Sony a9 II ($4,498 Pre-Order B&H Photo | Amazon | Adorama) features voice memo, two UHS-II SD card slots, improved dust & moisture resistance, improved control button ergonomics, a7R IV grip design, USB-C connection, new low-vibration 10 FPS mechanical shutter and enhanced camera connectivity requested by the camera’s target audience – professional sports photographers & photojournalists.
Before we get into what’s new, let’s start off with what remains the same. Sony a9 II features a9’s state-of-the-art 24mp stacked sensor, continuous 20 FPS Blackout-free shooting, continuous AF/AE calculations at 60 times per second, completely silent vibration-free electronic shutter, 693 phase-detection AF points covering 93% of the sensor and 425 Contrast AF points.
New Features on a9 II
Sony a9 received an unprecedented number of improvements via firmware updates – including 34 new features in firmware 5.00 alone – but there were quite a few hardware updates found in newer cameras that simply can’t be downloaded.
New Voice Memo recording function allows you to record up to 60 second voice memo and attach to images via a .wav file that can be replayed when images are reviewed. Attached voice memos can be transferred via FTP along with corresponding image data. You can also use Tagging & Transfer add-on app (v 1.1 or later) on a mobile device to automatically or manually convert voice memos to text.
Dual UHS-II SD Card Slots
Like a7R IV, Card Slot 2 is upgraded to UHS-II so now both card slots are now UHS-II compatible. As before you can set recording for redundancy simultaneously record to both cards, Sort stills & video or Raw and Jpeg to different cards or simply choose to record to one card slot at a time and automatically rollover recording to the next card slot.
Menu > Setup 5 > Record Media Settings > Auto Switch Media > On
Please Note: Unlike a9, Card Slot 1 is now the top card slot
Improved Dust & Moisture Resistance
Weather-sealing is improved with a new battery door cover, additional cushioning around the lens mount, double-sliding media slot cover & port covers designed to keep water out.
New Low-Vibration 10 FPS Mechanical Shutter
Sony a9 gets the new low-vibration shutter (rated at over 500,000 actuations) with fast-response cordless motor introduced for a7R IV effectively increasing the mechanical frame rate from 5 FPS to 10 FPS while also offering quieter mechanical operation with better vibration dampening.
Mechanical Shutter is also compatible with Anti-flicker shooting which automatically detects flicker and adjust shutter timing to eliminate exposure and color variations when shooting under flickering lights.
Improved Grip & Control Button Ergonomics
Sony a9 II gets the new deeper grip from a7R IV and features more prominent control buttons with improved ergonomics including lock/release buttons on the EV Compensation Dial and Drive Mode Dial.
Upgraded BIONZ X Processor
Upgraded BIONZ X Image-Processing engine and front-end LSI work in conjunction with the fast stacked-sensor to achieve maximum speed and performance for improved autofocus speed and precision, face detection and EVF response. New performance-tuned AF algorithms achieve even more reliable tracking of fast and unpredictable moving subjects.
USB 3.2 Type-C Connection
USB-C Connection supports fast 3.2 Gen 1 data transfer speeds for high-speed PC Remote tethering and data transfer.
Upgraded High-Speed 1000BASE-T and 5GHZ FTP Background Transfer
1000BASE-T connection allows gigabit communication for high-speed stable data transfer including remote shooting. 5 GHz wireless LAN support allows lower interference for high-speed data transfer.
Background FTP Transfer allows you to continue to shoot while images are transferred to the server using a wired or wireless connection. File Transfer speed is improved to support 1000BASE-T and 5GHZ.
You can also select to transfer only protected or rated image files by pressing an assigned Custom Key, transfer all files as you shoot, specify Raw or Jpeg formats and more.
Up to nine FTP server settings can be saved for quick recall.
Save/Load FTP Settings
It’s now possible to save FTP settings and reload them onto any a9 II body. Up to 10 sets of FTP settings can be saved to SD card separately from normal shooting settings. Imaging Edge Mobile app can be used to save up to 20 sets of settings.
5.5 Stop 5-Axis Image Stabilization
Sony a9 II also gets the latest improvements in 5-Axis IBIS for improved image stabilization over the previous model.
New & Improved Menu Settings
Sony a9 II gets a menu update that includes separate Fn Button settings for stills & video and the ability to Save & Load camera settings via SD card.
Focus Point Color Selection
As with a9 firmware update 6.00, you can choose to display Flexible Point in either white or red. White Focus Frame color is an excellent choice when shooting colorful subjects. Red Focus Frame color is an excellent choice when shooting a predominantly white scene.
It’s now possible to move the focus point selection while the shutter button is half-pressed in AF-C mode.
Aperture Drive Focus Priority Mode
When used with compatible lenses, AF can track even with F-stops greater than F16 using Focus Priority Mode which now allows aperture to be opened just before exposure making it possible to focus precisely using studio strobes at a small aperture.
Remote Camera Tool 2.1
The Remote Camera Tool app has been updated to support improved wired LAN functionality
• Release time lag and live view delays are minimized
• Allows remote SD card formatting, FTP server switching and changes to still image storage destination
Imaging Edge Remote
Imaging Edge Remote desktop app (v2.0 or later) can be used for PC Remote tethered shooting via wireless LAN or wired USB connection.
Selectable Storage Size in Jpeg and Raw + Jpeg Mode
It’s possible to select either original size or small 2mp Jpeg images to transfer to PC.
Improved Data Transfer Control
It’s now possible to transfer files from the SD card in the camera via Wi-Fi even when the camera power is OFF. Still images & movies can be transferred via the Imaging Edge Mobile app from a paired mobile device.
Tagging & Transfer Add-on 1.1
This Imaging Edge Mobile add-on can speed up workflow by allowing FTP background transfer to a mobile device.
• Sending FTP setting parameters from mobile devices to camera
• Automatic voice-to-text conversion and embedding
• Automatic data upload from mobile to FTP server attached with specific IPTC metadata.
Longer Life from Same High-Capacity Z-Battery
Thanks to it’s new more efficient image processor, Sony a9 II squeezes even more shots out of the same high-capacity Sony NP-FZ100 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries.
4:3 & 1:1 Aspect Ratios
Sony a9 II supports 3:2, 4:3, 1:1, 16:9 Aspect Ratios. While a9 FW 5.00 added 1:1 aspect ratio, a9 II finally adds both 4:3 & 1:1!
High Resolution fullframe 4K Movie Shooting
Sony a9 II oversamples 6K capture with full readout and no pixel binning
Real-Time Eye AF for Movies
Great news for video shooters! Real-Time Eye AF is now supported for Movie recording.
Improved Real Time Tracking for Movies
Sony a9 II offers improved Real Time Tracking for Movies
MI Shoe with Digital Audio Interface
Like the a7R IV, Sony a9 II can take advantage of the latest digital audio accessories thanks to the new MI Shoe Digital Audio Interface.
55 Native E-mount Lenses and Growing
With 55 native Sony E-mount lenses up to 600mm, and many more third-party options, Sony’s E-mount lens line-up continues to grow.
New a9 II Sony Accessories
Sony a9 II uses many of the same new accessories introduced for a7R IV:
Sony VG-C4EM Vertical Grip ($398) is designed for Sony a9 II & a7R IV mirrorless cameras. It offers both double battery capacity and a more comfortable grip when shooting in the vertical orientation. The grip accepts either one or two NP-FZ100 batteries to increase the effective battery life for longer shooting sessions, and the batteries can be charged in the grip while attached to the camera via the body’s USB port. The grip’s design maintains the same layout as the camera body itself, and includes a secondary shutter button and Multi Selector for intuitive use. The VG-C4EM grip is built from magnesium alloy and is dust- and moisture-resistant to match the weather sealing of the camera itself.
Sony ECM-B1M Digital Shotgun Microphone ($348) is an ultra-compact camera-mount digital shotgun microphone designed for mobile video creators working with Sony cameras equipped with the Multi Interface Shoe. Released alongside the a7R IV, which benefits from its built-in Digital Audio Interface, the ECM-B1M is able to produce its best quality by delivering a digital audio stream directly to the camera through the Multi Interface Shoe. Other Sony cameras with the standard Multi Interface Shoe can still make use of the microphone as there is a selectable digital/analog output.
Sony XLR-K3M ($598) is a dual-channel digital XLR audio adapter that allows you to connect microphones and other audio sources to cameras equipped with a Multi Interface Shoe. Released alongside the a7R IV, which benefits from its built-in digital audio interface, the adapter is able to produce its best quality by delivering a digital audio stream directly to the camera through the Multi Interface Shoe. Other Sony cameras with the standard MI Shoe can still make use of the microphone as there is a selectable digital/analog output. XLR-K3M features two XLR-1/4″ combo mic/line inputs with 48V phantom power, and a 3.5mm stereo input with plug-in power, all with individual level controls.