With the α9, Sony opened the mirrorless E-mount system to professional photographers craving speed. Over the last two years, they’ve worked closely with pros using the camera—and listened to the concerns of those who aren’t. The newly announced α9 II is not a replacement for the more affordable α9, but as a result of that research it presents a new member of the Alpha lineup with huge refinements for sports photographers, journalists, tethered studio photographers, and anyone else who needs as few barriers between their shots and the final product as possible.
In the words of Neal Manowitz, deputy president for Imaging Products and Solutions Americas at Sony Electronics:
The voice of our customers is absolutely critical to Sony – we are always listening. The Alpha 9 II is the direct result of our work with 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.
Check it out in action in this video! You can pre-order here to ensure you get it as close to the November release as possible.
Brought to the cutting edge
The α9 II is based on the same 24.2 MP Exmor RS stacked BSI CMOS sensor and 693-point phase-detection/425-point contrast-detection AF system as the α9, but the way they’re used is completely different. The newest-generation BIONZ X processor allows the α9 II to take advantage of the improved AF algorithms and performance, including real-time Eye-AF for video as we saw in the α7R IV. In fact, the majority of the improvements to the Alpha system introduced by Sony in 2019—starting with the α6400—have been incorporated into the newest professional flagship. The host of upgrades shared by both the α7R IV and the α9 II include:
- Faster processor
- Better AF, including real-time Eye-AF for video
- Dual UHS-II SD card slots (as opposed to one UHS-II and one UHS-I slot)
- Bigger, more positive grip
- Redesigned controls, including a better joystick and more tactile rear dial
- Improved weather sealing around ports and doors
- Redesigned shutter damper for decreased shutter shock
- Separately-customizeable Fn menus for stills and videos
- Anti-flicker mode for fluorescent lighting
- Multi-interface hot-shoe is compatible with digital audio and the new ECM-B1M microphone
The new camera is ever-so-slightly larger than the mark I, growing 2mm wider, 0.8mm taller, and 14.5mm deeper, but the majority of that growth (as you might have already guessed) is from that deeper grip.
Brand new features
In true flagship style, the α9 II introduces plenty of never-before-seen goodness, too! Physically, aside from the grip, a lockable EV compensation dial, an improved maximum of 10 fps in burst mode using the mechanical shutter (up from the α9‘s 5 fps), and an IBIS system rated at 5.5 stops of stabilization (up from 5 on the α9) lead the way.
Exceptionally eye-catching for journalists and sports photographers, the α9 II introduces a brand new voice memo feature allowing you to record up to 60 seconds of audio tied to any photo. The amount of headache that a quick verbal note can save at awards shows, races, and other events is immediately, I’m sure, palpable to anyone in the field. For maximum efficiency, you can even let Sony’s mobile or desktop software automatically transcribe your notes and attach them to the metadata of your JPEG files.
Speaking of transferring images, some of the biggest upgrades to the α9 II are the ones you’ll see in the connectivity feature set. The α9 II features a gigabit LAN terminal capable of SSL and TLS encryption for the added security some pros can’t live without. Security settings can be dialed in manually or (to save another headache) sent over a Bluetooth connection from desktop or mobile Sony software. Multiple configurations are supported—great for a camera used by several shooters in an organization!
USB Type C transfer on the α9 II is now through a 3.2 Gen 1 port, so tethered transfer and live view are both faster. Lag, be gone! The latest spec for the port supports power, too, so you can run your camera as long as you’d like.
Live-previewing wirelessly and transferring through Remote Camera Tool should also run more smoothly (and quickly) thanks to added support for 5 GHz 802.11ac connections. 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards in are all fully supported, at 2.4 and 5 GHz as available.
The α9 II has certainly broadened the feature-set available to an inquiring E-mount shooter. If you’re already in the ecosystem, click here to preorder one of the most capable professional cameras on the market! If you’re thinking about switching, don’t forget that we offer a trade-in program as well. Still on the fence? Stop into your local Mike’s Camera and we’ll be happy to jabberjaw with you about the latest gear and help you figure out exactly what the right fit for your needs is. Hope to see you soon!