Sony has released the alpha 9 high-end full frame mirrorless camera.
Learn about all it's headline features in this comprehensive and concise half hour seminar PLUS hear about all the smaller but important features that are targeted to professional and serious users who rely on their gear and need it to function flawlessly and intuitively every time you pick it up.
Major New Features explained:
Smaller but Important Features explained:
Presented by Sean Ellwood - Senior Product Specialist at Sony Electronics
Sean also overviews the 3 latest Sony G lenses :
michaels and Sony Australia pulled out all the stops for a great event and capped it all off with an impressive a9 shaped cake that was enjoyed by everyone.
“Sony a9/α9/alpha 9 Official Launch - See How This Camera Revolutionises the Pro Market”
Ah, good evening ladies and gentlemen. It’s great to see such a great crowd here tonight.
So, my name is Sean. I’m the senior product specialist at Sony and I handle all of our camera products, and yeah, I want to talk to you guys for a little bit tonight about our new a9 camera.
I guess before I get on to the camera though, I want to quickly talk a little bit about what’s happening outside.
A lot of you will have noticed there are a lot of photos on the walls out there, and they’re not just there to look nice. They are from our Alpha Awards which we just concluded late last month. That was a photographic competition for people using Sony cameras and lenses. No actual a9 photos in that just yet, but next year I’m sure there will be some.
So, yeah, once you’re back out there, have a look around, see all those great photos. It was really inspiring for us to see such outstanding images coming from our community. So, yeah, don’t miss out on that.
The Sony A9
So, the a9!
We at Sony, we’ve been doing some really exciting to us, and I hope to everyone else, stuff in the full-frame imaging market for a little while now. The a7R Mark II is our flagship for image quality, resolution, things like dynamic range, and the a7S Mark II is our flagship for low-light sensitivity, for video quality.
You know, the ability to shoot amazing 4k video without subsampling. There’s completely the raw feed off the sensor.
[addressing an audience member] You can get that if you want.
The a9 is going to join those two, now, as our flagship for speed.
So, where the other two have their own special areas, the a9, of course, has a range of upgrades across the board. Some of which would be great on any camera but some of which are really specific to its niche of capturing incredible images of things that a slower camera just can’t.
Why the Sony A9 Is Unique
Now, the a9 is unique because it’s not just an incremental upgrade of the kind of camera we’ve had before. It’s completely its own thing; and it’s because we’re stepping away from this conventional system that we’ve worked with in the past, where we would have essentially a mechanical camera, with digital elements inside of it. Things like, you know, mirrors and shutters, which are things that we’ve gotten better and better at making of course. This has been the march of progress so far. You know, we’ve created mirrors that can move faster so that we black the viewfinder out for less time, and so we can get our autofocus working again. We have shutters that have gotten quieter, less vibration, they’ve gotten more durable, and they’ve gotten faster as well.
The Sony A9 New Image Sensor - Exmor RS
Autofocus, you know, incredible prediction algorithms that can let us predict where our subject’s going to be when we black out the viewfinder with the mirror, and of course optical viewfinders with, you know, Penta mirrors, Penta prisms, have gotten bigger and brighter, and more accurate; but all of these things are sort of these mechanical systems that we are pushing against, and with the a9 what we’ve been able to do is take a big sidestep around that; and that’s really thanks to the incredible new image sensor inside the a9. So the Exmor RS sensor in this camera is 20 times faster than any other full-frame image sensor we’ve ever produced; and I mean 20 times in one generation is, I mean that’s something you never see. You know we bring out things that are like 30% better and we go like, yes 30% that is great. This is two thousand percent better, so you know that is really not a trivial thing.
So, the thing that really makes it different is the way it’s built. So a normal sensor we have the part of the sensor that actually picks up the light, and that is bounded by these analog to digital converters on either side which take that information and take it off the sensor.
With the Exmor RS sensor in this camera, we have the entire top layer dedicated to just making an image; and then we send that information down onto the next layer of the sensor where it’s converted from raw analog information into a clean digital signal; and then sent off the sensor at a massively increased speed. So, by having so much more space dedicated to those analog to digital converters and also to having on-chip memory that can buffer that information as it travels off the chip, we’ve been able to make this breakthrough.
The Sony A9 - 20 fps
So 20 frames per second. That is really, I think, for everyone the headline feature. You know more frames in a second is always an exciting thing, and I do have a camera here so I can just very quickly give you a sense of that. Hopefully some of you have had a chance to see it already tonight but for anyone who hasn’t, there we go. That’s pretty quick.
The Sony A9 - No Blackout
Now, the other great thing about having about that 20 frames per second is that you can take full advantage of it without blacking out the viewfinder; and the combination of those two, means that this is a camera that is never going to leave you flat-footed. You know, you can really cover off every piece of action, every moment completely and comprehensively with 20 frames per second; and the lack of blackout means that you always have your eye on the subject. There’s no moment where you’ll suddenly lose the frame. Unless you are bad at using the camera, which I am, so clearly there are other things to surmount there. This is a lot of stuff on a slide, so sorry about that, and I’m sorry for the guys holding the cameras as well because they keep moving. You know, this is the challenge that we have with cameras. With a digital SLR you know, you have the blackout every time you take a photograph. With mirrorless cameras, until recently, you know, we would just show the image you just took, which is pretty good when you’re shooting at 11 frames per second, you know, that gives you a pretty good sense of what’s happening in front of the camera; but if you have a really fast and erratic moving subject, nothing is as good as seeing the real thing in front of your eyes, and that’s why the a9 has the ability to continually show you, at 60 frames per second, exactly what’s happening in front of the camera.
So, this image was an image taken for the global launch and I just kind of like it as an example of what you can do with this kind of technology because these guys were shooting ice hockey, and I don’t know if any of you have shot ice hockey, but from what they told me, it is one of the hardest sports to shoot because the action is non-stop. It can shoot from one side of the rink to the other in the blink of an eye; and having the ability to always see what’s going on and to, you know, have that frame rate, meant that shots like this were possible to capture.
So, 60 times per second, I mentioned already, the viewfinder gives you a 60 frames per second view of the scene, which is faster than our eyes can actually see, so it gives you a great continuous sense of motion; but on top of that, because the image sensor is being read 60 times every second without exception, you also get 60 autofocus and auto exposure measurements every second.
So, this sort of links back to what I was talking about earlier with, you know, things like viewfinder blackout, but I guess this image is a great example because this is a skier who was, you know, coming downhill, and through these patches of shade and light in the background, and metering for a situation like this is incredibly difficult because you have very harsh sun; and as the athlete is popping in and out of that light, getting your exposure correct is a real challenge. Having 60 auto-exposure calculations every second means that even for these very rapid changes of exposure you’re able to have your auto exposure update in time and give you that correct shot.
The Sony A9 - Autofocus System
Now, another thing that is fantastic about the autofocus in this camera is the coverage.
So, you can see here, you know, if you’re trying to capture a moving subject often, you know, you’re able to just put the middle of the frame over your subject, and that’s going to be fine; but if you want to have a little bit more freedom around the way that you compose your shots then having that extra space, having 93%, 95%? 93% viewfinder coverage means that you have that extra flexibility. You can place your focus exactly where you want it; or on the flip side, if you‘re tracking a very hard to track subject, the camera can help you by following that subject even if you haven’t framed it perfectly. You have that extra peace of mind.
The other thing that is fantastic about this autofocus is that it is never off. You know, there’s no moment where we black out our autofocus and have to guess. We always know, so we don’t need to lean as much on predictive autofocus. We just check, and measure, and then we know.
Now, this is a really fantastic feature. Now, you know, I’m talking about an electronic camera, you know, a camera that is not reliant on mechanical systems, and that’s a fantastic unique feature of this camera and it means that, you know, we don’t have a mechanical shutter that we’re using in this camera. It’s all done with smoke and mirrors, no, it’s done with electronics.
So, I’m just going to get someone from the front row.
[addressing a gentleman in the crowd] You, sir, in the blue anorak. Thank you, if you can just come up here and just rattle off just a burst of shots for the crowd.
So, that is the sound, thank you very much, appreciate your assistance.
The Sony A9 - Silent Mode
That is the sound of the a9 shooting at 20 frames per second in silent mode, and that’s something that’s, you know, really completely unique; being able to capture that kind of shot in complete silence means that you’re able to shoot in situations where otherwise you can’t. You know, normally a mechanical camera, it announces itself, every time we take a photograph it’s like [making shutter sounds] Okay I’m here, I’m here, but with the a9 you don’t have to. It’s optional.
Now, shooting with a completely silent camera can be a disorienting experience. You know, it can be interesting to not have that immediate audio feedback, and one of the things that I know impressed me when I was trained on the camera, is the fact that the camera has a huge range of features to give you visual feedback on what it’s doing, even when you don’t have that audio cue. So, if you’re shooting silently you have multiple ways to see every time you take a frame, or when you begin shooting, or how much is left in your camera’s buffer.
Now, another fantastic thing about this camera is that not only is it fast, and quiet, and unique in a lot of ways, but we haven’t made it huge. It remains compact, lightweight, and mobile. You know, it gives you the flexibility to take it wherever you go, to not be weighed down, and, you know, to really work in whatever way you think is best.
The Sony A9 Is Targeted To Professional Users
So, those are sort of the headline features of the a9; but it is a camera that is really targeted toward professional users. You know, these sort of, you know, the top-flight of people who rely on their gear, who want it to, who need it to, function flawlessly and intuitively every time they pick it up.
The Sony A9 - Other New Features
So, we added in a huge range of features, small features not headline features, but features that make this camera, you know, really an ideal choice for professionals.
The Sony A9 - New Viewfinder
So, a new viewfinder: bigger, brighter, better resolution and refresh rate. We improved the image stabilization, because you can never have too good image stabilization.
The Sony A9 - Improved Menu + My Menu
We included the “My Menu”, we also improved the menus; but if you don’t like them, still, then you can just make your own, and add in whatever features you like to access most often, and get that exactly the way you like it.
The Sony A9 - New AF-On Button
Having an AF-ON button is, you know, a classic: many professional photographers prefer back button autofocus, so that’s ready to go.
The Sony A9 - Separated Autofocus & Drive Mode Controls
Having separated autofocus and drive mode controls, means that you can control the way you shoot quickly and easily. The multi selector makes it quick and easy to adjust your focus point, so you can get selective focus exactly where you need it, and without any delays. You don’t have to bring up any menus, it’s right there.
The Sony A9 - Touch Panel
We do also have a touch panel, so this is ideal for anyone who’s shooting not just stills, but also some video. You know, you can have a simple control, and silent control, of focus pulls and adjustments, without the need to use audible on-body controls that might be picked up by the internal microphone.
The Sony A9 - New Battery
Now, the new battery is hotly-anticipated; more than double the battery life. So, we’ve gone from, you know, a thousand milliamp hours, to more than two.
The Sony A9 - Dual Media Slots
We also have dual media slots, one of which is UHS2. So, that means you’re able to either shoot, you know, with redundancy: the minute you press the shutter you’ve got two copies everything that you shoot, or you can take advantage of that UHS2 speed and just really clear your buffer with incredible speed.
The Sony A9 - New Chassis
The new chassis: improved magnesium alloy steel, and also with dust and weather sealing, and we also have an improved lens mount. So where our previous full-frame E-mount cameras had four screws around the mount, now we have six. That’s 50% better! No really, but it is it is more rigid and that means because this camera is designed to be used with, you know, bigger lenses, longer lenses, you want to know it’s going to have that strength. Not just strength, but no wobble.
The Sony A9 - New Shutter
The shutter: a new 500,000 cycle mechanical shutter, in case you decide for some reason that you want to use it, but of course, you don’t have to.
Now, there are a few other features which maybe not everyone will take advantage of, but which are really outstanding nonetheless.
The Sony A9 - FTP File Transfer
FTP file transfer: you can actually send images directly from your camera to an FTP server, you know, you need to file from the side line, you can do it on this camera.
The Sony A9 - On-Camera Flash Sync Port
Having an on-camera flash sync port is fantastic for studio work.
The Sony A9 - Mic, Headphone & Clean HDMI Out
We have mic, headphone, and clean HDMI out, for anyone who’s doing serious video production with this camera; and it does have onboard 4k in full frame, or APS-C, or super 35 if you prefer, with no sub-sampling so you get the full quality.
The Sony A9 - USB Tethering
We also have the ability to USB tethering for studio shooting. So, it really has the whole lot.
The Sony A9 - Battery Life & Quad Charger
Now, some of you who have tried the camera out in the other room will have seen the battery grip for this camera doubles your battery life. So, double-double! That’s four times the battery life of our a7, and then some, I would say!
We also have our quad charger, which lets you simultaneously charge four batteries overnight, get everything up and ready to go for the next day’s shooting. That is all the batteries you would need for an a9 for a full day of shooting, if you could even make it through that.
The Sony A9 - Grip Extender
I also have one other little accessory on this camera here, a little grip extender, so this is something that’s a little bit new; but if you like your camera to have a little home for your pinky and you find the a7 or a9 grip doesn’t quite have it for you, this little grip extender will just lock into your hot shoe and give you that extra little handling space. Also compatible with the Mark II a7 cameras, so, even if you’re not going to step up to the a9, consider it for the a7 too: something to think about.
The Sony A9 - New Memory Cards
Now, we also have our new ultra-high-speed cards which go to the camera.
The Sony A9 - The Target Market - Professionals
I guess what I wanted to talk about next is the people who use this camera, and one of the first things we did when we got the cameras into the country was reach out to some professional photographers who, you know, are working right now, have been working in the field for many years, and say this camera is designed for you, we want to put it in your hands, and we want you to tell us what you think.
So, we did that. We had two Melbourne based photographers in fact, put the camera through its paces; one of whom is here tonight. Now, I’m afraid I sprung this on him at short notice, so he hasn't prepared any detailed remarks on this stuff, but [addressing Michael Dodge] Michael I would just like you to quickly step up, just so everyone knows what you look like. So, here he is Michael Dodge!
Thank you for service! There we go. Ok, that’s great. Yes, thank you.
These are all images taken by Michael during the not quite a week that we gave him the camera to use; but he took it out, he shot it, you know, just for his work and also on his weekend, which we appreciated; and he produced some really fantastic shots which was great for us. He also, you know, has been really positive about the camera and so that was why I asked him to come here tonight and be present for the event.
So if, you know, have questions about how the camera handles, how it performs for someone who is working professionally, I encourage you to seek out Michael. Both he and I will be available for questions after this talk.
I’ll just add this image taken at ISO 10000. This is night racing. So, yeah, this was, you know, autofocusing. Yeah, Michael knows how to use this camera a lot better than me.
So, a few more things before we wrap up here and get hands-on with the camera again.
New Lenses Introduced
The first use we have some new lenses which we've brought out recently. Now, in the last 12 months we have been, I think it’s fair to say, very prolific on the lenses. We have released 13 lenses in the past 12 months, so a lens a month on average, and that’s just part of our commitment to having a full range of lens options for photographers using E-mount.
FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS
The 100-400, our longest E-mount lens to date. Michael used the 100-400 extensively while he was testing the a9, and has said very pleasing things about it; but we have one out there for you to try as well, so don’t just take my word for it. Do try it for yourselves.
Huge focal length range, incredibly fast autofocus. It is a twist design. It has lots of little nice touches like multiple focus hold buttons that you can reassign to whatever you like, and be extremely sharp, which is my favourite feature.
E-Mount FE 12-24mm Ultra Wide-Angle Zoom Lens
The 12-24 f/4g. This is our widest lens in the full-frame E-mount lens range, and it is really, fantastically light.
Unlike any other lens of this kind of focal length, because we’re a mirrorless camera we don’t have to do quite as much gymnastics to do these wide-angle lenses, and so this lens is about half the size and weight of any comparable lens for an SLR. So that’s another one that we have for you to touch and try tonight. This one will probably not be on shelves until the end of next month, so, grab it while you can.
Full Frame E-Mount FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM
Then the 16-35 F/2.8 G Master. This one is exciting for us, not just because it is an excellent lens in its own right, but also because it rounds out our sort of Holy Trinity of fast F2.8 primes.
The 16-35, 24-70, and 70-200. All F2.8, all dust and weather sealed, and all fast as you want them.
So, exciting, and also available for you to have a go at tonight.
So, that’s really most of what I have to say about the a9, at least in the short term. If you want to dig into any of the burning technical questions, I’d be very happy to talk to you afterwards, but I do have one last demo before I do a little bit of shop keeping, and that is the buffer on this camera.
So, I’ve talked about, you know, 20 frames per second, and that’s cool; but having a really fast camera is not that great if it shoots 20 frames per second for a second, and then it’s one frame a second after that.
So, the a9 has six times the buffer of our previous biggest buffer. In RAW it will capture 220 [jokes about it being on silent] [corrects himself]
In RAW you can capture 240 images before the buffer fills. In JPEG it’s over 400, and also if you have a very fast card then that will help you, of course, to clear out the buffer nice and quickly and get back to shooting. [camera shutter sounds]
So, this is currently in JPEG, so it’s going to take a while, but you can hear it sort of hit mostly the bottom of the buffer there, and then finally we managed to bottom it out.
So, I’ll format that card later. [laughter]
A couple of extra things just while I’ve got your attention; hopefully you’ve all got your little passport for tonight, your passport to fun.
So, there are a few different things in this passport: all of them can give you a way to win the fancy sound bar we have out there. So, if you’d like to upgrade your TV at home this is your chance.
So, firstly we’ve got the white card. All you need to do is take that over to the giant a 9, and take a photo, post it to social media of any kind, and then tag it, and you‘ll get a ticket to go into the draw for the sound bar.
Now, here we have our second one: complete the survey. We want to know what you think. So, help us, help you, and also help us, and fill out the survey. That will also get you a ticket.
Finally, our passport: we’ve got lots of cool stuff to check out, out there. So, make your way around the demo stations, check out all the bits and pieces, get your passport stamped, and once it’s been stamped, that also can be handed in for another chance. So, up to three chances at the sound bar.
I think that is just about it.
So, thank you very much. You’ve been a very attentive audience, you laughed at my jokes and I appreciate that!
So, both I and Michael will be out and available for any more questions.
Overheating Issue - Firmware Update
Oh, one last thing! I wanted to mention, which is: those of you who keep your ear to the ground, who like to follow camera news, will have heard that there have been a few people who have had some heat issues using some of our cameras. We have issued a firmware update which we believe fully addresses that. So, I just want to say that because, you know, sometimes you hear the hear about the bad things but you don’t hear about the fix, so now you have heard about the fix.
And on that note, [addressing someone off stage] do we have any closing comments?
I’ll let you wind it up. Thank you very much. I hope you are pumped to try the camera.
Wonderful. Okay, great. Thank you! Everyone pumped up? Pretty cool camera? Yes, best audience ever! Cool!
So, we’re going to invite everyone back out to all the shooting stations. We’re going to cut the cake. That is actually a cake, that big ugly camera there! Yay, cake! It is a chocolate body and red velvet lens! Delicious!
So, they make great cameras, they make great cakes!
Yeah, please take your time. There’s more food coming. There are drinks out there. We’ve got ages to go!
Please take your time. There are plenty of lenses and cameras to play with. We’re all going to get a chance to touch and feel and try, so that’s the whole idea of tonight!
So, I’ll just wrap it up with a big sincere thank you to Sony Australia for making this camera, and putting on the event.
Also, on behalf of Michael’s cameras, thank you, really sincerely, for coming out tonight.
It’s what makes these events really great.
So on that note, you’re free to go and eat some cake!