Sony unveils blazing fast a9: A 24MP sports camera that shoots 20fps


Sony just raised the bar on high-speed sports photography with their latest “groundbreaking” (but actually) camera release. The newly-announced Sony a9 is a 24MP high-end full-frame mirrorless sports camera that can fire off an insane 20fps with no blackout. Sony is calling this “the most technologically advanced, innovative digital camera that [we have] ever created,” and this descriptor doesn’t miss the mark.

With 20fps blackout-free and distortion-free silent shooting, high-speed tracking with 60 AF/AE calculations per second, a 693-point AF system with 93% frame coverage, a 3,686k-dot EVF that runs at 120fps, and 5-axis in-body stabilization that offers up to 5 stops of shake reduction, the camera is looking to challenge entrenched sports cams like the Canon 1DX Mark II and Nikon D5.

The a9 can also shoot full-frame, full-sensor 4K that is actually downsampled from 6K worth of pixels; it features an Ethernet port for quick file transfer and dual SD card slots for plenty of storage; and the new battery Sony put inside boasts twice the capacity (480 shots per charge) of previous models. If you need even more charge, the optional battery grip holds two of these batteries, for a total of 950 shots.

On specs alone, this camera will make many sports shooters drool. The price ($4,500) puts it out of reach of most sane beginners and enthusiasts but the feature set will (slowly) make its way down the Sony line. Regardless, Sony has thrown down the gauntlet to Canon and Nikon.

  • freediverx

    Very impressive, but it’d be nice to see the quality of the resulting photos shot at ISO 8000.

    • ISO 8000 would be a walk in the park. Any of the top three full frame makers can do that without breaking a sweat.

      This camera is an embarrassment to Nikon and Canon. They have lived in the past for so long they think their position amongst sports shooters and photojournalists is unassailable. But I remember when Nikon was king and Canon introduced the first really functional AF. And they even forced them to completely replace their lens systems. And Canon took Nikon to the woodshed.

      This is an even bigger change. Better lenses (G Master series), better ISO performance (The A7IIs), lighter, smaller, faster. To top it off, Nikon and Canon have embarrassed themselves with their first mirrorless efforts. That’s what happens when you want to protect what you do already, rather than trying to best what you do.

      Sony is now the Apple of camera makers.

      • GlennC777

        I’m with you half way. I’m frequently infuriated by Nikon’s refusal to do anything at all unless they’re absolutely compelled to by competitive pressures, which they define as Canon.

        At the same time their financials have been squeezed by cell phones and their response, rather than to compete by making the best cameras they can at every price point, is to cut costs by worsening their customer service, angering their existing loyal base and creating a mile-wide opening for disruptive competition.

        • JimCracky

          That’s how they always were. In the film days, I shot Nikon for many years until they just stopped being able to ship gear to their users. Waiting 6 months for a new lens to ship was money lost. Switched to anon in 1993. Now this comes along.

          • GlennC777

            I have to give them a break when it comes to lenses. Large capital investments and long lead times are inevitable. But when it comes to basic tech, regardless of the era, there is no excuse for being 1) the first or second world leader in the field, but also 2) among the least innovative.

            It’s like GM in the seventies.

  • JimCracky

    Must Have Now

  • GlennC777

    Very impressive specs. I wonder if it will compete with Nikon and Canon in terms of real-world AF capabilities though. This is almost more art than science, as the camera has to know what to track based on both the photog’s input and its own internal logic. Twenty frames per second are only worthwhile if the AF is also spot-on.

    Also the battery capacity may be improved, but it sounds awfully weak in a world where a serious sports photographer may shoot five thousand frames per game on each of two separate bodies.

  • frikova

    Is the ethernet port a new thing on cameras? I haven’t seen that before, although it seems a good idea.