CAMARAS Sony A9 Review

Sony A9 Review

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Sony A9 Review

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Sony A9 Review

With the Alpha 9 Sony advances into the professional sector: Sports photos at 20 frames per second without viewfinder blackout

With the new mirrorless full-frame camera, Sony wants to enter the professional sector as it sees fit. The core is a newly developed full-frame CMOS sensor with 24 megapixel resolution and integrated DRAM as a buffer for particularly fast, long-lasting image series without blackout in the electronic viewfinder. A total of 693 phase autofocus points cavort almost to the edge of the sensor.

 

Sony A9 Review

With the Alpha 9, Sony wants to mix up the professional sector and even outperform DSLRs in performance and image quality. Despite professional demands, the Sony Alpha 9 is a compact mirrorless system camera that is significantly smaller and lighter than the 24-70 mm F2.8 lens [Photo: Sony]

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Robust, compact housing
  • Very fast autofocus paired with rapid continuous shooting function
  • Very good image quality up to ISO 6,400
  • Excellent high resolution electronic viewfinder
  • 4K video functions with many options

Cons

  • Still no consistent sealing of all interfaces/flaps
  • Somewhat confusing main menu
  • Memory card interface becomes a bottle neck

The newly developed Exmor RS CMOS sensor is back-illuminated for maximum light output. It resolves 24 megapixels and offers a sensitivity range from ISO 100-51.200 or ISO 50 to 204.800 with extension. The new sensor should offer the best image quality of all full-frame cameras to date, including improved dynamic range. The sensor is constructed in several layers. In addition to the light-sensitive photodiodes, the signal converters and fast DRAM buffer memory are also located directly on the full-format sensor. This leads not only to up to 20 times faster data processing speed, but also to a fast readout of 20 frames per second at full resolution and a low latency for the live image display in the viewfinder or on the screen.

The sensor is able to carry out the autofocus and exposure metering without interruption even at 20 serial images per second with 60 images per second and to generate the live image, which is thus also displayed without blackouts. 693 phase AF points are integrated on the sensor and together with the contrast autofocus provide fast and accurate focusing. Compared to the fastest camera in the system to date, the Alpha 7R II, the autofocus speed is said to have improved by 25 percent. 93 percent of the image field is covered by the phase autofocus, up to -3 EV the focus measurement still works. The autofocus should be able to track complex and irregular movements better than ever before.

Sony A9 Review

The Sony Alpha 9 has a rugged magnesium housing with seals to protect against moisture and dust. Although the Sony Alpha 9 has many controls, there was no room for a status display anymore [Photo: Sony]

Sony A9 Review

The new full-frame sensor of the Sony Alpha 9 resolves 24 megapixels and offers with the integrated DRAM, the front-end LSI and the Bionz X 20 continuous frames per second at uninterrupted 60 fps live image including 60 AF/AE calculations per second. [Photo: Sony]

Sony A9 Review

The Sony Alpha 9 probably has a foldable touch screen, as well as a 3.7 million pixel electronic viewfinder with 0.78x magnification. The Sony Alpha 9 has not only an up and down tiltable touch screen, but also a 0.78x electronic viewfinder with low latency and a high resolution of 3.7 million pixels. [Photo: Sony]

Between the sensor and the actual image processing processor Bionz X sits the front-end LSI, a special processor with a very large buffer memory that supports the Bionz X behind it. This makes it possible to process 20 serial images per second for either 241 raw or 362 JPEG images in succession, i.e. twelve to 18 seconds at full speed. No professional DSLR can keep up here. Exposure is either with a focal-plane shutter fast up to 1/8,000 second or vibration-free, silent and fully electronic with up to 1/32,000 second short exposure times. The anti-distortion mode is intended to suppress the rolling shutter effect with the high curtain speed. However, the shortest flash sync time is only 1/250 second.

The Sony Alpha 9 records videos in a maximum 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, in full HD resolution 120 frames per second are possible. The sensor reading is carried out for 2.4-fold oversampling in 6K resolution, up to the edges of the image. Switching to the Super 35 mm format is possible. The videos are saved in MP4 or XAVC S format, which complies with the new AVCHD 2.0 standard. Both headphones and a microphone can be connected via separate 3.5 mm stereo jack sockets.

Sony A9 Review

The new Sony NP-FZ100 Info Lithium battery offers 2.2 times the capacity of the older W model. With the Alpha 9, 480 images with an electronic viewfinder or 650 images with the rear display according to the CIPA standard are now possible. [Photo: Sony]

Sony A9 Review

The Sony VG-C3EM portrait handle offers the same ergonomics in portrait as in landscape. [Photo: Sony]

Sony A9 Review

Since the Sony VG-C3EM Portrait Handle holds two batteries, the camera’s battery life is doubled. [Photo: Sony]

The new electronic OLED viewfinder achieves a resolution of 3.7 million pixels, which corresponds to a quad VGA resolution of 1,280 x 960 pixels. The refresh rate is either 60 or 120 Hz. The optical system of the viewfinder is constructed to a very high standard with the Zeiss T* coating and a double-sided aspherical element. The 0.78x magnification ensures a large viewfinder image. Thanks to the good optics, it should be sharp right into the corners and about twice as bright as before, which should make the image impression even more realistic. The outermost glass layer of the viewfinder is also coated with a dirt-repellent fluorine coating.

The rear 7.5-centimeter screen folds 107 degrees up and 41 degrees down. This is a touch screen with a resolution of 1.44 million pixels which, for example, allows the focus point to be shifted. The Alpha 9 is also equipped with numerous focus options, such as group controls, individual adjustments for portrait and landscape format with storable setups, an AF-On button and a focus joystick.

The full-format sensor with movable bearings ensures image stabilization, allowing up to five f-stops longer exposure times without camera shake. The Image Stabilizer starts working when the shutter-release button is pressed halfway, making the effect visible in the live image. Sony has put another point of criticism ad acta with the new NP-FZ100 info lithium battery: it has 2.2 times the capacity of the previous battery, which doubles the battery life. As usual, the remaining capacity is displayed as a percentage on the camera’s display. 480 shots with electronic viewfinder or 650 shots with the rear display are possible according to CIPA standard.

Sony A9 Review

The back of the new image sensor of the Sony Alpha 9 [Photo: Sony]

  • Sony A9 Review

    The small handle extension GP-X1EM is milled from solid aluminium and super noble. If you have big hands, you get a better grip of the Alpha 9 without having to mount the large portrait battery handle. [Photo: Louise Sandoval]

Sony A9 Review

The battery holder is screwed under the camera or fastened somewhere else where it does not interfere. The cable for the battery dongle is long enough. Up to four (!) batteries can then be accommodated and charged simultaneously in the holder. [Photo: Louise Sandoval]

A double SD card slot is now available for image storage, whereby one of the two slots is compatible with UHS II. Via the Ethernet LAN interface, the Alpha 9 is able to send photos directly to an FTP server, remote control from a PC should also be possible. A flash sync socket is also available. Wireless communication includes NFC, Bluetooth 4.1 and WLAN, which can be used to transfer images to smartphones, televisions and PCs. Remote camera control via app including live image transmission is also possible. Thanks to the Bluetooth interface, the smartphone can be used as a GPS receiver.

The robust magnesium housing is protected from dust and moisture by numerous seals on controls and rotating wheels. The compact Alpha 9 should weigh only 670 grams ready for operation. The long-lasting mechanical shutter should be able to withstand at least 500,000 releases. Not only the many buttons, some of which can be individualized, or the separate rotating wheels for the continuous shooting and focus modes, as well as the user settings that can be saved, but also the new My Menu, in which up to 30 preferred menu items can be saved for faster retrieval, ensure good operation. From June 2017, the Sony Alpha 9 was available at a price of 5,300 euros.

The GP-X1EM handle extension, which costs 150 euros and is optionally available, is supposed to have the same feel and optical design as the Alpha 9 and provides better grip. In addition, a new VG-C3EM portrait handle is available for 390 euros, which not only doubles battery life, but also allows the same operation in portrait mode as in landscape mode. The batteries (90 Euro each) can either be charged in the camera and in the handle or externally in the new BC-QZ1 quick charger, which charges two batteries within 2.5 hours. It’s 100 euros. If you want to extend the battery life even further, you can connect the NPA-MQZ1K multi-battery adapter set, which costs 450 euros and can accommodate up to four batteries (two are included) and recharge them.

The Sony Alpha 9 is the first mirrorless full-frame system camera that is also suitable for professional sports photography. It not only has a robust magnesium housing, but also a powerful autofocus system and a 20 frames per second continuous shooting function – without interrupting the live image or the focus tracking of the subject. In the digitalkamera.de test the 24-Megapixel-Kamera expensive over 5.000 euro must show now, what is really in it.

Ergonomics and workmanship

With an operational weight of just over 670 grams, the Alpha 9 is Sony’s heaviest mirrorless system camera to date. The 50 grams extra weight compared to the Alpha 7R II, for example, is due to the more robust housing. It consists of a magnesium alloy, whereby the upper and lower sides consist of one part, the front and rear plates are screwed on, which is supposed to bring a special robustness. This is underscored by the reinforced bayonet, which also accommodates large and heavy lenses without distortion, and the improved dust and splash water protection. In any case, at least a seal can be seen on the battery compartment, but not on the interface flaps and the memory card compartment. Whether the Alpha 9 can drain as much water as many other cameras that can be rinsed under running water can at least be doubted.

As befits a mirrorless system camera, the housing is quite compact without being too small to accommodate a sensible handle, folding screen and viewfinder as well as the necessary controls. Thanks to its good handle and its “leathering” – also on the back – the Alpha 9 lies wonderfully in the hand. Only a little height is missing the handle, so that with some the small finger does not find any more so correctly hold. Sony offers a remedy for this in the accessories programme. The high-quality handle extension GP-X1EM provides a better grip, without having to put on a heavy multifunction handle with a portrait shutter release, which is also available. The trigger is easy to reach, but is very softly tuned and has no concrete pressure point. That doesn’t make it easy to hold the focus without accidentally triggering it. Some, however, even prefer this. Otherwise, you can use the AF On button on the back to separate the focus from the shutter release button.

The Sony Alpha 9 is blessed with plenty of controls. Several buttons can be programmed to adapt the camera operation to your own needs. There is also a focus joystick, a push-button program selector wheel with three individual memories, an exposure-compensation wheel, shooting mode and focus mode dials (both also locked like the program selector wheel), and three universal dials, two of which are located on the back of the camera. The exposure correction wheel may be difficult to use, but it should be able to lock into place a little tighter to prevent accidental adjustment. In addition, the Alpha 9 has a function menu for further recording parameters for which there is no space left on the keys. The main menu is divided into six categories with up to 13 subpages, which is not very clear. For example, you have to shuffle through the pages to find the extensive focus settings. A finer or second category level would certainly not be a bad idea, so the pages are simply provided with text blocks for labeling. The “My Menu”, which contains up to 30 preferred menu items, can provide some order. What the Sony lacks compared to a full-blown professional DSLR is a status display, there was simply no room for it.

Sony A9 Review

The battery compartment of the Sony Alpha 9 sits in the camera base and, unlike the double memory card compartment on the side, has a seal.

Sony A9 Review

The Sony Alpha 9 is equipped with numerous connectors. In addition to microphone and headphone jacks, you will also find a LAN connection, for example.

A real highlight of the Alpha 9 is its electronic viewfinder. With 3.7 million pixels, it is one of the highest resolution searchers on the market. It also offers 0.78x magnification with Zeiss optics and a large diopter correction range. Sony emphasizes the higher brightness of the viewfinder as well as the low latency. At least the latter we can confirm, a delay to the real image is hardly noticeable anymore. In bright sunlight, on the other hand, there is still a difference to the contrast-rich and brighter real image. The resolution, however, is so high that one has to search quite hard to recognize a pixel pattern. It is to be guessed only at very fine regular structures. For spectacle wearers, the exit pupil is, as so often, somewhat tight. You can’t really see the whole viewfinder, the edges are shadowed. Fortunately, there is a far-reaching dioptric correction.

With its resolution of 1.44 million pixels, the rear screen doesn’t need to hide either. It has a 4:3 aspect ratio, which leaves some room for status displays below the live image without covering the image. The 7.5 cm screen is a touch screen that can be folded up and down. However, the touch functionality is limited to setting the focus point. No menu or playback can be operated with a fingertip or wiper. With a maximum brightness of 1,145 cd/m², the screen is extremely bright when the sun mode is activated. This makes it easy to read even in bright sunshine. Both the viewfinder and the monitor offer a preview of white balance, exposure and depth of field, as well as information, an electronic 3D spirit level, a live histogram and various grid patterns can be displayed.

The lithium-ion battery is a different type than before, but it offers a higher capacity. It’s enough for 480 shots with the viewfinder or even 650 shots with the rear monitor – a very decent performance. In addition, the percentage-accurate residual capacity display always provides accurate information about the charge status. Speaking of loading: Sony does not only provide an external charger, but also a USB power supply, which is connected via the Micro-USB interface. Any normal USB power supply can also be used. The battery can also be charged in the camera – even during operation, which increases the battery life. In addition, Sony not only offers a multifunction handle, but also an external battery holder for four batteries, which significantly increases the battery life on the tripod or video rig. The battery is removed from the bottom of the camera. The compartment is far enough away from the tripod thread in the optical axis to remain accessible even with larger quick-release plates.

Sony A9 Review

The 24 megapixel full-frame sensor of the Sony Alpha 9 is back-exposed and can be read out very quickly thanks to the integrated DRAM buffer memory.

The memory card, on the other hand, is removed from the side. The compartment has a locking slide and opens automatically as soon as you press it. Slot 1 is compatible with SD as well as SDHC and SDXC with UHS I and II, but still writes with only 105 MB/s. Our Sony test card is almost three times as fast. Memory card slot II accepts either a memory stick or an SD, SDHC or SDXC card, but supports UHS I only. On the opposite side there are numerous interfaces behind three closures. In addition to Micro-USB, you will also find Micro-HDMI, a flash sync socket, a LAN network connection, a microphone socket and a headphone output.

Equipment

Although the Alpha 9 is a professional camera, it has a fully automatic mode including scene recognition and a face recognition with memory for eight faces. The auto mode is rather to be understood as a “panic mode” in case you need to go fast. The Sony doesn’t offer things like selectable scene programs, effect filters, a panorama function or HDR automatic. There are only a few pictorial styles. The focus is on the classic creative programs and the video mode. The manual mode can also be combined with the ISO automatic, Sony has even thought about an active exposure correction. The shutter operates mechanically with up to 1/8,000 second short exposure times and is designed for 500,000 releases – so there should be no doubt about its longevity, other professional cameras have to make do with less promised releases. In addition, the Alpha 9 offers a completely silent electronic shutter with up to 1/32,000 short exposure times. There is hardly any rolling shutter effect that distorts images during fast movements.

The continuous-advance function is even designed for the electronic shutter. It operates at 20 frames per second faster than any DSLR – at full 24 megapixel resolution and with an uninterrupted 60 fps viewfinder image. A dark time like with a DSLR does not exist any more and just as no faked viewfinder picture like with other electronic viewfinders, which in truth shows the last serial picture and is therefore anything but “live”. With the Alpha 9, you don’t lose your motive from the viewfinder even if you drag along. Thanks to the large buffer memory, the Sony Alpha 9 can hold out at 20 continuous shots per second for either 242 raw or 357 JPEG images. That’s enormous. However, the memory card interface is a real bottleneck, because it takes some time until the buffer is emptied again. During this time, the camera menu is locked, but the quick menu and other button and shutter release functions can still be operated. Interestingly, with Raw it takes “only” one minute until the buffer is empty, with JPEG it takes 4 1/2 minutes! We can only explain this enormous difference with an elaborate JPEG image processing, because the amount of data to be stored is smaller in JPEG. While JPEG is written with an effective speed of 46.3 MB/s, Raw is written with 105 MB/s. However, the Sony Alpha 9 is still miles away from the previous front runner, the Olympus E-M1 Mark II, and the Olympus writes at 170 megabytes per second to a correspondingly fast UHS II memory card.

In order to capture sports and action scenes professionally, you need not only a fast continuous shooting function, but also a reliable autofocus. With the focus measurement directly on the sensor as well as the 60 frames per second fast live image and accordingly also the continuous measurement during the continuous shooting function, the Sony has some real advantages, because a DSLR autofocus is blind during the exposure as well as with the mirror flipped up, which does not return to the rest position even longer than the actual exposure. In addition, there are 693 phase autofocus measuring fields on the image sensor that extend almost to the edge of the image. You can determine in which direction and how far or fast the subject moves. A DSLR with its separate autofocus module, on the other hand, poses the risk of front and back focus problems. The sophisticated algorithms and various control options in the camera, such as how the autofocus should react and which measuring fields should be controlled, contribute their part to the reliable autofocus. In the laboratory and in practice, he’s actually getting his act together at a rapid pace: it takes less than a sixth of a second for the camera to focus from infinity to two meters. In practice, she effortlessly follows fast-moving motifs. The autofocus still works even in low light, it is light-sensitive up to -3 EV.

Sony A9 Review

The Sony Alpha 9 takes 20 continuous shots per second while still displaying a live image at 60 frames per second. The autofocus is also constantly updated.

Sony A9 Review

The tripod thread of the Sony Alpha 9 is located in the optical axis and far enough away from the battery compartment.

The exposure bracketing function is also impressive. It shoots up to five frames at 3 EV exposure difference, up to seven frames at 2 EV and nine frames at 1 EV. This covers an exposure spectrum of 18 EV. So what the Alpha 9 lacks in automatic HDR function can be easily done by yourself. One press on the shutter release button and some image editing on the PC is enough. If you want, you can also record white balance series or DRO series. The DRO function at Sony is used for dynamic range optimization, so it brightens up the shadows. What the camera lacks is an interval shooting function. The PlayMemories apps are also not on board to upgrade functions. This is all the more painful to notice in playback mode, where there are no editing functions other than an image rotation – not even for raw data images. After all, NFC, Bluetooth and WLAN are on board and you don’t have to download an app after registering to use the functions. Thanks to NFC, the connection is established in no time at all. Thanks to Bluetooth, the paired smartphone transmits its position data in the background in an energy-saving way, because the Alpha 9 does not have its own GPS module. The app allows a camera remote control including live image transmission. The network socket in turn enables remote control of the camera from the PC and image transfer to an FTP server.

The Sony Alpha 9 is not only excellent for photography, but also for videography. The video function records 4K films at up to 30 frames per second and Full HD films at up to 120 frames per second. Storage at a high data rate of 100 Mbit/s ensures good video quality. There is a high-quality integrated stereo microphone, but an external one can also be connected as well as headphones for sound control. A level indicator is available as well as a wind noise filter. The autofocus is just as silent as the image stabilizer. This works by means of the movable image sensor and works very effectively with videos and photos. Thanks to the 6K oversampling, the video quality is very high and the full image width of the sensor is used. Thus, one only loses the image angle of the trim from the 3:2 sensor format to the 16:9 video format. The Alpha 9 also offers professional videographers all kinds of functions that we don’t want to go into in detail, they can be found in the data sheet. If desired, you can record videos with manual exposure, whereby the video button also allows recording in photo mode. But this is better done in the video mode of the program selector wheel. What is missing from the photo functions is available in video mode: A time lapse function. Slow motion can also be recorded.

Sony A9 Review

The video function of the Sony Alpha 9 is also equipped with many professional options. Thanks to 6K oversampling and 4K storage at 100 Mbps, the videos are of high quality.

Sony A9 Review

The handle of the Sony Alpha 9 is well contoured and covered with a non-slip cover, so the camera fits well in the hand.

If you want to flash with the Sony Alpha 9, you have to buy an appropriate flash unit for the multi-interface shoe, as there is no integrated flash. This is a pity, because it also requires a control unit on the camera for wireless TTL control of external flash units. However, the flash sync time is only 1/250 second. All functions of the external flash units are supported, such as long-term synchronisation, high-speed synchronisation, flash at the end of exposure or flash exposure correction.

Picture quality

The Sony Alpha 9 is equipped with a newly developed full-frame sensor that combines several modern technologies. On the one hand, the sensor is back-exposed to maximize the light-sensitive area. On the other hand, the CMOS sensor has a built-in DRAM, i.e. its own buffer memory, which enables particularly fast readout. Sony claims to offer the best picture quality in the full frame range, for example with a high dynamic range. In fact, the image results are convincing in practice with great clarity and defined details. Up to ISO 6.400, the image results are piecemeal and virtually noise-free. At much higher sensitivities the Alpha 9 can’t do magic either. After all, Sony does without ludicrously high ISO sensitivities like a DSLR competitor. ISO 204.800 is the end of the story – and you can see why. There is simply not much quality in this sensitivity.

To get to the bottom of the image quality in detail, we tested the Alpha 9 with the 24-70 mm F2.8 G Master lens in the lab.

The lens shows strong distortion in the test laboratory. It is a good two percent for all three measured focal lengths (24, 41 and 70 mm). At wide-angle, due to its barrel shape, which appears more natural to the human eye, it subjectively does not carry as much weight as at medium and long focal lengths, where the cushion shape literally catches your eye as soon as lines in the image run parallel to the edge of the picture. Colour fringes, on the other hand, do not appear in the laboratory test. Although an edge darkening is present, it is not particularly strong, especially for a full frame lens, with a maximum of 0.8 f-stops.

The resolution is very high with up to 63 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) in the image center for a 24 megapixel image sensor. At 24 and 41 mm from the open aperture and at 70 mm from F4, the resolution curve runs almost like a string along the line of 60 lp/mm, falls only beyond F8 below this line and only shortly before F22 below 50 lp/mm. The edge waste is low at 24 and 41 mm, between F5.6 and F16 even over 50 lp/mm are reached. In the telescopic position, not only the resolution in the image center starts with an open aperture, but also the edge resolution. It shingles from 30 lp/mm at F2.8 only slowly rising to 50 lp/mm at F16 high. However, the lens in the image center is not really soft in the telescopic position, at most not quite as crisp as at a smaller focal length.

The signal-to-noise ratio is good, but not as bombastic as you might expect. Even with the damped sensitivity of ISO 50, only 45 dB is achieved. Up to ISO 800, the value is in the good range of over 40 dB, up to ISO 6,400 it remains in the acceptable range of over 35 dB. ISO 6.400 is also the limit above which brightness noise slowly becomes noticeable. From ISO 51.200 it becomes highly visible. Color noise only plays a role at the highest sensitivity of ISO 204.800. With about two pixels, the noise remains fine-grained. Noise suppression is minimally noticeable from ISO 1,600. However, it only noticeably reduces the visibly increased detail rate above ISO 6,400. From here on, the detail rate drops significantly with each further sensitivity. At ISO 12.800, the finest textures appear somewhat more blurred, above which this becomes more than clear. But up to ISO 6.400 you can use the camera without hesitation and get noise-free, detailed images.

The promised high dynamic range is also fulfilled in laboratory measurements. At ISO 100, and only there, twelve f-stops are achieved. At ISO 50 and up to ISO 1.600 there are over eleven f-stops, up to ISO 6.400 over ten. The dynamic range is critically low only at the two highest ISO sensitivities. The tonal value curve shows a very steep course, typical for the very strong image processing in JPEG, which is also reflected in the high sharpening and the excessive detail rate. In JPEG, the Sony Alpha 9 is designed for very crisp photos that don’t require image processing. That’s not wrong either, because the raw format is much better for everything else anyway. Nevertheless, the JPEG image processing can be adapted and the contrasts and sharpening as well as the noise suppression can be somewhat reduced.

The output tonal range is perfect up to ISO 200, almost all of the 256 possible brightness gradations are exploited. Up to ISO 1.600 there are very good over 192 steps, up to ISO 3.200 good over 160 steps. From ISO 12.800, less than 128 levels are used, so only a good half. For aggressive image processing, the color fidelity is surprisingly good. There are only slight deviations here and there, which mostly affect the slightly stronger saturation, so the hue remains largely unaltered. The actual color depth is also very good. Up to ISO 400, over eight million color nuances are displayed, up to ISO 6,400 over four million and even at ISO 25,600 still two million.

Bottom line

The Sony Alpha 9 is a superbly crafted and rugged full-frame mirrorless system camera with an incredibly high performance. The compact housing is quite ergonomic, while the operation is not always as clear despite many buttons, especially in the main menu. The viewfinder, like the bright screen, is of excellent quality. The high continuous shooting speed goes hand in hand with a jagged autofocus, so that the Alpha 9 is actually action-ready. Only the memory card interface represents a certain bottleneck, which is concealed by the incredibly large buffer memory. The image quality of the Sony Alpha 9 is very clean and super crisp up to high ISO regions. If you don’t like this, you should use the raw format. Resolution, colour rendition and dynamic range are convincing in any case. ISO 6.400 can be controlled without hesitation and even at ISO 12.800 the losses are low.

Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Sony
Model Alpha 9
Sensor CMOS 35mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm (Crop factor 1.0
)28.3 Megapixels (physical)
24.2 Megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 6,0 µm
Resolution (max.) 6.000 x 3.376 (16:9)
Video (max.) 3.840 x 2.160 30p
Lens Sony FE 24-70 mm F2.8 GM (SEL2470GM) (zoom lens)
Video viewfinder EVF, 100 % field coverage, 3,686,400 pixels resolution, 0.78x magnification (sensor-related), 0.78x magnification (KB equivalent), diopter compensation (-4.0 to 3.0 dpt), -4.0 to 3.0 dpt)
Monitor 3.0″ (7.5 cm)
Disbandment 1.440,000 pixels
tiltable yes
rotatable
swivelling
Touchscreen yes
AV connector HDMI Output Micro (Type D)
Fully automatic yes
Automatic motif control yes
Program automation yes
Program shift yes
Aperture priority yes
Aperture priority yes
Manual yes
Bulb long time exposure yes
HDR function
Panorama function no
Exposure metering Matrix/multi-field measurement (1,200 fields), center-weighted integral measurement, spot measurement
fastest shutter speed 1/8.000 s
Flash
Synchronous time 1/250 s
Flash connection Hot shoe: Sony Multi Interface
WLAN yes
NFC yes
GPS external, permanent smartphone connection
Remote release yes, infrared trigger, Bluetooth trigger, remote control via Smartphone/Tablet
Interval shooting
Storage medium
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I, UHS II)
Slot 2
Memory Stick (Duo Pro)
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I)
Sensitivity
automatic ISO 100-51.200
manually ISO 50-204.800
White balance
automatic yes
manual measurement yes
Kelvin input yes
Fine correction yes
Autofocus yes
Number of measuring fields 693
Speed 0.16 s to 0.19 s
AF auxiliary light LED
Dimensions (mm) 127 x 96 x 63 mm
Weight (ready for operation) 674 g (housing only
)1.556 g (with lens)
Tripod socket in optical axis
Zoom
Zoom adjustment manual on lens
Battery life 650 images (according to CIPA standard)
– = “not applicable” or “not available”

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Robust, compact housing
  • Very fast autofocus paired with rapid continuous shooting function
  • Very good image quality up to ISO 6,400
  • Excellent high resolution electronic viewfinder
  • 4K video functions with many options

Cons

  • Still no consistent sealing of all interfaces/flaps
  • Somewhat confusing main menu
  • Memory card interface becomes bottle neck

Sony Alpha 9 Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor 35mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm (crop factor 1.0
)28.3 megapixels (physical) and 24.2 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 6,0 µm
Photo resolution
6.000 x 3.376 pixels (16:9)
4.240 x 2.832 pixels (3:2)
3.936 x 2.624 pixels (3:2)
3.936 x 2.216 pixels (16:9)
3.008 x 2.000 pixels (3:2)
3.008 x 1.688 pixels (16:9)
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Colour depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 42 bits (14 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.31), DCF standard (version 2), IPTC
Video resolution
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 30 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 25 p
3.840 x 2.160 (16:9) 24 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 120 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 100 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 60 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 60 i
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 i
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 30 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 25 p
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 24 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 30 p
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 25 p
Video format
XAVC S (Codec H.264)
AVCHD (Codec H.264)
MP4 (Codec H.264)
Audio format (video) LPCM

Lens

Lens mount
Sony E

Focusing

Autofocus mode Phase comparison autofocus with 693 sensors, autofocus working range from -3 EV to 20 EV, contrast autofocus
Autofocus Functions Single Auto Focus, Continuous Auto Focus, Area Auto Focus, Tracking Auto Focus, Manual, AFL Function, AF Assist Light (LED), Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier (9x)
Focus control Depth of field control, Live View

Viewfinder and Monitor

Monitor 3.0″ (7.5 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 1,440,000 pixels, anti-reflective, brightness adjustable, inclinable 107° upwards and 41° downwards, with touch screen
Video viewfinder Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 3,686,400 pixels, 0.78x magnification factor, diopter compensation (-4.0 to 3.0 dpt)

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 1,200 fields, spot measurement, AF-AE coupling
Exposure times 1/8,000 to 30 s (Auto
)1/8,000 to 30 s (Manual)
1/32,000 to 30 s (Electronic Shutter)
Bulb Function
Exposure control Fully Automatic, Program Automatic (with Program Shift), Aperture Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual
Bracketing function Bracket function with maximum 9 shots, step size from 1/3 to 3 EV
Exposure compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size from 1/3 to 1/2 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 100 to ISO 51.200 (automatic
)ISO 50 to ISO 204.800 (manual)
Remote access Remote triggering, Infrared trigger, Bluetooth trigger, Remote control via Smartphone/Tablet
, Remote control from computer: certain functions
Picture effects High Key, high contrast monochrome, landscape, vivid colors, portrait, retro, selective color, sepia, toy camera, 13 other image effects
White balance Auto, Clouds, Sun, White balance bracketing, Fine tuning, Shadow, Flash, Underwater, Fluorescent lamp with 4 presets, Incandescent lamp, from 2,500 to 9,900 K, Manual 3 memory locations
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 20.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 362 stored photos, max. 128 images in raw
Self-timer Self-timer with intervals of 2 or 10 s, special features: Delayed recording 3 or 5 frames after 2, 5 or 10 seconds
Shooting functions AEL function, AFL function, live histogram

Flashgun

Flash no built-in flash availableFlash shoe
: Sony Multi
InterfaceFlash
socket
: F connector
Flash range Flash sync time 1/250 s
Flash functions Auto, Fill-in flash, Flash on, Flash off, High speed sync, Long time sync, Flash on second shutter curtain, Red-eye reduction, Flash exposure compensation from -3.0 EV to +3.0 EV

Equipment

Image stabilizer Sensor shift (optical)
Memory
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I, UHS II)
second memory card slot
Memory Stick (Duo Pro)
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I)
GPS function GPS external (permanent smartphone connection)
Microphone Stereo
Power supply Power supply unit connectionUSB continuous power supplyUSB charging function
Power supply 1 x Sony NP-FZ100 (lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.2 V, 2,280 mAh
)650 CIPA-standard images
Playback Functions Image rotation, Protect image, Highlights / Shadow warning, Playback histogram, Playback magnifier with 15.0x magnification, Image index, Slide show function
Voice memo Voice memo (LPCM format)
Face recognition Face Recognition, Face Recognition (8 faces)
Picture parameters Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Noise Reduction
Special functions Electronic spirit level, Grid can be displayed, Zebra function, Orientation sensor, Live View, User profiles with 3 user profiles
Ports Data interfaces: Bluetooth, LAN, USB

WLAN: available (Type: B, G, N
)NFC: available

AV connectors Audio input: yes (3.5 mm stereo microphone jack
)Audio output: yes (3.5 mm jack (stereo, 3-pin))
Supported direct printing methods DPOF, Exif Print, PIM
Tripod socket 1/4″ in optical axis
Case Splash guard
Features and Miscellaneous statically charged protective filter to keep dust away from the sensorDynamic Range Optimization
(1-5 levels)
Video image effects (including Poster (Color), Poster (B/W), Pop Color, Retro, Partial Color (R/G/B/Y), High Contrast Mono, Toy Camera (Normal/Cald/Warm/Green/Magenta), Soft High Key, Rich Tone Mono Video functions

:

Audio level indicator, audio recording function, PAL/NTSC selection wizard, dual recording function, TC/UB (TC Preset/UB Preset/TC Format/TC Run/TC Make/UB Time Rec), autofocus tracking time, autofocus response time, Auto Slow Shutter, REC Control, HDMI Clean Info.
HDMI output max 3,840×2,160p25Switchable
AF area (693 metering patches to 25 metering patches)
Frame rate viewfinder 60 fps or 120 fpsFrame lines
can be faded in (third rule, square, diagonal and square grid line)
Movie MarkerTouch-AFBlitz exposure seriesObject error compensation

(edge shadowing, imaging errors, distortions)

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 127 x 96 x 63 mm
Weight 674 g (ready for operation)

Other

included accessories Sony AC-UUD12 power supply unitSony
BC-QZ1 charger for special rechargeable batteriesSony
NP-FZ100 special rechargeable batteryCasing cap
, cable protection, shoulder strap, micro-USB cable, accessory shoe cover, eyepiece cap
optional accessory Sony GP-X1EM (Handle
)Sony HVL-F20M Push-on Flash with Swivel ReflectorSony
NPA-MQZ1K Battery AccessorySony
RMT-P1BT (Bluetooth Remote Control)
Sony VG-C3EM Battery / Battery Grip

Firmware update 5.00 for the Sony Alpha 9 with many new features: Improved autofocus and new features

With the firmware update 5.00, early 2020, Sony has given the Alpha 9 numerous new functions in the video and photo area. For example, the autofocus has been improved and can now also track eyes in real time. In addition, there are many other new functions, but this also results in a complete reset of the camera and an incompatibility with previous stored camera settings.

Autofocus motion detection and tracking algorithms have been fundamentally improved. This allows the camera to better detect and track moving subjects by analyzing color, pattern, brightness, and subject distance. If desired, the motif tracking can simply be started via touch screen. Eye and face autofocus now supports subject tracking and continuous refocusing even when the shutter release button is pressed halfway. In addition, the precision of autofocus detection in dark environments and with low-light lenses has been improved. Instead of F11, F16 is now the smallest possible aperture where the autofocus is still working.

Using the touch screen, the focus point can now be moved relative or absolute to the current position while looking through the viewfinder. In addition, the number of contrast autofocus points has been refined from 25 to 425. According to Sony, this allows even more precise focusing on subject details, while the phase autofocus continues to use 693 measurement sensors. Another new feature is a circulating focus point setting. If you move the focus point beyond the edge, it is moved to the opposite side. This makes it much easier to change the focus point. The peaking function works more precisely after the update, in order to be able to focus even more precisely manually. Blue has also been added as another peaking colour (previously: red, white and yellow).

To speed up the sensitivity adjustment in shooting mode, ISO areas can now be hidden or only frequently used settings are displayed. Sony also wants to improve the operability of the white balance setting, for example, with fewer setting steps for manual input. In addition, automatic white balance can be locked at the current setting to allow shooting with constant results in environments with different light sources.

Those who like to photograph in Raw+JPEG can choose the JPEG quality between Extra Fine, Fine and Standard after the update. Star photographers should also like the new option of switching off the screen. Square fans, on the other hand, can now set a 1:1 aspect ratio instead of the native 3:2 or 16:9 aspect ratio. In Capture mode, the function dials can be used more flexibly thanks to the My Dial settings. This allows the setting wheel to temporarily change function at the touch of a button. Camera settings (MR) stored on the memory card can now be stored and recalled from both card slots.

With the video formats MP4 is omitted, but now proxy recordings are possible, with which beside the high-resolution video also a lower-resolution parallel is stored. This is useful for video editing so that the lower-resolution files allow you to work faster, but the data is used to render the high-resolution videos.

Playback mode now allows you to rate and protect images at the touch of a button, and you can group continuous shots together. After the update, the dual memory card slot offers further setting options, such as writing to the other memory card when one is full or storing raw and JPEG recordings separately.

After the update, the Sony Alpha 9 also supports Imaging Edge Mobile, the successor app to PlayMemories Mobile. Now you can automatically transfer images in the background, for example. The LAN control of the camera has also been improved. Several cameras can be controlled via mobile or cable, and FTP transmission is also possible during LAN control.

Since the update to version 5.00 also makes deep changes to the menu structure and some setting options are omitted, while many others are added, the camera is completely reset to factory settings during the update. Even old settings stored on memory cards cannot be recalled after the update. Detailed update instructions and detailed information on the new features can be found on the Sony website (see links for more details).

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