Sony a9 Full Review: Mirrorless Redefined
Body and controls
If you were to wander into a camera store and take a passing glance at the Sony cabinet, you'd be forgiven for mistaking the a9 for just another a7-series camera. The entire range of Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras clearly shares a lot of design DNA, but the a9 makes some meaningful changes that a lot of people (including us) have been requesting for a while now.
The most obvious change is a general increase in the amount of direct controls; there are now dials for both drive and autofocus modes, there is an AF joystick (which is very nice to use) and dedicated AF-ON and AEL buttons. The rear jog dial has been beefed up some, the movie button has been relocated and the controls universally offer better feedback, and are more 'clicky' and less 'rubbery' than a7-series cameras.
|From left: Sony a9, Sony a7R II|
While those are all welcome changes, we still wish the mode dial locks were 'toggles' rather than the 'press-and-turn' type, and the AF mode dial's unlocking mechanism is a little fiddly and should, again, be a toggle. Also, we think the AF-ON and AEL buttons could use more travel when pressed: they're so small and offer so little feedback that you often can't find them or know that you've pressed them with your eye to the finder (especially in cold situations or with even light gloves).
Around the side, we get dual card slots, one of which supports the faster UHS-II format. Sony's also shoehorned a bigger 'Z' series battery into the a9, with more than double the capacity of the 'W' models. This larger capacity, coupled with a claimed 40% reduction in power consumption compared with the a7R II, results in a CIPA rated 650 shots per charge. In real-world shooting, though, we were able to shoot 2000+ images over the course of a day with some charge to spare.
|The new 'Z' series battery for the Sony a9 comes with 2.2 times the capacity of the older 'W' models that power the a7-series cameras.|
On the opposite side of the new dual card slots, we can see the full array of the a9's ports. Unsurprisingly for a serious sports camera, there's an Ethernet jack for instant FTP uploading during an event, and somewhat surprisingly given the a9's sensor is 'only' 24MP, there's a flash sync port that usually resides on more studio-oriented cameras. There are standard headphone, microphone and mini-HDMI jacks, and though you can still charge over USB, the a9 only offers USB 2.0 for image and data transfer, unlike the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS-1D X II.
The grip has been revised but not dramatically, so you'll want to be sure to pick up a battery grip or Sony's small (and pricey) grip extender for better comfort with larger lenses.
The screen is new, with a move to 1.44M dots or 800 x 600 resolution. That puts it well behind the retina-esque 2.4M-dot screen of the Nikon D5, meaning images don't look as crisp on the back of the camera as with the D5. The LCD is also touch-enabled, though it's essentially identical in terms of functionality (and quirkiness) to the unit on the a6500, which we just weren't impressed with. It's also disabled by default - probably not a coincidence.
Sony is claiming some degree of dust and moisture resistance on the a9, but obviously warns the camera isn't really 'waterproof.' And while we can't torture-test our cameras to really find the extent of the sealing, one glance at the port, battery and card slot doors shows a lack of rubber gaskets, whereas they're in abundance on Nikon's D5 and Canon's EOS-1D X II.
Although it doesn't look any different on the outside, the new viewfinder on the a9 is a marked improvement over previous Sony cameras. It offers greater resolution (3.7 million dots as opposed to 2.4 million) and a higher framerate of 120 fps (this drops to 60 fps during continuous shooting, but with 20 fps bursts and no blackout, it's still darn impressive). The EVF offers extensive contrast since it's OLED.
Menus, customization and operation
The Sony a9 is generally more 'snappy' to use than any a7-series camera. Everything is a tad more responsive, boot-up time is claimed to be 30% faster, and you can enter playback while the camera is writing to the card (the a7R II just gives you an unnecessarily cryptic error message when you try to do this). There's still some hints of lag when you change shooting settings, especially compared to the instantaneous feedback DSLRs offer, but the a9 is nonetheless improved over other Sony cameras in this respect.
|Seeing this on the Sony a9 made us do a happy dance.|
The menus have gotten a particularly effective refresh, with better titling, organization, colored tabs and (finally) a customizable 'My Menu' that you can populate with items of your choosing. When you go to assign your customizable buttons, you'll be greeted with better organized options there, too.
The Memory Recall modes (1, 2 and 3 on the mode dial) are now eminently more usable because Sony has increased the number of settings each mode can hold (see the full list here). We found it particularly useful to have one setup for shooting stills, one for 4K video and another for slow-motion 1080p video. That said, we're still waiting for true 'custom modes' that remember all camera settings, including button customizations.
The a9 inherits the same instant overrides top-end DSLRs provide: with 'Registered Custom Hold' assigned to various custom buttons, you can press just one button to instantly override camera settings like shoot mode (P/A/S/M), exposure parameters, metering modes, or AF modes and functionality. This could save your shot by, for example, instantly activating the correct AF mode.
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.'
Sigma has announced the pricing and availability of its compact full-frame mirrorless camera, the fp. It will cost $1,899 for the body-only and $2,199 as a kit with the Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens.
Nikon says it made the Z50 for Instagram users, but technical editor Richard Butler finds little evidence of this, which leaves him wondering who's going to buy it.
Tech analyst firm TechInsights has broken down the components inside Apple's iPhone 11 Pro Max and estimated the camera components to cost $73.50.
Need more Z50 sample photos? This gallery was captured using a pre-production Nikon Z50 while filming this week's episode of DPReview TV.
The Nikon Z50 is here. Nikon's latest Z-series camera features an APS-C sensor and is being launched alongside two DX-format kit zooms. Take a closer look at the Z50 in this hands-on article.
Nikon has announced a roadmap for its Z-mount mirrorless system. The roadmap includes high-end primes, 'compact' primes and a selection of zoom lenses.
The Z50 is Nikon's first Z-mount mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor, and it launches alongside a pair of DX zoom lenses. Chris and Jordan had a chance to use a pre-production model and share their experience in this hands-on preview.
We were fortunate enough to get some hands-on time with a pre-production Nikon Z50 ahead of the launch, so we brought it to some of our favorite Seattle photo spots to see just what it can do.
Nikon's 58mm F0.95 'Noct' lens could be the most impressive optic yet for Nikon's Z-series mirrorless cameras. Find out what Chris and Jordan think of this flagship prime lens for Z-mount, and why it may become their new unit of measure.