Sony A9 Vs A9II

In the arms race for the fastest mirrorless camera, Sony remains the reigning champion. Its original A9 stunned the world in 2017 as the first full-frame mirrorless to hit 20 fps burst shooting. Now in 2023, how does this speed demon hold up against its successor, the A9 II? With enhanced autofocus and connectivity, is the newer model worth the upgrade?

Sony A9 Vs A9II

This showdown pits generation against generation to determine the best sports photography machine. For pro photographers seeking the ultimate in speed and accuracy, the A9 bloodline stands alone.

Let’s examine these technical titans side-by-side and crown a winner.

SONY A9 VS A9II – Detailed Comparison

Here is my own experience with both SONY A9 VS A9II.

SONY A9 VS A9II – Unboxing and First Impressions

I remember when I first unboxed the original A9. I was stunned by the size and solid feel of the camera. For a mirrorless, it feels substantial and durable, like a pro-level DSLR. The A9 II retains that same premium quality. The contents of the box are as follows:

Sony A9
Sony A9

Sony A9 Box Includes

  • A9 camera body
  • NP-FZ100 rechargeable battery
  • AC adapter
  • Micro USB cable
  • Shoulder strap
  • Body cap
  • Accessory shoe cap
  • Eyepiece cup
  • Limited 1-year warranty
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Sony A9 II
Sony A9 II

Sony A9 II Box Includes

  • A9 II camera body
  • NP-FZ100 rechargeable battery
  • AC adapter
  • USB Type-C cable
  • Shoulder strap
  • Body cap
  • Accessory shoe cap
  • Eyepiece cup
  • Limited 1-year warranty
View on Amazon

The contents are very similar, except the A9 II comes with a USB-C cable rather than a micro USB. Both cameras have a solid, durable magnesium alloy body that feels substantial in the hands. The grip is deep and comfortable to hold for long shooting sessions.

SONY A9 VS A9II – Specs and Sensor Comparison

SONY A9 VS A9II

Let’s take a look at how these two cameras compare on the spec sheet:

CameraSony A9Sony A9 II
Sensor24.2MP Full Frame Stacked CMOS24.2MP Full Frame Stacked CMOS
Image ProcessorBIONZ XBIONZ X
ISO Range100-51,200 (exp. 50-204,800)100-51,200 (exp. 50-204,800)
Shooting Speed20fps20fps
Shutter Speed30 sec – 1/32,000 sec30 sec – 1/32,000 sec
Viewfinder3,686k dot OLED3,686k dot OLED
Rear LCD1,440k dot touchscreen1,440k dot touchscreen
Video4K 120fps4K 120 fps
Image Stabilization5-axis sensor-shift5-axis sensor-shift
Battery Life480 shots690 shots
Dimensions5 x 3.8 x 2.5 in5 x 3.8 x 2.6 in
Weight24.2 oz25.1 oz

According to the specs, both cameras offer similar features on paper. They share the same extraordinary 24MP stacked CMOS sensor, BIONZ X processor, viewfinder, rear touchscreen, and 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization system.

The most notable differences are the improved battery life on the A9 II, which is up to 690 shots compared to 480 on the A9. The A9 II is also slightly heavier at 25.1 oz versus 24.2 oz for the A9.

Ergonomics and Handling

Sony A9 II

Both cameras have nearly identical physical designs. The controls are laid out similarly, with dual adjustment dials on the top and rear to control shutter speed, aperture, and exposure compensation. There are several customizable function buttons you can set up for quick access to oft-used settings.

The bodies are slightly different sizes, with the A9 II being ever so slightly larger and heavier. There may be a slight difference between the two, but each of them is comfortable to hold, much like the other, and has a perfect balance. The deeper grip allows you to securely hold the camera, even with larger telephoto lenses.

I think it is worth mentioning that the button for recording videos on the A9 II has been repositioned so that it is easier to reach. It has been moved closer to the edge of the camera, making it easier to access when holding the camera up to your eye.

SONY A9 VS A9II – Features and Functionality

SONY A9 VS A9II

Now let’s dive deeper into the features and performance of these impressive cameras.

Shooting Speed

One of the headline features of both the A9 and A9 II is the blazingly fast 20 frames per second continuous shooting speed. This allows you to capture incredible high-speed action sequences with precise timing.

Both cameras have no blackout when shooting 20fps with the electronic shutter, so you can keep track of fast-moving subjects in the viewfinder without interruption. It is important to note that with the mechanical shutter, there is a limit of 5 frames per second.

Autofocus Performance

SONY A9

Sony’s autofocus system on the A9 and A9 II is simply stunning. It has 693 phases and 425 contrast detection points covering 93% of the image frame. This gives you edge-to-edge subject tracking with incredible precision.

The AF points are densely packed and work down to an impressive EV -3 sensitivity rating for low-light focusing. I’ve used both cameras to shoot fast-moving athletes in low-light conditions, and the AF performance has been outstanding.

While the AF systems are essentially unchanged between the A9 and A9 II, the algorithms and processing have been refined in the newer model. It allows enhanced real-time tracking performance, especially for erratic or unpredictable subjects.

In-Body Image Stabilization

sony a9 ii

There are five axes of sensor-shift image stabilization employed in both cameras, which can provide up to five stops of compensation. It allows you to take handheld photos at slower shutter speeds without losing sharpness.

When using stabilized lenses, the in-body and optical stabilization systems work together for even better results. I was able to get tack-sharp images handheld with the A9 II at 1/15s shutter speed with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

Video Capabilities

sony a9

These cameras are suitable for professional videographers because they offer 4K video recording at full frame at 120 frames per second, without any pixel binning. This results in very detailed, sharp 4K footage taken straight off the sensor.

Slow-motion HD video is also possible at up to 120 fps. The phase detection AF also works seamlessly for video recording, with reliable subject tracking. Overall the video features are very well-implemented, including S-Log profiles for maximum dynamic range and customizable zebra patterns for exposure monitoring.

Networking and Connectivity

sony a9 ii

The Sony A9 ushered in high-speed wired LAN connectivity to a mirrorless camera for the first time. With the optional RMT-P1BT wireless remote, you can transfer JPEGs to an FTP server for ultra-fast image delivery.

The A9 II builds on this with the addition of 5GHz Wi-Fi connectivity for faster wireless file transfer. It is a great option for wireless tethering in a studio setting.

Both cameras have USB-C ports, letting you charge the battery in-camera via external power banks. When you have limited access to AC power, this can greatly extend your shooting time.

Image Quality

sony a9 ii

Here are the most important things – the pictures! With their 24MP back-illuminated stacked CMOS sensors and BIONZ X processors, the A9 and A9 II deliver simply stunning image quality with impressive dynamic range.

The level of detail is fantastic, especially when shooting in uncompressed RAW. Noise performance is also excellent, with usable shots up to 12,800 ISO before noise starts to become an issue. The images have vivid, accurate colors straight out of the camera.

I took several extended shoots with both cameras covering low-light events, sports action, landscape panoramas, and more. Throughout all of my testing, I found the image quality to be uniformly excellent with crisp, life-like photos.

Battery Life

sony a9

One noticeable improvement with the A9 II is the improved battery life. Powered by the large NP-FZ100 battery, the A9 II can capture up to 690 shots per charge when using the rear LCD, up from 480 shots on the A9.

For photographers that shoot all day at busy events, this improved battery efficiency is a very welcome upgrade. You can now shoot longer without battery anxiety, especially when capturing hundreds of 20-fps bursts at sporting events.

I recommend picking up some extra batteries so you can hot-swap them through external chargers during extended shoots. But the A9 II battery life increase over the A9 is still very impressive.

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Final Verdict – Which Should You Buy?

After extensively testing both the original Sony A9 and the new A9 II, it’s clear that both are phenomenal cameras, representing the pinnacle of mirrorless technology. You really can’t go wrong with either model.

That said, for most buyers, I think the upgrades on the A9 II are worthwhile:

  • Improved battery life – up to 690 shots per charge
  • Refined AF algorithms for enhanced real-time tracking
  • 5GHz Wi-Fi for faster wireless transfer
  • USB-C charging convenience

These changes enhance an already phenomenal camera. So for buyers willing to pay a premium, the A9 II represents the most refined sports-shooting experience Sony offers in their a9 series.

However, the original A9 still holds up remarkably well, even 3 years after its release. For photographers on a tighter budget, you can save some money by going with the A9 while still getting a camera with exceptional performance.

At the end of the day, both the A9 and A9 II are technological marvels, offering professional photographers the best combination of speed, accuracy, and image quality in a mirrorless camera. You can confidently rely on either model to capture fast action and nail the shot every time.

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