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Sony Launches the Alpha 9 II

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Sony has announced the launch of Alpha 9 II (model ILCE-9M2), the latest addition to its acclaimed line-up of α (Alpha) full-frame interchangeable lens cameras, that have been created specifically to support working professionals in the fields of sports photography and photojournalism. Building upon the impressive legacy of Alpha 9, the new Alpha 9 II maintains groundbreaking speed performance including blackout-free continuous shooting at up to 20 frames per second[ii] with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking, and 60 times per second AF/AE calculations, while incorporating even more functionality driven directly from the voice of professionals.

Updates include significantly enhanced connectivity and file delivery, continuous shooting at up to 10 fps with mechanical shutter, evolved AF performance with newly optimised algorithms, a re-designed build to enhance durability and operability, and more. “The voice of our customers is absolutely critical to Sony – we are always listening,” said Murat Gebeceli, Head of Digital Imaging, Sony Middle East and Africa. “The Alpha 9 II is the direct result of countless feedback sessions with agency, sports and news photographers that started right after the launch of the original Alpha 9. We’ve added connectivity and network capabilities that drastically improve the professional workflow, while also making subtle adjustments to design, interface and processing power that complete the user experience. Complemented by the company’s E-mount system – with 55 native lenses introduced at this point, including the super-telephoto 600mm and 400mm G Master series lenses – this new camera is a tool unlike any other for professionals either in the field or on the field.”

Raising the bar for built-in connectivity in the professional’s workflow The Alpha 9 II includes an in-built 1000BASE-T Ethernet terminal, enabling gigabit communication for high-speed and stable data transfer operations. Additionally, it supports File Transfer over SSL or TLS encryption (FTPS) for increased data security, and improves PC remote (tether) shooting performance, with decreased release time lag and reduced live view screen delay when using the ‘Remote Camera Tool’ desktop application.

The speed of the camera’s built-in wireless LAN functionality has also been increased, adding a stable and fast 5 GHz (IEEE 802.11ac) band, in addition to the 2.4 GHz provided in the Alpha 9. IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac standards are all supported. Designed to improve the speed of news agencies’ workflow, the Alpha 9 II features a new Voice Memo function that allows spoken information to be attached to images in the form of voice memos that can be replayed when the images are reviewed.

The voice data can also be included with images sent to an editor, giving them important information needed for effective editing. Alternatively, a field photographer can also use the ‘Transfer & Tagging add-on’ “Imaging Edge” application to transfer voice tags with the images to their mobile device and have the voice memos automatically converted to text and added to the JPEG images in the form of IPTC metadata. All of this can be done automatically or manually, selectable by the photographer.

By combining wireless voice / image transfer and automatic voice to text conversion with the ability to auto transfer images with attached voice memos via FTP, it is possible to shoot and transfer the results to an FTP server without ever having to operate a smartphone. FTP settings within the app can also be sent to a camera via Bluetooth, allowing for faster workflow. The new Alpha 9 II shares the same acclaimed 35mm full-frame stacked 24.2 MP Exmor RS CMOS image sensor with integral memory as the original Alpha 9, giving it the same unmatched speed performance and outstanding image quality.

The new model can shoot continuously and completely silently at 20 fps for up to 361 JPEG images or 239 compressed RAW images[xii], with no viewfinder blackout, allowing the photographer to follow the subject and action with no interruption to the EVF during picture taking. For times when mechanical shutter is preferred or required, the new Alpha 9 II has been improved to shoot at up to 10 fps, about 2x the speed of the Alpha 9. The camera is designed to function whilst continuously calculating Auto Focus and Auto Exposure at up to 60 times per second, thanks to the newly optimised AF algorithms that provide notably enhanced AF precision and performance, ensuring even the most erratic subject motion, often experienced in sports, is captured with high precision.

Making it useful for sporting events, the camera now offers an anti-flicker shooting mode that automatically detects and adjusts for the presence of fluorescent or artificial lighting to maximise image quality. The advanced focusing system in the new Alpha 9 II is comprised of 693 focal-plane phase-detection AF points that covers approximately 93% of the image area, as well as 425 contrast AF points. This Fast Hybrid Auto Focus system achieves extremely fast and accurate performance, ensuring all fast-moving subjects are accurately captured.

Additional notable focusing capabilities include Real-time Eye AF with right eye / left eye selection, Real-time Eye AF for animals – augmented with a new algorithm, Real-Time Eye AF for movie, Real-time Tracking, selectable focus frame colour, Touch Pad focus point control while using the viewfinder, and more. AF can continuously track even when continuous shooting is greater than F16, providing further accuracy for shots that require slower shutter speeds. Other features include:

  • Upgraded BIONZ X image processing engine gains maximum benefit from the sensor’s fast readout speed. The processor works with front-end LSI to enhance speed in AF/AE detection, image processing, face detection and accuracy, and more
  • Upgraded dust and moisture resistant design to meet the needs of professionals in even the most challenging outdoor conditions. Stronger sealing provided at all body seams as well as the battery compartment cover and media slot
  • The latest image-processing algorithm reduces noise in the medium-to-high sensitivity range while improving subjective resolution and image quality · 5-axis optical in-body image stabilisation system provides a shutter speed advantage of 5.5 steps
  • Improved grip configuration for even greater comfort and sure hold. Compatible with Sony VG-C4EM Vertical Grip
  • Improved button design and feel. Increased diameter and feedback of the ‘AF-ON’ button; a refined multi-selector joystick design; an exposure compensation dial lock button and a redesigned shape and new position for the rear dial · Redesigned shutter mechanism to suppress even the slightest movement that can cause image blur.
  • Tested for durability in excess of 500,000 shutter cycles
  • USB Type-C connector supports fast USB 3.2 Gen 1 data transfer
  • Dual media slots are both compatible with UHS-I and UHS-II SD cards, allowing the higher overall capacity and faster read/write speeds
  • Digital audio interface added to the camera’s Multi Interface Shoe (MI Shoe) enabling the new ECM-B1M Shotgun Microphone or XLR-K3M XLR Adaptor Kit to be connected directly to the MI Shoe for a cleaner, clearer audio recordings

The Alpha 9 II will be available for pre-order in the UAE from 23rd October 2019 until 10th November at a retail price of AED 18,999. Customers pre-ordering the Alpha 9 II will receive a VG-C4EM Vertical Grip. The Alpha 9 II will be available across all retail stores in the UAE at the end of November 2019.

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Digital Cameras

Fujifilm Launches INSTAX Pal

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FUJIFILM Corporation has launched the “INSTAX Pal” in the market. The palm-top size camera joins the INSTAX series of instant cameras, allowing users to take photos anytime and anywhere. It will be available in five colours to suit different lifestyles, broadening the scope of shooting situations and experiences. The INSTAX instant photo system marks its 25th anniversary this year since its original launch in 1998. The system evolved with time, embracing trends and new technologies, to expand its lineup from analogue instant cameras to hybrid instant cameras and smartphone printers. The INSTAX series offers diverse ways of enjoying photography to broaden its user base covering young people and middle-aged groups.

The new INSTAX Pal is INSTAX series’ first model specialising in taking pictures. Removal of the printing function has made it possible to reduce the size to a palm-top level for even greater walkaround capacity. The INSTAX Pal features a variety of functions to facilitate shooting situations and photographic experiences. The Standard mode, activated by pressing the shutter button on the rear panel, takes advantage of the wide-angle lens to shoot from an elevated position or at a sharp angle, difficult to achieve with smartphones, using just one hand to capture a dynamic image that brings in more of the background.

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The Remote mode connects the camera to a smartphone installed with a dedicated app via Bluetooth so that pictures can be checked on the smartphone as they are taken. The Interval mode takes photos continuously at a three-second interval. These features set this camera apart from smartphones with unique shooting experiences. The INSTAX Pal can also establish a Bluetooth connection with the INSTAX Link series of smartphone printers to produce INSTAX prints out of images taken with it.

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Sony MEA Launches the Alpha 9 III

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Sony Middle East and Africa has introduced the new Alpha 9 III camera equipped with the world’s first full-frame global shutter image sensor.  The new global shutter full-frame image sensor enables the camera to shoot at burst speeds of 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 Alpha 9 III opens up a new world of possibilities for professional photographers to capture that decisive moment.

The new Alpha 9 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 Speed with AF/AE tracking of up to approximately 120 frames per second. The new Alpha 9 III is equipped with high-density focal plane phase-detection AF. A Designated AI processing unit uses Real-time Recognition AF (autofocus) to recognise a wide variety of subjects with high precision.

By combining the high-speed performance of up to 120 frames per second 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 Alpha 9 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 Alpha 9 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 synchronise 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 Alpha 9 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 ensure 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 Alpha 9 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 F22 and a composite RAW shooting function that gives the ability to combine multiple consecutive images into a high-quality composite.

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. This 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 Alpha 9 III has the image creation process 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 Alpha 9 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 favorite imported LUT. Alpha 9 III is compatible with the mobile app “Monitor & Control” for video creators.

Sony has listened to the voices of professional photographers and created operability and reliability that supports professional image makers. 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 straining the user even when wearing a telephoto lens or using it for long periods of time. The VG-C5 vertical grip (sold separately), provides the same operability and versatility as when shooting horizontally; the user can comfortably support long shooting sessions.

The grip and shutter button area share the same design as the main body, allowing image capture without feeling uncomfortable, with the same operability as the camera. The Alpha 9 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. Also, 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 operations. It supports professional photographers when shooting in all environments.

New features for the Alpha 9 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, strongly supporting professional workflows from shooting 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.

The Alpha 9 III can transfer data up to twice as fast as the Alpha 9 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 Alpha 9 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. In addition, the Alpha 9 III is scheduled to support functional enhancements such as FTP operability, relay playback, and C2PA  format support through a camera software update. Sony says it will continue to expand functions such as breathing correction, relay playback, and C2PA format support for the Alpha 1 and Alpha 7S III in the future to meet the needs of professionals along with the Alpha 9 III.

The Alpha 9 III camera will be available in the UAE from Q1 2024 (calendar year). The VG-C5 vertical grip will be available in the UAE from Q1 2024 (calendar year).

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Digital Cameras

Fujifilm Launches INSTAX Square SQ40 Instant Camera

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Fujifilm Middle East has announced the launch of INSTAX Square SQ40. This is an exciting new addition to the INSTAX series of instant cameras compatible with square format films, allowing users to enjoy on-the-spot photo printing. The SQ40 is an analogue instant camera that sports a premium and classical leather-look design, focusing on a texture that fits comfortably in the hand. It runs on plain operations to produce square-format prints with ease.

Released on the same day, the square format film “SUNSET,” is characterized by graininess and gradation around the frame of the film. The INSTAX series has been affectionately called “Cheki” in Japan since its initial launch in 1998. The series has gained popularity for its ability to not only print and preserve a precious moment right on the spot but also as a new tool for users to communicate their emotions. Offered in this series are card-sized “mini format” prints, “square format” prints, and double-card-sized “wide format” prints to expand the range of photographic expressions.

Square format film can cover a wider range of photographic scenes and is suitable for group shots and landscape photos. It can capture the subject with the background and atmosphere of the scene, expanding the user’s pallet of photographic expressions. The Square format film is well-liked across countries and generations because it offers the advantage of taking pictures with a 1:1 aspect ratio and arranging the creative composition, square format films are able to turn casual scenes into the artistic work of photography.

The camera features the “Automatic Exposure” function, which achieves optimum exposure for a given scene by simply turning the lens barrel to turn on the camera, pointing the camera at the subject and pressing the shutter button. Users can also switch to the Selfie Mode for taking selfies and close-ups by simply rotating the lens barrel to turn the camera on and rotating the barrel again in the same direction. Such simple operations are all that are needed to bring joy to photography.

Fujifilm will continue to expand the world of the “INSTAX” instant photo system that allows people to enjoy on-the-spot photo printing.

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