Highs

  • 20 fps continuous shooting with 241 RAW / 362 JPG buffer
  • No viewfinder blackout, unlike high-end DSLRs
  • High-resolution viewfinder delivers a direct image of the subject
  • Fast, vibration free, silent shutter, unlike high-end DSLRs
  • Continuous tracking and AF of fast-moving subjects
  • New full-frame Exmor RS stacked sensor with embedded memory
  • AF phase detection 693 points and 93% of the frame

Lows

  • Fewer lenses than other DSLR brands for professional photographers – need adapter to use them with the Sony
  • UI could be a little better for consumers

Rating and Price

  • Not yet rated

In April 2017, Sony unveiled the Sony Alpha a9, its flagship full frame mirrorless camera. Equipped with the world’s first 24.2 Megapixel full-frame stacked CMOS sensor and the new BIONZ X processor, the Sony a9 delivers silent and blackout-free continuous shooting at 20 fps at full resolution with a buffer of 241 RAW and 362 JPG. After shooting 241 RAW and 362 JPG the camera slows down and stop shooting because the memory buffer is full (~12+ second of shooting at 20FPS). But still, this is quite an impressive performance.

The silent and vibration-free shutter offers ultra fast speed, up to 1/32, 000 seconds. Speed is the theme of the a9, so the AF system provides 693 phase-detection point that covers 93% of the sensor with 60 focus and exposure tracking calculations per seconds.

Other features include 5-axis in-body image stabilization with a 5.0 step shutter speed advantage, an impressive high-resolution view-finder, Ethernet port, dual SD card slots and extended battery life.

Sony invited me to a shooting session in New York in April, where I covered the news, and to give me the opportunity to try the impressive new capabilities of the a9, namely the 20 fps continuous shooting with expanded and super-fast AF tracking. The day after the press conference, in the morning, we went to an ice rink to shoot hockey players and ice skaters in action. In the afternoon, we shot indoor vault pole, martial arts, ping pong, track running and long jump.

This hands-on review is our first impressions on the shooting experience and the performance of the a9 while playing with it for only one day, shooting high-speed actions during various sports training sessions.

Overall the experience was great. The ability to shoot continuously fast moving subjects while maintaining the focus in real time is quite amazing. The high-resolution viewfinder that allows tracking a fast-moving subject in burst shooting mode with no blackout is key to make sure your photos will be the way you want them.

The a9 delivers professional-grade photography, and since I am not a professional photographer, I offer my opinion based on my experience shooting with high-end consumer-grade mirrorless and DSLR cameras.

Release date: The Sony a9 is available since June 2017 for $4,999.99.

What’s new (key features)

  • 693 point vs. 400 in the previous model for the AF phase detection
  • 25% faster than R7II
  • 20 fps continuous shooting with 241 RAW / 362 JPG buffer
  • No viewfinder blackout, unlike high-end DSLRs
  • High-resolution viewfinder delivers a direct image of the subject
  • Fast, vibration free, silent shutter, unlike high-end DSLRs
  • Continuous tracking and AF of fast-moving subjects
  • Enhanced battery life
  • Dual SD card slots
  • PC Terminal
  • Built-in Ethernet port for FTP file transfer
  • New buttons layout

This hands-on is structured in relation to the key features Sony developed for the a9.

SPEED, FOCUS, and SILENCE:

Filed in Photo-Video >Reviews. Read more about Camera, Photography, Sony.

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