Sony Imaging recently surpassed Nikon as the number-two interchangeable-lens-camera manufacturer, behind Canon. Today, the company just announced the A9 mirrorless camera, which will likely continue that trajectory. The new system boosts performance well beyond Sony’s current flagship, the A7RII ($2,898), with a slew of features and performance enhancements that should pique the curiosity of professional shooters and advanced amateurs alike.

First, there’s a new sensor, a 35mm full-frame stacked Exmore RS CMOS, is notable for its higher-speed data processing: up to 20 times faster than previous Sony full-frame sensors. The 24.2MP CMOS remains back-illuminated to enhance light capture and includes the same five-axis sensor stabilization that makes the A7 series so capable and which handily works with whatever lens you’ve attached.

Shooting has been improved with 20 fps continuous shooting, 693-point phase-detection focusing (which covers 90 percent of the frame), and exposure speeds of up to 1/32,000 of a second (whereas previous Alpha mirrorless cameras topped out at 1/8,000). Perhaps the most impactful feature is the enhanced silent shooting, increasingly valued by photographers wishing not to draw attention to their camera, disrupt quiet events or distract their subjects.

Yeah, there are a lot of focus points.

Other features include blackout-free shooting, which means there’s no flicker in the viewfinder while you shoot, allowing you to keep your eye on the subject; a brighter and higher-resolution electronic viewfinder; and double-capacity batteries, which will appease a lot of Sony mirrorless fans who’ve groused about battery life for years.

Sony also debuted the newest addition to its full-frame G-Master lens series. The 100–400mm F4.5–5.6 Super Telephoto deploys two motors for fast, linear focusing and more precise and quiet operation. It focuses down to just 3.2 feet, which is rare for a lens of this size, thus opening lots of additional creative potential for that reason alone.

The A9 body will be available next month for $4,500, and the lens later this month for $2,500. Check that bank balance.

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