Sony a9 II Review: Perfect for Wildlife Photography?

Written by Antonio Cala.

Last updated on March 16, 2024

Table of Contents

Are you a professional photographer in need of a high-performance camera that can keep up with your fast-paced shoots? Look no further than the Sony a9 II Mirrorless Camera.

This camera boasts a 24.2MP full-frame sensor with integrated memory, allowing for blackout-free continuous shooting at up to 20 frames per second with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking at 60 calculations per second. Plus, the Real-Time Tracking and Real-Time Eye AF features ensure accurate subject recognition, even for humans and animals.

Other notable features include the high-luminance OLED True-Finder viewfinder with 100% frame coverage, upgraded connectivity options such as high-speed Wi-Fi and secure FTP transfer, and 4K recording capabilities.

This is just the start. Let’s dive into the details of this great camera.

For a complete analysis of wildlife cameras, make sure to check out the ultimate guide to wildlife photography cameras. 

Sony a9 II Overview

Sony a9 II Review

The Sony a9 II is a game-changer in the world of photography. This camera is designed specifically for sports and wildlife photography, delivering unmatched performance. With blackout-free continuous shooting at up to 20 frames per second and Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking at 60 calculations per second, this camera is a must-have for any professional photographer.

The advanced Artificial Intelligence autofocus with Real Time AF tracking ensures accurate image acquisition. The Sony a9 II also has built-in connectivity and file delivery for the professional’s workflow, with file transfer over SSL or TLS encryption (FTPS) for increased data security.

The high luminance viewfinder provides continuous view blackout-free OLED True-Finder with 100% frame coverage. This camera also has upgraded connectivity with high-speed 2.4 or 5 GHz Wi-Fi, up to 1 Gbps Ethernet, and secure FTP transfer.

The Sony a9 II also boasts 4K recording with interval shooting, S&Q Motion, 2.4x oversampling, and full pixel readout without binning. Other features include a touch screen, Bluetooth, image stabilization, anti-flicker, and dual UHS-II SD card slots.

Overall, the Sony a9 II is a compact professional camera that is mastered for shooting wildlife. It offers superior speed, faster autofocus, advanced subject recognition, and more features that make it a must-have for any professional photographer.

Key Features

Blazing Fast Autofocus

One of the standout features of the Sony a9 II is its autofocus system. With up to 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second, you can be sure that your shots will be in focus, no matter how fast your subject is moving. Plus, with real-time tracking and real-time Eye AF for humans, animals, and movies, you can be confident that your subject will always be in focus.

Blackout-Free Continuous Shooting

Another impressive feature of the Sony a9 II is its blackout-free continuous shooting. With a continuous view blackout-free OLED True-Finder with 100% frame coverage, you can keep your eye on the action at all times. Plus, with up to 20fps at full resolution, you can capture even the fastest moving subjects with ease.

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Advanced AI-Driven Subject Recognition

The Sony a9 II is also equipped with advanced AI-driven subject recognition. With real-time tracking and real-time Eye AF, you can be confident that your subject will always be in focus. Plus, with the ability to attach a voice memo to photo files or use voice to text for IPTC data, you can keep track of all the important details.

Revolutionary Connectivity for Professionals

Finally, the Sony a9 II offers revolutionary connectivity for professionals. With high-speed 2.4 or 5 GHz Wi-Fi, up to 1 Gbps Ethernet, and secure FTP transfer, you can easily transfer your photos and videos to your computer or mobile device. Plus, with touch screen, Bluetooth, image stabilization, anti-flicker, and dual UHS-II SD card slots, you have all the features you need to take your photography to the next level.

Pros and Cons

When it comes to the Sony a9 II, there are certainly some things to love and a few areas that could use improvement. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Superior Speed: The Sony a9 II boasts the fastest 35mm full-frame 24.2MP stacked Exmore RS CMOS sensor with integrated memory, making it an excellent choice for capturing fast-moving action.
  • Faster Auto Focus: With up to 20fps at full resolution and 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second, the a9 II’s auto focus is incredibly fast and accurate.
  • Advanced Subject Recognition: Real-time Tracking and Real-Time Eye AF for humans, animals, and movies make it easy to capture stunning shots with minimal effort.
  • High Luminance Viewfinder: The continuous view blackout-free OLED True-Finder with 100% frame coverage makes it easy to see what you’re shooting, even in low light conditions.
  • Upgraded Connectivity: The a9 II features high-speed 2.4 or 5 GHz Wi-Fi, up to 1 Gbps Ethernet, and secure FTP transfer, making it easy to share your photos and videos with others.
  • 4K Recording: With interval shooting, S&Q Motion, 2.4x oversampling, and full pixel readout without binning, the a9 II is an excellent choice for videographers.
  • Image Stabilization: The a9 II features image stabilization, which helps to reduce camera shake and produce sharper images.
  • Dual UHS-II SD Card Slots: With dual UHS-II SD card slots, you can easily store all your photos and videos without running out of space.
  • Voice Memo Function: The voice memo function allows you to attach a voice memo (.wav) to photo files or use voice-to-text for IPTC data, making it easy to keep track of your photos.
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Cons

  • Price: The Sony a9 II is quite expensive, which may be a barrier to some people who are looking for a more affordable camera.
  • Limited Battery Life: The battery life on the a9 II is not as long as some other cameras on the market, which may be a concern for people who plan to use it for extended periods of time.
  • No 4K 60p Option: Some reviewers have noted that the a9 II lacks a 4K 60p option, which may be a disappointment for videographers who need this feature.
  • Ergonomics: Some reviewers have noted that the a9 II could benefit from better ergonomics, which may make it more comfortable to hold and use for extended periods of time.

User Reviews and Testimonials

Cameras often receive negative online reviews due to technical issues, poor customer service or defective models.

The Sony a9 II however, receives very few complaints and most of the reviews are from very happy customers.

Sony a9 II Online Reviews
Sony a9 II Online Reviews
Sony a9 II Online Reviews

Sony a9 II vs Competitors

The main competitors of the Sony a9 II are other professional cameras like the Sony Alpha 1, Nikon Z9 and the Canon EOS R3. Here’s how they all compare.

-
Sony a9 II
Sony Alpha 1
Canon R3
Nikon Z9

CAMERA

Sony a9 II

Sony Alpha 1

Canon EOS R3

Nikon Z9

SENSOR

Full Frame

Full Frame

Full Frame

Full Frame

PRICE

$$$

$$$

$$$

$$$

WEIGHT

1.49 lbs

1.61 lbs

1.81 lbs

2.95 lbs

MEGAPIXELS

24.0 MP

50.1 MP

24.1 MP

45.7 MP

BURST RATE

Up to 20fps

Up to 30fps

Up to 30fps

Up to 120fps

AUTOFOCUS POINTS

693

759

1053

493

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

View at Amazon

Conclusion

After thoroughly reviewing the Sony a9 II, we can confidently say that it is a great choice for professional wildlife photographers looking for a compact and reliable camera. The fast 35mm full-frame 24.2MP stacked Exmore RS CMOS sensor with integrated memory and up to 20fps at full resolution with 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second make it a superior speed camera.

The advanced subject recognition with Real-time Tracking and Real-Time Eye AF for animals, along with the high luminance viewfinder with continuous view blackout free OLED True-Finder with 100% frame coverage, make it a great choice for capturing wildlife action shots.

Although it lacks some features like better ergonomics, better battery, and 4k 60p option, the Sony a9 II is still a great investment for professional photographers. Overall, we highly recommend this camera for anyone looking for a reliable and versatile camera for their wildlife photography needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the autofocus performance of the Sony a9 II fare in fast-paced wildlife scenarios?

The Sony a9 II is a compact professional camera that is specifically designed for sports photography and photojournalism. Its autofocus performance is unmatched, making it an ideal choice for fast-paced wildlife scenarios. With Real Time AF tracking and Real-Time Eye AF for humans, animals, and movies, the camera can accurately acquire images even in the most challenging situations. 

The camera can shoot at up to 20 frames per second with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking at 60 calculations per second, providing you with the speed and precision you need to capture the perfect shot.

Can the Sony a9 II’s battery life withstand extensive fieldwork in wildlife photography?

The Sony a9 II camera has a battery that can last up to 690 shots per charge. Additionally, the camera has a Voice Memo function that allows you to attach a voice memo (.wav) to photo files or use voice to text for IPTC data. This feature comes in handy when you want to capture additional information about your shots or location.

What improvements does the Sony a9 II offer over its predecessor for shooting wildlife?

The Sony a9 II offers several improvements over its predecessor for shooting wildlife. The camera has evolved Artificial Intelligence autofocus, which provides Real Time AF tracking for accurate image acquisition. Additionally, the camera has advanced subject recognition, which allows for Real-Time Tracking and Real-Time Eye AF for humans, animals, and movies. 

The camera also has a high luminance viewfinder that provides continuous view blackout-free OLED True-Finder with 100% frame coverage. These features make it easier to capture the perfect shot, even in challenging wildlife scenarios.

How well does the Sony a9 II handle high ISO settings when photographing wildlife in low light?

The Sony a9 II handles high ISO settings exceptionally well when photographing wildlife in low light. The camera’s fast 35mm full-frame 24.2MP stacked Exmore RS CMOS sensor with integrated memory provides superior speed and faster autofocus. 

The camera also has a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 seconds, which allows you to capture fast-moving wildlife in low light conditions. Additionally, the camera has full pixel readout without binning, which means that you can shoot in 4K with oversampling, providing you with high-quality footage.

What are the advantages of using the Sony a9 II for bird photography compared to other models?

The Sony a9 II is an excellent choice for bird photography compared to other models. The camera has advanced subject recognition, which allows for Real-Time Tracking and Real-Time Eye AF for animals. The camera’s fast autofocus and continuous shooting at up to 20 frames per second with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking at 60 calculations per second make it easier to capture birds in flight. 

Additionally, the camera has a high luminance viewfinder that provides continuous view blackout-free OLED True-Finder with 100% frame coverage, making it easier to track birds in flight.

Other Models Reviewed

Other Camera Reviews

If you would like to read more about camera options for wildlife photography, make sure you check out our Master Guide to Wildlife Photography Cameras.

For even more specific options, you can check out our other reviews below:

 

Camera Type 

DSLR Cameras 

Mirrorless Cameras 

Compact Cameras 

Drones

 

Skill Level

Cameras for Beginners 

Intermediate-Level Cameras 

Pro Cameras

 

Budget

Cameras Under $1,000 

Cameras Under $2,000

 

Brand 

Sony Cameras 

Canon Cameras 

Nikon Cameras

 
 

Planned activitiy 

Cameras for Bird Photography

Cameras for Shooting Wildlife at Night

Travel-friendly Cameras

Cameras for Safaris

Sony a9 II Reviews Online

When doing your research, you might want to read what other publications have to say about the Sony a9 II camera. 

Here are some of the most popular reviews from the web. 

Using the Sony a9 II for Bird & Wildlife Photography: first impressionsby wildimages-phototours.com

Wildlife and Bird Photography With the Sony a9 Mirrorless Camera – fstoppers.comby dvinfo.net

About the Author

Born and raised in Southern Spain, Antonio quit his job in 2013 to travel the world full-time with his wife Amanda for 10 years straight.

They visited 150+ countries, cycled 25,000km + from California to Patagonia, sailed over 10,000NM around the Caribbean & Sea of Cortez, rode their motorbikes 30,000 kms+ across West Africa (Spain to South Africa) and visited Antarctica, among many other adventure expeditions. 

Today Antonio runs Adventure Fix with Amanda, where they share their knowledge about the places they’ve visited and the ones still remaining on their list.

Antonio Cala

Co-Founder of Adventure Fix

Sony a9 II Review
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