Sony has quietly announced the next-generation Sony a9 II: an incremental upgrade that keeps many of the same core specs, but adds “enhanced connectivity and workflow capabilities” that will appeal to professional sports photographers and photojournalists.
The Sony a9 II is best described as a “refinement” of the original a9. It uses the same 24.2MP stacked CMOS sensor from the first a9, boasts the same 20fps black-out free shooting with the electronic shutter, and can perform the same 60 calculations per second with its blazing fast AF system.
Changes to the core specs have been largely incremental: a redesigned grip and buttons, the addition of dual UHS-II SD card slots, “improved” dust and moisture resistance, 10fps continuous with the mechanical shutter, and slightly improved IBIS that offers 5.5-stops of 5-axis stabilization. There’s also a new vertical grip that can hold two Z-type batteries.
Here’s a video overview of the camera’s core features:
As you can see, the major improvements all have to do with connectivity and workflow improvements that will matter to pros. Namely: a built-in 1000BASE-T gigabit Ethernet port for reliable wired data transfer and remote camera control, and an improved wireless LAN chip that supports the 5GHz 802.11ac band “in addition to the 2.4GHz provided in the Alpha 9.”
Another intriguing, if not broadly appealing feature, is the addition of Voice Memo. The feature allows users to attach audio files to the Sony a9 II’s images, which can then be played back by news agency editors when they’re reviewing submissions. You can even use the Imaging Edge app’s “Transfer & Tagging add-on” to automatically convert voice memos into text and attach them to your images’ metadata.
“By combining wireless voice/image transfer and automatic voice-to-text conversion with the ability to auto-transfer images with attached voice memos via FTP,” explains Sony, “it is possible to shoot and transfer the results to an FTP server without ever having to operate a smartphone.”
All of this feels very professional-grade and nice to us, but then again, the Sony a9 II is a professional-grade camera built primarily for sports photographers. When it comes time to shoot the Tokyo 2020 olympics, some of these features—and Sony’s latest ultra-fast telephoto primes—might be the push some sports shooters need to ditch their Nikon or Canon system.