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Sony Announces A9 And 100mm-400mm 4.5-5.6 Super Telephoto Zoom

By Wendell Weithers on April 19th 2017

Today, Sony made two gear announcements that are clear overtures to professional photographers and they are poised to set the tone for NAB 2017. The first is the new Sony flagship A9 camera and the second being the latest lens in the G-Master Lineup, the 100mm-400mm 4.5-5.6 Super Telephoto Zoom. Many in the industry have been waiting to see how responsive Sony would be to the lingering concerns from professionals about their full frame lineup and it is evident that Sony has been listening. Disregarding the fear of cliche, these two offerings from Sony are in fact game-changing; so let’s see what they bring to the table.

Sony a9 Stills Specs

  • World’s First full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, 24.2 MP2 resolution
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • 3.0″ 1.44m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • Internal UHD 4K/30p Video Recording
  • 120fps all full HD at up to 100Mbps
  • Full pixel readout without pixel binning
  • Blackout-Free Quad VGA 3.7m-Dot OLED EVF
  • up to 20fps  for up to 241 RAW/ 362 JPEG images
  • Silent, Vibration-free shooting at speeds up to 1/32,000 sec
  • 693 point focal plane phase detection AF points with 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second
  • Extensive professional features including Ethernet port for file transfer,  Mag. Alloy Dual SD card slots, and extended battery life
  • 5-Axis in-body image stabilization with a 5.0  step shutter speed advantage

Two major concerns from professionals about Sony’s camera body lineup have been battery life and the inclusion of a second SD card slot for in-camera file backup. Sony has responded with a second SD card slot and a new battery that they boast lasts up to 2.2 times longer; both welcome additions. This camera looks like the all-around juggernaut everyone was hoping would compete with the Canon 1Dx II and the Nikon D5. And at a price of $4,500, it undercuts them both by over $1000, which is substantial. Canon and Nikon have been on notice for some time now, but we’ll see how they absorb this latest haymaker from Sony.

Click through this Instagram gallery to see a video of the A9!

A post shared by SLR Lounge (@slrlounge) on

100mm-400mm 4.5-5.6 GM Specs

Sony’s push into mirrorless began with bodies that were extremely capable but lacked lenses to take advantage of what was possible with them. However, Sony has been filling in the holes and this lens fills a big one. Sports, wildlife, and event photographers have been clamoring for a lens with stellar optics and extended reach; this lens fits that bill. The G Master label is the stamp of quality pros have been looking for in a lens like this and we’ll soon see what it can do.

Per Sony’s press release:

A super telephoto zoom that meets the intense build requirements of Sony’s acclaimed G Master series lens lineup, the new FE 100-400mm GM model produces outstanding corner-to-corner sharpness throughout the lens’ zoom and focus ranges and beautiful rendered ‘bokeh’ or background defocus, ensuring the finest details are brought out in every subject and scene.

  • 22 lens elements configured in 16 different groups
  • 9 bladed circular aperture design
  • one Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion) and two ED glass elements
  • Sony’s original Nano AR coating
  • 49.3 ounces (1,395 grams)
  • zoom torque adjustment ring
  • minimum focusing range of just 3.22 feet (0.98 meters)
  • image stabilization

At of price of $2,500, this lens falls right in line with the other excellent yet expensive G Master lineup. But the need this lens meets should ensure that it sells well, especially when you consider the lack of alternatives for this focal range in the E- mount.

Sony has been knocking at the door of the hearts of professional photographers for some time but with this camera and lens, they may have kicked that door in and made themselves at home.

The Sony a9 and 100mm-400mm 4.5-5.6 G Master will available for pre-order April 21.


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Wendell is based in Atlanta where he shoots events, portraits, and food photography. He also supports his wife Andrea as she runs their cake design business, Sweet Details.

Instagram: Wendellwphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Bryan Frazar

    I too have used Canon for almost 20 years. Currently own a 6D, 7D MKII and several L series lenses.  I started dabbling with Sony a few years ago with an a7.  Gorgeous photos, light weight, great features.  Camera lock up and failure in the middle of a race while shooting.  Abandoned that.  This year purchased an a7 II.  Same great camera, but reliability issues again.  Just got it back  from repair.  I don’t know about the a9, but I have experience with Sony full frame. My opinion:  great to dabble with as a second rig, but if you only have once chance to get a shot, what camera would you use?  Easy decision for me.

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  2. joel babilonia

    I agree with Chad as well. Another area that needs improvement is ergonomics but Sony has made big strides in everything else and if they keep at this pace, soon they’ll be far ahead and others will be playing catch for a very long time. There’s still time for canikons to get in the game… 

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    • Wendell Weithers

      Hey Joel, there is time BUT, a direct response would need to be in the pipeline already. Maybe Canon has something, and if Nikon does, it probably needs to be in this summer release for their 100th celebration.

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  3. Tim Driman

    I have been a staunch Canon user since 2000…I shoot a 1DX MKii/200mm-400mmf4+1.4x, and my second rig is a 5D MKiv / 70mm-200mmf2.8 MKii…I love these rigs B-U-T the specs on this new body and lens are a bigger bomb to the opposition than Dolald Trump dropped the other day! 

    If I sell my Canon kit and buy the equivalent in SONY, I will come away with cash in my pocket! A quieter mirrorless rig; Much lighter in mass which is great for action and wildlife; 20% larger Full dramed sensor; A frame rate 42.86% faster; Bigger buffer , shutter speed four times faster, Image stabilised body A-N-D lens…and, and, and…. 

    If this lives up to the usual high SONY standard and delivers on it’s promised specifications, Canon, NIKON and even little FUJI are going to have to cut their prices and up their game a LOT!

    I am a wildlife photographer and based just on these specifications ( Thus far untested by me..)  this pedigree has been enough for me to approach the SA agents and suppliers to consider a genuine change over to SONY!!

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    • adam sanford

      Yep, it’s a great value, no doubt.  But for a current 1DX2 user, consider:

      1) You’ll be adapting your big whites on the A9, and I’d be stunned if that delivered the same AF speed/reliability as on the native 1DX2.

      2) We don’t have a manual yet, but 20 fps likely will likely net you compressed files (if that matters to you).  Uncompressed RAW, for instance, is apparently capped at 12 fps.

      3) Listed buffer sizes reflect compressed files.  Uncompressed files will reduce that buffer size.

      4) You’d be giving up a mechanical shutter for an electronic one at high fps, which may have some nasty artifacts.  What’s worse, the A9’s more reliable mechanical shutter is capped at *5* fps.  (The electronic shutter may be amazing, but see reviews first!)

      5) Critically, you’ll be walking away from the 1DX2 grip, ergonomics, control scheme, bomb-proof build, etc.  For ‘life in the bush’ (according to your website), I can’t possibly see a higher-end piece of consumer electronics like the A9 take the rugged use a 1-series rig can. 

      Again, the A9 is a beast, but **rent before you buy** and make sure you love it in real use before you take the plunge.

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    • Holger Foysi

      ? The Canon is full frame, too, the A9 doesn’t have a 20% larger sensor, did you mean MP? To compare the kits you would need an equivalent f4 zoom lens from Sony. There is no such lens, just a slower one going to f5.6. The 70-200GM is more expensive than the Canon equivalent, too. For equal battery-life  and ergonomics you need the battery grip + spares, getting you in a similar price region for the body. So for me it would merely be the silent shutter or 20fps (not important to me). Do _you_ really need 20fps and 1/32000? I am no sports shooter either.

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  4. adam sanford

    Looks impressive, I’m a Canon guy saying that.  Well done, Sony.

    That said, they laid an absolute egg on the form factor.  They just pumped out a 1DX2 in a Rebel-sized body.  The A9 is largely inheriting the A7R II form factor and grip (at least from the top view). The grip should have been far chunkier (for faster/bigger/heavier GM lenses) and spaced further from the mount so your fingers have somewhere to go!

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    • adam sanford

      Consider how the A7R II (see pic from TDP) doesn’t leave room for your fingers with the bigger/faster lenses.  Sony apparently decided to grandfather that mess into their new $4500 pro rig.   Why keep this beast small if a huge lens is certainly going to be used on it?

      The new specs are amazing, but grip size and location appears to be an opportunity lost.

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  5. Matthew Saville

    The A7R II was strike one for Nikon and Canon. This is strike two. The only thing stopping it from being strike THREE is the price, and the fact that Sony’s 7-series never got dual card slots or a better battery. Otherwise, we’d be halfway into a checkmate move by Sony at this point.

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this thing!

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    • Chad Andreo-Photo

      I would say Sonys color science is their last frontier. If they improve that,  while Canikon doesn’t catch-up in tech, it’ll be checkmate. 

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    • Wendell Weithers

      I agree Chad, Canon color is something a lot of  people love. If Sony can nail that, it would be huge!

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