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Sony's new Alpha a9 II redefines the impressive features of its predecessor merging enhanced connectivity, new body design and advanced image capabilities.
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Built for speed, the a9 II utilises a 24.2MP Exmor RS BSI stacked CMOS sensor, along with an updated BIONZ X image processor, that yields impressively quick and responsive performance. Up to 20 fps continuous shooting is possible using an electronic shutter or 10 fps shooting is supported with a mechanical shutter. The sensor's back-illuminated design also affords high sensitivity to an extended ISO 204800 with reduced noise for clean image quality in a variety of lighting conditions. Additionally, uncompressed raw files can be recorded in 14-bit for greater colour fidelity and post-production flexibility.
The BIONZ X processor also works in conjunction with a high-speed front-end LSI to realise faster processing times along with a wide dynamic range with smooth tonal rendering. Benefitting the fast recording capabilities is an equally quick AF/AE metering system that functions at 60 times per second to continuously evaluate the scene in order to lock onto and track moving subjects. Automatic anti-flicker shooting also recognises and times the shutter action to minimise the flicker effect for more consistent results on still images. Additionally, due to the use of an electronic shutter, totally blackout-free monitoring is possible with the electronic viewfinder for more accurate compositions of moving subjects.
Covering 93% of the image area, a Fast Hybrid AF system incorporates 693 phase-detection points along with 425 contrast-detection areas for quick and precise focusing in a variety of lighting conditions with sensitivity down to -3 EV. The density of focusing points from this hybrid AF system also enables High-density Tracking AF Technology, which is adept at tracking moving subjects in a variety of lighting conditions. Updated AF algorithms also benefit maintaining a critical focus on erratically or unpredictably moving subjects. Additionally, the use of phase-detection points enables the use of A-mount lenses via the optional LA-EA3 or LA-EA1 lens mount adapters with full continuous AF/AE tracking compatibility.
The apt focus system also lends itself to a variety of focusing functions for refined accuracy, including Lock-on AF, which maintains focus on moving subjects throughout the use of a configurable frame that is set over the desired moving subject, and Expand Flexible Spot, which employs neighbouring focus points to retain focus on moving subjects even if the originally selected point loses focus. The focus frame colour is selectable, between white and red, and AF tracking is possible with apertures narrower than f/16 with select lenses when working in Focus Priority mode. Additionally, Eye AF can be used to base focus on recognised human subjects' eyes for portraits and is available in both AF-S and AF-C modes, for both stills and video. Eye AF can be used when photographing animal subjects, too, with any focusing mode when shooting stills. Autofocus can also be used in conjunction with the Focus Magnifier function for critical focus when homing in on minute subject details. The rear touchscreen can also be used for Touch Focus control, and a Touchpad Focus Control mode lets you use the rear screen intuitively while keeping your eye to the viewfinder. Additionally, when working in AF-C mode, the focus point can be moved while the shutter button is half-pressed, making it easier to quickly shift focus without losing sight of the action.
Internal recording of UHD 4K movies is possible in multiple frame rates up to 30 fps and, based on the Super35mm recording area and effective 6K resolution, oversampling renders greater detail and full pixel readout is possible, that is void of pixel binning, for higher quality imagery with reduced moiré and aliasing. Full-frame 4K recording has also been dramatically improved for improved quality when working at mid to high sensitivities to permit full use of the entire sensor width. Full HD 1080p recording is also supported in frame rates up to 120 fps, and both resolutions utilise the 100 Mbps XAVC S format contained within an MP4 wrapper with 4:2:0 sampling. The high-speed, 120 fps recording also enables 4x and 5x slow-motion movie recording with the frame rate set to either 30p or 24p. In addition to high-resolution internal recording, uncompressed HDMI output also enables the use of an optional external recorder for clean 4K recording with 4:2:2 sampling.
4K video recording also avails the ability to produce 8MP stills during playback by taking a frame grab from a movie and storing it as a separate file.
The a9 II incorporates an enhanced 5.5-stop effective 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilisation system, which compensates for five different types of camera shake encountered during handheld shooting of stills and video. This allows users to confidently use any lens, even adapted lenses, for critical imaging without encountering blur from camera shake.
For long focal lengths, the system will correct for pitch and yaw adjustments. Macro and high-magnification imagery, on the other hand, will benefit from the inclusion of horizontal and vertical shift compensation. All shooting styles will get usage out of the roll compensation. All 5 axes of stabilisation will function at all times, even when used with third-party lenses and adapters or lenses with built-in optical stabilisation.
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