The Sony a9 is supposed to be a game changer in the world of sports photography, but now a new potential issue is threatening to disrupt those ambitions: photographers are reporting that the camera’s overheating indicator is turning on after relatively short periods of use in ordinary conditions.
Photographer Danny Eusebio, known as that1cameraguy online, posted the 9.5-minute video above about a recent experience he had with the camera. After taking the a9 to a pool for a swim meet, Eusebio noticed that the overheating warning icon showed up on the screen after less than 20 minutes of use in 81°F.
“Not exactly what I would call ‘Pro’ like,” Eusebio writes. “There are a lot of positive things about this camera, but this is actually a big deal for what I do, considering Sony marketed this as an actual sports camera.”
He does note that this was simply a warning indicator that turned on — the camera never shut down due to overheating — but a photographer working a shoot likely won’t feel comfortable after seeing the warning and not knowing whether the camera will abruptly stop working to cool down.
Here’s what the Sony a9 instruction manual says about the overheating warning icon:
After reporting his findings, Eusebio began hearing accusations that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and/or that he’s faking the issue. In response, he released a followup video with a response and with more details of what he’s found through additional testing:
“The Sony a9 overheating indicator is a real problem,” Eusebio writes. “[…] I’m not being paid by Nikon and I have no immediate plans to transition to Nikon.”
Eusebio argues that sports photographers often need to shoot extremely high volumes of photos during action-packed days, and that a professional sports camera needs to be able to hold up under that workload.
“I was using the camera in what you would typically expect for sports,” he says. “That’s the reason why when the indicator turned on in 20 minutes, it kind of bothered me.”
Photographer Jared Matthew Jarvis also got the warning icon while shooting outdoors, but he believes it may be Sony being ultra cautious after dealing with overheating issues with past cameras.
“Maybe the a9 just hates sunlight,” Jarvis writes in sonyalpharumors’ Sony a9 Facebook group. “I no longer want to call this an overheating ‘issue’. My camera has not yet at any point overheated and I’ve been putting it through its paces in scenarios far more stressful than most real world shooting. If anything I think Sony may have been a bit over zealous with their overheating warning considering the issues they’ve had with heat in the past.”
Photographer William Prip writes in the DPReview forums that his warning icon came on after about 45 minutes of shooting photos in 65°F weather. But other photographers are also reporting that they haven’t seen any warning icon, even after shooting more photos in hotter environments than Eusebio.
Sony’s translucent mirror SLT cameras were known to overheat and limit video recording back around 2010. The newer Sony a7R II also had a well known overheating issue that gave the camera issues with warmer environments or heavy workloads, but Sony fixed that problem with the release of firmware 3.0 for the a7R II and a7S II.
We’ve reached out to Sony regarding this latest a9 overheating issue, and we’ll update this post if/when we receive an official response from the company.
Update on 6/1/17: Sony has called Eusebio and says it’s working to resolve this issue, which appears to only affect a very small number of a9 cameras.
“Sony Pro Support called me May 30 to let me know they are aware of the issue and they are looking into it,” Eusebio writes. “I also pick up the Sony a9 battery grip and an additional battery for it. Other users have reported that the battery grip helps with preventing the overheating.”