Sony a9 II: A (Disappointing) Minor Update to a Flagship

Without much fanfare, livestream, or fancy press event, earlier today Sony announced the Sony a9 II full-frame mirrorless camera crushing the hopes of many for a major upgrade. New sensor, 4K/60p? Nope! Alas, it was not meant to be. Let’s all hope that the “unicorn” a7s III will not follow the same fate…

The Sony a9 II features the same 24 megapixel full-frame chip as its predecessor, albeit with an upgraded BIONZ X™ image processing engine, and also the same EVF and LCD as the OG a9. Designed for pro sports photographers, the a9 II gets inherits the unrivalled (yet) speed and performance in its class, including blackout-free continuous shooting at up to 20 frames per second with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking at 60 calculations per second.

Sony a9 II front 24mp full frame

Images by Sony

The new features are not many and some might even say the new camera feels more like a a9 1.1, than a new mark II. Sony has consulted with plenty of pros from its user base and come up with new updates for the a9 II including a significantly enhanced connectivity and file delivery, continuous shooting at up to 10 fps with mechanical shutter, and evolved AF performance with newly optimized algorithms, and a re-designed build to enhance durability and operability (i.e. button-ergo ported from the Sony a7R IV).

Sony a9 II Features

  • 24.2MP Full-Frame ExMOR RS CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor & Front-End LSI
  • 693-Point Phase-Detection AF System
  • Up to 20 fps Shooting, ISO 100-204800
  • UHD 4K/30p Video/ Real-Time Eye AF
  • Blackout-Free Quad-VGA 3.7m-Dot OLED EVF
  • 3.0″ 1.44m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
  • Dual UHS-II SD Card Slots
  • 5 GHz Wi-Fi
  • 1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet
  • Pre-order: $4,499 at B&H

The new Son a9 II, features enhanced connectivity – namely a built-in 1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet terminal, enabling gigabit communication for high-speed, stable data transfer operations. This is a feature quite a few pro photographers use, so a welcomed improvement for them for sure.

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 a9 II is now faster, thanks to the upgraded image processor, enabling the camera to function while continuously calculating Auto Focus and Auto Exposure at up to 60 times per second, with newly optimized AF algorithms that provide notably enhanced AF precision and performance, ensuring that even the most erratic subject motion that is associated with sports are captured with high precision.

Also useful for sporting events, the camera now offers an anti-flicker shooting mode that automatically detects and adjusts for the presence of fluorescent or artificial lighting to maximize image quality.

The advanced focusing system in the new Sony a9 II is comprised of 693 focal-plane phase-detection AF points covering approximately 93% of the image area, as well as 425 contrast AF points, the Fast Hybrid Auto Focus system achieves extremely fast and accurate performance, ensuring all fast-moving subjects are accurately captured.

Additional notable focusing capabilities include Real-time Eye AF with right eye/left eye selection, Real-time Eye AF for animal augmented with a new algorithm, Real-Time Eye AF for movie, Real-time Tracking, selectable focus frame colour, Touch Pad focus point control while using the viewfinder and more.

Other improvements include, improved grip for even greater comfort and sure hold; 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.

The Sony a9 II now comes with a redesigned shutter mechanism and has been tested for durability in excess of 500,000 shutter cycles. The USB Type-C connector now supports fast USB 3.2 Gen 1 data transfer and both card slots are UHS-II compatible.

Digital audio interface has been added to the camera’s Multi Interface Shoe (MI 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.

There is no change in video, the UHD 4K is still only at up to 30fps and the a9II records onto the same crappy 8bit codec as the rest of the a9/a7 line… Think of the a9 II as an a9 in the body of the A7R IV… Share comments and express disappointment in a civilised manner in the comments below.

The Sony a9 II is expected to ship in November 2019 for about $4,500 US and $6,000 CA. For more info and detailed specs head over to Sony here.

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