It won't be affordable for most shooters. But if you have several thousand dollars to drop on a camera and you like the idea of moving to a mirrorless world without some of the traditional compromises, Sony's full-frame 24-megapixel A9 is finally available in Australia.
Don't misunderstand: this camera is not for the faint of heart. The body alone, according to a cursory glance of local retailers, will set you back just under $7000. And if you want a nice array of lenses - which anyone buying a camera in this class does - then you'll be spending several thousand dollars more.
Of course, you are getting a great camera for the money. While it doesn't have the dynamic range of the Sony Alpha A7RII, it's an exceedingly fast piece of kit. The A9 can shoot at 20 frames a second, compared to the 16fps on the Canon 1DX Mark II (which costs over a grand more). And that's part of the advantage of mirrorless tech: there's no mirror in the camera that has to move up and down.
Another big feature with the A9 is that the electronic shutter is completely silent. That's a feature available on the A7RII as well, but the A7RII isn't as suited to sports or fast-moving moments like the A9 or Canon and Nikon's high-end kit is. And at a press briefing for the A9, Sony's representatives made that same point: with the silent shutter, you can take shots at moments when the noise of a shutter would otherwise be a problem. (Think the moment just before a tennis player servers, for instance.)
Understandably, Sony held a huge evening to celebrate the camera's launch. It wasn't just an opportunity for press briefings and takeaways of the camera though: the evening was also an opportunity to highlight local photographers through the Sony awards. The evening also showcased the A9's ISO performance, with a live view of the A9 shooting the Sydney Harbour Bridge at 12800 ISO:
The event also served as a chance to talk up the A9's other big features: no blackout in the viewfinder, the autofocus points cover 93% of the A9's surface area, a buffer for 200 RAW or 400 JPG photos in a row, in-body image stabilisation, 2.2x the battery capacity of the previous A7's, a battery grip for extra shooting and support for larger lenses, and the 24.2 megapixel sensor.
The awards were opened to New Zealanders as well, which was helpful for the eventual winner: John Ford ended up taking out the grand prize with his landscape portrait pictured above, which was actually shot on a Sony Alpha A6000 with the kit lens, remarkably.
But there was also a good showcase of macro, landscape and action photography on display. None of the shots were actually taken with the A9, but they're nice to look at nonetheless.
We've had some time with the A9 in the office already, and we'll have a full review of the camera up on the site soon.
Images: Sony/Adam Kent/John Ford