Sony a9 (ILCE-9) review: Can a camera be more versatile?

Sony Alpha A9 (or A9 for short) is designed to compete against with Canon and Nikon's professional DSLRs. Here is our review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Published: December 24, 2017 3:14:52 pm

 Sony Alpha A9, Sony A9 mirrorless camera, Sony A9 ILCE-9, Sony Alpha A9 review, Sony Alpha A9 camera specs, Sony Alpha A9 features, Sony Alpha A9 price in India Sony Alpha A9 (or A9 for short) is designed to compete against with Canon and Nikon’s professional DSLRs. Here is our review

Of late a lot of photographers and those engaged in video production have been moving to the Sony Alpha series for good reason. Sony has over the past few years been the most innovative camera brand as the giants in the business try their best to hold on to legacy ideas and concepts. It’s latest, the Sony a9 (ILCE-9), is bringing in a lot of innovation across the board, and photographers across the world are taking notice.

Sony a9 (ILCE-9)

For a camera with a full frame sensor, the Sony a9 has a very compact body. In fact, it could pass of as a regular mirrorless model if you have not seen the melee of dials and buttons the camera has on the body. Those are a give away, and a clear intention that this camera is for those who want to do more that click sunrises and flowers in the park. Despite this camera for me is a bit less intimidating that some of the other professional cameras I have held in my hand recently. At least, this one as an auto mode in case you want to hand over the lens to someone so that you can appear on the other side of the viewfinder for a change.

 Sony Alpha A9, Sony A9 mirrorless camera, Sony A9 ILCE-9, Sony Alpha A9 review, Sony Alpha A9 camera specs, Sony Alpha A9 features, Sony Alpha A9 price in India The Sony a9 (ILCE-9) is different from other mirrorless cameras primarily because this packs the world’s first full-frame stacked CMOS sensor.

The camera has an adjustable LED panel with touch and an electronic viewfinder — the former shuts down as soon as the camera realises you are going to use the latter. The camera offers a very good grip and despite the body weight you will be able to easily configure a lot of the settings with the grip hand itself.

The Sony a9 (ILCE-9) is different from other mirrorless cameras primarily because this packs the world’s first full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, which Sony claims makes if much faster camera than any DSLR. I have to agree. I tried some shots in burst mode and the images came about with such speed that in sequence the photos can be stitched into video. While shooting on continuous mode, this camera was way faster and smoother and anything I had used before.

Given the high ISO options, this camera is among the fastest to click even in low light situations. I found another aspect of the camera very intriguing. The a9 is not fettered by limits of the mechanical systems and can achieve shutter speeds as high as 1/32000 offering endless possibilities to photographers.

I tried the camera with a Sony SEL85F14GM G Master lens priced at Rs 1,29,990 in India. I was more than impressed by the results it achieved in different situations and a bit cross with myself for not being in a place where I could do more with the camera. Delhi can be a bit boring for photographers like me. However, with the F1.4 prime lens in my hand, I could see the potential of this camera very clearly. Being fast has its advantages, being so good when the light is bad also comes with its advantages.

 Sony Alpha A9, Sony A9 mirrorless camera, Sony A9 ILCE-9, Sony Alpha A9 review, Sony Alpha A9 camera specs, Sony Alpha A9 features, Sony Alpha A9 price in India Sony a9 (ILCE-9) camera sample. (Image resized for web)
 Sony Alpha A9, Sony A9 mirrorless camera, Sony A9 ILCE-9, Sony Alpha A9 review, Sony Alpha A9 camera specs, Sony Alpha A9 features, Sony Alpha A9 price in India Sony a9 (ILCE-9) camera sample. (Image resized for web)
 Sony Alpha A9, Sony A9 mirrorless camera, Sony A9 ILCE-9, Sony Alpha A9 review, Sony Alpha A9 camera specs, Sony Alpha A9 features, Sony Alpha A9 price in India Sony a9 (ILCE-9) camera sample. (Image resized for web)
 Sony Alpha A9, Sony A9 mirrorless camera, Sony A9 ILCE-9, Sony Alpha A9 review, Sony Alpha A9 camera specs, Sony Alpha A9 features, Sony Alpha A9 price in India Sony a9 (ILCE-9) camera sample. (Image resized for web)
 Sony Alpha A9, Sony A9 mirrorless camera, Sony A9 ILCE-9, Sony Alpha A9 review, Sony Alpha A9 camera specs, Sony Alpha A9 features, Sony Alpha A9 price in India Sony a9 (ILCE-9) camera sample. (Image resized for web)
 Sony Alpha A9, Sony A9 mirrorless camera, Sony A9 ILCE-9, Sony Alpha A9 review, Sony Alpha A9 camera specs, Sony Alpha A9 features, Sony Alpha A9 price in India Sony a9 (ILCE-9) camera sample. (Image resized for web)

Another aspect of the camera that is hard to miss is the auto-focus. The continuous auto-focus does not let go of the subject and gives you a clear shot every time. In fact, this comes in more handy when you are shooting video, and unlike DSLR where this is a struggle, the a9 keeps track of the subject once locked.

The camera also offers excellent 4K shooting with features that are broadcast quality. Add this to the auto-focus abilities and this camera goes to a different level altogether. Plus, you can add top-end microphones for great audio to match with the visuals.

My only issue with the camera is the electronic viewfinder, which while being sharp and true feels very unnatural for a traditional camera user. It takes some getting used to and in fact I started preferring the LCD over time. Also, for a mirrorless camera the body and lens of the a9 ended up being over 1.5 kg, which is a bit hard to handle for some of us.

Overall, if you are not held back by legacy lenses and mindsets, it might be a good idea to opt for the Sony a9 as your next DSLR, one that rises to all the taxing demands you might throw at it. This is clearly one of the best cameras you can buy at the moment, but it does not come cheap. I recommend this for those who do an equal amount of still and video work and needs a camera that is versatile for both.

Sony a9 (ILCE-9) price in India – Rs 3,29,990

Sony a9 (ILCE-9) specifications – 24.2-megapixel 35 mm full-frame stacked CMOS sensor|693-point wide-area phase-detection AF|ISO 100-51,200, expandable to 50-204,800|3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen

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