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New Specs for Sony’s Upcoming ‘Pro’ FF Mirrorless A9 | Rumor

By Anthony Thurston on December 12th 2014

We have all heard the rumors of Sony’s A9 pro full frame mirrorless camera. Until now, it was just a name, but today, we have some new specs for you to feast your eyes on.

Sony a9 Rumored Specs

sony-a7II-front

The A9 is supposed to be a true ‘pro’ full frame mirrorless to sit above the A7 line in the Sony lineup. So one would expect some more ‘pro’ features and design choices. The following specs were posted over on Sony Alpha Rumors, via an anonymous source, so take these with a huge grain of salt.

  • 46 Megapixel Bayer sensor
  • 4 fps
  • 100-25,600 ISO (extended 50 and 51,200)
  • Weather sealed body
  • 4K output (no internal 4K recording)
  • Price yet not final, but around to $3,000

I have to say, I am not seeing anything different aside from the high megapixel count and weather sealing that would set this apart from the A7 series. I mean 4FPS, really? 4K Output, but not internal recording, seriously?

I am very underwhelmed, and hope for Sony’s sake that these are not the real specs. I see no benefit to those specs over any of the A7 line for a pro, with the one exception being the weather sealing.

What are your thoughts on these specs? Do you think that these will be what Sony puts out in the A9? Would you buy one of these over an A7 series? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

[via Sony Alpha Rumors]

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

19 Comments

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  1. Dave Haynie

    They really need on-camera 4K recording. Sure, they could offer higher spec video for off-camera recorders, but at a fraction of the price, Panasonic’s been doing it for awhile now, and even Samsung’s got it now — and Samsung’s doing it in HEVC, which is more computationally intensive than AVC. UHS-III SD cards can handle well over 200Mb/s recording (the fastest the GH4 does). UDMA CF cards can handle full HD raw hacks on the 5D mk III, they can do 4K with compression in their sleep. The dual DIGIC processors in many higher-end Canon models are already fast enough to encode 4K… I kind of expect Canon to be the last guys on the block to put out 4K models at the lower end, mostly because they’re successful with it at $10K+ today and probably like that fact.

    As for the need for 46Mpixel? I’m pretty happy with 20Mpixel on my Canon and 16Mpixel on my Olympus. I’d pay more for a much more sensitive 20Mpixel full frame sensor. But there are Joneses and Sonys to keep up with. Sony’s trying really hard to remain relevant as a camera vendor, not just a sensor maker, and they’re finally seeing a really differentiated product with the A7 series. So they’re going to do this “because we can” and also to push the envelope. Some will buy these just because, well, you know, they go to 11. I’m sure a few out there actually want that — Hasselblad’s sold some 50Mpixel+ cameras.

    And actually, the Sony thing with the A7 got me thinking about that kind of strategy, too. I have two Oly and two Canon bodies, but mostly out of upgrades… I rarely need both at once unless I’m shooting video with the Canons. But offering big feature trade-offs, like light sensitivity versus massive pixel counts, that’s a way to sell the same guy two current generation bodies rather than one. Or even to get folks in your camp… Nikon certainly gets some entry-level sales just because they have a 36Mpixel camera and Canon doesn’t. The flagship is often made for that, particularly a first-of-its-kind flagship.

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  2. Scot Tumlin

    Assuming it would target landscape shooting, specs look fine to me, but I’d drop the price to $2499.

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  3. Mithun Kümär

    Hope the A7II prices would be reduced a bit after this A9 is released :P

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  4. Mike Griffiths

    Considering the success of the A7s as both a still and video platform, I find it strange that they would release such a high resolution camera like what is proposed. Especially since you are going to see very reduced returns on those 10 extra MP. Consider the difference between a 100mm and 200mm lens, hugely different, and then the difference between a 500mm and 600mm lens, barely noticeable. The same diminishing returns are a part of all photography and the extra 10MP on top of an already 36MP A7R would be hardly noticed even if printing a 10ft banner. Current digital monitors and TVs are no where near showing that kind of detail, so what is the point? One day when EVERYTHING catches up to high res (22MP Cellphone displays) it might make a difference.

    I think their best bet is to put everything they learned from the A7 series into one camera body and really pull everyone out of Canikon and OlyFuji to get them on board. Once they have us on the body, they can trickle down their severely overpriced lenses a couple a year.

    I have had a full range Nikon D4 + Nikkor Glass, Every Fuji lens with X-E2 and X-T1, and now Sony A7 with full range of the best A-mount glass and the LA-EA4. Honestly, I am by far the most impressed with my photos on the Fuji outfit than anything else. My entire wedding bag is a small backpack with 3 flashes 4 lenses and 2 bodies. My 4 year old can carry it (albeit she struggles but she can not even lift the D4 with a 70-200 on). My Sony bag is a larger backpack and side lighting bag because the FF lenses are still DSLR sized. FE glass sucks, if you are going to make a size/aperture sacrifice you are better off with FUJI and their 1.4 lenses (f2.2 FF DOF equiv). Both Fuji cameras have %99 focus hit ratio even when bursting at 8FPS. Sony can go about 2 FPS when contin focusing and tends to miss. I find that using AF-S and just pulsing the AF/Shutter button yields better results.

    I am pretty sold on the Sony gear simply because I love FF DOF, but I’m not willing to spend more for f4 lenses that are larger and softer when Fuji has f2.2 that are pin sharp fit in my pocket.

    I hate to praise Fuji so much but I have to give credit where credit is due. Nikon had the best AF, especially in low light with 3d tracking. Fuji has the best color and near noiseless files even at 6400. Sony has . . well you know what they have.

    I am really hoping that the A9 recognizes the need for cleaner high ISO and more accurate AF in low light. Also, release a darn flash that has an AF beam for crying out loud. I want 16MP, useable 12,800 in COLOR, 6+ FPS, weather sealed, and dual SD card slots. An integrated battery grip that holds 2 batteries would be awesome because the double power could yield better AF results.

    Exciting year up ahead for everyone. Sorry to ramble.

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    • Mithun Kümär

      Truly said… I fail to see the point of this Mega-pixel race, esp. when they’re supposedly targeting the Pro market. MPs are what most amateurs get lured with… Pros need the kind of stuff you mentioned rightly.

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  5. J. Cassario

    Looking forward to seeing more concrete info on this guy…

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  6. Kevin Cucci

    This is truly disappointing. I don’t believe the Sony A7 Mark II is enough, even with the slight upgrades over the original for me to make the switch from Canon to Sony. I was hoping the A9 would be the answer, but after seeing these specs, as a wedding/portrait photographer, I do not think this will be the camera either. I definitely do NOT need 46 mp thats for sure. Guess I am stuck carrying my heavy DSLR’s for a while longer…

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    • adam sanford

      If you just care about the best possible IQ — *even if it means fighting through mirrorless’ current limitations* — make the switch to Sony. You might be handcuffed into using adapters, MF, Liveview, etc., but you will net terrific shots if you have the time to dial things in. (Landscapers in particular, I’m talking to you.)

      But if you want to retain all your DSLR creature comforts — ergonomics, customizability, responsiveness, AF speed and reliability, higher burst rate, etc. — you absolutely should hang on to you DSLR for a year or two longer. I can’t imagine many pros would risk a major paying assignment (say, a wedding) without 100% confidence that the AF is fire and forget on-target. I’m not aware of any mirrorless bodies that are at a 5D3-level of reliability with their AF today, and until that happens, I’ll keep my mirror.

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    • Greg Silver

      Adam, honestly I’m not too familiar with the AF of the 5D3 but do you think the mirrorless Sony a6000 would come close? With its 179 AF points and 11fps, I have been getting much success with great wildlife shots. AF never has been an issue with that camera.

      I understand the Sony mirrorless full frame models do not have the same AF as the a6000.

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    • adam sanford

      I’ve not shot both, so I could not tell you. But a lot of AF points means *you have a lot of AF points*, and high burst means *you have high burst*. That’s it. Neither speak to the accuracy and reliability of an AF system.

      In fairness, I have not shot the a6000, so I can’t compare, but people are awfully fond of that AF system. I’d love to see a ‘keeper rate’ study of a 5D3/D810 against a mirrorless rig with a competent photographer (well trained on both bodies) shooting a variety of demanding AF applications (sports, wildlife, concerts maybe?).

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  7. Christoph Schwinghammer

    Thought that the specs would be a lot better, but after all this is just a rumor.

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  8. Matthew Saville

    Nobody in their right mind is going to buy a 46 megapixel camera for action sports, IMO. And 4 FPS, in my experience, is more than enough for practically anything else from wedding photojournalism to portraiture, and even the occasional “action” shot. In fact I set my cameras to exactly 4 FPS when shooting weddings and portraits, because the ~6 FPS I’ve had in the past (D300, D700, D750) has been a little too much for weddings.

    Same thing goes for the external 4K recording. It is probably just too much data to handle in the A-series full-frame mirrorless body style that they want to stick to, and most pro video shooters are going to be mounting the sensor to a battery grip or external pack anyways, like the A7S’ 4K recording accessory pack. So IMO, it’s a wise decision to keep the body small and leave 4K to accessory parts. It just makes the camera all that much more desirable for landscape shooters who want to travel light; that’s the whole reason they’re buying a mirrorless camera in the first place.

    I don’t know what to expect from Nikon, since they just did the D810. Maybe a D900 is 1-2 years away, tops? It would surely have this same sensor, but I just don’t envision Nikon being able to do such a DSLR without ALSO entering the mirrorless market at the same time. In other words, this is almost the do-or-die moment for Nikon- they need to get at least two mirrorless FX bodies to the market before Sony has a chance to create successors or “mk2’s” for each of their three oldest A7 bodies. We already have the A7 mk2, now the A9 is coming, so the clock is ticking for both Canon and Nikon.

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    • adam sanford

      Any chance Nikon has some contractual lockout that might keep them out of using Sony sensors for mirrorless bodies?

      Consider: for SLRs, Sony are a so-so manufacturer of bodies but a top-end sensor supplier — so a symbiotic relationship with Canon or Nikon makes sense financially. But *in mirrorless*, Sony are the biggest, baddest show in town on numerous fronts (in sensors, size of portfolio, development pipelines, perceived market leader, etc.) — why give their rivals a lifeline there? I know there’s good money to made in selling sensors, but they are years ahead of CaNikon in mirrorless and could keep it that way without supplying them.

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  9. Greg Silver

    I’ve seen the rumor that Sony a9 will incorporate an advanced version of the already fantastic AF from the A6000. That’s a huge plus. But I agree – the 4 fps is a huge minus.

    46MP would be definitely nice to have but I’m wondering what kind of file size that’s going to have. How are these new high megapixel cameras going to affect workflow with sessions that have hundreds of shots. Editing will also slow down.

    It’ll be interesting to see how much clearer these images really are and if they’re worth the time/money it takes to process and organize them.

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    • John Cavan

      I don’t think they can pull off faster than 4 fps and have it be 46 MP (not sure if that is necessary). If you consider amount of data to transfer, it’s actually pretty comparable in speed to the D4S (16 MP) in sheer volume. It would suggest that other technologies may be lagging in the camera MP race…

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    • Greg Silver

      Agreed John – I think it’s just too much data to process with current processors (at this time). Not bad for a flagship (but I want it all – LOL)!!!

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    • adam sanford

      Greg, I believe everything you just wondered about was similarly worried about with the release of the D800 — would the added detail really be there and what would it mean to handle those huge files?

      All are fair questions, but if the D800 showed us anything, if this new Sony rig can deliver more detail without significant DR or noise tradeoffs at the $3k pro body price point, people will come running for it and figure out how to cope with it.

      The tougher question is — how many *Nikon* guys will bite at this when they know the same damn sensor will surely soon be offered in their ecosystem at no penalty to leaving their mount and glass behind?

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  10. Kyle Farris

    You sure would think this flagship mirrorless camera would use their XQD cards to increase throughput of putting these massive files onto media–they are expensive, but, if the processor is not the bottleneck, the card would no longer be either.

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  11. adam sanford

    Makes sense that new superhigh resolution sensors would choke the buffer until subsequent body designs, better processors, etc. can handle that throughput better. Consider that non-cropped D800 output was 4 fps out of the gate, and now the D810 is a little quicker.

    But I’m guessing the A9 will be ‘pro’ in the vein of the next main-line pro body like a D810/5D3 and *not* the next flagship integral-grip body like a D4S/1DX. So don’t expect 10+ fps, dedicated processors for metering or world class AF with such a new body. I imagine that 46 MP X 10 fps would require staggering processing power to pull off.

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