The Sony a9 is a masterpiece of technology. Even if you have no intention of ever dropping $4500 to buy one, you have to admit that its key specifications are impressive. Aimed squarely at action photographers, it's much faster than the a7R II, with a more sophisticated AF system, but it can't match the older camera for sheer resolution.
In this article, we'll be comparing the a9 and a7R II directly, looking in detail at exactly where their differences lie. For some photographers, the a9 might meet their needs admirably, whereas for others, the older a7R II might be just as good - or better. Read on to decide for yourself.
Perhaps the most fundamental difference between these two cameras is their sensors. The a9 offers a resolution of 24MP, putting it in the middle of the pack in terms of full-frame cameras' pixel-count.
On the other hand, the 42MP sensor inside the 7R II offers the highest resolution of any Sony Alpha. In the entire full-frame market, it is second only to the Canon EOS 5DS/R when it comes to nominal resolution.
Having so many pixels at your disposal is great for certain kinds of photography, like landscape and studio work, but of course it comes at the expense of large file sizes, and reduced operational speed.
Our verdict: If you need the pixels, save some cash and buy an a7R II. If you need speed, read on...
The a9, on the other hand, features a significantly lower-resolution 24MP sensor, but one that's been optimized for speed, rather than pure resolution. A maximum frame rate of 20 fps makes the a7R II look prehistoric, and 60 fps live view is available even during burst shooting. You don't need that kind of performance for landscapes, but for sports and action, it's extremely appealing. You can thank a stacked CMOS design, with built-in buffer memory for these tricks. In the image above, the sensor (1) sends data the signal processing circuitry (2) and on to a buffer (3) before pushing this data to the Bionz processor (4).
But of course, a fast frame rate isn't useful without...
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