Sony Alpha 9 III: world’s first full frame global shutter sensor

This post is by Jose Antunes from ProVideo Coalition

Sony Alpha 9 MK III: world’s first full frame global shutter sensorThe world’s first full frame global shutter sensor is inside the Sony Alpha 9 III, a camera that shoots at 120 fps, without any blackout and synchronize flash at any shutter speed up to 1/80000!

Sony has pushed the boundaries of photographic technology, reshaping the industry and empowering photographers and videographers with cutting-edge tools, and in 2013 introduced the world’s first mirrorless full-frame cameras – Sony’s Alpha 7 and 7R. These pioneering models marked the start of an ongoing evolution for the Alpha series, continued by the original Alpha 9, launched six years ago. Now, it’s time for the ground-breaking new Alpha 9 III.

The impressive new global shutter full-frame image sensor enables the camera to shoot at burst speeds at up to 120 fps with no distortion or camera blackout. By combining this innovative sensor with Sony’s most advanced AF system to date – boasting AI autofocus with up to 120 times AF/AE focus calculations per second – as well as the ability to sync flash at all shooting speeds, the α9 III opens up a new world of possibilities for professional photographers to capture that decisive moment.

“The new Alpha 9 III is a landmark achievement for Sony’s imaging business,” says Yann Salmon Legagneur, Head of IP&S Marketing, Sony Europe. “Designed with the needs and demands of professional photographers in mind, every single update to this camera – from the sensor to the size to the button layouts and menu functions – has been made to address specific requests and feedback from our imaging community. We have listened and are thrilled to bring the new capabilities of the Alpha 9 III to fruition…capabilities which allow photographers to capture things they’ve never been able to capture before.” Salmon Legagneur continued, “For creators everywhere, they can achieve even more dynamic expressions when the Alpha 9 III is combined with our rich line-up of lenses, in particular with the new 300mm F2.8 G Master – the world’s lightest large-aperture telephoto lens.”

Sony Alpha 9 MK III: world’s first full frame global shutter sensor4K 120p high-frame-rate video without cropping

In terms of video, the camera is the first in the Alpha series to be able to record 4K 120p high-frame-rate video without cropping, allowing the user to shoot at the angle of view intended. It is also possible to shoot high-resolution 4K 60p videos with 6K oversampling. The global shutter image sensor provides distortion-free image expression for videos as well as still images. For example, the user can shoot images of nearby scenery from a fast-moving vehicle such as a car or fast-moving subjects with ease.

The Alpha 9 III features S-Cinetone, created through the development of the VENICE digital cinema camera for video production, making human skin and subjects stand out beautifully, creating natural highlights. The α9 III is equipped with the latest video performance including rich gradation performance and S-Log3, and when in Log shooting mode, it can reflect and display the user’s favourite imported LUT. α9 III is compatible with the mobile app “Monitor & Control” for video creators.

Here is the information shared by Sony about the new camera, right after the presentation online:

The new α9 III is equipped with a newly developed world’s first global shutter full-frame stacked CMOS image sensor with approximately 24.6 effective megapixels and built-in memory, combined with the latest image processing engine BIONZ XR. It achieves blackout-free Continuous Shooting with AF/AE tracking of up to approximately 120 frames per second.

The new α9 III is equipped with high-density focal plane phase detection AF. A designated AI processing unit uses Real-time Recognition AF to recognise a wide variety of subjects with high precision. By combining high-speed performance of up to 120fps with highly accurate subject recognition performance, it is possible to easily photograph decisive scenes and moments that cannot be captured with the naked eye.

The AI processing unit in the α9 III supports movies as well as stills with accurate subject form and movement recognition, providing a significant improvement in human eye recognition performance with Real-time Recognition AF and Real-time Tracking automatically recognising, tracking, and focusing on the eyes of a specified subject. The α9 III is equipped with 8.0 stops of optical 5-axis in-body image stabilisation, allowing for high-quality image rendering.

Shutter speed is freed from the limitations of conventional mechanical shutter image sensors and achieves a maximum shutter speed of 1/80000 second (1/16000 second during continuous shooting), making it possible to capture at high speed without any distortion. When a compatible Sony flash is attached, such as the HVL-F60RM2 and HVL-F46RM (sold separately), it is possible to synchronize the flash and take pictures at all shutter speeds up to 1/80000 second.

Previously, if the user released the shutter at a speed faster than the flash’s synchronisation speed, the amount of light would drop sharply, but with the full-speed flash synchronisation function, it’s now possible to photograph scenes that could not be easily captured with conventional technology. 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 α9 III features selectable release lag modes which allows the user to prioritise release lag or viewfinder/monitor display. The newly installed Pre-Capture function allows the user to go back up to 1 second and record the moment before pressing the shutter, a Continuous Shooting Speed Boost change during shooting, and enhanced burst stamina ensures that important moments are reliably captured due to a large buffer memory and increased overall system speed allow up to approximately 390 Fine JPEG images to be captured in one continuous 30 fps burst.

Customisable focus areas have been expanded to include from XS to XL instead of the previous S,M, and L sizes. The Preset Focus/Zoom function allows preset focus and zoom settings to be memorised in the camera for quick recall when needed. In addition to the existing custom white balance frame size, the user can now select other sizes as needed which allows for fine white balance adjustment after an image has been composed. The α9 III has upgraded features such as the latest AF algorithms 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 F22xiv and a composite RAW shooting function that gives the ability to combine multiple consecutive images into a high-quality composite.

Sony Alpha 9 MK III: world’s first full frame global shutter sensorOperability and reliability for professionals

Sony has listened to the voices of professional photographers and created operability and reliability that supports their needs. The shape of the grip is improved and ergonomically designed so that it can be easily held in the palm of the user’s hand to avoid strain even when using a telephoto lens or over long periods of time.

The VG-C5 vertical grip (sold separately), offers the same operability and versatility when shooting horizontally; providing comfortable support for long shooting sessions. The grip and shutter button area share the same design as the main camera body, allowing image capture without feeling uncomfortable, with the same operability as the camera. The α9 III is equipped with a 4-axis multi-angle LCD monitor that can be operated by touch, allowing for intuitive operation using the latest touch menu. The electronic viewfinder uses a 9.44 million-dot Quad XGA OLED and achieves high visibility with the same brightness as the α7R V and a magnification of approximately 0.90x. A custom button is placed on the front of the camera, and the continuous shooting speed can be changed by operating the custom button assigned with Continuous Shooting Speed Boost with the finger holding the grip, allowing for highly immediate operation. It supports professional photographers when shooting in all environments.

High-speed workflow and scalability to support immediate delivery

New features for the α9 III include a playback image filter that allows the user to efficiently select a large number of images using high-speed continuous shooting, and a function menu that can be used even during image playback. Both features strongly support professional workflows from shooting right through to delivery.

A function menu can now be used during playback so the user can efficiently select a huge number of images using high-speed continuous shooting. The “Playback Function Menu” can be assigned in advance, so the user can perform protection, smartphone transfer, FTP transfer, etc. during image playback. The user can select images narrowed down with a playback filter and play them from the function menu, allowing for quick delivery of specific images. The camera is equipped with a dedicated microphone for voice memos on the back, and the built-in microphone located near the mouth allows clear recording of audio even in noisy environments. The recorded audio data can be transferred via FTP along with the images. The camera allows the user to set up to 20 presets from the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC), an international consultative body in which news organisations from various countries participate.

Sony Alpha 9 MK III: world’s first full frame global shutter sensorThe α9 III can transfer data up to twice as fast as the α9 II. 5 GHz communication offers maximum speed and stability for news and sports shooters who need to deliver immediately via FTP, as well as for studio environments. The α9 III allows stills and movies to be recorded to memory media in numerous ways including the two media slots that support CFexpress Type A cards as well as UHS-I and UHS-II SD cards.

It is compatible with the professional mobile application “Transfer & Tagging” which speeds up the image delivery workflow, and the application “Remote Camera Tool” which allows remote shooting of PCs using wired LAN. Sony is also planning to support a new version of Camera Remote SDK, a software development kit that allows remote camera operation and changing shooting settings.

In addition, the α9 III is scheduled to support functional enhancements such as FTP operability, relay playback, and C2PA format support through a camera software update.

Sony will continue to expand functions such as breathing correction, relay playback, and C2PA format support for the α1 and α7S III in the future to meet the needs of professionals along with the α9 III.

Pricing and Availability

The α9 III camera will be available January 2024. The estimated retail price for the camera body only is $5999. The G Master 300mm F2.8 will also cost $5999 and will be available in Spring 2024.