Sony A9 Field Test
Sony A9 Field Test Part I
High-speed sports shooting straight from NYC
IR publisher Dave Etchells and I had an opportunity to shoot with the all-new Sony A9 following the big press conference announcing the camera in New York City last week. We've now be given the green light to publish full-resolution, real-world images (both RAWs and JPEGs) from this new flagship Alpha camera. Better still, we're told these are final image quality, so this is it! To get our initial take on the camera with some important shooting notes, read on below, but if you simply want to cut to the chase, jump on over to our Sony A9 Gallery Page for a full bevy of sample images.
Given the A9's reported pro-level chops when it comes to autofocus, particularly continuous AF, as well as its super-quick 20 frames per second burst shooting capabilities, it was no surprise that Sony organized a variety of high-speed sporting events for us to photograph. The morning session consisted of both ice hockey and figure skating, while the afternoon shooting took place in a massive track and field training facility hosting a variety of Olympic-style sports, such as running (50m dash, baton relay, etc), pole vaulting and triple jump, as well as cheerleading, table tennis and taekwondo.
Sony A9 Field Test Part II
The A9 body is the best full frame mirrorless design from Sony yet
A bigger, better, higher-performance Sony mirrorless camera
I have shot with every full frame Sony mirrorless that they have released, and it's been a fun ride watching them iterate and improve on their design over the last few short years. Originally, their ILC camera design was supposed to be as small and compact as possible, and it felt like Sony was willing to make more sacrifices to the camera's performance and comfort level in order to achieve this. With the A9, it appears that Sony has finally been willing to strike some kind of a middle ground. With a body that's slightly larger than the A7R II (which was slightly larger than the A7R), the A9 boasts a minor size boost and in exchange a more comfortable grip, larger battery and better heat sinking than its predecessors.
The A9 keeps much of what Sony users will find familiar while doing a little to make their camera more comfortable for those with larger hands. I used the camera exclusively without the optional battery grip and found it to be quite comfortable to hold. I, however, do not have the largest hands. In contrast, two of my friends who do have larger hands found it to still be smaller than they would have liked, with both their pinkie finger and ring finger not fitting into the given grip space and being forced to press up against the bottom of the battery compartment, which is not very comfortable. This can easily be solved by using the battery grip, but that's not the most elegant "solution" to the problem to them.
Sony A9 Field Test Part III
Blazing up the trail to Mt. Whitney
The Sony A9 arrived on the scene this past April, offering pro shooters a blazing fast, versatile, full frame mirrorless camera. The A9 is built around an all-new, full-frame backside-illuminated 24.2MP stacked CMOS sensor, which places the photodiodes closer to the surface of the sensor. This design, combined with its uniquely integral memory, enables the lighting-quick burst shooting and very deep buffers that make this camera stand out to action shooters. The A9 is capable of shooting 20fps with no blackout and 60 autofocus and exposure calculations per second. Additionally, the backside-illuminated design allows more light to reach each pixel, which (in theory at least) produces better image quality and high-ISO performance.
I recently had a chance to shoot the A9 in some fun conditions while hiking California's iconic Mt. Whitney. Needless to say, I was excited to take the A9 on the hike with the new Sony FE 12-24 F4 G ultra-wide zoom lens. Here are a few thoughts from the field...
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