Sony A9 ii Announced | 24 Megapixels, 10-20 FPS, Improved Autofocus & Ergonomics
The Sony a9 mk2 (ii) was announced this morning, and if the spec sheet sounds a little familiar, it’s because it is: The A9ii boasts a 24 megapixel sensor, 20 FPS electronic shutter with no blackout, 10 FPS mechanical shutter, improved AI-powered autofocus with face, eye, and wildlife detection and tracking with 693 AF points and a 3.76-million dot EVF.
What’s the biggest change in that spec sheet? It’s the 10 FPS using the mechanical shutter; previously the mechanical shutter could only do 5 FPS. The topmost FPS, though, with the electronic shutter, is still the impressive 20 FPS with full autofocus tracking and zero EVF blackout.
Oh, and also, the thing that is likely to be even more useful and attractive to many existing Sony shooters, as well as those who have considered switching to Sony, but have hesitated: The ergonomics have improved significantly, much like the new A7R IV, with a much better grip and main control buttons & dials.
Official Sony a9 ii (mk2) Press Release
SAN DIEGO — October 3, 2019 — Sony Electronics today announced Alpha 9 II (model ILCE-9M2). The latest model from Sony’s acclaimed line-up of α (Alpha) full-frame interchangeable lens cameras, the new model has been created to support working professionals in the fields of sports photography and photojournalism.
The new Alpha 9 II builds on the impressive legacy of the original Alpha 9, maintaining groundbreaking speed performance, including blackout-free continuous shooting at up to 20 frames per second with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking at 60 calculations per second.
Updates include significantly enhanced connectivity and file delivery, continuous shooting at up to 10 fps with mechanical shutter, and evolved AF performance with newly optimized algorithms, re-designed build to enhance durability and operability.
“The voice of our customers is absolutely critical to Sony – we are always listening,” said Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics. “The Alpha 9 II is the direct result of our work with agency, sports and news photographers since the launch of the original Alpha 9. We have added connectivity and network capabilities that drastically improve the professional workflow, while also making enhancements to design, interface and processing power that complete the user experience. Complemented by our extremely versatile E-mount system – with 55 native lenses introduced at this point including super-telephoto 600mm and 400mm G Master™ series lenses – this new camera is a tool unlike any other for professionals, whether in the field or on the field.”
Raising the Bar for Built-in Connectivity in the Professional’s Workflow
The Alpha 9 II includes a built-in 1000BASE-T Ethernet terminal, enabling gigabit communication for high-speed, stable data transfer operations. Additionally, File Transfer over SSL or TLS encryption (FTPS) is supported for increased data security and PC remote (tether) shooting performance is improved, with decreased release time lag and reduced live view screen delay when using the ‘Remote Camera Tool’ desktop application. The speed of the camera’s built-in wireless LAN functionality has also been increased, adding a stable and fast 5 GHz (IEEE 802.11ac) band, in addition to the 2.4 GHz provided in the Alpha 9. IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards are all supported.
Designed to improve the speed of news agencies’ workflow, the Alpha 9 II features a new Voice Memo function that allows spoken information to be attached to images in the form of voice memos that can be replayed when the images are reviewed. The voice data can also be included with images sent to an editor, giving them important information needed for effective editing. Alternatively, a field photographer can also use the ‘Transfer & Tagging add-on’ “Imaging Edge™” application to transfer voice tags with the images to their mobile device and have the voice memos automatically converted to text and added to the JPEG images in the form of IPTC metadata. All of this can be done automatically or manually selected by the photographer.
By combining wireless voice/image transfer and automatic voice-to-text conversion with the ability to auto-transfer images with attached voice memos via FTP, it is possible to shoot and transfer the results to an FTP server without ever having to operate a smartphone. FTP settings within the app can also be sent to a camera via Bluetooth®, allowing for a faster workflow.
The Platinum Standard for Speed and Auto Focus Performance
The new Alpha 9 II shares the same acclaimed 35mm full-frame stacked 24.2 MP Exmor RS™ CMOS image sensor with integral memory as the original Alpha 9, giving it the same unmatched speed performance and outstanding image quality. The new model can shoot continuously and completely silently at 20 fps for up to 361 JPEG images or 239 compressed RAW images, with no viewfinder blackout allowing the photographer to follow the subject and action with no interruption to the EVF during picture taking. For times when mechanical shutter is preferred or required, the new Alpha 9 II has been improved to shoot at up to 10 fps, about 2x the speed of the Alpha 9.
The camera is able to function while continuously calculating Auto Focus and Auto Exposure at up to 60 times per second, with newly optimized AF algorithms that provide notably enhanced AF precision and performance, ensuring that even the most erratic subject motion that is associated with sports are captured with high precision. Also useful for sporting events, the camera now offers an anti-flicker shooting mode that automatically detects and adjusts for the presence of fluorescent or artificial lighting to maximize image quality.
The advanced focusing system in the new Alpha 9 II is far beyond the capabilities of any professional camera. Comprised of 693 focal-plane phase-detection AF points covering approximately 93% of the image area, as well as 425 contrast AF points, the Fast Hybrid Auto Focus system achieves extremely fast and accurate performance, ensuring all fast-moving subjects are accurately captured. Additional notable focusing capabilities include Real-time Eye AF with right eye / left eye selection, Real-time Eye AF for animal augmented with a new algorithm, Real-Time Eye AF for movie, Real-time Tracking, selectable focus frame color, Touch Pad focus point control while using the viewfinder and more. AF can also now continuously track even if continuous shooting is greater than F16, providing further accuracy for shots that require slower shutter speeds.
Refined Build and Operability
- Upgraded BIONZ X™ image processing engine gains maximum benefit from the sensor’s fast readout speed; processor works with front-end LSI to enhance speed in AF/AE detection, image processing, face detection and accuracy, and more
- Upgraded dust and moisture resistant design to meet the needs of professionals in even the most challenging outdoor conditions; stronger sealing provided at all body seams as well as the battery compartment cover and media slot
- Latest developed image-processing algorithm reduces noise in the medium-to-high sensitivity range while improving subjective resolution and image quality
- 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization system that provides a shutter speed advantage of 5.5 steps
- Improved grip configuration for even greater comfort and sure hold; compatible with Sony VG-C4EM Vertical Grip
- Improved button design and feel; increased diameter and feedback of the ‘AF-ON’ button; a refined multi-selector joystick design; an exposure compensation dial lock button; and a redesigned shape and new position for the rear dial
- Redesigned shutter mechanism to suppress even the slightest movement that can cause image blur; tested for durability in excess of 500,000 shutter cycles
- USB Type-C™ connector that supports fast USB 3.2 Gen 1 data transfer
- Dual media slots that are both compatible with UHS-I and UHS-II SD cards, allowing higher overall capacity and faster read/write speeds
- Digital audio interface has been added to the camera’s Multi Interface Shoe™ (MI Shoe), enabling the new ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone or XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit to be connected directly to the MI Shoe for cleaner, clearer audio recordings
Sony a9 Availability
Pre-Orders are starting tonight at 6 PM eastern time, and shipping will be in November.
[Related Reading: Sony A9 Review / Overview | The Affirmation Of Mirrorless & Wish Fulfillment]
Matt’s Unofficial Gut Reaction to the Sony A9ii
Honestly, Sony didn’t need to do much to improve on the A9ii, because there was already no full-frame flagship sports camera competition to begin with.
People may be joking about how few of the key specs have been significantly upgraded, however, this is exactly the same feeling that Canon and Nikon users have felt many times when a new DSLR came out that was only a slight improvement over its predecessor- this is simply the pace of progress when you’re already way ahead of the pack.
Honestly, the most exciting improvement, for me? It has to be the ergonomics. I haven’t held the A9ii yet, but I have already held the Sony A7Riv, and the ergonomic improvements over the A7RIII (and the A9) were absolutely what the Sony system needed in general. Their autofocus is already cutting-edge. Their sensors and image quality are already top-ranking. Their cameras’ features are already so abundant that their only remaining problem was how to organize all those features in the menus…
At $4500, the A9ii is decidedly a flagship camera meant for serious professionals. As such, it offers quite a few features that the A9 didn’t, which those working professionals will likely find very welcome. (Such as the new wired/wireless transfer interfaces.)
All in all, am I most excited about the price of a used A9? Maybe. However, this is a serious step for Sony, if for no other reason than the fact that this is their 2nd generation product, at a time when Nikon and Canon still haven’t gotten to their 1st-gen in terms of flagship sports mirrorless cameras.
The next year or two will be a very exciting time for all action sports photographers, that I can guarantee you. The 2020 Olympics will be a very interesting event in terms of camera gear!