A week ago, I said it would be a week or two to evaluate the performance of the Sony A9 camera. Well, it’s been a week and I’ve waded through a boat load of reviews, hands-on reviews and technical discussions. It’s enough. I’ve got the information I’m looking for. But, you may say, it’s too soon. We haven’t seen the raw files opened up in a legit version of Lightroom (or fill in your raw browser of choice). True, it may be that once you look at the 20 frames per second exposures made with the electronic shutter in fluorescent light they’ll have banding and rolling shutter jello and polka dot noise and blah, blah, blah. And someone else will discover that at 20 frames per second when the raw files are only 12 bit there is a 2% chance of producing artifacts if you exceed the dynamic range of the camera. And I’ll say sure. What else is new? All this is the same as saying no camera is perfect. Tell me something I don’t know. But what I do know now is that Sony has figured out autofocus. The A9 has very good autofocus. Is it better than the Nikon D5 or the Canon 1DX? Will it work perfectly in low light? Don’t know.
What I do know is that Sony mirrorless cameras will have competent AF from now on. I have been waiting for that for about seven years. I absolutely do not need 20 frames per second. I wouldn’t mind good tracking AF and a silent shutter is a big advantage when shooting an occasion. I doubt that I’ll buy the A9 (although my gear lust is sorely tempting me right now). I’ll definitely rent it this summer to calibrate the advantages it provides over my ancient A7S. I want to see what it does in a normally lit house or a dimly lit restaurant. I’d like to compare the 24 megapixel files of the A9 with the A7S 12 megapixel files in very low light. ISO 12,800 is a good setting for astrophotography. Can the A9 make a good Milky Way shot? I’ll try to find out.
So, there it is. Sony has finally crossed the Rubicon. They have proven to me that mirrorless cameras can fully replace the DSLR. I’d expect Canon and Nikon will now produce their own mirrorless lines to compete head to head with the A9. May the best man win. The web sites and magazines (both print and electronic) will expend millions of words “proving” that x, y or z is the top company and all other options will fall by the wayside and end up on the ash heap of history. And who knows? Maybe Sony will stumble and one of its competitors will emerge as king. Completely possible. But that’s a problem for another day. As I said back a few weeks ago, the A9 will determine whether Sony mirrorless cameras can provide a full-frame camera with highly competent autofocus. Based on what I’ve read it does. Congratulations Sony. You’ve succeeded in keeping me aboard. Next stop, my next camera.