The Sony a9 may be the most intriguing camera announcement I’ve seen in the past couple of years. Sony has been the major innovator in the full-frame mirrlorless market, and the a9 is replete with innovations, but they are centered on the new 24 megapixel stacked BSI sensor. What is a “stacked” sensor? In this case, it refers to the imaging surface being stacked with integrated RAM, the BIONZ X processor, and the circuitry to connect them, which dramatically increases the rate of dataflow from sensor to processor, allowing RAW-shooting framerates of 20 frames per second. The sensor itself is a high-dynamic range, low-noise BSI (back-side illuminated) CMOS, providing a native ISO range up to 51200, and expanded up to 204800.
The camera’s highlights are too numerous to detail here, but here are the main bullet points:
- blackout-free shooting at 20 fps (at shutter speeds above 1/125th second)
- silent electronic shutter up to 1/32,000th second
- 693 phase detection AF points, 60 AF calculations per second
- 5-axis, 5-stop in body stabilization
- LAN Port, Wi-Fi, NFC
- 2 SD Card Slots
- Full Frame 4K video, 6K capture with pixel binning and oversampling to 4K, 120 fps 1080p capture
- New battery 2.2x life of previous model, optional grip holds two batteries
- New Front-End LSI (processing chip) in conjunction with BIONZ processor for fast, detailed processing
- Magnesium Alloy Body
What makes this camera announcement so interesting is not any particular feature, though some are impressive, but the fact that Sony has produced a body that can compete with the flagship DSLRs from Canon and Nikon, with all of the features needed by professional photojournalists. Combined with last week’s reports that Sony has unseated Nikon as the second-highest selling interchangeable lens camera system (behind Canon), the writing on the wall is plain to see: the days of the DSLR are numbered, soon to be replaced by mirrorless cameras.
Price & Availability
The Sony a9 will begin shipping in June. The body, which is available for pre-order now, will cost $4499.