First Impressions: Sony a9 (Flagship Camera)

The new Sony a9 is finally here; and it seems to be absolutely fantastic from a technology standpoint in many ways. To start with, it has a new stacked 24MP CMOS sensor and can shoot up to 20fps with a completely silent shutter. This camera is strongly being targeted at the photojournalist type of photographer–quite obviously the pros considering that it’s a $4,000+ camera. It’s being released next month and today we got some time to play with the camera a bit.

4/27/2017: Updated with sample images.

Product Video

If you do not see the video below, please head over to check it out at our YouTube Channel.

Tech Specs

Amongst the best features are a 24MP full frame CMOS stacked sensor. Additionally, there is a new 100-400mm G master lens.

  • 20fps shooting with autofocus happening at 60 times per second
  • No viewfinder blackout
  • Completely silent shutter that is vibration free
  • 1/32000 shutter speed
  • Autofocus 693 autofocus points covering over 90% of the frame
  • 5 axis body stabilization
  • Ethernet port for file transfer
  • Dual SD cards
  • Extended battery life
  • BIONZ x
  • AF tracking for over 200 RAW files
  • 3686k dot viewfinder
  • Hybrid AF4k video and 120 fps shooting at HD

Available for $4,500 in the US and pre-orders begin on Friday


In many ways, the new Sony a9 is sort of like a Sony a7r II on steroids, except that, you know, it’s got a much smaller megapixel sensor. However, you can also liken the body to something like a Panasonic GH5 and the Fujifilm X-T2.

Oh also, it seems to be taking more of that retro style design. The front of the camera sort of looks like a retro style SLR. Think Pentax or maybe Contax.

The back of the camera has a lot of features that make sense in terms of the evolution of the camera. The Sony a9 has a new joystick that lets the photographer quickly choose the AF point they need to use. Additionally, there’s a newly upgraded dial on the back that feels sort of like something off the Canon 6D series.

The grip on the camera feels and looks a lot like the one on the previous a7 series. So at this point, there really hasn’t been much evolution here.

But bring yourself to the top of the camera and you’ll see something new for sure. Take a look at that dial on the top left! This operates the drive move and then there’s an option to select the type of AF mode to use. Think Nikon and like the older Minolta camera bodies.

Build Quality

At the moment, I haven’t been able to really give the Sony a9 a good go in the rain or something. In fact, there really wasn’t much talk about the weather sealing except with the Artisans. All who I spoke with state that they’ve been able to use it in the rain with no issues.

I’ll be sure to put it to the test!

Ease of Use

I think I’m going to really like using the Sony a9 due to the fact that there are more dials and everything can be done easily with less button combinations. If you used to play the game Mortal Kombat, you’ll understand what I mean when I state that sometimes pressing the buttons on the Sony a7 series feels like needing to enter in the blood code to get what you need and want. But with the Sony a9, there are more dials and the joystick–and for me that’s a huge advantage and upgrade.


The autofocus with the new 100-400mm lens that I was able to test for just a little while seemed surely as fast and accurate as Sony claims. However, we’re in a very controlled press environment for the moment, and when I get a chance I’m going to be ecstatic to test it in extremely low light and in a dark studio. Plus other areas!

Image Quality

Here are our first sample photos.

First Impressions

I’m really excited to see what the new Sony a9 will be like in a working environment. It seems to be packed with technology that in many ways can hold its own with Canon, Nikon, and many others out there. Then when you consider Sony’s lineup of lenses currently, plus all the third party offerings, you’ve got quite a lot of potential here.

Stay tuned for a full review!

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.