Sony A9 II Hands-on | Review 2021

the camera star and today we have ahands-on look at the sony a 9 tothe Sony a 92 is Sony's latestfull-frame camera and it is packed witha lot of the same features that came outin a nine two and a half years ago ithas a stack 24 megapixel CMOS sensorthat's full-frame and then also canshoot at an impressive 20 frames persecond without blackout using theelectronic shutter now aspects like thatthis camera is tailor-made for shootingsports in action and we're lucky enoughto live in Calgary where we have anamazing Olympic Oval for speed skatingso there recently was an event there wechecked it out and tried out what thiscamera is capable of doing this eventwas really exciting for us to be atbecause these athletes are actuallycompeting to see who's gonna be on theCanadian team for the Olympics coming upin 2022 for Beijing so we have someamazing world-class athletes that areskating around the rink and they'reamazingly fast you've never checked itout it's crazythese guys are approaching about 50kilometers an hour which is a perfecttest for trying out a camera with thisamazing autofocus and frames per secondyeah now of course we know that the a 9was capable of doing a lot of thisbefore because could already shoot at 20frames per second in electronic and ithad the new tracking autofocus systembuilt into it and so the a 92 is kind ofthis refined version and has a lot ofsubtle upgrades that some people mightthink is kind of incremental but whenwe're talking to professionals thatwould use this camera in a real worldpurpose a lot of these things areabsolutely critical for improving theirworkflow and their overall process whilethey're shooting yeah they were veryexcited to tell us about some of thethings that are crucial for them now theone thing is we've always been able toshoot 20 frames per second andelectronic but the a9 was only able toshoot 5 frames per second and mechanicalsuddenly the a9 mark 2 allows you todouble that the 10 frames per secondmechanical that's a really big deal forcertain people are shooting this kind ofevent we were really fortunate becausethey actually just replaced the lightingin the Olympic Oval and so they usedthese really nice new LED lights and wedidn't have a problem with flicker evenusing the electronic shutter but if youwere in seeing older gymnasium whereyeah there might be like really crappylighting I'm having the ability toswitch into mechanical shutter and stillhave that high frame rate could becriticalnow has anti flicker which is a greatfeature what it happens is that thecamera is looking for the flicker oflights and usually at 60 Hertz orsomething like that and it'll delay yourshadow just a little bit to capture thesame amount of light all the time soyou're not getting the darkness of thedownside of the flicker yeah and thenthis camera also is equipped with a newprocessor which should be able to handlea lot of auto focus calculationsexposure calculations better than theprevious processor and then it's alsogoing to be able to give you cleanerphotos at higher ISOs and we weredefinitely pushing some of those higherISOs
even when we were shooting wideopen and we were trying to make the bestof the lighting scenarios now we werespoiled with our lens options we had the600 f/4 from Sony and also the 400 2.8 Gmaster lens the gmat yeah and theselenses are very impressive on their ownI mean they have high thrust actuatorsthat make the autofocus system pairoptimally with a nine and a nine - it'sabsolutely amazing and the key thing tothat is just how many autofocuscalculations the camera and lens maketogether in order to track the subjectit is so good when it comes to the realtime tracking autofocus I mean thisthing is insaneand I really do think that it's a littlebit refined from the a nine I wasimpressed with that camerabut I mean Sony has really hit the markI think it's the best auto focusingsystem that I've ever used and with thiscamera when I'm in real time trackingautofocus I basically just turned thaton and would shoot everything with it Idon't really see much of a point of forsports photography of shooting in anyother focusing mode and basically whatit does is whatever subject you put onthe focusing box it will track it nomatter what it's doing and so if it's aperson it will automatically go for theface and the eye if it's able to detectthat and even if it's not it will staysticky on that subject the whole timeyou're shooting it's really amazing it'snot just one parameter it's not justfacial geometry it's everything it's theshape of the subject it's tracking it'sthe colors that it's tracking so itdoesn't an amazing job of doing this nowit does have 6 or 93 points of phasedetect autofocus covering 93% of theimage area and features Sony's latestreal time tracking system even thoughDavis isn't quite as fast as the speedskaters you can see here how well itdoes at keeping up with his face and itreally tracks him even if he movesquickly towards the camera yeah now thiswas a world-class event and how we'retrying to you know he's gonna qualifyfor the Olympics and there were someother photographers there including DaveHolland who's a former Canon shooter whohas moved to the a9 and now the a9 mark2 so we have some thoughts from himwe're here with Dave Holland from theCanadian sport institute of Calgary andhe is a fantastic pro photographer andhe's got the a9 - and the foreigner -point eight just like me and so we'reshooting the same sport here now youhave unique position because you shotwith the a 9 and on the a 9 - how areyou finding the differences is it worththe upgrade the ni2 has some subtle butreally good improvements it has betterergonomics the autofocus button is muchbigger so it works better with mitts thejoystick is the same thing and just aslightly bigger grip so economicallyit's great so something we talk aboutall the time is the Sony's real-timeautofocus tracking how has that changedyour style of shootingit's great I don't have to worry aboutgetting photos it's a it's so good it'sit's like cheating so really all I haveto do is worry about
where I'm gonnastand what I'm gonna shoot and go fromthere it's ridiculously good so thiscamera has got tons of new connectivityincluding Ethernet USB see now you findyourself using that much in especiallylike like World Cup kind of stuff andbig sporting events day-to-day I don'tuse it that much but coming up thissummer in Tokyo I'll be using it a lotthe connectivity part of it gettingphotos because if I'm shooting with theCOC will have a desk guy the voice memosthat you can attach to a file will begreat to help identify so they cancaption it's all just about speedit was very interesting talking to Davesomebody who's been in the sportsphotography field all his life yeah andI mean that kind of photography it isbit of Anish and they do require somevery specific things like theconnectivity at like the high speed andthen having some of these new features Ithink is just kind of icing on the cakefor these guys because it allows them todo their job easier and one of thethings that I think is really importantwhy a lot of these guys have moved overfrom some of the bigger DSLR systems tothe Sony mirrorless system is because ofthe size and the weight and the bodyconfiguration now one of the biggestchanges with a 92 compared to the a9 isactually the design in the body itselfthey really tried to make it feel like abetter form factor in your hand yeah nowwhen I picked up the a9 originally youknow I liked it but I didn't Wow me Idid feel that it the buttons weren'tquite how I liked them they didn't feelas quality as I would like they'veaddressed that with the a 9 mark - thebuttons are bigger things a little bitnicer the grip is certainly enhancedwhich is a big bonus for me yeah itfeels a lot better in the hand overalland I like that the buttons are biggerand they have just a more substantialpress to them and it's just overallbetter feeling camera a better feelingexperience and I like that they stillmaintained a lot of the customizabilityof this camera you have a lot here thatyou can work with and I think that'sabsolutely critical especially becausethe menus are so deep I mean we werekind of joking about it but to find evenwhere you can adjust the shutter from apanicle - electronic you have to go intolike camera to menu five of the letterand it's a little bit buried andespecially because a lot of the otherthings that are in that particular menuset have to do video and so unless youknow where it is it's nice to be able tocustomize the camera completely to yourneeds and that brings me to anotherpoint about how if you do customize ityou're able to save all those settingsto a memory card and switch it betweenyour different bodies so if you have tosend your camera away to service you canquickly restore all of those settingsthat you set up yeah I mean when I grabone of these Sony cameras I find I spendlike half an hour with it like I go on adate with this thing basically I know ifI'm not buying a drink or anything butit's like I've got to get to know itreally well I'm just I go through themenu system I figure out what I want howI want to customize it and especiallyfor whatever shooting situation that I'min it might be one thing I want this Iwant to be able to switch my mechanicalelectronic shutter they want my whitebalance what-have-you but I got to spendsome sort of quality time with thiscamera to get it set up how I wanna haveit set up ya know although they made thegrip a little bit bigger we should notethat the battery in it is actually thesame as it was beforenow with the new processor they arepromising about six percent more batterylifewe were both shooting with grips on ourcameras and and we did okay with batterylife actually a little better than Iexpectedyeah I mean I put on over 3,000 framesthat day and I was down about a batteryand a half yeah that's not too bad for amirrorless world I mean that is stillone advantage that just Laure camerashave but overall I'm happy to see thatthere's a slight improvement on batterylife and with the battery grip I shouldalso mention that they've reallyfine-tuned the feel of it so whetheryou're shooting in horizontal orvertical you still have this littlenotch here and it just it feels reallygood and it makes a transition betweenvertical and horizontal really nice youreally have a feeling like the the a9was like this flagship camera that cameon the market and really hit its stridebut it finally kind of got more maturewith the a9 - they finally took someadvice from people and updated thingsthat people were concerned with and itcertainly feels like a much more matureproduct than the a9 yeah and we shouldmention that with the viewfinder it'sstill really in a sixperience it's a three point six ninemillion dot o LED and it has a tiltingLCD screen that is a touch screen forselecting autofocus claim just autofocuspoint yes but you still are not able togo through the menu system using thetouchscreen now I think a lot of it justhas to do with the configuration of themenu maybe if you were able to adjustthe touchscreen it might feel a littlebit more frustrating that it is abenefit but I certainly forget sometimesthat you can't do that and I touched thetouchscreen it doesn't work to me likeall or nothing yes another welcomeaddition to the a9 2 is that their cardslots have been upgraded we have bothUHS two card slots now where the a9 onlyhad one UHS - card slot the other wordsUHS one and if you had a redundancygoing on with dual memory cards it wouldonly write as fast as the slowest carthan you at just one slot that couldsometimes in affect your buffer nowhaving to use just two card slots wasgreat and even more important I thinkthey put the order of cards in theproper order now one is on top two is onthe bottom now if they'd only flip thecards around a little bit I like beingable to see the face of the card as Iput it into the card slot rather thanthe back side of the card simple thing Idon't know what you actually wereplaying around the buffer and you shot aseries from the start to where he passedyou and you got 85 shots in and everyshot was focused yeah that was prettyimpressive just to see I mean it was alinear sequence and so it wasn't themost complex thing for the camera totrack but it did an exceptional job andto have that many keepers out of aseries like that is pretty insane andthe other thing is just how deep thebuffer is and how fast was able to clearusing a fast card in that UHS 2 cardslot yeah I mean sony claims is 3 note61 JPEGs in man before the buffer fillsand you know at 20 frames a secondyou're not gonna be shooting 360 shotsin a row it's just not know I loveowners when I capped out is because ittook 86 shots for them to start at theend of the straightaway to go past meand if I was shooting beyond that Iwould have just been ice yeah so there'snoconcerns about the buffer you can justshoot and shoot and shoot 20 frames asecond and for sports like that whereyou're trying to catch that perfect shotof them coming around the corner youknow and they're doing the crossoverwith their legs you just want to havethis perfect shot and you don't alwaysget it but 20 frames a second you have amuch better chance to capture that veryfleeting moment yeah now we were spoiledwith the glass we were shooting but theoverall image quality was fantastic thiscamera with this new processor gives acleaner high ISO performance I shot mostthe stuff at 6400 ISO to get the shutterspeeds that I need it but I even went upto 12,000 a few times just to sort ofplay around and we had you know I gotsome really good results out of ityeah I was really happy with my imagestoo I think even the the colorperformance overall was pretty good andit's always a tough environment shootingindoors in these arenas and I thoughtthe skin tones look pretty decent aswell as like the the color temperatureof the ice as well as the uniforms ofthe athletes they looked really good anda lot of this has to do with this newprocessor even though the resolution ofthe sensor isn't anything that excitingis still the 24 megapixel stock CMOSsensor the processing power of this isgiving a better looking image overall Iwould gladly trade resolution for thespeed and performance of this camerayeah and I think that's something thatis really differentiating Sony from alot of the other brands is they don'thave like this flagship camera that kindof is supposed to do it all they reallyhave these little segments now and so wehave this lower resolution full-framecamera that is so fast and has greatprocessing power and then they also havelike the high resolution more kind ofoptimized for portraiture and weddingsand things like thatI agree now 20 frames a second soundsludicrous who in the right mind needs 20frames per second but in these in thesesports where these moments are veryfleeting and you only have a secondsecond and a half of them in your frameit can make all the difference in theworld having more frames to choose fromyeah well and especially because withthe athletes you want to make sure thatyou get their positioning and theirtheir posture right and it could be liketheir skates being lined up a certainway or a tongue out or a tongue in eyesopen eyes closed or with speed skatingit's the difference between having allof their limbs visible or maybe havinglike their leg bent and look like theydon't they're only skating on one legshould be very impressiveso certainly now going through all thoseproduct is pretty interesting because Ishot 3,500 shots I think that day therewas a lot to go through so any breakthat I had what I did with my camera isI set it up so I can go through myimages and if there's one I want to lookat or series that I want to look at Icould easily push the custom threebutton and put a star on it and thatallows me to go into Lightroom after thefact and organize those photos and onlylook at the photos I've starred at theevent itself that's been up my workflowdrastically it really saves you time Iwish I did that yeah and I just thinklike the experience with all of theselittle details does make it so muchbetter and one thing I'll say is thatthe view finder experience with thiscamera is fantastic and when you'reshooting a long burst at 20 frames persecond in electronic shutter sometimesit's hard to tell if you're actuallyshooting a frame but sony has made it sothat you can have some obvious littlesignals that it's taking frames so youcan choose different little boxes if youwant that to blink while you're shootingand so you do have some flexibilitythere yeah there's also an audio clickit's a it's a noise it's not an actualshutter but it's just something thatgives you an idea I am actually shootingsomething a lot of these features arevery specific to the niche of being aprofessional photo journalist or asports shooter and another one of thosethings that a lot of the produce ourcameras have had for a long time ishaving a voice memo option built intothe camera the a nine had the ability todo that through your phone with an appbut this is just with the camera now youmight wonder why do I want to do a voicememo on my camera now it comes in reallyhandy and journalists have been lovingthis for a long time if they're outphotographing somebody on the street forinstance they want to get their name andfor information for publishing they canactually have the person speaking totheir camera themself and spell outtheir name correctly or get the contactinformation that way yeah or if they'redoing like a really fast editorial pieceon a sporting event then they can sayyou know player number four Bob Smithjust scored a goal on the right side andsome other sporty sport jargon and theeditor will know what to do yeah I meanwe've also heard people using it ifthey're shooting sports on actionusually you can find the playerthrough the number that they're wearingbut if you're doing something moreartistic and you're doing some pans orsome kind of blurry motion shots andthere's numbers are an apparent you cansimply say what player you'rephotographing and that'll help you withthe post-processing another thing that Iwas happy to see in addition to all ofthe new ish photo journalists and sportsphotographer enhancements is theyactually increase the performance of theWi-Fi transfer as well yeah we now havefive gigahertz worth of performance wealso have a 2.4 of course now I reallylike the Wi-Fi functionality of thesecameras it allows me to take a pictureand transfer to my phone quite easily ifI want to upload it to different socialmedia sites for instance now somethingelse that's very exciting that somepeople don't know yet is that you couldcontrol the camera from your phone andif you've ever had the experience ofdoing that it does open up a lot ofcreative abilities now we looked at thiscamera as pretty much a specializedsports-specificcamera so we're not talking video noit's not really designed to be anoptimal professional video camera itdoes have some great features and whenwe look at the enhancements between a 9and a 9 - what we're seeing is they'veadded interval and time lapse shootingand then for video they've also addedeye detection for video but other thanthat I mean it's nice that this is ableto shoot video but it's not reallyideally designed for that if you look atthe improved ergonomics you look at theimproved processor and the improvedalgorithms for real-time tracking andand things like the shutter mechanismhas been enhanced a little bit it's gotmore dampeners to it so it's a littleless vibration all these little thingson their own aren't a significantupgrade but together this is a fantasticcamera it is and I mean there's a lot ofother little things that we haven't evenreally talked about that make that anine and a nine two really good optionsI mean they have subtle things like youcan change the color of your autofocuspoints and I like that they've now addedthe enhancements where if you're settingyour minimum and your maximum ISO youcan now do it in 1/3 increments wherebefore you could only do it in full stopon say the a7 r4 so these little dialslike this little touches like this thatreally allow people who are experts intheir field of what they'rephotographing to really customize thiscamera and fine-tune it to get the bestout of it yeah and it's all about makingtheir experience better so that they canbe the one to get the shot and if itmeans more keepit means you know stellar image qualityyou're getting cleaner looking high ISOimages then I think it really provides acompelling option on the market and evenfrom what we've heard so far with whatCanon and Nikon are coming out with inthis next year for their professionallevel bodies I still would lean moretowards the mirrorless camera option andI think that they really need to come tothe table with something like that - inorder to be truly competitive with whatSony's offering I think it's going avery interesting year for camerareleases especially the Tokyo Olympicscoming out but this no matter what theycome up with I think this is gonna be anamazingly compelling option for thefuture of course we want to know what doyou guys think do you think that theimprovements on the a9 - compared to thea nine are worth upgrade fee and arethere any features from the a9.

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