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Sony A9 Review

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Shooting wide open whenever you need it ( 1\32.000 sec at f1.4 35 Zeiss f1.4 ZE )

This is a real world review. After a month working and enjoying it.

vincigliata fiesole florence wedding setting up reportagePINAesthetic, Ergonomics, Controls

It looks much the same as an A7 mark 2 but differences are obvious as you begins to play with it.

Slightly bigger, way better in many aspects, better finished in almost every key area.

The biggest ergonomics change, easy to see,  is the rear joypad. With it you can move AF points smoothly and quickly. You can do it even with the touch screen.

With the new body and its controls, well, you get a way better physical feedback from it.

The new dials dedicated to the AF system (AFS- AFC- MF-DMF – which is AF with manual override ) and drive modes (single shot, high speed, medium speed, etc.) are really useful and both have a lock.

On the right of the A9’s body there are the 2 SD slots. But just one is an high speed SDXC 2.

There’s a new battery, also (2280 mah). You can reach easily over 2000 shots per charge, but you can go even well over 4000 pictures with a single charge. It’s up to you, how you use your camera, the settings, etc Anyway a very good battery life.

Let me say it: go for the smaller grip, you won’t regret it.

AF System, Buffer, Speed

The new AF module, works flawlessly even in very dim light, covers the 24X36 format from angle to angle, without losing precision and constancy even focusing far from the center. Even with fast, bright lenes, even shooting wide open.  This is one the biggest differences from any other full frame DSLR out in the market  today. You can track anything all around the frame thanks to dual Af system (Phase and Contrast  at the same time). Without any back or front focus problem. No need to check your lenses. You can even move the focus point with your finger around the touch screen, if you want/need to.  Buffer is HUGE and it won’t stop you to shooting even when is fullfilled. Sadly it’s impossible to check menus, while clearing the buffer (firmware update, please). With the fastest SD cards the camera can clear the buffer ( about 260 pictures ) in 36-38 seconds.

It can shoot at an impressive 20 frame per second, shutter lag is irrelevant, it can customized to shoot as many frame per seconda as you need .

New Stacked Sensor, Electronic Shutter, No Black Out Viewfinder

This is the main area where revolution starts.  The EVF is a new model, with 3.8 mp and a refresh rate of 120 fps. It can show you the picture before you get it, with a superior quality, even in very low light enviroments. The biggest evolution is here: a never black-out viewfinder, when using the electronic shutter.  Try to imagine a Leica-M – like viewfinder, but throught the lens, never losing visual contact with your subject.. Event the most dynamic job will be easier. You can even chose to shot without any sound, you can really work silently. Give the camera with this setup to a friend….he won’t believe he’s taken some pictures…lol No noise, no vibration, no blackout. Thanks to a new electronic and almost global shutter we’re free to shoot without any banding or distortion issue. Which can be a problem under some kind of lights or situations with other, not so adavnced electronic shutter. The new stacked technology  is useful for a better low light quality and is very quick to transfer data, making possible this incredible camera. A truly unique electronic shutter high-speed camera. No movements, no wearing, so a longest lifetime for the camera, better reliability (shtter won’t broke) Anyway there’s a second mechanical shutter, tested for 500.000 shots, useful to syncro flash. Ehm, we need an update for the Profoto flash, thanks!

Customization, New Possibilities,  Shooting

Yes’ it’s true. You can do impossible things to do with any other tool, with this camera. No other professional 35 mm camera can get even near here.  You can customize some buttons, with a function that you like or need. Or you can chose to give to a single button a set of function that can override even physical controls. So you can chose to work in several different ways without losing time with menu, or controls, just pushing a button. You can chose to set Eye –Af on Af-On button and tracking objects with high speed frame rate and ISO Auto on C3 (on the other side of the viewfinder). I chose to customize even another button with a set of function to switch quickly for a low light enviroment, tracking moving subjects (as for example in a wedding when entering a Church, or getting inside a location from outside, etc.). No other camer can be so quick, not even top line Nikon or Canon cameras. No other camera can be shaped so well to your unique needs.

Try to imagine: an infallible AF system, no back or front focus, usability designed by yourself upon your needs, everything with an amazing speed.

Combine this with amazimg image quality.

Image Quality

Great. Simply great. 24 mp of the highest quality, even at very high ISO values. Excellent colors out of the camera. My suggest: use good lenses and AWB with atmosphere priority. The camera will give you back fantastic colors, good fidelity, nice tones. Without atmosphere priority the AWB is a little too cold, in my opinion.  Resolution is good for any kind of work and  it can “forgive” something to less than perfect lenses or photographer’s technique, compared to the high resolution A7r2. You can print big even with 24 mp.dog salento night high isoiPIN

ISO 16.000 AWB Atmosphere Priority f1.4 35 mm Zeiss 1\125 sec. AF quick, smooth, without any problem

Personal conclusion after a mounth and about 20.000 shots

The camera is amazing. Making mine a colleague and friend’s word (David Bastianoni) this is not a photographic camera, this is a tool that makes obsolete any kind of 35 mm photographic camera.  Now there’s the photographer and the subjects, without limits, complications. No filters, o problems between them. I don’t have to think about focus. Because the camera will keep always the subject in focus. Even shooting wide open, on a side of the frame. There are some out of focus images between my first 20.000 shots. My mistakes. Always.pomezia wedding rome child hat runPIN

I can shoot as I need to shoot, at any time. I don’t have to adapt myself to a camera. I can design and customize this one for my needs.  Yeah, this is the end of an era. This is the beginning of the end of photographic cameras, in a traditional way, at least.

Today a DSLR has no advantage. Do I want to use a Tilt & Shift from Nikon or Canon? Here I can, even with AF.  Do I need a special look, for my project,  from a 60 years old lens? I can use it, since this is a camera hub, I can adapt anything on it. We are the limits, today.

PROS

Revolutionary AF system, most reliable I’ve ever seen

Great Eye AF system

Very wide customization possibilities that can be instantaneously used

Unique usability, as for speed, as for your unique needs

Dual SD slot

Extremely high video quality (downsampling from 6k, 120 fps slow-mo, etc.)

Amazing image quality

Build quality

Excellent viewfinfer both as resolution and refresh rate. Great even in very low light enviroments. Works as a simulated OVF or making visible the exposure before the shot

E-Mount is an hub. You can adapt anything on it. Even with AF with old MF lenses

Silent shooting (no noise at all)

Electronic shutter without any noise, vibration, wearing

Mechanical shutter tested for 500.000 shots

1\32.000 sec as minumun shutter speed

Very very good sensor stabilization which can work combined with some optical stabilization on some lenses,  make possibile working with very slow times

Touch screen (but see cons)

Excellent battery life

Silent mode with optical signal inside the viewfinder or on the screen

High ISO quality

Good Dynamic Range (not the state of the art as the A7r2)

Excellent workable raws, good possibilities in post production

Weather resistent

JPEG Superfine are really good

CONS

Dual  Card Slot logic should be improved

Touch screen without touch shutter

Menu are locked while buffer is not empty (but you can always shot)

Menu- Some translation in italian language are not so good, some improvement needed, also

Need a better user manual to uderstand the camera’s full potential (HUGE)

Electronic shutter won’t syncro flash

Need lossless compressed raw (but 12 bit RAW are really great)

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  • Edwin Lopez - I like the AWB with atmosphere priority for indoor shots. For outdoor shots, I have been going with Kelvin at 6000 and the M at .5. Gives me warmer tones even than the the AWB with atmosphere priority.

    Thx for your suggestions. Tis all a work in progress.23 July 2017 – 11:52ReplyCancel

  • Edwin Lopez - Great review!

    Are you shooting Raw or Superfine Jpeg with the a9?

    Will try your recommendation for the AWB setting. I have been using AWB with A at .5 and M at 5 but will try your suggestion to shoot AWB with atmosphere priority.14 July 2017 – 15:09ReplyCancel

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