the way down to 3.2 ft/0.98m for 0.35x magnification at 400mm – perfect for shooting tight portraits.
Sony FE 100-400mm GM lens focuses THIS CLOSE at 400mm!
Sony FE 100-400 F4.5-5.6 GM OSS includes controls for AF/MF, Focus Limiter, Steadyshot ON/OFF, Steadyshot Mode 1 / Mode 2 (for panning) along with a new Zoom Torque Adjustment Ring.
Compatible with Sony FE 1.4x and 2.0x Teleconverters
Sony FE 100-400 F4.5-5.6 GM OSS is compatible with Sony FE 1.4x and 2.0x Teleconverters. Sony a9 has Phase-Detection AF sensitivity to F11 which allows use of PDAF with the FE 2.0x Teleconverter when shooting wide open at all focal lengths.
The Bottom Line:
Sony FE 100-400 F4.5-5.6 GM OSS begins to round out the long end of the Sony FE lens line-up. At roughly the size of a 70-200 2.8 and weighing just 49 oz, it offers more reach that’s perfect for shooting news, events and travel. While a larger 200-500mm might have better addressed the needs of wildlife photographers, when coupled with the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter it offers that reach without the focus issues that plague the long end of 150-600mm adapted superzooms. With the release of their flagship a9 camera, Sony is firmly stepping into the Pro camera market as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approaches. More long glass is sure to come…
Pros Put Sony a9 to the Test
It’s rare for me to get my hands on any Sony Camera or lens more than a week before announcement. Rarer still for Sony to put one in the hands of outsiders. Sony a9 was designed based on feature requests from leading news and sports photographers, wire services and photo agencies, so as soon as pre-production a9 cameras were available, Sony invited a select group of photojournalists and sports photographers to them to the test.
At separate events in Washington, D.C. and New York, I joined fellow Sony Artisans Ben Lowy and Patrick Murphy-Racey, and photojournalist/sports photographers David Burnett, of Contact Press Images; Rick Wilking, of Reuters; Doug Mills, of the NY Times; Canadian sports photojournalist Nick Didlick; Robert Deutsch, of USA Today; long-time Olympic veteran Porter Binks and UFC photographer Jeff Bottari to put pre-production Sony a9 cameras through the paces and with a number of lenses including the new Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens.
Sony engineers, product managers and my good friends from Sony Pro Support were at the event to channel photographer feedback to make final tweaks to a9 release firmware. In the nine years I’ve worked with Sony, I’ve come to expect this, but communication with camera engineers is truly unique to Sony.
The first six Sony a9 cameras in the world paired with FE 100-400mm and 70-200mm G Master lenses
Sony Alpha product manager Kenta Honjo shows up with a cartload of Sony 300mm F2.8 and 500mm F4 A-mount lenses!
Sony Artisan Ben Lowy puts Sony a9 and FE 70-200 F2.8 GM OSS to the test and searches high and low for the perfect shot…
Expanded Sony Imaging PRO Support
Sony is expanding their Sony Imaging PRO Support network with 24/7 phone support in the USA and new walk-in locations in New York and Los Angeles where Pro Support members can speak face-to-face to a tech who knows the cameras. Sony is also expanding their network with Sony Pro Support for Canada.
- • 24/7 Phone Support in North America
• Advance Repair Loans with Next Day Arrival
• Try-Before-You-Buy Equipment Loans
• Walk-in Locations in New York & Los Angeles
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155 thoughts on “Gear Review: Sony a9 & Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens”
I hear a LOT of flushing toilets at Canon/Nikon corporate offices today 😀
Seriously, wow..this camera seems like is going to be a killer!
LOL, no comment on that one 😉
Ok. I have an A77ll and shooting at the highest speed, 12fps, it is in auto mode only – I have no control of the shutter, aperture, nothing! So I have to shoot at 11fps which is the next slower speed but get full control. I noticed that the A9’s second speed down from 20fps is 10fps. Are we to assume that we will only get 20fps in auto-no control mode and full control at 10fps?
Full AF/AE and shutter/aperture control at 20 FPS with FE lenses.
Thank you. If you shoot, let’s say, a 10 second burst in jpeg and then pause for a second or 2, can you do it again?
You can shoot 362 Jpeg Images before hitting buffer that can be in one burst or many. The faster the card you use – the faster the buffer clears after that. I recommend fast UHS-II cards like the ones I listed in this post.
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Please comment on the weather sealing, if any.
Best spec’ed sport camera that can’t survive in adverse weather doesn’t do pros much good.
Same as a7II / a7RII / a7SII according the head of engineering for a9.
It will be interesting to see how well it handles at night time sporting events where I shoot at ISO 25600 all the time, this is where the Nikon D5 really shines and also how well will the A9 AFC perform in less then ideal lighting conditions.
I still wish Sony would have made the body bigger with a built in grip even with the attached new battery grip the camera is very small, and I assume it will be hard to operate with gloves on due too tiny buttons.
Those wanting the bigger size will likely want to order the vertical grip – but it’s built to be compact for those who want that.
Hi Steven, I completely agree with the bigger body, not sure what this obsession is with small bodies. I’m sure the Japanese think we all have small hands
Try it. I have massive mitts. Works for me. All the DSLR shooters who tried it with the vertical grip liked it.
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+1 for the sealed waether informations 🙁
I shoot both the A7RII and the Canon 1DX. Both are great cameras in different ways.
The A9 looks like a great PJ and sports camera, but sometimes I reach for the 1DX solely because I can operate it wearing gloves, and if it’s really cold the batteries still carry enough juice to get through a day’s shooting, even slung over my shoulder.
The A7/A9 series are really nice cameras, but sometimes they’re too “small” for the job.
Two words. Vertical Grip.
Yeah, I get that Brian. I’m not being a hater, by any means…sounds like a terrific camera.
I just simply mean the buttons and functionality…their size is scaled to fit the body. That’s great when you want to strip it down…but a problem using it in other professional scenarios. Same problem with the Fujis…great cameras and available vertical grip attachments, tiny buttons and controls.
I think *maybe* close to the professional mark would be an A99 sized body with the A9 internals?
Just thinking out loud here. Looks like a great technology platform…I wish Canikon would compete for ALL of us. BTW…I really like your work
Canon and Nikon both are having emergency WTF are we going to do meetings right now.
Wow! Very imoressed with the A9. I am in sort of a transition from Canon to Sony and currently use a Sony a6500 apart from my Canon bodies. I am for the most part happy with the new features of the A9 but I cannont see anything about one of my main concerns over the Sony mirrorless cameras and I wonder if you could clarify wether this new camera is more responsive than the other ones. i mean when you don’t use the camera for a few minutes, does it respond more quickly than previous models? To me this is a very important issue.
Thanks a lot!
I touch the shutter release lightly as I pick up a camera. It’s on by the time it gets to my eye,
Is the battery grip still occupying the battery slot of the camera or will this finally be able to run the camera with 3 batteries?
No. Two batteries in the grip.
As an additional note to Brian’s point, it’s two of the new batteries, with over double the capacity of the old ones. Given the reports from testing of people getting well over 2000 images on a single battery and still having 30-40% left on it, I think it’s safe to assume that the grip could easily handle 4000-5000 images.
And then some….
Nice job Brian. I think the artisans like you have really brought them along
Amazing inclusion of wishlist features (and beyond)! Sony for me it finally is then!
I did notice not much emphasis on IQ at all, any feedback on that Brian?
Excellent 24mp sensor. Beats the Canikon competition.
Wow, that’s fantastic to hear! So I’m struggling to see anything to complain about… hats of SONY!
Waiting for hands on video from Brian Smith
thanx for the good and quick report work again Brian!!! I work with fine art and the A7R2 how do you see the A9 fitting in for people that like to print up to 60×40 ” sometimes. The last 24 MP I used for printing this size was the Nikon D3X and it was quite ok in controled conditions I guess… how do you think this sensor will perform for this kind of photography? I have no doubt that for portraiture this will be a killer
It can easily print that size – not as much fine detail as a7RII – but I’ve make 40×60″ prints from earlier Sony 24mp sensors.
Would you recommend the camera for portrait work? I own the a7ii but the AF system is really bad compared to its competitors. I thought about getting the a7rii but I don’t know if I really need 42mp. The file size of the a7ii is already too big (I shoot uncompressed raw). What do you think?
Unless you needed the 42.4 mp of a7RII, absolutely! Best-in-Class AF system has 693 PDAF points that cover nearly the entire sensor and lighting fast Eye AF.
i shoot kids running indoor all the time…. will the AF as fast indoor lighting compare to a7r2 or a7s2?
It’s faster and more accurate.
Hey brian. Awesome as always. I have quite the question. Im currently mid project on a battery grip with bigger batteries for the a7r2. Question is: is the size different than the a7r2? Im thinking i can easily Frankenstein that grip if its not wider
Same width. Larger grip/battery bay.
I’ll be the first to admit I was pretty underwhelmed reading about this camera. Aside from battery life and the new AF system I don’t see how this camera appeals to anyone besides sports and wildlife photogs. I figured the camera would offer a lot more, maybe my hopes were too high! I’ve been dying for this announcement to see if it would be worth my money to buy an A9 over a GH5, after this I doubt I will be purchasing a Sony camera anytime soon 🙁
It’s aimed against fullframe flagship Canon 1DX II and Nikon D5 which is a segment Sony didn’t compete.
Thanks for the review Brian.
20fps is amazing, but is it still the same lowered 12-bit compressed RAW like the other Sony cameras when in continuous mode? If Sony has changed this, it would be amazing!
Also, have they added compressed LOSSLESS RAW like Canon and Nikon have while being able to operate at 20fps? These are the little details they never mention.
Few people see any difference between Sony Compressed Raw and Uncompressed Raw.
Uncompressed Raw is a feature once most people try it they turn it off.
That’s not what he asked. He wants to know if Sony has finally added compressed lossless RAW. Uncompressed RAW is understandably not used by many as file sizes are so large.
Since most people see no difference between Compressed and Uncompressed there would be far less difference between Compressed and Lossless Compressed.
Hi Brian, thanks for the review, I will pre order this camera only if the ISO performance is the same or better as the a7rii, could you tell me what the ISO performance is like?
A7R II has a Back-Illuminated CMOS sensor designed for great low light performance. A9 has the world’s first stacked CMOS sensor designed to support super fast readout and 20fps. I’ll wait til final firmware and Raw support before passing judgement but I’d expect it fall between a7II and a7RII in terms of high ISO performance.
My only comment as an “active consumer” level photographer is that naturally we would all love to be able to get all of this package for a consumer price, to open up our exploration of these new technologies way beyond what ourA6000’s are giving us….. the pace of change and expansion of capability and result quality are expanding so very fast that what we bought 12 months ago is quickly being outdated, even though still returning relatively remarkable image quality. I honestly believe that in the next 12-18 months SONY is going to capture a huge amount of the digital photography market and if they could deliver this quality at a much lower price, they would run away with it all.
A9 outperforms Canon & Nikon DSLRs in this class yet it costs $1500-$2000 less than Canikon so it’s fair to say that Sony IS delivering on lower price…
The A7 series has been great for tech camera users. I wonder how much deeper the grip is compared to the A7R II I’ve got mounted on an Arca view camera. I’m asssuming an A7rII replacement will also inherit this larger grip. 🙁
I don’t know what’s next but that’s not a bad assumption….
Brian, outstanding review on the A9. The specs with this new A9 really look promising. Have already met with my local Sony dealer here in the Pensacola area today about pre-ordering. Will be trading in the A7RII. Looking forward to receiving it. Cheer!
That A9 price point (compared to the Canon and Nikon flagship bodies) was a real shocker to me. Perhaps some of it is saving accrued from eliminating the mechanical shutter and mirrors? I don’t know. But this is all coming together for Sony in my opinion. They have pushed out a serious Sport/Wildlife camera at a 25% discount. If they keep up this pace of lens development and technological achievement, they will be a major threat to Canon’s dominance in the near future. Because if you can convince the pros to convert to Sony, then the amateurs will follow with their dollars. That’s just my take on this 🙂
Given the speed of the sensor readout it seems like a such a miss to not include picture profiles (but they DO include the toy camera settings?!). I need a hybrid camera and while I like the 42MP of the A7RII, 24MP is totally sufficient for my needs and the speed seems so much better. Can’t really justify the expense if the video software is crippled.
I think Sony looked at Canikon flagships and realized neither of them was aimed at video. As I said in the post, a9 is not meant to replace a7RII.
Here is my prediction…
for now there won’t be A7III and A7RIII, not for at least another few years.
A7II and A7RII will continue like A6000 and A6300, there is nothing wrong A7II and A7RII, they will continue selling them for another 2-4 years.
This year we will see A9R announcement
How good is the performance of the new 100-400 lens? Were you able to test it on an a7r2?
I shot it on a9. Great lens!
I will wait for the A9R. I shoot A mount, A99 at the moment, and will upgrade to A99II soon, but am disappointed that the new tech from the sensor and viewfinder is not in the A99II, maybe in another four years.
The one many pundits on the internet are speculating about, to go along with the A9s that people also are speculating about, due to the lack os s-log on the A9.
I guess that because Sony have been so specific in their marketing of this camera (sports and action) people are assuming that they will follow a similar strategy to the A7 line, and have different cameras for different use cases. 9 for speed, 9R for high resolution and 9S for video. Not really a huge stretch since it obviously worked for them with the A7 line.
The one area where I feel my A7Rii really lags behind my D810 is autofocus in low light conditions. Has the A9 improved on this?
I tried shooting the dimly lit dance floor at a wedding reception with the A7Rii once, and it was pretty disastrous. The IR AF assist that DSLRs offer helps a great deal with this.
Off-camera Focus Assist lights still don’t play well with mirrorless cameras, but the sensitivity rating of the sensor is -3.0 at ISO 100 so it may not need that.
I got to try it out briefly at the Sony booth at NAB. The low light auto focus is much, much better than the A7 series or even the A6500. The lighting in the booth (really a room unto itself – it was huge) was dim. I tried focusing on a guy’s shoe while it was in a shadow blocking most of the light. It locked every time, quickly and accurately. An A7Rii would have hunted, then eventually given up under the same conditions.
This thing really is a new ball game, and really will give DSLRs competition in the low light auto focus area. I didn’t expect it to work nearly as well as it did. This was with the 35mm f/2.8 lens on.
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about the shutter, why can’t the electronic shutter be used for flash photography?
I was hoping the flash sync time would go beyond the standard of 1/250th sec.
Nikons D70/D40 had a electronical shutter as well, and we could sync beyond the limit of 1/250th.
Did you try to get the camera to sync at higher speeds? With the new PC terminal?
Silent Shooting Mode is essentially shooting individual video frames. Flash is not compatible with video.
Silent Shooting is a video scan frame. Not the same as electronic front curtain shutter which still uses a mechanical shutter to end exposure and is therefore NOT silent.
1/200 is the max I could sync Profoto Air Remote – but once again this is not release firmware so it’s possible that will change.
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As always Brian a brilliant and initial outlay/review. Could you let us know when the noise creeps in and whats the low light AF is like. That’s if you have tested it in these conditions? In my opinion The A7 noise starts to creeps in at 1600 ISO and the A7rII around 3200/6400 ISO. Is it anywhere near the A7rII?
I never evaluate high ISO until release firmware and Raw support is available, but I’d expect a9 to fall just a notch below a7RII but above a7II
Hmm, I’m surprised.
If you’d said “a notch below the a7SII, I would have nodded and moved on.
Why the a9 should not match the a7RII puzzles me, as it has larger pixels and a stacked chip – arguably with a focus on speed – but still, larger pixels…
A7RII has back-illuminated sensor which results in excellent high ISO performance despite its high MP count
Sony a9 stacked sensor provides faster data flow which allows 20fps but cannot quite match back-illuminated sensor technology.
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Do you have any information on the Sony LA-EA3 Lens Adapter’s use with the older Minolta screw drive lenses like the 600mm f4 on the new A9? Any data would be helpful. Thanks.
Screw drive lenses would be manual focus only.
Brian, I was listening to one of the Artisans making comments on the Sony adaptors to use with the A9 and he mentioned the LAEA3 and then said 5 was this a slip or slip up. Does Sony have a LAEA5 in the works?
No it’s LA-EA3. There is no 5.
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I love your reviews, Brian. Question. I’ve been using an a7ii with a Godox AD360II flash & X1T trigger with HSS & TTL. Will the a9 also be able to do HSS & TTL with this set-up, and if so, up to what shutter speed? Same 1/8000?
We’ll know more when the final firmware is released.
In low light situations, how do you think auto focus with a 70-200 will perform against a Nikon D5 + 70-200?
I have not used Nikon D5 so I could of not say…
So it might not do HSS and TTL at all?
I didn’t say that.
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I’m amazed, you have so much detail in this early expose on the a9!
Thank you very much to put so much effort into this – very interesting read!
I wonder why only one slot is UHS II? Does that mean that if the body is setup to back up, when shooting a sequence the second card won’t be able to keep up and will be slowing down camera’s speed?
I can’t wait to see samples at high ISO all I could find was max 3200. Brian do you think it will be at least as good in low light as the a7sII? It’s 24mp but it is also a newer sensor, so I’m hoping it’ll be at least as good.
I work on movie sets and the no -distortion electronic shutter sounds like a dream come true!
High ISO performance should fall in between a7II and a7SII
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Thanks for the report Brian. I’ve pre ordered and am planning on taking it to Alaska in June fir Grizzlies/ Wildlife and was wondering if you knew anything about how Nikon lenses will work on this with an adapter. I use them on A7RII and it seems as long as the lens is full frame it works very well. I’m hoping it will be the same with the A9. I’m taking Nikon 500 f4 and 300 f4.
Should be similar in to a7RII in that regard, but the adapter my need a firmware update.
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Hey Brian, do you have any experience with the AF tracking on the A99ii? I am thoroughly disappointed with my A99ii tracking performances. Do you find the A9 to be better at that (with all that new technology)?
AF tracking is incredible on a9. I haven’t tested a99 II, but generally tracking problems are caused by using a Focus Area that’s too small. Never, ever use Flexible Small or Center. Stick to Wide, Zone or Flexible Expanded and when shooting humans enable Face Detection. Don’t attempt Eye AF for action – though it works great for portraits.
Nice job Brian, my question is with the A9 in still shooting APS-C crop mode what is the MP, I am guessing about 10 MP? I know it only has about 221 focus points in that mode with a cropped lens and 299 with a FF lens.
So far that question is nowhere to be found and hope you can get me that as I have 1 on pre order.
P.S I was the person that asked that question on the A7R in crop mode on the first l B&H live event.
Divide 24.2 by 2.36 = slightly over 10mp. I’m never not certain how many AF points – what matters most is 100% of the APS-C frame is covered.
You said the 100-400 GM lens has fast autofocus with teleconverters with the A9. A few questions arise. What about the lens with the A7R2? How fast will it be with the 2X teleconverter? What will the IQ be with the same combination? At 42mp the A7R2 can zoom by cropping but the A9, not so much.
Max aperture for PDAF on a7RII is F8 so the FE 100-400 4.5-5.6 will not allow PDAF with FE 2x TC – but a9 will wide open since PDAF is good up to F11 on a9. Whew!!!
Thanks for the response. It seems to me then that the A7R2 could equal the A9 in reach and still get autofocus. If you use the 1.4X teleconverter on the 42mp A7R2, you could crop the photo to get 2X and still get the same size image as the 24mp A9 using the 2X teleconverter. Is this correct? You might lose some field of view.
Nope, 2X is a crop factor of 4 (wxh) so you’d be at slightly over 10.5 mp on a7RII
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Thanks for all the information. Can a9 geotag it’s photos like a99ii does?
I didn’t see any mention of that, but that’s not to say no. I just don’t see it mentioned.
Brian, excellent review, very informative. Thank you. The added bonus is the great questions posed by the readers and your responses. I plan on taking the plunge based upon what I’ve read. Thanks again.
Excellent review! But I do have a question regarding the LA-EA3 adapter, you might be able to answer .
“Sony A-mount lenses such as the Sony 300mm f/2.8 G II pictured above will be supported across the full 693 Phase Detection AF Points at up to 10 FPS when used with Sony LA-EA3 Lens Adapter thanks to an upcoming firmware update.”
Do you know if that firmware update will be for the LA-EA3 adapter (if that is even possible) or the a9?
I use the LA-EA3 on my a6500 & the 3 FPS continuous AF is a bit sad, so an adapter fw update would be very nice 🙂
I only tested it on a9, so I’m not certain if it will change AF speed on other cameras or not.
Looks like the LA-EA3 adapter have to be sent to Sony for the update.
“A-mount lenses will be adaptable with the Sony LAEA3 adapter and will provide up to 10fps. Apparently current LAEA3 adapters will have to be sent to Sony for firmware update. FF to about 9:45 in the video below:
I’ve heard that might be the case, but it was not 100% confirmed.
Sony LA-EA3 firmware update is user updateable
Hi Brian, I’ve tried the silent shutter in the A7sII and the A7rII and in low light situations it’s been hit or miss with banding in the captures. Does the A9 exhibit the same problem? I understand that it uses the video output for still captures just like the A7. I shoot symphony orchestras and theater and really love my D5’s but hate having to use blimps to silence the cameras. I’ve experienced the banding in some theaters that have switched to LED lighting. Thanks!
The scanning speed on a9 is much faster than any previous Sony camera so you have less chance of banding yet it’s still possible (it generally goes away if you drop the shutter speed)
Brian, next time you get a chance to play with a9, if possible please try it with sigma MC-11 and let us know how the sigma lenses perform in the “native” mode with Sigma glass.
Especially with 150-600 lenses.
Sigma MC-11 will require an adapter firmware update in order to achieve the 10 FPS max speed possible with non-native lenses.
Great review brian! Question about use of TC’s: Canon can AF with a TC at f/8 but only on the center AF sensor. Do you know how many sensors are active on the a9 with a 1.4 and 2.0 TC at f/8 and f/11 respectively? Is it just the center, or more? Thanks!
Sony AF doesn’t work like Canon’s. You get all or nothing.
Despite that, I consider the FE 1.4x TC to be more practical. I’m just not excited about a F11 max aperture
Agreed. But to have all focus points active and tracking at f/8 – compared to Canon just one – that will be a huge deal. Thanks!
thank you Brian for confirming for portrait photographers it would be better to buy the A7RII. I was considering the A9 but i don’t shoot sports or wildlife.
Thanks for the great initial review!
Please, Please tell me that Sony have implemented different aspect ratios in the new A9? I have a A7RII and it only has 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratios…
With an EVF I see no reason not to have various different aspect ratios offered. It is even offered in the Sony RX1R2 (3:2, 1:1, 4:3 and 16:9) so it already exisits within Sony programming..
I really want a 5:4 option (to match the format of my large format camera) and would love to ditch my Nikon D810 (which has a 5:4 aspect ratio in the OVF) and just go with Sony..
Please tell me these options exist in the A9??
Just 3:2 and 16:9 in pre-release FW 0.01
I know there will be some change in release FW 1.0) but I do not know what they are.
I will suggest adding 4:3 and 1:1 – but no promises it will happen.
Really? 3:2 only? C’mon Sony, how can you have some many “tech” advantages in your new cameras and not allow different aspect ratios?
Thanks Brian, a 4:3 ratio would be amazing! Any input you can suggest would be great.. Ideally, would love a 5:4 but will take anything close to it… 🙂
Thanks again, great work!
4:3 hits a nice balance that falls between 4:5, 5:7, 11:14, and so on.
It’s a nice feature that I have pushed for in the past and had hoped RX1R II signaled the start.
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Yep, 4:3 would be just fine!
Just really hate the skinny 3:2 ratio, especially for vertical images..
The Fuji GFX really shows how it is done with a mirrorless sporting an EVF.
4:3, 5:4, 7:6, 1:1, 3:2, 16:9 and 65:24.
All these are taken as Jpegs, whilst the full (4:3) 51.4mp area of the sensor are captured as Raws..
Yes, Sony’s Aspect Ratio works the same way. Jpegs have a hard crop – but RAWs are full res. Depending on post-processing software, they may show up cropped but the crop can still be adjusted in post from the full image.
Yes, so lets see it in upcoming Sony cameras (and implemented in existing ones via firmware)!!
Thanks again Brian, any suggestions or input you can give to Sony would of course be greatly appreciated 🙂
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Brian please….if anyone can find one you can.
I’d love an excuse to sell my 1DXii. Often I use it with either the EOS 100-400ii or the 400DOii. If the a9 + FE 100-400 + 1.4TC is as sharp as the current gold standard Canon 100-400ii with TC I can leave Canon.
And I need too! It’s an age/weight thing 🙁
So have you seen mtf charts/have a link for the FE 100-400 with TC ???
I can’t recall ever seeing a MTF Chart of lens + teleconverter however having used Sony FE 1.4X Teleconverter extensively with the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens I can say that combination is extremely sharp and since MTF charts show the FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens from 100mm to 400mm – it’s the perfect time to pre-order the FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens and get set to eBay the Canon gear when it arrives
Thank you sir!
I’m lucky to have an A7Rii and think the a9 will make a fantastic traveling companion especially when the venue will have landscaping and BIF’ing.
Knowing I’m to leave the Canon world, my ultimate quandary will be what to do with my a99ii which is another incredible piece of engineering.
p.s. When I order the a9 I’ll use one of your links 🙂
I enjoy reading your comments on line and have learned a lot from your book: Sony a7 Series: From Snapshots to Great Shots. Do you anticipate writing a new book for the Sony a9 or when would such a book be available? Thank you!
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it! I’m not planning on writing anymore Sony user guides since Sony releases cameras way too often, but I’ll certainly be posting tips about a9 here…
Thank you. I understand that and will continue to check out your tips & look forward to meeting my new a9 on Thursday 🙂
do you know A9 write speed? I know its UHS-II but does it utilize the current 300mb/s write speed or is it lower.
In the report you get the impression that both GMaster lenses (2.8/70-200 and 100-400) are internal focusing AND internal zooming. Unfortunately this is not the case. Both are EXTENDING zooms which makes them much less professional than other lenses. Too bad you do not feel the necessity to show the full picture, so that readers really can see all the characteristics of the lenses under all circumstances.
The cheaper 4/70-200 has internal zoom and so is much more compact. It makes you wonder, why Sony was not able to offer that feature for the 2.8 Master lens. After all it is not a cheapskate.
Sony FE 70-200 F2.8 GM OSS has internal zoom
Sony FE 100-400 F4.5-5.6 GM OSS does not
There is nothing in this review to the contrary.
It would be possible to design an internal zoom 100-400mm lens BUT it would be MUCH larger than the FE 100-400 F4.5-5.6 GM OSS.
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I own the Sony a9 ( and the Nikon D5 and D810(.
Two things that bothers me a lot ( and I am sure that others too) are the dust collection of the sensor when changing lenses and unwillingly changing exposure compensation when rotating the rear dial )for selecting exposure speed as an example).
I would like to provide Sony with the following suggestions:
1. Preventing the dust collection by the sensor
Define a “lens change” mode in Setup.
When the user selects that mode, the mechanical shutter closes and protects the sensor from collecting dust.
Once the user exists that mode ift returns to normal.
2. Preventing unwillingly change of exposure compensation.
Define a setup mode that disables the exposure compensation by the dedicated dial. (I am using the Control wheel push down to set the exposure compensation.)
I’d agree on the first point (though possibly using an auxillary curtain like Mamiya 6/7 rather than exposing the actual shutter).
But I strongly disagree on the second. I love that it’s easy to adjust Exposure Compensation when the camera is to your eye and hate all the locks Sony has added to the camera that make adjustments require two hands.
I am not asking to cancel that dial. Just to provide the possibility to disable it if so wanted.
These are ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC ideas! While I am praising them, may I please suggest one more (unrelated) one too? Please SONY IF YOU ARE LISTENING…Please design your next camera with a fully operational TOUCH SCREEN?? AND ONE THAT BE ROTATED COMPLETED AROUND 180 DEGREES to face the subject? If you did both of these things, I truly believe you would have cornered the camera market.NO ONE WOULD WANT TO BUY ANY OTHER CAMERA!!!