Sony’s a9 Is a Beast of a Mirrorless Full Frame Camera

April 19, 2017

By Greg Scoblete

If you’re the type to truly savor specced-out cameras, strap in. Sony’s new full frame mirrorless, the a9, has some eye-popping specs–and an eye-popping price tag.

The new a9 takes the rapid autofocusing, burst modes and plentiful AF points of the APS-C a6000-series and melds it into the full frame body of the a7. The result is a 24-megapixel full frame mirrorless camera with 693 phase-detect and 25 contrast-detect AF points covering 93-percent of the sensor that can burst at up to 20fps with AF tracking. The buffer can hold 222 RAW + JPEG images.

The a9 features a new, full frame 24-megapixel stacked CMOS image sensor that is back-illuminated and can process data up to 20 times faster than the previous a7 II models. It has a native ISO of 100-51,200 (expandable to 50 – 204,800). Both Sony’s BIONZ processor and the front-end LSI have been upgraded to cope with the data demands of the new a9.

This one-two processing punch enables the a9 to perform AF/AE tracking calculations up to 60 times per second, regardless of what shooting mode you’re in. AF performance clocks in about 25 percent faster than the a7 R II, Sony says, and eye tracking is 30 percent more accurate.

Sony added a joystick to the camera body to help you select AF points, or you can touch the 3-inch display to select focus points. Other design tweaks include the addition of drive mode and focus mode dials and an AF On button. You can assign AF areas to the camera’s custom buttons so you can quickly pull them up, a new feature Sony is calling AF Area Registration.

A group of specific settings, such as exposure and shutter speed, can now be grouped together and mapped to a single custom button for easy recall.

According to Sony, there’s no blackout of the EVF when shooting stills, including at the highest burst speeds.

Like the a7 models, the a9 offers in-body image stabilization good for up to 5 stops of correction, per CIPA standards.

Additional features include:

  • 4K recording (3840 x 2160) at 30p across the full width of the sensor with no pixel binning (a Super35mm crop option is also available)
  • full HD video recording up to 120 fps
  • 1/8000 sec. top mechanical shutter speed
  • 1/32,000 sec. top electronic shutter speed
  • AF metering to -3 EV
  •  480 shot per charge battery life, per CIPA, thanks to an all-new battery
  • dual SD card slots, including one UHS-II slot
  • 3.86K dot OLED viewfinder (highest-resolution to date) that can switch between a 60 or 120 fps refresh rate
  • ethernet port for tethered shooting and a flash sync terminal
  • clean HDMI out
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

The a9 is due in May and will cost $4,500 for the body. Whew.