The much-anticipated Mark II version of Sony’s A9 'speed machine' full-35mm format mirrorless camera incorporates numerous updates primarily designed to enhance the usability for sports photographers and photojournalists.

The A9 II (a.k.a ILCE-9M2) retains the same 28.3 million pixels (total) ‘Exmor RS’ stacked and back-illuminated CMOS full-35mm format sensor as the original model, but it’s matched with a later-generation – and faster – ‘Bionz X’ processor which, among other things, delivers improved AF performance. The AF system is still a hybrid of contrast-detection and phase-difference measurements with 693 points PDAF points, but now with 425 contrast-detection points and the addition of Sony’s ‘Real-Time Eye AF’ and AI-based subject-recognition for enhanced tracking reliability. There’s also a new control algorithm for ‘Real-Time Eye AF’ operation when shooting video clips.

Photo: Sony.

The maximum continuous shooting speed is still 20 fps, again with no EVF black-out between frames; and a maximum continuous shooting speed of 10 fps with a new focal-plane shutter (up from 5.0 fps). The new FP shutter assembly has a claimed lifespan of 500,000 cycles. Importantly, the dual SD memory card slots now both support UHS-II speed data transfer, and there’s a USB Type C connection which supports USB 3.2 Gen 1 data transfer. Additionally, there’s anti-flicker detection and correction which is particularly important for sports photographers shooting in indoor arenas or at night events. New capture settings include additional aspect ratios (for 1:1 and 4:3) and provision of an intervalometer for time-lapse sequences.

Photo: Sony.

Also with sports and press photographers in mind, the A9 II has a 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 been enhanced by adding a 5.0 GHz (IEEE 802.11ac) band in addition to 2.4 GHz. The IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards are all supported. There’s also a new voice memo recording facility and a digital audio interface has been added to the ‘Multi Function Shoe’ hotshoe so the ECM-B1M shotgun microphone or XLR-K3M XLR adaptor kit can be connected.

Photo: Sony.

Also on the outside, the A9 II has upgraded weather sealing which Sony says is to the same standard as the recently release A7R IV. The handgrip has been reshaped and the ergonomic revisions include redesigns to the joystick-type multi-selector control and the rear input wheel (which has been relocated to the camera’s top panel). The five-axis in-body image stabilisation has a slightly increased correction range of up to 5.5 stops. As before, the A9 II has a 1.3 cm OLED-type EVF with 3.686 megadots resolution, and a 7.5 cm tilt-adjustable LCD monitor with 1.44 megadots resolution and touchscreen controls, including an AF ‘touch pad’ function for point selection when using the EVF which is claimed to be 1.5 times faster. Battery life has been improved (up to 690 frames) and the A9 II is compatible with the VG-C4EM vertical battery grip which was introduced with the A7R IV.

The Sony A9 II will be available in Australia in November and local pricing has yet to be announced. For more information visit http://www.sony.com.au