Sony ANZ has announced the Alpha 9 II full-frame interchangeable lens camera ‘created specifically to support working professionals in the fields of sports photography and photojournalism.’
Updates include significantly enhanced connectivity and file delivery, continuous shooting at up to 10 fps with mechanical shutter, improved AF performance, and a re-designed build aimed at greater durability and operability.
‘…The Alpha 9 II is a product of countless feedback sessions with agency, sports and news photographers since launching the original Alpha 9,’ said Jun Yoon, Head of Digital Imaging, Sony ANZ. ‘To complete the user experience, we’ve added connectivity and network capabilities that radically improve the professional workflow, while also making subtle adjustments to design, interface and processing power.
‘Bolstered by our incredibly versatile E-mount system which currently comprises of 55 native lenses, including the super-telephoto 600mm and 400mm G Master series lenses – the Alpha 9 II is the perfect tool for professionals either in the field or on the field.’
The Alpha 9 II includes an in-built 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 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.
The Alpha 9 II features a new Voice Memo function that allows spoken information to be attached to images in the form of short 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 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.
By combining wireless voice and 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 a smartphone. FTP settings within the app can also be sent to a camera via Bluetooth.
The new Alpha 9 II uses the same 35mm full-frame stacked 24.2-megapixel Exmor RS CMOS image sensor as the original Alpha 9. It 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.
Using the mechanical shutter, it shoots at up to 10 fps – around twice the speed of its predecessor.
Sony says the 9 II’s AF algorithms provide notably enhanced AF precision and performance, ‘ensuring that even the most erratic subject motion, often experienced in sports, is captured with high precision.’ It also has an anti-flicker shooting mode that automatically detects and adjusts for the presence of fluorescent or artificial lighting to maximise image quality.
The focusing system is comprised of 693 focal-plane phase-detection AF points covering approximately 93 percent of the image area, as well as 425 contrast AF points. Other focusing capabilities include Real-time Eye AF with right eye/left eye selection, Real-time Eye AF for animals (stills only) Real-Time (human) Eye AF for movie, Real-time Tracking, selectable focus frame colour, and Touch Pad focus point control while using the viewfinder. AF can continuously track even when continuous shooting at apertures smaller than F16, for shots that require slower shutter speeds.
– 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. (Fineprint: ‘Not guaranteed to be 100% dust and moisture proof.’) Stronger sealing provided at all body seams as well as the battery compartment cover and media slot;
– Latest 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 stabilisation system that provides a shutter speed advantage of 5.5 steps;
-Improved grip configuration for 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 image blur. Tested for durability in excess of 500,000 shutter cycles (Sony internal tests with electronic front curtain shutter.)
– USB Type-C connector, 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, 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.
The Alpha 9 II will be available in Australia in November 2019. No pricing accompanied the local announcement, but the US price of around US$4500 works out to $6670 or $7340 with GST added.