The Sony a9 II hit the shelves just in time for the upcoming 2020 Olympic games, but a few eyebrows were raised when the specs of the camera were released. The Sony a9 II uses the same sensor as the original a9, it has the same amount of AF points, the same base ISOs, the same screen and EVF, and, apart from a deeper grip, the camera is identical in appearance as well. The new Sony did feature an updated image processor, but how much difference has that made to the camera? Let’s find out after the break.
We recently reviewed the Sony A9 II and found that, in the real world, the Sony a9 II is a fantastic overall performer any sports or wildlife photographer would enjoy. We were impressed with the image quality, though we found shots at ISO 6400 were a little muddy in real-world settings compared to other Sony cameras, and this is pretty much what DXOMark found as well.
DXOMark gave the Sony a9 Mk II an overall score of 93, which far eclipses the sensor found in the Canon 1DX II (88) and the Nikon D5 (88), and beats the original a9 by one point. The tests showed that, compared to the original a9, the 1DX, and the D5, the dynamic range of the sensor and image processor combo in the new Sony was slightly better than the a9 (a9 scored 13.3, mk II scored 14), and beat the offerings from Canon and Nikon (Canon 13.5, Nikon D5 12.8).
The color depth was improved in the a9 Mk II as well. The camera scored 25 points while the original a9 scored 24.9. The 1DX and D5 scored 24.1 and 25.1, respectively. When it comes to high ISO performance though, the original Sony a9 and the Sony a7 III both beat their new brother. The Canon 1DX holds its own while the Nikon D5 falls behind in a big way. The a9II scored 3434, the a9 scored 3517, the 1DX II hit a score of 3207, and the Nikon D5 came in last with a score of 2434.
As you can see in the table above, the Sony a9II sits behind the Sony a7 III, the Panasonic S1, and the Nikon Z6, all of which have a sensor similar in pixel density. Of course, the Sony a9 II has a stacked CMOS sensor. The changes Sony made behind the scenes of the A9II have improved color depth and dynamic range. Still, in a camera aimed at sports photographers who sit in dimly lit venues, it seems a little odd that they didn’t try to maximize high ISO performance more. Take the results as you will. We know lab tests are not the be-all end-all, so combine these findings with findings from our real-world review and make your decision about the camera.