Sony A9 – DSLR Killer?!
In the wake of the underwhelming announcement of Nikons latest offering, the D7500 (no I don’t know what happened to the 7300 and 7400 either), and with everyone still waiting impatiently for the release of the 6D MkII, it seemed like the camera market had hit a bit of a plateau. Suddenly out of nowhere, Sony dropped a massive bomb, which has made everyone sit up and pay attention.
The Sony A9 is a mirrorless competitor to the professional grade sport and wildlife tanks from the big boys, the D5 and the 1Dx MkII. While the initial reaction is to snub the concept of a mirrorless camera as a replacement for them, the specs might just make you think otherwise!
So what do we know spec wise?
Well it is a mirrorless camera, with a 24.2 megapixel, full frame sensor. The sensor itself is a stacked CMOS sensor, which is the first of its kind. The stacked sensor provides a much faster data transfer rate, which it will need as it shoots an incredible 20 frames per second (although it’s more like 10-15 with continuous AF tracking), capturing up to 241 consecutive RAW images or 263 JPG images. Because of the lack of a mirror and an electronic shutter, you are able to achieve that 20fps with 0-mirror blackout, so you can constantly keep your eye on the subject.
The focusing system is another first, with a truly bonkers 693 phase detection AF points, covering 93% of the frame. A joystick on the rear of the body helps you pick which of those 693 AF points you want, which is handy! To help keep everything extra sharp, the A9 also has 5-axis sensor stabilisation, which negates the need for stabilised lenses.
Something Sony hasn’t offered until now, which in the professional game is a real deal breaker, is dual memory card slots. Thankfully, the A9 has stepped up with dual SD card slots (1x UHSII), which will please a lot of people. Something else that will please a lot of people is the battery life. Anyone who has used a Sony mirrorless camera before will vouch for the fact that the battery life was terrible. The batteries were tiny and only lasted around 200 shots before they needed charging. The A9 has upped this by 2.2x, which might sound impressive but still only gives you around 480 shots if using the viewfinder (or around 600 when using the rear LCD screen), and at 20fps that’s still not going to last a whole heap of time.
Speaking of the Viewfinder and LCD screen, the camera has a full touch and tilting 3” LCD screen, and the highest resolution OLED EVF (electronic viewfinder) on the market, selectable between 60fps and 120fps and boasting zero lag. The closest offering to an optical viewfinder.
This is certainly one impressive sounding camera, and while it initially seems expensive at £4500, you have to consider this in direct competition to the D5 and 1Dx MkII, and they both cost a lot more. The only real downside I can see, and what will potentially cause Sony the most issues, is their lens choices. Now they offer some great lenses, don’t get me wrong, but this is a body aimed solely at the professional sport and wildlife shooters. These guys are wanting long, fast primes, and Sony just doesn’t make them (yet?). If Sony can get those sort of lenses to market, they are on to a winner; however as good as the camera may be, if the lenses are not there, those shooters are not going to migrate from their Nikons and Canons.
We will have to wait and see.