Sony a9

24MP full-frame Stacked CMOS sensor | 20 fps burst shooting | Oversampled 4K video

What we like:

  • Incredible speed from all-electronic shutter
  • Good noise and low light performance
  • Highly detailed 4K video
  • Impressive AF precision and speed

What we don't:

  • Use of SD cards limits write speeds
  • Buffer takes a long time to clear
  • Battery grip all but required for comfort with larger lenses
The Sony a9 uses the world's first full-frame, stacked CMOS sensor, which allows for incredibly fast performance. It offers 24MP of resolution in stills, highly detailed 4K video recording, and an all-new autofocus system.
Other changes compared to earlier a7-series cameras include a bigger battery that provides thousands of images per charge, a higher resolution viewfinder, dual card slots, and better-organized menus. With dedicated autofocus and drive mode dials along with an AF joystick, the a9 is also among the best handling mirrorless Sony cameras we've yet used, and the tilting touchscreen is handy as well. It's still a small camera, though - this is a usually a good thing - but expect to add a battery grip to comfortably use longer and heavier telephoto lenses.
If you simply want the best responsiveness and ergonomics that Sony mirrorless cameras have to offer, you owe it to yourself to take the a9 for a spin
The a9's new autofocus system features an impressive 693 AF points covering 93% of the frame. Sony's Eye AF technology has been improved, and Lock-On subject tracking has been improved as well, though it still can't quite match the market's best performers for outright accuracy. At 20 fps, the a9 shoots far faster than any of its competitors, giving you a better chance at catching just the right moment - which you'll have an easier time following, owing to the 'you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it' blackout-free burst shooting.
Image quality is very good, as is to be expected from a high-end Sony camera, but part of the trade-off for the incredible speed the a9 offers comes in the form of dynamic range. It bests the Nikon D5 in this regard, but lags just behind the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. JPEG quality is very good, with excellent noise reduction and sharpening, but we find that skin tones and auto white balance can struggle under artificial lighting.
When it was launched the a9 was also the only camera in its market segment to offer oversampled 4K video, resulting in incredible detail. There are headphone and microphone ports as well as focus peaking and zebra stripes, but Sony has decided to omit its Picture Profiles, including S-Log. Touch-to-focus is present, though it isn't as reliable as Canon's Dual Pixel AF. However, leaving the AF Area in Auto and letting the camera do the work for you works well for most subjects.
The Sony a9 is looking to push into a market segment that's mostly been dominated by big, double-grip DSLRs. Not only does the a9 shrink the size and cost of entry for this market segment, but it does so while offering meaningful speed and ergonomic benefits for those that need their cameras to respond at a fraction of a moment's notice. We aren't exactly convinced that most photographers need 24MP files at 20 fps, but if you do happen to need that speed, or simply want the best responsiveness and ergonomics that Sony mirrorless cameras have to offer, you owe it to yourself to take the a9 for a spin.

Studio Test Scene | Specifications Compared

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