The hype is very much real when it comes to Sony’s new sports and wildlife camera, the A9 III, which has the world’s first global shutter full-frame stacked CMOS image sensor. Global shutters aren’t new so why is everyone excited about this global shutter? And what the hell is a global shutter anyway?
The A9 III (Alpha 9 III) is a big deal because it’s a full-frame sensor with global shutter and detachable lens mirrorless camera. A global shutter means instant readout from the sensor.
In the video below, the animation shows how a traditional rolling shutter sensor takes time to read from top to bottom. This results in the distortion of fast moving objects. Although great advances have been made in recent years to minimise this issue, it’s still there. Using a mechanical shutter over a digital shutter will definitely help but it also slows down your frames per second capability.
Global shutter means no image distortion of objects in motion. For example, capturing a swinging golf club or spinning helicopter blades will not result in the moving objects looking bent. All fast moving objects will have straight lines. Global Shutter also removes banding and flicker. It also means flash sync at any shutter speed. This is glorious and I suspect will open the door to a surge in flash photography.
The A9 III is not limited by a mechanical shutter so it can achieve a maximum shutter speed of 1/80000 second (1/16000 second during continuous shooting). If a Sony compatible flash is attached, such as the HVL-F60RM2 and HVL-F46RM, it is possible to synchronise the flash and take pictures at all shutter speeds up to 1/80000 second.
Also, when shooting stills or movies under LED lighting, the Hi Frequency Flicker function can significantly reduce high-frequency flicker problems by allowing the shutter speed to be finely adjusted to match the flicker frequency while viewing the monitor.
The new full-frame stacked 24.6 MP2 CMOS image sensor with a global shutter allows the A9 III to shoot at burst speeds at up to 120 fps with no camera blackout. Throw in AI autofocus with up to 120 times AF/AE focus calculations per second and you have essentially a ‘next gen’ camera.
Clearly the Sony A1 has the A9 III beat for resolution. Its 50MP sensor captures incredibly sharp images but the advantage the A9 III has is speed. You’d have to be a complete doofus to miss a shot with new A9. That’s because the A9 III has a new Pre-Capture function which records up to 1 second before pressing the shutter. You can also change your shooting speed mid-capture by pressing the boost button, going from say, 30fps to 120fps if the action heats up. The buffer allows 390 Fine JPEG images to be captured in one continuous 30 fps burst. Seriously, there’s no way to miss a shot.
The A9 III has a massive 8.0 stops of optical 5-axis in-body image stabilisation – great for shaky hands and long lens captures. Fast shutter speeds also help.
The Alpha 9 III is pretty smart too.
AF algorithms help to achieve high AF precision down to light levels as low as EV-5 in AF-S mode (ISO 100 equivalent, F2.0 lens), AF tracking for continuous shooting at F22 and a composite RAW shooting function that gives the ability to combine multiple consecutive images into a high-quality composite.
GREAT VIDEO CAMERA
I used the original A9 as a video camera for years. If you know what you’re doing it’s a great video camera. Now with the A9 III you have an amazing video camera on top of incredible stills. The global shutter image sensor also helps with video capture.
Fast pans, moving cars or other action will not suffer from horrible rolling shutter wobble. Although it doesn’t record 8K like the A1, the A9 III is the first camera in the Alpha series to be able to record 4K 120p high-frame-rate video without cropping. It is also possible to shoot high-resolution 4K 60p videos with 6K oversampling.
Sony has included S-Cinetone in the picture profiles making the A9 III ideal for fast turnaround. For those wanting to grade their projects you’ll also get S-Log3 with the ability to display imported LUTs (look up tables).
One of the issues with Sony Alpha bodies is size and grip. Sony has listened to the complaints and improved the grip on the A9 III. Although keeping a camera’s weight under control is important, the size and feel of the grip is equally important to get right. The VG-C5 vertical grip provides the same operability and versatility as when shooting horizontally.
The A9 III is equipped with a 4-axis multi-angle LCD monitor that can be operated by touch. The electronic viewfinder uses a 9.44 million-dot Quad XGA OLED with the same brightness as the α7R V and a magnification of approximately 0.90x.
The A9 III can transfer data up to twice as fast as the Alpha 9 II. 5 GHz wireless allows for quick news and sport transfers in the field. The A9 III has two media slots supporting CFexpress Type A cards as well as UHS-I and UHS-II SD cards.
The A9 III will also received updates to for FTP operability, relay playback, and C2PA format.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Alpha 9 III camera will be available in Australia from Q1 2024.
SRP: $10,499.00 AUD
The VG-C5 vertical grip will be available in Australia from Q1 2024