Flagship Sony A9 II boasts a new body, better AF / IS, plus gigabit Ethernet, 5GHz Wi-Fi and dual UHS-II
posted Thursday, October 3, 2019 at 9:00 AM EST
Some 2.5 years after it courted professional photographers with its Alpha mirrorless camera series with the flagship Sony A9, the Japanese manufacturer returns with a new flagship model. While it retains its predecessor's image sensor unchanged, the Sony A9 II nevertheless brings with it a lengthy laundry-list of new features aimed at making it even more attractive to pros.
Compared to its predecessor, the A9 II has a redesigned body which promises improved dust and moisture resistance, a more comfortable grip and tweaks to several top and rear-deck controls. There's also an updated multi interface hot shoe which now supports digital audio accessories, and user-configurable controls can now be set up differently for still or movie capture.
On the inside, while there's not a new sensor, Sony has improved its BIONZ X image processor and front-end LSI for better performance, and the company says the pairing should also deliver better color and high-ISO performance. The company has also changed the mechanical shutter mechanism, and the new 500k-cycle unit not only offers double the performance with a maximum burst rate of 10 fps, but also reduced vibration thanks to a coreless motor and dampers attaching the mechanism to the chassis.
Autofocus is another area that's received plenty of love, with updated AF algorithms for faster and more accurate AF, better face detection speed and accuracy, and better tracking of fast, erratically moving subjects. The A9 II can also now track to f/16 in focus priority mode with certain lenses, and adjust focus with open aperture right before exposure for better AF accuracy with shallow depth of field. There's also real-time eye AF support for movie capture, touch pad AF performs 1.5 times faster than before, and you can now move the focus point even during continuous autofocus operation without lifting off the shutter button.
Improved image stabilization algorithms now yield another half-stop of correction for a total of 5.5 stops for both still and movie capture, even when shooting with adapted A-mount lenses. There's also a more responsive electronic viewfinder, and a new anti-flicker function which will automatically detect and correct for color and brightness variations under artificial light sources. The A9 II also receives a new interval shooting function, and now supports high-speed UHS-II SD cards in both of its storage slots.
Connectivity, too, has been significantly improved. For one thing, there's a new gigabit Ethernet port for background FTP transfer, and the existing 2.4GHz Wi-Fi radio has been coupled with a 5GHz one (802.11ac). A USB 3.2 Gen 1-compatible port using a reversible USB Type-C connector has been added, allowing for both faster data transfer and tethering. And battery life has been improved somewhat as well, to a maximum of 690 frames using the LCD monitor, or 500 with the electronic viewfinder.
And that's far from all. Other changes include a 60-second voice .WAV voice memo function with automatic transcription via a smartphone app, support for background data transfers to mobile even when the camera is switched off, and a raft of updated apps with improvements in many areas.
List pricing is expected to be in the region of US$4,500 body-only, with shipments starting sometime in November. For the full story, read our just-published Sony A9 II preview!