The A9ii – Are our expectations to high or did Sony fail us?

The A9ii announcement has come and gone. There has been a floury of people saying Sony under-delivered and a number defending Sony and saying the user expectations were too high.

So who is right? At the risk of opening myself up to criticism, when you have to ask the question “what has changed?” with a camera, then you have to accept that at least some of the criticism is valid.

There are obvious issues like the substandard EVF that I can’t fathom. Your top of the range camera that has just been released now has an EVF that is outdated compared to many competitors. Why not the A7riv EVF?

The key for me is that the vast majority of potential users can’t see any justification for the price differential between the A9 and A9ii, particularly when the A9 is going to be heavily discounted.

This release stinks of the X-H1 release by Fujifilm which lacked any serious strategy. For those who don’t know, the X-H1 was the range topping pro camera released by Fujifilm two years after the X-T2. It had an old sensor and was outdated by the X-T3 only 6 months after it’s release, and as a result it didn’t sell.

I don’t know whether its been discontinued, but I think the failing of the camera was more to do with the old sensor that was quickly outdated than anything else. You can read my article here, but I the current X-H1 sales and lack of replacement show I was correct.

To me, it seems Sony made the mistake of releasing a camera for the Olympics, rather than because it made sense. The Olympics isn’t a camera strategy. Unfortunately, the problem with this release is that it could gain some short term users, but alienate a large portion of it’s user base who were planning to upgrade.

The potential users who were planning on buying the A9ii and probably won’t:

  1. Current A9 users – Without any substantial reason to upgrade, I can’t see many A9 users upgrading unless the incremental upgrades are critical, and for many they won’t be. Sony would be lucky to get 10% of their user base to upgrade. Many sports shooters I know have already indicated they won’t be upgrading and if they had pre-orders, they would have cancelled them.
  2. Current A7Riii users – As with the A9, I can’t see many wanting to go to the A9ii with current pricing. The A7Riv is likely to scare a portion of the user base away that doesn’t want 61MP and the A9 is likely to have too old a sensor to justify an upgrade. Even a newer 24MP sensor would probably have been better given Sony’s current menu of sensors available.
  3. Current A7iii users – I would see most of these users going to the A9 over the A9ii because the pricing differential won’t justify the A9ii.

So who would actually get the A9ii? I don’t actually know. I wouldn’t order it and I was planning on moving to the A9 range. Probably only press and even then, with the D6 release on the horizon, is it going to be impressive enough to make them switch? I don’t think so. As I mentioned, most of the sports shooters I know don’t think the A9ii is a big enough upgrade.

My person perspective is that Sony may be forced to release an A9iii in 12 months to undo the damage and avoid playing too much catch up with their competitors. Brutal? Yes, but honesty sometimes is.

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