A9 Bottom Line

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.

8 thoughts on “A9 Bottom Line

  • May 1, 2017 at 1:51 pm
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    Impatiently waiting your hands on low light comments – hope its all that and more.

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    • May 1, 2017 at 2:07 pm
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      I’m hoping to have a rental in July. There will be good and bad but we’re finally in the promised land. Sony mirrorless will be ready for prime time. Interesting thing is that Sony may come out with an A9R and A9S to handle landscape and video. An A9S would have frightening low light capability. But also a frightening price.

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  • May 7, 2017 at 6:02 pm
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    You didn’t say what your next camera would be but implied that it would be an A7(R/S)III or equivalent. I’m in the same boat though I’m barely restraining myself from buying an A7RII.

    Sure would like to see Sigma come up with an E mount for their Art series lenses.

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  • May 7, 2017 at 7:16 pm
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    Tom:
    Yes I think the 7 series is plenty enough camera for me. That 9 series is for wedding shooters and sports photojournalists. I’m not sure which of the 7 series will be best for me. I like the idea of the R version but 40 or 50 megapixel files is starting to seem like too much of a good thing. Ever since the A-850 a 24 megapixel file has seemed like all I needed.
    I have to agree about Sigma. Lately their lenses have been excellent and certainly a better value than the Sony prices! Suddenly Sony land is getting very interesting.

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  • May 7, 2017 at 8:36 pm
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    I’ve never needed 40+ megapixel shots but, for me, the payoff is in being able to crop WAY in and still having a large enough file to print a perfect 16 x 24.

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  • May 7, 2017 at 9:54 pm
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    I definitely “get” that. I guess the only question then is what’s the limit or isn’t there one? What if they offer 80 mpxl or 100? I guess we can just keep getting bigger hard-drives but I wonder if we’ll reach a point of diminishing returns.

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  • May 9, 2017 at 10:32 pm
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    Diminishing returns? Probably already there, the 12 MP boost (doubling) from my Sony a700 to my A850 was massive. Pretty sure that the next doubling from my A850 or my A6300 to the A7RII wouldn’t have near the relative impact. Other aspects of camera development have become much more important than pixel count. Another step or two of pixel doubling and the real world effect would probably become trivial + I suspect that some very real physical limitations would force a 160 MP sensor into a larger form factor, running price way up.

    Don’t think I’m worried from a storage context, I’ve got a 4T data drive that cost a whole $115 can store 10,000 forty Meg files. I have cycled through close to that many shutter operations in a year but my “keeper” ratio has me deleting better than 60% of that.

    Remember storing image files on floppy discs? And that was in about the year 1998? Let’s see, 4 x 10^12/1.44 x 10^6 = an increase of 2.78 x 10^6 in 19 years . That beats Moore’s Law by more than 3 orders of magnitude and it will probably continue.

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  • May 9, 2017 at 10:39 pm
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    That must be my problem. I don’t delete enough stuff. That will be my focus this year. Simplify. Deleting 60% sounds like a good idea.

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