So, SonyAlphaRumors was right. The mythical A9 is real. For $4,500, even I can become a professional Sony photographer and capture 20 frames of a hummingbird’s wing beat in one second. I’ve not yet had a chance to go over in detail all the double plus goodness of the specs but I noted that it has a fully electronic shutter and a new type of stacked sensor. And of course it has all the goodies that Sony has needed forever like dual memory cards and a bigger battery. The auto focus has 693 phase detection points and supposedly re-focuses the lens 60 times a second! The ISO maximum is 51,200 but is magically extended to 204,800 when you want to take pictures in the dark. It has a minimum exposure time of 1/32,000th of a second, a maximum of twenty frames per second with continuous auto-focus and it can cure the whooping cough in adults. It is the ubercamera.
Will I buy it? Probably not. But I will rent it. My though process is the following. I want to know if the auto-focus is very good. The only way to determine that right away is to try the camera. Once I know that I’ll be able to determine if I’ll continue as a Sony photographer. If it doesn’t auto-focus as least as well as a conventional Nikon or Cannon camera (not the top of the line mind you, but just a regular old mid-range DSLR from the big two) then I’ll be exiting Sony. If it does prove to have reasonable auto-focus then I know this improved feature will eventually find its way to the A7 series. That fact will be enough to keep me in the Sony camp.
Sony has announced the release for June. I’m guessing the rental places will have it shortly after that. That means I can rent it for a family gathering I have in July. That should give me all the testing targets I’ll need to give it the thumbs up (or thumbs down).
So now that I’m through acting cool let me say how I feel about this camera viscerally. Man, this sounds like a great piece of tech! 24 megapixels is the sweet spot in my mind for resolution. Even for landscapes I think it’s plenty enough. If the auto-focus really is as good as their claiming it will be amazing. And the 20 frames per second will make action photography doable even for old guys like me. This could be the greatest technical innovation since sliced bread. So, thank you Sony. You finally put your cards on the table and now I can judge whether you have a full house or a busted straight. For all of you Sony shooters out there, we are about to find out what the future will be for us. Because over the next year or two, this new tech will begin trickling down to the A7 cameras and Sony will become the premiere camera company (or it will fail and they’ll be cast into the outer darkness along with the Delorean and Betamax).