Most photographers loved Sony's full-frame A9 power, but loved handling and reliability less. Sony has resolved many of these problems with the release of the Alpha A9 II full-frame mirrorless camera today. It has the same unbeatable shooting speeds as before, but with a modern, anti-shock shutter and improved seals and covers, it is more durable and weatherproof. At the same time, a new grip makes handling smoother, particularly if you have a long telephoto lens shooting for hours.
The A9 II retains the same 24.2-megapixel Exmor RS CMOS sensor as the last version, offering the same firing speeds: 10 fps with the mechanical shutter and 20 fps with the digital shutter (free blackout). (The latter is twice as fast as the impressive new A7R IV can do.) The A9 II also has the same 693 phase detection AF points spanning 93 percent of the detector and 425 contrast detection points.
What's latest on Sony's A6400 is the Bionz X processor and AI software we first saw. It can accommodate 60 continuous autofocus and measurements of auto-exposure per second, so the A9 II could concentrate on the nail better than before— and the initial A9 was already an amazing AF sniper. Sony's technology for head, ear, and pet recognition is also quicker and more reliable, and Sony said the new system will work especially well for sports and photojournalism.
The A9 II openly borrowed from the A7R IV, implementing the 5-axis in-body stability mechanism which provides up to 5.5 shake reduction stops along with the command design, upgraded dials and gripper joystick.
Sony did not borrow the ultra-sharp 5.76-million-dot UXGA OLED viewfinder from the A7R IV, however. Rather, the quad-VGA, 3,686 K dot OLED EVF from the last version was kept free to optimize acceleration and keep shooting blackout— a must for action photography, Sony stated.
On the image aspect, as the last version and the A7 III can do, the A9 II can accommodate 4 K with a complete sensor readout. You may get very smooth 4 K images, but with only 8-bit resolution instead of 10-bit resolution. The A7R IV alternatives S-Log2 and S-Log3 are also not available on the A9 II.
It also includes Sony's Multi Interface Shoe, a wireless interface that helps you to hook up the ECM-B1 M shotgun microphone or XLR-K3 M XLS adapter kit from Sony to boost audio quality. On the communication side, the A9 II, together with USB Type C 3.2, HDMI and microphone / headphone jacks, is rather unique in having an ethernet adapter.
The A9 II has the same high-capacity Z-series battery as the previous model, but with and without the EVF, it can take 500 or 690 shots, a slight improvement from the previous model. Sony told Engadget in the real world that photographers can often take on a single charge thousands of images. If not enough, the optional vertical grip of the VG-C4EM gives you two additional batteries. Fortunately, Sony now has two UHS-II high-speed card slots instead of a UHS-II slot and a smaller UHS-I slot.
The A9 II is quicker, harder and easier to handle with all the improvements, making it more accessible for professional photographers. And with a price tag of $4,500 (only body), that's just who it's supposed to be. In November 2019, it will be available in the US soon.