We are in NYC at the Sony press event announcing the $4,500 a9, and one thing is staggeringly clear. Sony may demur in public, but everything about this camera --along with the simultaneously announced $2,500 FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G-Master OSS lens screams "DSLR technology is so last-century, especially for sports photography." Here's why.
Of all the Sony press events I've attended, this one was the most secretive. Product rumors in the weeks preceding it were stubbornly "iffy." The folks I know at Sony couldn't stress often enough how important it was to keep everything confidential, including the mere fact that there'd be an event, let alone that it would be in New York City. Even 24 hours before the launch, no one outside the attendees seemed to know when and where or if this particular event would take place.
When I arrived, I saw that top bloggers and journalists from across the U.S. and across the pond had flown in. Even among this group of cognoscenti, rumors ranged from a 63 megapixel medium format killer to a 20 megapixel speed demon, maybe an a7III.
But now we know that this is the long-anticipated Sony a9, a 24 megapixel, full-frame mirrorless camera that is so fast there's no viewfinder blackout even when shooting 20fps, with a top shutter speed of 1/32,000 (that is NOT a typo - one thirty two thousandth of a second). It seems to out-a99II the a99II in a form factor fractionally different from the current a7x II twins, but those differences are meaningful.
In fact the a9 is a mashup of the a7x II twins and the a99II, offering superior ergonomics to both including an improved autofocus joystick and movie record button both designed to fit naturally under one's right thumb; a second control dial on the left half of the top plate; dramatically increased battery life plus a two battery vertical grip option; and an Ethernet port for rapid offload of images -- and more.
It's absolutely fascinating to see how Sony is leveraging core competencies in electronics -- and hard-won experience in the smartphone space -- to really take a go at Canon and Nikon.
Check out my conversation with Mark Weir from earlier today.