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Sony A9 II review

To understand the Sony A9 II, you need to understand that there’s pro shooting and then there’s pro shooting – and the latest Sony flagship full-frame mirrorless camera caters firmly to the latter category. 

The Sony A9 II is not the highest resolution camera you can get, but it’s designed for speed – not resolution. And its performance for high-speed sports shooting guarantees it a place on our list of the best professional cameras, as well as the best full-frame mirrorless cameras. 

Of course, its two rivals in the best pro sports camera stakes aren’t mirrorless models but DSLRS: the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III and the Nikon D6. For a full breakdown of how these three cameras fare in real-life shooting, check out our head-to-head-to-head Olympic shootout: Nikon D6 vs Canon EOS-1D X Mark III vs Sony A9 II.

All professional photography has its own challenges and requirements. Yet no matter how frenzied a wedding might be, it will never torture your camera’s autofocus the way that photographing Olympic swimmers does – and while you might need a decent burst mode to photograph a dance troupe or catwalk model, decent just doesn’t cut it when you’re shooting champion kickboxers or divers. RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…CLOSE

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It’s in the fire of these elite arenas that the Sony A9 II has been forged. For photographers who don’t shoot fast action professionally, it may seem like an incremental update over its predecessor. However, put through the rigors of a professional environment, the A9 II proves just how instrumental its upgrades are…

SPECIFICATIONS

Model number: ILCE-9M2
Sensor: 24.2MP full frame Exmor RS CMOS sensor with integral memory
Image processor: Bionz X
AF points: Hybrid AF, 693 points phase detection, 425 contrast detection
ISO range: 100-51,200 (exp. 50-204,800)
Max image size: 6,000 x 4,000
Metering modes: Multi-segment, center-weighted, spot, spot standard/large, entire screen avg., highlight
Video: 4K at 30fps, 24fps / 1080p at 120 fps, 60fps, 30fps, 24fps
Viewfinder: EVF, 3.69m dots, 0.78x magnification
Memory card: 2x SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS II)
LCD: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1.44m dots
Max burst: 20 fps electronic shutter, 10fps mechanical
Connectivity: Wi-Fi (5GHz), USB-C (USB 3.2 Gen 1) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI mini, LAN (1000BASE-T for FTPS), NFC
Size: 128.9 x 96.4 x 77.5mm
Weight: 678g (body only, with battery and SD card)

KEY FEATURES

The camera uses the same 24.2MP sensor and Bionz X processor as the original Sony A9, yielding an impressive 20fps continuous shooting output with the electronic shutter, 14-bit RAW output, 4K video up to 30fps and 1080p up to 120fps, 5-axis in-body image stabilization and a remarkable autofocus system that makes up to 60 AF calculations per second.

For casual observers, the increased mechanical shooting burst of 10 frames per second (up from 5 on the original) might seem like the most notable improvement on the Sony A9 II, but if anything it’s the least important thing here.

Let’s start with that new mechanical shutter (now rated to over 500,000 actuations); thanks to a fast-response coreless motor it delivers ultra low vibration, which combined with the new chassis dampers and refinements to the IBIS algorithm results in improved stabilization of 5.5 stops.  

This also facilitates continuous shooting using external flash, and continuous shooting now features anti-flicker with AF/AE tracking. And the autofocus has also received a significant improvement to its algorithm, thanks to further development on the Bionz X processor. 

The AF has been performance-tuned to more reliably track fast, erratically moving subjects – ideal for subjects making acceleration changes, such as triple-jumpers, or quick changes of direction like footballers shimmying to shake off defenders.

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