Sony A9
OK, so no surprises here then. In fact, if we were simply handing out a ‘Camera Of The Year’ gong – like we did when we first initiated these awards back in 1981 – Sony’s A9 would be the clear winner. It’s an important camera on quite a number of levels, not the least being Sony’s ‘gloves off’ approach to challenging the dominance of D-SLRs in the professional arena.
Of course, Sony has been hitting home runs all over the place with its A7 series models, but the A9 takes things a lot further in terms of leveraging the mirrorless configuration. Sony is calling it the “full electronic revolution” which promises freedom from “the limits of conventional SLRs that rely on mechanical systems”. In case you missed the inference, that’s the reflex mirror Sony is talking about… and because the A9 doesn’t have one, it can shoot at 20 fps and 24.2 megapixels resolution with continuous AF/AE adjustment, no EVF lag or freeze, and completely silently. What’s more, it’s significantly smaller and lighter than any full-35mm D-SLR, or even the high-end ‘APS-C’ bodies for that matter. 
At the heart of the matter is new ‘stacked’ sensor design which is essentially multi-layered to accommodate an integral memory (DRAM) and some signal processing capabilities. This allows for a much faster read-out and enables most of the A9’s key party tricks, such as the 20 fps shooting speed, phase-detection AF and AE tracking at 60 times per second, the elimination of rolling distortion when using the sensor shutter, and a full-sensor read-out with no pixel binning when shooting 4K video. The sensor’s back-illuminated design optimises sensitivity, and image stabilisation is provided via sensor shifting with correction across five axes and for up to five stops of camera shake.
The autofocusing performance has to be experienced to be believed (it uses a total of 693 measuring points, covering 93 percent of the frame) and the high ISO performance is astounding. But these are just two highlights of a camera that delivers in every department, including the handling, ergonomics and user interface. It’s simply a real joy to use… and the rewards are many.
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