NEW Sony a9 II – I’m Just Fine With The One I Have, Thank You

sony a9ii
I own a ton of Sony cameras and really like them all, except for the well-known idiosyncrasies. After using Sony cameras, I realized my photography has improved, and I am able to better shoot the many different types of photography.  The features like Eye-AF, IBIS, great dynamic range, and no blackout viewfinders are just a few I really like.  We use the A7iii for all our videos, the a7riv for landscapes, and the a9 for fast-moving shoots or just everyday work. We also own a stable of G-master lenses that are sharp and fast.
The Sony a9 is such a great camera. It is built to last. It has a different body design, shoots an amazing 20 FPS, and focuses so damn fast that I joke with my friends saying that I am now shooting the “faces of birds and not their asses.” It has silent shooting, which is very handy when you want to shoot and not be heard.
sony a9ii
Top View. Notice the dial on the right which is different than on the a7 models

Enter The Sony a9ii

For months, we have heard rumors as we usually do. That being said, I, for one, don’t put much weight in rumors. But one of those rumors said there would be a 36mp sensor in the a9ii.  That made me raise my eyebrows for a second.  Wow, keeping all the a9ii features and enhancing the resolution would be a nice addon.  I wasn’t sure what else they could do to improve the camera for the way I use it.
sony a9ii
The front of the Sony a9ii

I should also mention that I just upgraded my a9 to Version 6 firmware.  My hat is off to Sony for doing such a good job in enhancing the a9’s capabilities with two major firmware releases. Version 5 and 6‘s firmware added new AF capabilities and accuracy, as well as the superperforming Eye-AF.  To see Eye-AF work is just amazing. The camera already has a 20 FPS shooting speed for electronic shutter and 5 FPF for the mechanical ones. For a good demonstration of how well this works, see my Sony a9 Firmware v5.0 – A New Camera.

The Sony a9 is a professional camera and is meant for journalists, wildlife photographers, sports photographers, and those who need a silent and super-fast camera. While watching TV, especially political events, it is nice to see so many Sony cameras being used.  For many of these photographers, the built-in ethernet connection allows them a camera that shoots fast and silently with high ISO capabilities. Not only that, they can then download these images for their news sources right away. And this camera is also one of the most expensive Sony cameras there is; it is listed at USD 3,998.00 And there is an available rebate that can save you hundreds of dollars now.
bigger grip
The a9ii has a bigger grip
The announcement for the a9ii was a bit of a disappointment for me. The NEW a9ii is basically the old a9 with a few feature updates that I either don’t use or don’t find valuable for my kind of photography. Now if they released this as a 36mp camera with all the same specs as rumored, then that might be a different story. You can check out the a9ii features HERE.
I’ll post the press release below, and you can check it out.  Essentially, it still has the 24mp sensor, shooting the same high 20 FPS frame rates while in electronic mode. It does boost the mechanical FPS from 5 to 10.  There is a new processor that is supposed to improve color and AF speed. The AF speed in the a9 was super fast already, and I have no color issues.  Maybe this can be better viewed in JPEG mode as many press shooters would. I shoot RAW and can always fix my color if needed. They also claim they have increased the weather sealing on the camera.  I had no problems with weather sealing on this camera and have used it in some pretty tough environments, e.g., in both the northern and southern polar regions.

What I Am Doing

So my recommendations are if you have the a9, keep the one you have like I am doing. If you don’t own the a9, this may be the time to purchase a new one if you need a robust camera with super performance capabilities. Or you could wait for those that have a9s and buy a used one. Get in touch with UsedPhotopro.com, and get on their list. They will most likely see a lot of used a9 cameras coming in for trade, and you could pick one up at a good price.
I am sure the new higher speed ethernet connection and wireless image transmission to your phone are good, but the adoesn‘t use these, so the camera I have is fine. Also, the AF is working just fine with the processor that is presently onboard the a9.
It’s your call. Normally, I’d be all over getting the latest and greatest, but this time I think I will show restraint.
“However, if you do not own an a9 yet, then it’s time to get one new or used as this is one amazing camera that hass saved my ass any number of times.”

The Press Release

 

With the battery grip
Vertical grip with 2 batteries

Sony Electronics today announced Alpha 9 II (model ILCE-9M2). The latest model from Sony’s acclaimed lineup 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 the 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 an 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 a 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
  • The 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

Pricing and Availability

The new Alpha 9 II will be available in November 2019 priced at approximately $4,500 US and $6,000 CA. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.

Exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the new lens and Sony’s other imaging products can be found at alphauniverse.com, a site created to educate and inspire all fans and customers of Sony’s α – Alpha brand.

New content will also be posted directly at the Sony Photo Gallery and the Sony Camera Channel on YouTube.  For detailed product information, please visit:

A product video on the new Alpha 9 II can be viewed HERE


Kevin Raber
October 2019
Kevin Raber
Indianapolis, IN

Photography is my passion and has been for 47 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of pictures taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through photoPXL.com, this site as well as Rockhopper Workshops and other projects as well as teaching at my Gallery in Indianapolis.

Article Type: News, Columns

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