I’ve been a photographer that has specialized in sports for some 30 years, which means, by default, that I have been a Canon (19 yrs) and Nikon (twice in 9 yrs) shooter for that time. When I first got the Sony A6000 in my hands and found the same “live wire” feel of the 1D and D3-4 series cameras, I knew Sony was really on to something when they could pack 11 fps into a pack of cigarettes.
Continuing the 11 fps tradition of the A6000, the A6300 brought us a better sensor that was good in low light and other refinements. The advent of the A6500 brought on a big buffer (“front end LSI”) and In Body Image Stabilization (IBIS), but Sony still lacked a full-frame A7 platform solution for shooting fast action.
Meanwhile, the A7S and A7SII brought us two cameras that could literally see in the dark, with soaring ISO’s that worked miracles in both low light as well as in poor lighting conditions. The A7RII brought us tiny full-frame bodies with massive file sizes which have become a staple for my portrait and interior/landscape work.
The one thing lacking in the Sony lineup has been a true fast-action full-frame camera with a larger file size, killer AF performance, and a super fast motor drive function… until now. Here is once sentence that will get sports photographers excited, followed by a more in-depth explanation of features:
When I started writing this review, it was back in January when I had no idea what they would call the camera. I have shot thousands of exposures with it in real world situations and I’m here to tell you right now that Sony has arrived on the sports action scene in a way that no competitor to Canikon have ever accomplished. Let’s go through the features slowly and take them in one at a time.
Shutter Lag Shortened: The clear winner of the shutter lag timing in recent years has been the 1DX and 1DXII with a 35 millisecond lag-time. I couldn’t find published lag times on the Nikon D5 but it’s also excellent. This simply means that from the time you press the button to the time the 1DXII actually captures is just 35 milliseconds. But this is in manual focus with the lens wide open, but it’s still really fast.
There is a cost to that super short release time which is vibration which can adversely affect image quality. The shorter the lag time, the easier it gets to nail the tennis ball stretching the strings at the moment of impact, the ball coming off the bat in baseball, and even the golf ball consistently 6”-1’ off the head of the driver on tee shots. The new A9 body from Sony has beaten that 35 millisecond lag time by 5 milliseconds with absolutely no vibration or noise. So now, we have arrived at true science fiction. It’s so fast that in my first time using the camera at the SonyOpen, I was able to get the ball 4 out of 5 times coming off the driver at a tee with the A9 set to single frame. People often make a big deal about the speed of motor drives (high frame rates) for sports, and while they are ideal to capture sequences, there is no substitute for instant capture of the absolute peak moment of sport. 30ms is just right to do just that.
All New High Speed 20 FPS Electronic Shutter: It’s nothing short of amazing. So you can get 20 FPS with any FE lens. When using the FE70-200mm f/2.8GM lens it’s like stepping into the future as you can blaze away at 20fps while making NO SOUND. Imagine the possibilities for golf, ballet, modern dance, shooting fast action on sets with film/video, courtroom reaction to sentences, funeral coverage… the list goes on and on.
If you chose any A-mount lens (which uses the older Minolta AF mount), like the Sony 300mm f/2.8G or the 500mm f/fG, your frame rate will drop to 10 fps, which is still cool because this beats out the D500 and 7DMII as the new body is a full-frame camera. And it makes nary a sound.
1/32000th of a second shutter speed is not a misprint. It actually shoots that fast. There are many images that the A9 will be able to make that have never been possible before without the use of ND filtration. Here is an example of 1/32000th shutter speed while shooting the FE85mm f/1.4 G-Master lens wide open at f/1.4:
No Blackout In Between Exposures: Even at 20 fps, you can see the “live view” in almost 4K quality 100% of the time. The days are over that you had to anticipate the peak moment of action and then hit right before that split second. You can literally watch in real time all of the moments through the viewfinder rather than just the ones in between shots. I cannot describe to you what this is like after spending a lifetime shooting with SLR’s and even with Sony’s A6xxx series mirrorless cameras to have 100% viewing 100% of the time. It’s unreal. The downside of this experience is having to go back to cameras without this feature. It’s the latest “crack” from Sony and will be a gateway drug for many who still have yet to try a sip of their Kool-Aid.
How Do You Know When You Have Taken A Photo? So, you have a new problem with a camera that is totally silent and has a 20 fps motor drive. How the heck do you know when it’s making pictures? The engineers at Sony thought well ahead on this. There are multiple audio options and a new age option by placing blinking LED’s in the EVF.
First The Audio Options. There is a “motor drive sound” as a first option which will likely be the pre-set when it comes out of the box. What’s ironic is that the electronic shutter is all new tech, but will use the sound of an old DSLR with a mechanical motor drive moving film; You have to see the humor in this… There is also a volume function so that you could select your sound and then raise and lower the volume of the sound depending on what kind of assignment you were covering. Mostly, I think, shooters will just turn the sound off entirely.
Visual Options for Exposure Confirmation are a bit more complicated as they have never been seen in any camera before. There are five options here. You can choose to turn the feature completely off if you want, but I think most will opt for 1-4. First, the one I liked best… I’ll call this one the “neon blue 4 corner option” because it’s #4 in the menu. Imagine the inside of a full-frame viewfinder. Now imagine tiny square blue LED flashing boxes in each of the extreme four corners. In each of those corners is a small square box that flashes light neon blue each time you make an exposure. When you have it set to 20FPS (H), they blink really fast! The other options are to have a single box right in the middle of the viewfinder blinking in either blue or a less distracting grey box, and finally the first option with the grey box vs. the blue.
Last, I think most of us will simply shut off the audible tone for exposure confirmation and grow to rely on the LED flashing to know things are working. You might think that it would bother you to have that blinking going on but I got used to it immediately both outdoors in bright Hawaii sunlight as well as in a dark gym as well. I literally stopped thinking about it and saw through the blinking and only held the action in the EVF in RAM as I shot. I trust you will all find the same thing.
Shutter Release Technology: On the A6000/A6300 bodies, when you have the motor drive speed set to Hi+, it’s tough to just make one frame when you want to. You usually get 2-3 frames. The A6500 shows big improvement in this area which means that Sony is listening to photographers like me who wanted a more DSLR experience and added precision in that shutter release button. Sports and PJ shooters always have our motor drives set to max, but on portrait assignments, we usually shoot one frame at a time but we leave the high speed motor function set. I found it to be equal to the 1DX/D5 bodies. You can shoot just one, two, or even three frames per second even when set to 20 fps. Sony Senior Products Manager Machitani-San explained to me that they made a total of seven different shutter release buttons trying to find the exact feel and pressure needed to get this right. the rest of the body is full of stories like that.
Mechanical shutter? It’s still maxed at 5 fps, but there is still good news here. Even though the shutter seems the same as the one in the A7RII/A7SII, it also benefits from the shorter lag time and the better release button. This is great news for me as well as anyone else that is shooting sports on strobes for hoops & hockey or even for doing wedding & child photography. It means that you can really nail that peak action on strobes even when syncing flash. The only downside here is that the sync speed for aftermarket flash is 1/160th. It’s a full 1/250th with Sony flashes and all aftermarket units that offer TTL and HSS, however.
New Buffer Technology: Sony uses this term, “Front End LSI,” to accurately describe their new technology solution for getting a bunch of large files moving fast off the chip and headed towards the SD card/cards. I’m not an engineer and used to cut science classes in high school, so I just call it a “big buffer,” and this sucker has one.
So, part of the buffer is actually on the sensor itself and then it feeds images into the “front end LSI,” which then loads them onto the card/cards. You can shoot jpegs almost at will and just hold the button down at 20 fps and the camera doesn’t even breathe hard. You can shoot a sequence of 50 images, stop, and then keep shooting another burst anytime you want, so the “back up” issues of the A6000 are a distant memory. Even when you shoot 20 fps capturing RAW+JPEG, it just hums right along. The experience of shooting that fast is euphoric, but there is a slight cost. Back in January at the Sony Open, I could capture all I wanted to but getting to actually see the images on the preview took a while.
Fast forward to about a month ago when Sony quietly announced the fastest SD card ever made at 300X write speed, and now the A9 is able to shoot and preview at near CF card speed. More on this topic below in the “Dual Card Slot” section. It’s important to note that the engineers found a new way to help and assist moving all those files quickly onto the SD cards. They managed to put new RAM onto the sensor itself. This on-sensor RAM acts as a “first buffer” (my words) before the images head into the “big buffer,” and then finally find their way to the SD card slots. This “on-sensor buffer” really helps you make sequences that have never been possible before with an interchangeable lens full-frame camera. Remember the A9 is writing 20 fps vs. 14 fps on the 1DXII and it’s doing that to SD rather than SC cards!
New Battery Technology (NP-FZ100): Many of the Artisans and pros around the world have been asking Sony for another battery option as we felt it was needed for certain types of shooting like in sports and fashion photography. The new battery, and in typical Sony fashion, surprised me in both it’s lack of size and its insane amount of energy storage and longevity. It offers 2.2x more energy than the batteries from the A7 platform cameras but I think that’s conservative based on my actual use. It’s a slightly different shape, a little longer, and wider, and definitely heavier, but still is really small. It’s similar in size than the battery for the 5DM3/D750 but it packs a powerful punch.
In my shooting with the camera back in January, I purposefully did not charge the battery each day and instead just kept shooting on the same one so I could see how many exposures I could get. I shot on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning and into the early afternoon each day. That Wed. night, we took the cameras to the University of Hawaii (Much thanks to Jay Metzger for his kind welcome!!!) to shoot a bunch of different sports with various types of action. At the end of Wed. night, I had shot a total of 3867 images on the main camera that was used on the 500mm f/4 + LEA3 combination. The final readout on battery #1 in the grip read, 59%. It never even touched battery #2 which just sat in there doing nothing the whole week. Even the engineers were impressed with this performance in the hands of this “end user.” It achieved this percentage doing the most heavy lifting possible, moving the huge elements of glass around in the 500mm A mount lens though the phase detect enabled Sony LEA3 adapter! Impressive. Likewise, the other A9 I was using had the GM70-200mm f/2.8 attached with the 1.4x as well. I shot around 2300 photos on that setup and the battery level read 81%.
G-Master Lenses Are Fully Turned ON: The G-Master lenses, the FE70-200mm f/2.8GM and the newly announced FE100-400mmGM lenses, in particular, really come to life on the A9. The added power from the new battery is the key to this new-found energy that is apparent immediately. The new battery was a response to photographers begging for something with a higher capacity as well as an essential part of the new sensor which requires enormous power to capture large image sizes at 20 FPS. Even the A-Mount lenses feel like a powerful turbo kicks in, once you AF for the first time with the A9. Any AF lens you attach to the A9 will feel different in terms of AF speed and acquire/attack performance, but the dual motors in the GM teles will really get you excited.
Improved EVF (3.6M pixels): I have grown used to the easy-to-see A7RII and A6500 EVF’s over the last year. Since the A6300 we have been able to view at 120 frames per second which was a very much needed speed increase to be able to really follow and track a moving subject when moving laterally across the frame in sporting events. I’m happy to report that there is an even greater number of pixels in the new body, 3.6 Million, to be exact. It is a bright, colorful, gorgeous thing to behold as you look into the camera for the first time. I got to shoot with these bodies for three days and at the end of that time, I had to go back to the A6500 and A99II and let me tell you, it was tough. The A9’s EVF looks better than an optical viewfinder and it doesn’t get dim in low poor light like DSLR’s do. It presents a huge advantage for low light sports, wedding, and PJ shooters. Even shooting the A9 for a few minutes you become acutely aware of how futile and wasteful it is the “chimp.” On the other end of ambient light when it’s so bright you have to squint, the A9’s EVF will be a welcome place of respite when you need to judge proper exposures on the side of a glacier at noon.
Perfect Exposures: There was another added benefit of viewing at such a precision EVF as my exposures were just about perfect shooting round after round of golf. Imagine if each time you looked into your camera, you were looking at a 28” 4K monitor. This is what it looks like in there. Realize this level of quality right at 4K!!! The new A9 body is like having a “phat” monitor with you at all times, no matter where you are in the world. At the end of four days of shooting, as I looked through my images in photo mechanic and in LR, I almost never adjusted the color balance or exposure. I didn’t even realize this until I finished my work in LR in record time. I had looked at over 7,000 images in just a few minutes but never touched the exposure slider. The A9 brings together two experiences every photographer has, both shooting and editing on a computer afterwards. The A9’s 4K EVF brings these two worlds together in a way never before possible as you can easily judge subtle nuances of color, and sharpness right in the viewfinder rather than having to wait to get back to the office to see if you really nailed the shot. It’s a new and euphoric experience to see such high definition images in the tiny eyepiece. it turns out that Sony doesn’t only make killer massive TV’s. Their little tiny one is awesome too.
EVF Speed: The new body also has the same 120 FPS viewing rate as the A6500/A6300 and A99II but it seems somehow faster. It’s a more “real time” experience that I will postulate has everything to do with being a full-frame sensor. You are not zoomed in to the action with a smaller sensor as in the A6500, but rather have all that additional real estate offered by the full-frame sensor.
Back Button Focus Options: If you shoot sports or PJ then you know already what I’m talking about. There is a huge improvement here as well with the addition of another button (AEL) up in that sweet area by your right thumb. There are now TWO buttons (AF-On and AEL) to choose from instead of just one. When I shoot sports, I set both of these to “AF-On.” When I shoot portraits, I set the AEL button to Eye-AF and it works like a charm. They are not right next to each other like with the 1DXII but rather separated from each other so that when you pick the camera up with your right hand, your thumb goes exactly between them. Having two separate buttons each tasked with different AF functionality has long been a massive edge of the 1DXII over the D5, which has only one big massive button marked, “AF-ON.” Allowing a second button on the new Sony body will offer an obvious benefit to Nikon shooters coming over to Sony.
Ethernet Interface for Deadline Sports and News Coverage: The new body is pretty much ready for anything in this regard. It is the first mirrorless camera to offer an ethernet port which will allow it to seamlessly enter the workflow for news organizations like the AP, UPI, Reuters, and Getty. This feature will allow direct tethering of the camera to live IT/LAN networks so that images can be loaded instantly and directly onto a server from a live event as they are shot in real time. We just lived through the elections and the need for this kind of ability is obvious. Likewise, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is a time when editors will need instant access to photographers’ images in real time, to make deadlines across all time zones. The NBA, NFL, and NHL are all using this tether technology and now the Sony A9 will be able to compete in these arenas for the first time.
Two SD Card Slots: Yep! There’s finally two, which many pros and photo enthusiasts have been asking for a long time. The upper slot is the same speed we’ve had in the past. The lower slot is designed specifically for faster the new Sony UHS-3 SD cards which offer increased write/read speeds (300X write!!!). This comes just a month after Sony announced the fastest SD card ever made… good timing, no? While many, including me, have asked for the XQD technology in the past, Sony felt that at this point in the evolution of the A7 platform, that they simply took up too much room. They are adamant about keeping the bodies really small and consistent in size to the rest, so at least for now, SD cards are the way to capture. The new super fast cards from Sony really make a big difference so it’s not nearly as slow as with the former “faster” 95 mbs cards. The A9 equipped with the new UHS-3 Sony card gives near CF card performance in my experience with the camera.
Joy Stick: While it’s smaller than people will probably like, it’s now a reality for Sony. Many shooters asked for this feature and Sony delivered. The joy stick doesn’t stick out far like the Canikon versions so it hopefully won’t break off as easily. Joystick repairs comprise many of the repairs on the 1DX I & II bodies. On the Sony, It’s more of a rubber bump that sticks out slightly. It’s easy for your thumb to find, however, and will enable people to move the AF points around the viewfinder at will. As a side-note, having to use a joystick to move your AF points around the viewfinder will seem archaic to many Sony shooters that are well versed in the entire 4D AF system. I would use the wide area or the “lock on flexible spot” AF mode, rather than trying to manually move the AF point around the screen. But having the joy stick will give great comfort and familiarity with people wanting to switch to Sony in the next year, especially those coming from Canon. Personally, I’d sooner use that joystick to access custom functions long before I’d ever use it to manually move AF points. At this point in the advanced evolution of the Sony AF system, adding the joystick is like them putting a Model T engine start crank on the front grill of a new Lexus, but I digress.
New 24MP Sensor: This is a tough thing to talk about as I have no real information about the sensor, other than it’s size and that it’s new. My reference for knowing anything about sensors is primarily from shooting Sony’s other full-frame and crop-sensor bodies. As I have shot all of them, what I can tell you is that the files more resemble the A7S II than the A7RII. This has nothing to do with size, to be clear. It has to do with the extreme dynamic range of the new camera’s sensor. Shooting the new body in Hawaii for three days back in January, I immediately began to notice the range of tonality typical in the A7S/A7SII. The first couple days were gorgeous with super blue skies and bright sun (very high contrast). The last day was what I would characterize as overcast but super bright. There was a volcano that became active so the air was filled with particulate matter so it was pretty hazy, especially when I was shooting the 500mm f/4 and compressing all that air. Because of the much-improved EVF, it was the easiest thing to make correct exposures, even with the high clouds and strong winds of up to 40 MPH one day. There was one situation where I was shooting golfers backlit against the ocean and white sky, which is pretty much a horrible thing to do exposure-wise. I was amazed at the tonality in the white sky even as I was exposing for the golfers back-lit. At any golf tournament, you cannot just “ride the light” and shoot from the ideal location in terms of the sun. You literally shoot on every axis as the tees and holes are all over the place, and the ball ends up in shade, sand, and in bright light, etc…
The new sensor is tremendous as it gives a solid degree of contrast even as it also shows great width and breadth in terms of dynamic range. Effectively, I found the new body to be an A7SII with twice the file size. This makes me very happy indeed! Each camera I’ve ever used has different characteristics in terms of what you can do with the files in post; Some cameras are more flexible than others in the toning/grading department. The new body is crazy and it feels like you can tie the files in a knot and get out of them what you want. It’s no different with the A7SII, except these are massive files by comparison. While on the topic of the A7SII, many still shooters really want to own and shoot that camera as it has an almost cult following. For those that shoot primarily video, the A7SII is a slam dunk. For those of us that shoot a ton of stills, it’s tough to justify when clients often demand large RAW files from bigger lighting jobs. I myself own the A7RII right now and do not own the A7SII. I want one but can’t justify it as the A7RII easily suits my needs for video and can capture 4K in Super-35 mode (which the A7SII cannot do). This new body might be the one to choose for those that really want that low light ability but a larger file too, and unlike the A7SII, it will do 4K in Super-35 mode (APS-C).
New Vertical Grip (VG-C3EM): Yep, it’s another one, but for good reason. The additional two back-button focus buttons have to exist in the vertical position as well as in the landscape one. Also, new batteries, as mentioned above, also mean an all new battery sled. I plan on using just one battery in my vertical grips to save on weight. I think two batteries would provide enough “go-juice” to shoot 3-4 NFL games on one set of batteries, which will really be nice.
My Prediction for Lack of Repairs: When using the electronic shutter option, the new body has almost no moving parts. In fact, when set to silent shutter, the only thing that moves on this camera is the shutter release switch. Imagine the impact of this on battery life! I predict the new Sony body will be the lowest in repairs on record. There should be simply too little that can break, which will be a welcome change for folks coming over to Sony from Canon & Nikon, where periodic shutter replacements have long been a reality, as well as other repairs of sports & P.J. tasked cameras.
Strobe Sync Speed: The published sync speed is 1/160th. I know, I know, it’s a drag, but in the testing I did, I could shoot at 1/200th and just get a very feint darkness begin to appear of the top of the frame. This will be a bit of a drag if you forget and you are shooting on a white seamless and set it for 1/200th. By the time you get to 1/250th, it’s an obvious problem with the shutter blades appearing heavily in the top of the horizontal frame. Now this is all with arena strobes like Speedos, Dynalites, and Elinchroms. I found that the GODOX strobe (V860IIS) worked great at 1/250th even when using the matched transmitter. Obviously, all Sony strobes or third party Sony empowered TTL/HSS strobes will sync at 1/250th when not in HSS mode.
New Dial On Top of the Camera: There is a new dial on the top left side of the body that has never been there before. You will now be able to change both your AF Mode and “motor drive”/frame rate speed with mechanical locking dials. It was made to look like an older SLR from the 70’s and doesn’t look out of place at all where they put it. I had black tape over mine the whole time I was shooting and never really had to mess with it much as we sports shooters always have the camera set to AF-C and the highest fps possible. But it will be one less menu to go digging for when you want to make a change.
New Movie Button Location: Yes!!!! Sony heard us all complain about how often and easy it has been to start shooting movies when we didn’t mean to. It’s great to be working with a company that listens. So, two things about the movie button. First, it’s next to the right side of the EVF. Second, it’s a larger button that is flush with the back of the camera so it would be really difficult to hit it unless you mean to. Bigger is better for buttons and making it harder to accidentally burn up your card space is a good thing.
4K Movies: As I understand it, there is no major difference between this body and the others that are 4K enabled. I was hoping for a limitless clip but was told by the engineers that it is still a ways off and that it is not a memory card problem (SD cards) and more of a sensor issue. Capturing 6K or 4K at 120P generates a lot of heat on the full-frame sensor. The good news is that unlike the A7SII, this body by virtue of having 24 megapixels, will be able to produce 4K clips when in APS-C mode. Sadly, there is no Picture Profile option anywhere in the menus, and this means no S-LOG option. I’m not sure why this is not present but I’m hoping that a future firmware update might bring back this powerful feature for shooting high contrast video, or perhaps in an A9 Mark II at some point in the future.
Firmware Update for LEA3 Allows for True AF-C with 10 FPS: The A9 is capable of allowing both 10 fps while tracking a moving subject with full-on AF-C with A-Mount lenses (Minolta AF mount). In the past, what this meant was that you could certainly connect your E-mount camera body to the A-Mount glass, but once you did, it effectively put you into AF-S, as the AF would track until you shot a frame at which point the camera would hold focus at that point until you lifted your finger off the shutter release and then you had to re-acquire the action. Trying to single frame your way though a football game is not ideal or fun so I’m glad that era is over. The two fast super-teles that Sony makes on the A-Mount side of things are very capable and fast AF-ing lenses. They track action well and are very sharp. I own the SAL30028G an it is a real performer when using the LEA3. Getting to shoot the 500mm f/4G lens for a week in paradise with full AF tracking at 10 fps was SWEET!
The firmware update, which I was told would eventually be done by Sony Pro Services, is going to allow any A-mount lens to work at 10 fps with the new body and allow full tracking AF. Any A-mount lens… This includes some very capable lenses from Sigma and Tamron which I am very excited about. The new G2 150-600mm USD Tamron lens is going to find a whole new life on mirrorless with the updated LEA3.
Likewise, the SAL300mm f/2.8G and SAL500mm f/4G have found a few loyal users who are now pretty euphoric about using them with the new A99II, but wait till the massive amount of E-mount users find out they have real long glass options with the combination of the new camera as well as the updated LEA3. On the Sigma side of things, the newly released 500mm f/4 ART lens will be a tempting option for many if they ever decide to offer an A mount version (hint-hint Dave Metz).
Future Canon EF lens capability? Whatever changes the engineers made inside the A9 and their LEA3 firmware hack/update that allowed the A-Mount (think DSLR) lenses to AF-C at 10 fps, should hopefully eventually translate into Canon glass as well. This is huge. It means that once Sigma makes a similar firmware update to their MC-11 and Metabones creates theirs for the MB IV/V, we should be able to achieve at least 10 fps with real AF-C for sports. This will mean two things. First, the A9’s lens options will have increased massively. Second, Canon shooters will be able to simply buy an A9 and a Sigma MC-11 adapter, and then start shooting with a 24mp FF 10 fps camera that makes not one sound. Can you imagine how this will impact the PGA Tour coverage? Pro Tennis shooters? Performance & dance shooters… The list goes on. Personally, I will be able to once again justify getting a Canon 200mm f/2L or an EF400mm f/2.8. I already own Canon 500mm & 600mm f/4L IS lenses. They have been waiting patiently in my garage for exactly this combination of adapter and camera. What I really want is G-Master FE lenses in those focal lengths, but that will have to wait for a future press conference…
In Summation: Every time I think Sony has maxed out their engineering creativity, they show me a new product that seemingly breaks multiple steadfast laws of camera & lens physics. The A9 represents not just the latest new camera from Sony, but a true departure from the collective denial of the DSLR giants who have pushed that old technology up to a massive wall that is unmovable. As I look backwards in my own history, I am intensely proud of the images I’ve made with Canon, Nikon, and Leica bodies and lenses. I will forever be grateful for their quality and speed that evolved over time, but that time is now finished and very much over at this point. Sony seems to somehow be completely free of those old constructs of what cameras have been, look like, and how much they weigh. Sony seems to be positioned now at the moment that Canon was when they risked everything to dump the FD mount for the EF and started making USM lenses. Nikon was in that same position at the moment they unveiled their groundbreaking D1 at a time when pro digital cameras were spoon fed only by Kodak and could only be afforded by newspaper chains and news magazines. Sony seems to be the one to watch at this point, with their worldwide dominance in sensor technology, total lack of fear moving forward, and their thousands of patents from every part of their global product lines. Deep within the marrow and DNA of the Sony Digital Imaging Division, lies a longstanding history of innovation excellence in camera and lens manufacture that reaches back in time to Minolta’s roots, which shares it’s first birthday with Mickey Mouse and the Yo-Yo, back in 1928.
Put simply, as I look around the photographic industry right now and see all the red, I want to be with the folks that are generating the black. Every time myself and the other Sony Artisans get face to face time with Sony engineers, we try to tell them about what we love in the Sony system, but it’s always the same response. “No,” they always say, “Only what is bad, how can we improve?” Yeah, these are the guys I want to hang with.
[prelude] When I make this blog post live and post my three videos onto YouTube 10 hours or so, it will be right after the press conference to launch the A9 into the public view for the first time. My finger will hover over the return key to begin the upload to social media. The room will be packed with all eyes facing forward to a small, full frame powerhouse that looks just like the A7 bodies that have come before. But I know after some 35 hours shooting with it, that this new camera is the first of a new breed that will truly re-frame what cameras look like, sound like, act like, and perform like. Tomorrow will mark the day when the mirrorless camera will surge ahead of the venerable Canon and Nikon flagships filled with technology not possible with mechanical shutters. It will be a great celebration of a long-shot underdog coming from far behind to lead an industry against all odds and at the worst time ever. It will be a celebration of miracles of electrical and mechanical engineering and sheer will and determination. But deep down, I know it will also be a wake of sorts for the DSLR. I say, “Rest in Peace,” and plan to put my handful of dirt in the six foot hole with every exposure I make from this day forward.
About the Author
Patrick Murphy-Racey is an industry veteran with over 25 years of experience. He shot for newspapers, freelanced for magazines, regularly contributed to Sports Illustrated, and is now shooting corporate, industrial and advertising works. You can see more of Patrick’s work on his website and his Alpha Universe profile. This review was originally published here and is shared with permission.
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