Sony a9 III

Sony has announced the Alpha 9 Mark III, the world's first full-frame camera with a global shutter. It can shoot at 120 fps with no blackout and a maximum shutter speed of 1/80,000 sec.

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It's a 24.6MP camera that Sony says doesn't compromise on ISO performance or dynamic range. The camera has a base ISO of 250 though, which is likely to mean that its DR is comparable to existing cameras at that sensitivity setting. The global shutter means photos with zero distortion of movement. It promises 8EV of in-body stabilization.

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The a9 III is built around the latest Bionz XR processors, giving eight times as much processing power as was present in the a9 II.

The a9 III can shoot 120 fps with full AF conducting calculations between each shot. It can continue this for 1.6secs of 14-bit Raw files: 192 frames and 6GB/s. It can pre-buffer for up to 1 sec, giving a preemptive 120 frames of pre-capture. The camera includes a 'Speed Boost' custom button to prompt the camera to jump from a slower rate up to 120 fps.

Sony has published a list of lenses able to shoot at 120fps with full AE and AF in AF-C mode.

CMOS sensors with a global shutter have been available for several years but haven't been able to offer as much dynamic range as conventional, progressive-scan designs. The emergence of Stacked CMOS technology allows the photodiode and readout circuitry to be built as separate layers, providing more space for the readout circuitry without cutting so much into the sensor's capacity to store electrons (which can limit dynamic range).

Click here to read our in-depth "Sony a9 III, what you need to know"

Sony isn't giving detail about the sensor but it appears to be a two-layer design, not the three-layer approach being used for some smartphone sensors. This might explain the base ISO of 250, which will ultimately limit the camera's maximum dynamic range. Sony isn't quoting a DR figure for the camera. Unlike the original a9, the a9 III includes the ability to shoot in S-Log3, with base ISO jumping by 3 stops to ISO 2000, to facilitate its greater degree of highlight capture.

The global shutter means the a9 III can sync at up to 1/80,000 sec and eliminates the need for High Speed Sync, and allows this feature with third-party flashes. It also means there's no risk of banding from artificial lights, but the camera has an 'Anti-Flicker' mode that syncs the shutter with the bright point in the light's cycle, to avoid inconsistent exposure.

It's rated to focus down to -5EV with an F1.8 aperture lens. It adds smaller AF points, alongside Sony's subject recognition modes.

On the video side, it can shoot 4K/60p taken from 6K capture and 4K/120p without any crop. It includes options such as 10-bit 4:2:2 capture, the S-Cinetone profile and '16-bit' Raw video output over HDMI.

The a9 III has a 2M-dot 3.2" rear screen with full articulation and a tilt-out cradle. It's the same setup as the a7R V and includes an LCD panel which covers the DCI P3 color gamut. It features a 9.44M dot OLED viewfinder with 0.9x magnification. It can run at full resolution at 120fps or with a reduced resolution at 240fps.

Sony says it's moved the shutter button to improve ergonomics, as well as adding a fifth function button to the front of the camera. The difference is immediately apparent when you pick the camera up: the grip tilts your hand backwards slightly, giving a comfortable grip and putting the shutter button immediately under your finger.

The optional battery grip's ergonomics have also been reworked and the battery performance boosted by 15% by treating the two included batteries as a single entity, rather than discharging one and then the other.

The a9 III will be available from Spring 2024 at a recommended price of $5999.

What is a global shutter?

Global shutter is a method of ending an exposure where all the image data is captured simultaneously. This is distinct from most existing shutter systems (electronic and mechanical) that start and end progressively: working their way across the sensor.

There are multiple benefits to such a system, with the most obvious being the elimination of the rolling shutter distortion effect often seen on video and with slow electronic (progressive) shutters.

But another major benefit is that a global shutter can sync with flash at almost any shutter speed. With global shutter it's the duration of the flash burst that becomes the limitation, rather than the length of time it takes to close the shutter (which in turn dictates the shortest period where the whole sensor is exposed). Sony says the a9 III can sync at all shutter speeds (all the way up to 1/80,000 sec).

A global shutter also eliminates the banding that can occur with progressive shutters under flickering lights. Because the image is all captured at exactly the same moment, you don't capture different parts of a light's flicker cycle in different parts of the image. You might capture an image of an LED sign board refreshing, if you use a very high shutter speed, but that's an issue with the LEDs, not the camera, which is accurately capturing a single moment in time.

It also says it will be introducing firmware updates to the a7S III and the a1, adding features such as breathing compensation. The a7S III will also gain DCI 4K capture. Sony says there will also be a firmware update for the a9 III, adding the ability to continuously shoot with shutter speeds at up to 1/80,000 sec.

All three cameras will also add C2PA authentication metadata. C2PA is a combination of the efforts of the Content Authentication Initiative and the separate Project Origin initiative.

As part of the launch, Sony has announced the FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS. It weighs 1470g (51.9oz), making it the lightest in its class, the company says. This is the same weight as the original 70-200mm F2.8 GM. The company also says it's designed to be balanced with the camera attached.

FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS

The 300mm F2.8 GM OSS has two XD linear motors to allow it to focus fast enough to work with the a9 III.

The 300mm F2.8 will also cost $5999 and will also be available in Spring 2024.

Sony event video:

Sony Electronics Releases the Alpha 9 III; the World's First Full-Frame Camera with a Global Shutter Systemi

SAN DIEGO- Nov. 7, 2023 – Sony Electronics today introduced the Alpha 9 III camera equipped with the world's firsti full-frame global shutter image sensor. ​

The newly developed global shutter image sensor exposes and reads all pixels simultaneously, unlike a rolling shutter sensor that records images sequentially from the top row of pixels to the bottom. The impressive global shutter full-frame image sensor enables the camera to shoot at burst speeds up to 120 frames per second with no rolling shutter distortion or camera blackout. This innovative sensor is combined with Sony’s most advanced AF (autofocus) system to date - boasting AI autofocus with up to 120 times AF/AE focus calculations per second. With the added ability to sync flash at all shooting speeds, the Alpha 9 III opens up a new world of possibilities for professional photographers to capture every decisive moment.

“The Alpha 9 III full-frame camera is a landmark achievement for the industry,” says Yang Cheng, Vice President, Imaging Solutions, Sony Electronics. “Designed with the needs and demands of professional photographers in mind, every single update to this camera – from the sensor to even the size to the button layouts and menu functions – has been made to address specific input and feedback from our community. We have listened and are thrilled to bring the new capabilities of the Alpha 9 III to market---capabilities which allow photographers to capture things they’ve never been able to capture before.” Cheng continued, “For professionals everywhere, they can achieve even more dynamic expressions when the Alpha 9 III is combined with our rich lineup of lenses, in particular with the new 300mm F2.8 G Master OSS – the world’s lightestii large-aperture telephoto lens.”

Features of the Alpha 9 III Full-Frame Camera

A New Dimension of Still Image Performance Created by the World's Firsti Global Shutter Image Sensor

The Alpha 9 III is equipped with the newly developed, world's firsti global shutter full frame stacked CMOS image sensor with approximately 24.6 effective megapixelsiii and built-in memory. Combined with the latest image processing engine BIONZ XR®, the Alpha 9 III achieves blackout-free Continuous Shooting Speed with AF/AE trackingiv of up to approximately 120 fpsiv. The Alpha 9 III is supplied with high-density focal plane phase detection AF. A designated AI processing unit uses Real-time Recognition AF to recognize a wide variety of subjects with high precision. By combining high-speed performance of up to 120 fps with highly accurate subject recognition performance, it is possible to easily photograph scenes and moments that cannot be seen with the naked eyeiv. The AI processing unit in the Alpha 9 III supports movies as well as still photography with accurate subject form and movement recognition. The Real-time Recognition AF and Real-time Tracking provide a significant improvement in human eye recognition performance, allowing the camera to automatically recognize, track, and focus on the eyes of a specified subjectv. The Alpha 9 III is equipped with 8.0 stopsvi of optical 5-axis in-body image stabilization, allowing for high-quality image rendering.

Shutter speed is freed from the limitations of conventional mechanical shutter image sensors and achieves a maximum shutter speed of 1/80,000 second (1/16,000 second during continuous shooting)vii, making it possible to capture at high speed without any distortion. When a compatible Sony flashviii is attached, such as the HVL-F60RM2 and HVL-F46RM (sold separately), it is possible to synchronize the flash and take pictures at all shutter speeds up to 1/80,000 secondvii. Previously, if the user released the shutter at a speed faster than the flash's synchronization speed, the amount of light would drop sharply, but with the full-speed flash synchronization function, it’s now possible to photograph scenes that could not be easily captured with conventional technology. Also, when shooting stills or movies under LED lighting, the Hi Frequency Flicker function can significantly reduce high-frequency flicker problems by allowing the shutter speed to be finely adjusted to match the flicker frequency while viewing the monitor.

The Alpha 9 III features selectable release lag modes which allows the user to prioritize release lag or viewfinder/monitor displayix. The newly developed Pre-Capture function allows the camera to continuously record up to one second before the shutter is released, making it easy to capture moments that would otherwise be missed. When selected, the Continuous Shooting Speed Boostx function allows for the user to change to a faster, preset speed set by the user at any time during shooting, and enhanced burst stamina ensures that important moments are reliably captured due to a large buffer memory and increased overall system speed allow up to approximately 390 Fine JPEG imagesxi to be captured in one continuous 30 fpsxii burst.

Customizable focus areas have been expanded to include from XS to XL in addition to the previous S, M, and L sizes. The Preset Focus/Zoom function allows preset focus and zoom settings to be memorized in the camera for quick recall when neededxiii. In addition to the existing custom white balance frame size, the user can now select other sizes as needed which allows for fine white balance adjustment after an image has been composed. The Alpha 9 III has upgraded features such as the latest AF algorithms to achieve high AF precision down to light levels as low as EV-5 in AF-S mode (ISO 100 equivalent, F2.0 lens), AF tracking for continuous shooting at F22xiv and a composite RAW shooting function that gives the ability to combine multiple consecutive images into a high-quality composite.

Advanced Video Performance Without Distortion

The global shutter image sensor provides distortion-free image expression for videos as well as still images. For example, the user can shoot images of nearby scenery from a fast-moving vehicle such as a car or fast-moving subjects with ease. This camera is the first in the Alpha™ series to be able to record 4K 120p high-frame-rate video without cropping, allowing the user to shoot at the angle of view intended. It is also possible to shoot high-resolution 4K 60p videos with 6K oversampling.

The Alpha 9 III has S-Cinetone™, a unique Sony feature which can create a cinematic look straight out of the camera without post-processing. S-Cinetone was created through the development of the VENICE high-end cinema camera and makes human skin tones and subjects stand out beautifully, creating natural highlights. The Alpha 9 III has the latest video performance including rich gradation performance and S-Log3, and when in Log shooting mode, it can reflect and display the user's favorite imported LUT (lookup table). The Alpha 9 III is compatible with the mobile app "Monitor & Control" for video creators.

Operability and Reliability for Professionals

Sony has listened to the voices of professional photographers and created operability and reliability that supports professional users. The shape of the grip is improved and ergonomically designed so that it can be easily held in the palm of the hand to avoid straining the user even when wearing a telephoto lens or using it for long periods of time.

The VG-C5 vertical grip (sold separately), provides the same operability and versatility as when shooting horizontally; the user can comfortably support long shooting sessions. The grip and shutter button area share the same design as the main body, allowing image capture without feeling uncomfortable, with the same operability as the camera. The Alpha 9 III is equipped with a 4-axis multi-angle LCD monitor that can be operated by touch, allowing for intuitive operation using the latest touch menu. The electronic viewfinder uses a 9.44 million-dot Quad XGA OLED and achieves high visibility with the same brightness as the Alpha 7R V and a magnification of approximately 0.90x. Also, a custom button is placed on the front of the camera, and the continuous shooting speed can be changed by operating the custom button assigned with Continuous Shooting Speed Boost with the finger holding the grip, allowing for highly immediate operations. It supports professional photographers when shooting in all environments.

High-Speed Workflow and Scalability to Support Immediate Delivery

New features for the Alpha 9 III include a playback image filter that allows the user to efficiently select a large number of images using high-speed continuous shooting, and a function menu that can be used even during image playback, strongly supporting professional workflows from shooting to delivery.

The "Playback Function Menu" can be assigned in advance, so the user can perform protection, smartphone transfer, File transfer protocol, etc. during image playback. The user can select images narrowed down with a playback filter and play them from the function menu, allowing for quick delivery of specific images. The camera has a dedicated microphone for voice memos on the back, and by positioning the built-in microphone near the user’s mouth allows clear recording of audio even in noisy environments. The recorded audio data can be transferred via FTP along with the images. The camera allows the user to set up to 20 presets from the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), an international consultative body in which news organizations from various countries participate. ​

The Alpha 9 III can transfer data up to twice as fast as the Alpha 9 II. 5 GHz communication offers maximum speed and stability for news and sports shooters who need to deliver immediately via FTP, as well as for studio environments. The Alpha 9 III allows stills and movies to be recorded to memory media in numerous ways including the two media slots that support CFexpress Type A cards as well as UHS-I and UHS-II SD cards.

It is compatible with the professional mobile application "Transfer & Tagging" which speeds up the image delivery workflow, and the application "Remote Camera Tool" which allows remote shooting of PCs using wired LAN. Also, Sony plans to support a new version of Camera Remote SDK, a software development kit that allows remote camera operation and changing shooting settings, in Spring 2024.

In addition, the Alpha 9 III is scheduled to support functional enhancements such as FTP operability, relay playback, and C2PAxv ​ format support xvi through a camera software updatexvii.

Firmware Updates for the Alpha 1 and Alpha 7S III Models

In addition to the release of Alpha 9 III, Sony has announced new firmware updates for the Alpha 1 and Alpha 7S III full-frame mirrorless cameras xvii. The new software will provide both models with some of Sony’s latest imaging technologies including the highly requested Focus Breathing Compensation feature, IPTC and FTP workflow enhancement, and C2PA format support. The firmware will also update the Alpha 1 with Relay Playback, and the Alpha 7S III with DCI 4K 24.00P shooting format. The camera software update will be available in Spring 2024.

Pricing and Availability

The Alpha 9 III camera is available for pre-order Nov. 8, 2023, at a variety of Sony's authorized dealers, for a suggested retail price of $5,999.99 USD and $8,299.99 CAN.

The VG-C5 vertical grip is available for pre-order Nov. 8, 2023, at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers, for a suggested retail price of $399.99 USD and $549.99 CAN.

i Compared to interchangeable-lens digital cameras. As of the November 2023 product announcement. Sony survey.
ii As of the November 2023 product announcement. Sony survey of interchangeable 300mm F2.8 lenses for full-frame digital cameras.
iii Approximate, effective.
iv Sony test conditions. Maximum continuous frame rate may be lower in some shooting conditions. Continuous shooting speed may vary depending on the lens used in AF-C focus modes. Visit Sony’s support web page for lens compatibility information. A software update for the lens itself is also required. The software is scheduled to be released after December 2023.
v When subject recognition is ON during AF shooting. Face, eye, etc. recognition status can be monitored when subject recognition frame display is ON.
vi CIPA standards. Pitch/yaw shake only. FE 50mm F1.2 GM lens. Long exposure NR off.
vii Maximum shutter speed is 1/16000 second when F1.8 or larger aperture is used. 1/80,000 second speed not available when shooting movies, when using the Var. Shutter function, or when no lens is mounted.
viii A software update is required. The software update will be released simultaneously with the Alpha 9 III. Some variation in brightness and color may occur between shots when using shutter speeds higher than 1/10000 second. Light level may not reach the manual light output level setting at some shutter speeds, resulting in insufficient light level. Refer to the support page at for details.
ix With the default [Auto/Off] setting no blackout occurs when shooting is started, and release time is controlled for optimum display latency. The [Fast Release/On] setting provides the shortest possible release time lag with blackout occurring on only the first image in a continuous burst. The [Stable Release/On] setting minimizes variations in release lag with blackout occurring on only the first image in a continuous burst, making it easier to release the shutter at the intended moment.
x Continuous shooting may be interrupted when Continuous Shooting Speed Boost is used to switch from a low shooting speed to a shooting speed higher than 60 fps, or when switching from a high shooting speed to a shooting speed lower than 30 fps.
xi With Sony CEA-G160T CFexpress Type A memory cards (sold separately). Sony test conditions.
xii ​ Sony test conditions. Maximum continuous frame rate may be lower in some shooting conditions. Continuous shooting speed may vary depending on the lens used in AF-C focus modes. Visit Sony’s support web page for lens compatibility information.
xiii Preset focus works with compatible lenses such as the FE 300mm F2.8 G Master OSS lens. Preset Focus/Zoom settings cannot be recalled while the shutter button is half-pressed. Only focus can be preset for prime lenses. If a zoom lens without power zoom is attached, the focus position/zoom positions can only be registered and recalled via remote operation using the computer software Remote Camera Tool. For details, refer to the following website. Preset Focus/Zoom can only be recalled when the lens that was mounted when the settings were registered is used. Not all lenses are compatible.
xiv When [Aperture Drive in AF] is set to [Focus Priority], the aperture size can be smaller than F22. Results may vary depending on shooting conditions and the lens used.
xv A standards organization that develops open standards and technical specifications for the origin and authenticity of digital content.
xvi Will be available in select countries and regions.
xvii Software update available by Spring 2024

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