Everyone knew Sony had something up their sleeves with multiple rumors going out on the internet that Sony had a camera that will sit one tier higher than the current A7 series and with the recent launches of the GM Lens series, the rumor seemed even more possible.
It was then with great fanfare that Sony announced the launched that Sony A9 to the photography and raised many eyebrows. With thanks to Sony Singapore, Kenneth Wong and Nicholas Kwan got to try out the camera at the media preview to share their experiences.
Held at the ArtScience Museum, Sony Singapore introduced the key features of the Sony A9 to members of the media including its 20 frames per second shooting speed, its new 4D autofocus system that covers majority of the sensor, a new battery that provides double the capacity compared to that on the A7 series and many others, all that professional photographers look out for in a top end camera body.
Sony Artisan Patrick Murphy-Racey was also on hand to share his experience with everyone how the Sony A9 has enhanced the way he shoots. One of which the Sony A9 has present to him with its silent shutter was allowing him to shoot more of a golf competition where due to the shutter noise, photographers are not allowed to be close to the golfer.
Of course, the main portion which both of us were looking forward to was to get some shutter exercise with the Sony A9 which Sony Singapore didn’t disappoint with. Setting up two photography stations, we got a good 15 minutes at each station shooting high speed action with a gymnastic team and the Singapore Taekwondo Federation.
Coming from the Sony A7rII ourselves, the Sony A9 felt familiar and comfortable in our hands. While all that power meant that the Sony A9 is bigger than our A7rII, it is actually a good thing considering the size of the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS or the Sony FE 100-400 F4.5-5.6 GM OSS. With the smaller A7 bodies, these bigger lenses would feel off balance when used but with the A9 body weight and size, it felt comfortable as we shot away at the action taking place. Bigger also meant tougher with redesigned memory guard door with a catch to unlock instead of a slide motion on the older A7 bodies and the rubber feels more solid now.
The upgraded menu system was a good step forward considering how outdated the one on the A7rII felt compared to that of its competitors like the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. Usability was further enhanced with the inclusion of the joystick and moving the AF modes to the top meant switching was faster instead of digging through the menus. The selection wheel also feels better without it running all over the place in the options as compared to the A7 series. Only thing that puzzled us was not having both SD card slots to support USH II like the Fujifilm X-T2 consider the 20fps.
Testing out the shooting power that Sony packed into the “little” (when compared to the likes of the Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II or the Nikon D5) body of the A9, all we can say is Sony was not joking when it said the Sony A9 is here to challenge the top tier camera bodies from its competitors. 20 frames per second, an extremely short shutter lag time (the time taken when you press the shutter button to when the camera captures the image) plus the all new 4D autofocus system meant that we spent more time selecting the critical moment shot rather than filtering out of focus shots or shots that were the result of an early shutter trigger to compensate for the longer shutter lag.
Yet to be objective, while the Sony A9 performed beautifully in the two situations, these are still in a controlled environment with nice bright LED lights and a white background which provide little distraction to the subject. Talking to Patrick about his real-world shooting experiences, he shared that at a recent church wedding which had the lights turned off to showcase the glow in the dark accessories of the couple, the A9 rose up to the challenge. He also assured us that even in a concert environment, the fact that the viewfinder presents what the sensor is “viewing”, this would increase the keep rate as the photographer doesn’t have to guess with the ever-changing lights.
Overall the Sony A9 is a giant step forward for Sony in competing with the big boys in terms of a solid camera body with designs that professionals will appreciate. What’s left is to start offering longer pro lens like Canon and Nikon with a full professional service support and I am sure many (including the two of us) would really have to sit down and evaluate if our pockets can tank the switch over to a full Sony mirrorless setup.
All photos taken with the Sony mirrorless systems (A7rII & A9)
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