REVIEW: Sony's Alpha 9 is one serious camera
Sony says its new Alpha 9 is a 'game-changing' camera - and its features do back up that talk.
Dubai - Let's put it this way: it's a direct challenge to both Canon and Nikon's high-end snappers
Look around major events where professional photographers lurk and you'll usually Canon and Nikon snappers being wielded.
And that's where exactly Sony wants them to be. Especially with their latest beast of an imaging machine, the Alpha 9. It's as if they're saying, let's get it on.
Pound for pound, this new mirrorless shooter is comparable to the flagships of those we mentioned above - the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Nikon D5. And when you throw those names into the mix, you're sure to have some pretty tough competition.
Which the mirrorless Alpha 9 holds up against pretty well. It claims to be a 'game-changing' camera and it does just that thanks to its cool high-end features.
For starters, it offers high-speed continuous shooting at a wild 20fps, beating out the Mark II's 14fps and the D5's 12fps. The full-frame stacked CMOS sensor and an enhanced Bionz image-processing sensor plus a 24.2MP sensor all help to achieve this. The last one, however, is significantly lower than the Alpha 7R II's 42.4MP.
But it makes up in several other aspects aside from those we've mentioned already. It has an ISO range of 100-51200, which you can shoot up to 50-204800. And it's really great in low light; I took the camera out for a spin in Fujairah and it really performed well even without flash. And anyone who's peeked into the camera told me the same thing: you really have a clear view.
And speaking of peeking, the electronic viewfinder is back, and it's even bigger; take a look and you'll see a five-axis image stabilisation system that'll make you feel Top Gun-esque. And while I really go for that nostalgic touch with the viewfinder, there's also a three-inch tilt-angle touchscreen that's really clear.
And aside from full-HD recording capabilities, high-quality 4K is also at your disposal. You can also tone down your videos to up to five times slow motion. You've also got two SD card slots available, but no sign of XQD card support.
As far of more of the hardware is concerned, you've got all your controls where you'd expect them to be; they're pretty much user-friendly and customisable. There is one notable change: the video-recording button - previously to the far-right in the Alpha 7R II - is now just to the right of the viewfinder, which is a good thing as it's easier to reach with your thumb.
It's auto-focus function is also cat-quick, and its eye detection is now enhanced by 30 per cent thanks to improved face detection. And how precise is it? It has 693 auto-focus points. Nuts.
When the Alpha 9 was first unveiled at Photography Live here in Dubai some time ago, sports was one of the subjects used to prove its capabilities. The results were pretty impressive and it was no different when I took some snaps while on the road going to the Northern Emirates.
Some of us may have an issue with balance; the Alpha 9's compact build is indeed nice, but you may have to hold your grip more when you slap on those longer lenses. Probably the price you have to pay for such a design.
And speaking of price, it clocks in at a cool Dh17,499 - which is still reasonable compared to other models in its class and for all its features. Alongside the Alpha 9, Sony also launched its new Super Telephoto Zoom lens, the latest in its G Master series, for Dh10,999.
So is this for you? Yes, if you're a budding photographer, a professional who wants to try out a new camera or maybe just a hobbyist - with lots of cash to spare.