The a9 II is the camera Sony had to make - but they didn't make it for you
A lot of things are set to happen in 2020. It's a presidential election year here in the US (actually it's a presidential election year in lots of countries), Japan is hoping to establish a moon base*, and the UK will definitely, very likely, maybe have left the EU by the time Jan 1 rolls around. My money is on the moon base being ready long before the current British government gets its act together but we'll see.
In addition to the aforementioned lunar exploits, Japan is also gearing up for the 2020 Olympic Games, to be held next year in late summer, here on Earth. We've yet to find out which countries will go home with the most gold medals (although knowing how hot Japan gets in late July I don't fancy Team GB's chances) but we do know that every jump that is jumped, every leap that is leapt, every shot that is put (putted?) and every hamstring that is torn will be captured by banks of television and stills cameras.
For this reason, Olympic years are big years for the camera industry. Traditionally, Canon and Nikon maintain a huge presence at these kinds of events, complete with large support staff, professional service centers, and stockrooms chock-full of cameras and lenses ready to be put into action by professional photographers from all over the world. Typically, we also see both companies announcing major new professional cameras either early in an Olympic year, or late the year before. Beijing 2008 saw photographers shooting with the Nikon D3 and Canon EOS-1D III, at London 2012 it was the then-new D4 and the EOS-1D X, and so on.
When the a9 was released about two and a half years ago, it was clear that Sony had its sights set on professional users
Sony is still learning how to be a 'pro' stills camera brand, but the company is moving extremely quickly. Sony has invested a lot in recent years in professional support, and these days has a large Pro Service presence at many major sporting events. When the a9 was released about two and a half years ago, it was clear that Sony had its sights set on professional users, and the expansion of professional support since then (as well as the release of some seriously impressive telephoto lenses) is further evidence that its leadership is very serious indeed about joining Canon and Nikon on the sidelines.
The new a9 II is, in effect, Sony's 2020 Olympic camera. Announced fairly quietly today, without the usual Sony fanfare, the a9 II is a camera that the average DPReview reader will probably neither need nor buy. And Sony knows it. The upgrades compared to the a9 (which will continue in the lineup) are, for the most part, targeted at a small segment of the professional photographer user base. And even more specifically, towards photographers that shoot major sporting events.
A ten times increase in data transfer speed over LAN, the addition of 5GHz wireless connectivity, and the option to wirelessly send files from the camera when it's turned off are valuable features for those times when you're running around trying to send huge numbers of files to a remote editing station, but very few people ever need to actually do that. Likewise the ability to save up to ten sets of FTP settings to an SD card, or add 60-second voice memos to photographs, which can then be converted to text and appended automatically to EXIF using an app. Very cool, but not essential for most use-cases.
As an everyday machine for taking photographs, the a9 II is almost - but not quite - identical to the a9. Inside you'll find the same 24MP full-frame sensor, the same autofocus system, albeit improved, the same 3.7 million-dot OLED viewfinder and broadly the same core feature set.
There are a few useful refinements though, some of which are courtesy of the new Bionz X processor: autofocus speed and precision have been improved, likewise face detection, and EVF responsiveness. A new mechanical shutter with a rated lifespan of 500,000 cycles brings faster mechanical shutter shooting (now up to 10fps), and the a9 II benefits from the ergonomic tweaks and improved weather-sealing introduced in the a7R IV. Image stabilization performance has also been slightly increased, from 5EV in the a9 to 5.5EV, and battery life has increased by around 6% (CIPA).
The a9 II's video feature set is virtually unchanged over the a9, and shares its limitations (for some reason there's still no Log option), but Sony has added real-time tracking.
Thanks to a series of firmware updates, the a9 is as competitive now as it ever was
You know what I think, but what's your opinion? Should you buy one? After all, even if you're just an amateur sports photographer, the increase in continuous shooting rate in mechanical shutter mode might make a big difference (specifically if the venue/s you shoot in use LED lighting or advertising panels) and the beefed-up weather-sealing could be essential for some situations.
For most people reading this article though, I suspect that the additions in the a9 II will prove to be of little or no interest compared to the original a9 which has been on the market for more than two years. Thanks to a series of firmware updates, the a9 is as competitive now as it ever was, and with the a9 II now at the top of the lineup, the older model is likely to get more affordable over the next few months.
Meanwhile, Sony can get the a9 II into the hands of the people that really need it - the pro sports shooters gearing up for next summer's major sporting events. On the moon, or wherever.
* Yes, I know the cited article is from almost a decade ago, and since then the target date for Japan's lunar base has been pushed back by at least a few years, but I'll level with you - I was looking for a quick way to set up a cheap Brexit gag.
|Rainbow and Truck by dalgo|
|medieval woman with sword by summicron|
from Medieval Costumed Actors in Ancient Structures
|Yellow Slicker by Billstek|
from Just a touch of color.
Google has confirmed it's ending its free 'original quality' image backups with its Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones. This marks the first time the popular perk isn't offered since the launch of the original Pixel smartphone.
In a story shared on 35mmc, photographer Steve Boykin tells how he stumbled upon a Fujifilm XF 23mm F1.4 R lens he had lost four months prior during a trek in the wilderness and discovered it still works fine.
Sandmarc's new filter series combines the characteristics of polarizing and neutral density (ND) filters into one single filter.
Our testing of the Canon G7 X III continues, which means we've brought along on plenty of day trips and adventures to get a feel for its performance in a number of situations. Take a look at some of the resulting images.
Shimoda Designs has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its new 'ultra-aggressive' lineup of camera bags that includes three backpacks, two rollers and a handful of new and improved accessories.
Meike has added yet another mount option to its 85mm F2.8 manual macro lens, which was previously available for Canon RF, Canon EF, Sony E/FE and Nikon F mounts.
Camrote version 1.2.0 adds new zoom and time-lapse capabilities to select Sony camera systems.
Google has officially unveiled the Pixel 4, with the addition of a telephoto camera headlining the camera updates. Other improvements include real-time HDR preview in live view, added brightness and exposure controls, and an updated portrait mode with better depth mapping.
With Luminar 4, Skylum Software aims to provide sophisticated editing tools in an easy to use package.
The a7R IV is Sony's latest high-resolution interchangeable lens camera, but that doesn't mean it's just for landscape photographers. Get all the details about this 60.2MP full-framer in our full review.
Google's Night Sight has justifiably been considered the low light king, but with the iPhone 11 Apple is challenging for this title with its own Night Mode. Take a look at how they compare side-by-side.
Be vigilant on what's being reflected in eyes (or glasses) before posting photographs of yourself or others online. High resolution photographs aren't always beneficial.
The Flujo Signature Pro has passed its funding goal on Kickstarter and the first units are expected to ship in November 2019.
Based on the images Ilford Photo shared alongside the tweet, the film stock will come in four different formats and be released on October 24.
Host Ben Krasnow of YouTube channel Applied Science shows how film cameras used a micro LCD projector and a small incandescent light to project the time and date onto photographs.
Sony Semiconductor's 24MP sensor has been at the heart of many excellent APS-C cameras over the past few years, but the impressive results we saw from the 90D's new 32MP sensor suggest that Canon has finally answered with a formidable chip of its own.
Firmware version 1.30 adds a number of new customizability settings and addresses a number of issues present in past firmware versions.
You've seen sample photos from a pre-production Fujifilm X-A7 shot by our friends at DPReview TV – here are some of our own.
A new type of ultra-thin lens uses a large number of microstructures to focus light onto a sensor.
We would expect the iPhone 11's Portrait Mode to outperform the Pixel 3, and it does. But Google has its work cut out in more than one way if its next-gen flagship is to stay competitive.
Researchers from Institut für Mikroelektronik Stuttgart have developed a pixel design with the potential for massively increased dynamic range thanks to the ability to 'count' the number of times an individual pixel resets when it becomes saturated with light.
The redesign brings a new interface and a number of other fixes to the desktop app used to manage Adobe's Creative Cloud apps and services.
Founder of Imaging Resource Dave Etchells has confirmed that the site he created more than 20 years ago is set to close at the end of the year.
The small change could be a sign of things to come in later iOS 13 updates for the default Camera app
Pixelmator Pro version 1.5 Avalon comes with a number of upgrades, including support for macOS Catalina, the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, as well as machine-learning powered noise reduction and improved performance.
Nikon's Z mount just evolved to include an APS-C product line. So what does this tell us about the company's APS-C strategy?
If you want a camera that you can pick up and use without having to page through the manual first, then this guide is for you. We've selected seven cameras ranging from compacts to full-frame, all of which are easy to operate.
Following a successful Indiegogo campaign earlier this year, Canon has now announced the impending public availability of its compact IVY REC camera.
In news that won't surprise anyone with a basic understanding of physics, a new promo video shared by Canon Korea confirms canon's forthcoming RF 70-200mm F2.8 lens will feature an extending zoom barrel.
The 'new' film is a re-worked formula of Lomography's Berlin Kino B&W film that's said to add ''an upgrade in [photographers'] freedom of creative choice, no matter if they shoot with 35mm or 120 format.'