Sony A9 – Best Camera For Professional Photography
Best camera for professional photography, the Sony A9 is a well-built, weatherproof and tailor-made professional camera for photographers who need something that can withstand many years of use.
a9 is Sony’s best camera. Full stop. It is also bright among the top three in the professional class and the fastest camera of them all. It is smaller, lighter and cheaper – even with vertical grips and extra batteries – and has greatly improved ergonomics.
For those who enjoy getting as sharp images as possible of sports and action, Sony a9 can stand up to the best. And win.
Sony has hit the door for so long that it finally gave in, and now they are number two in some markets and even number one on some others. It’s not accidental.
They arrived late for the party, and it must be admitted that they struggled for a long time to make products that were better than those of their competitors, but today most Sony cameras are fully level and slightly more. In all markets except one: The professional.
The small but lucrative professional market is still dominated by Canon and Nikon, and is the only camera segment where Sony has had nothing to do. So far, well. For Sony a9 is made just to push the duopoly down from the pedestal. It comes shortly after the SLT a99 II SLR camera, which so far has been Sony’s fastest system camera with 12 fps.
The Sony A9 is not only a well-built, weatherproof and tailor-made professional camera for photographers who need something that can withstand many years of use. It’s also faster than Canon and Nikon competing cameras. More specifically, Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5. The two definitely fastest prof cameras we’ve tested so far, with a shot rate of 16 and 14 fps, respectively.
And let me rush to add: Two of the three best, because the Sony camera is not only faster with a shot rate of up to 20 fps (12 fps for uncompressed raw files). It is also better in some areas.
But let’s take it in the right order.
Formula 1 speed
Packed with Sony’s most advanced technology, the camera costs so much that it’s out of reach for most, and it has features that not everyone needs. Although a shot rate of 20 fps is something that both nature photographers and sports photographers can use. But not just them.
Wedding photographers can shoot lightning fast series without a sound with the camera’s electronic shutter – down to 1 / 32,000 seconds – and Sony has made great efforts to keep autofocus going when it’s going strong. There are, for example, no blackout time (black screen) between the images on serial shots, and the photographer can configure autofocus according to the subject’s movements.
Sony a9 has a 24-megapixel CMOS image sensor, where image processor and buffer memory are located on the image chip itself for maximum speed on the data stream. The camera can swallow more than 240 images in raw format before the buffer has a few seconds of pause. Better than both the Canon EOS-1D X II and the Nikon D5.
There is room for two memory cards, where you can choose whether the images should be stored on both, whether you want to use one as a backup, or you want to save different file types on the two cards. Strangely, only one card slot supports UHS-II cards. Which are the fastest and most suitable memory cards for cameras with such a high shot rate?
With five axis built-in image stabilization, the camera can handle up to five-step compensation, so you can actually get sharp images handheld and at longer shutter speeds. Several of Sony’s telephoto lenses and zooms also have optical image stabilization, so you are well covered with a9 regardless of focal length.
Light and compact
The camera is not very large compared to a regular mirror reflex, and next to the Canon EOS-1D X II and Nikon D5 it seems quite small. But not so small that it is difficult to use. Sony has obviously listened to the users during the design of a9 and not just their own engineers. For it has finally got larger program wheels on the top and a better integrated handle than, for example. Sony a7R II.
Extra pleasing is that it has also got two wheels to the left of the viewfinder. One for shot speed and one for a choice of focus type. The setting and program wheel has a lock button that must be pressed each time you want to change settings. It should have been an on-and-off feature like Olympus; It is more convenient.
But most of them are progress with the a7 series. A joystick button makes it easy to move the focus points when using the large, high-resolution viewfinder. With 3.7 megapixels, zero serial blackouts and almost no delay, it’s perhaps the best electronic search on the market. There is no longer any reason to miss an optical viewfinder.
The camera can also use a vertical handle that can hold two extra batteries, which is larger than the a7 series. Sony gives up the battery capacity to 650 exposures per day. charging, which is considerably better than the approx. 400 exposures received with the old battery. After a full day of serial shooting plus some 4K recording, there was still almost half the capacity left.
The buttons on the camera are still small, but not everyone is using them all the time. The tiltable touchscreen helps with the ease of operation, and both menus and buttons can be adapted to different needs.
The Sony camera reacts much faster when the photographer wants to do something. Such as pressing and selecting options. No delay. Everything happens instantly and it enhances the feeling of having a lightning fast camera between hands. The exception is when switching from still images to video; then there is suddenly a few seconds delay before the a9 is ready for recording.
Under weatherproof hatches, there are both headphone and microphone jacks, in addition to power, flash contact, Ethernet and Mini HDMI connection, but “only” USB 2.0 for transmission. One would think that a camera in this class had USB 3.0, which provides the much faster transfer.
The camera runs 4K video processing with an oversampled 4K stream in 24 and 30 fps from the entire image area. It provides both high file quality and low rolling shutter. Curiously, I didn’t find any video profiles such as. S-log2, but it may come in a later firmware update for the camera.
With 693 focus points over 93 percent of the image area, there is nothing to delay the coverage. The camera calculates faster than the a7R II and it can be felt in practice. You can even choose the focus area and move the focus with the joystick button on the back or let the camera follow the subject while shooting series.
Photos from a tennis tournament showed that a9 doesn’t have any problems following a fast server. Even small tennis balls were in focus when I focused the camera on continuously and grouped the focus points over the center of the image with Lock-on AF selected in the menu. The focus sensitivity can also be adjusted by the photographer so that the chance of multiple sharp images in serial shots increases.
Well-known picture quality
While autofocus is significantly improved over the a7 series – and on a par with the best of Canon and Nikon – the picture quality is a bit more mixed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad. On the contrary. In some areas, it is better than both a7R II, EOS-1D X II and D5.
Eg. image noise. At comparable ISO values, a7 is not far behind class one, Sony a7S. There is not much difference between the a9 and the Canon and Nikon cameras, but from ISO 51,200 to the maximum light sensitivity of the camera, a9 is slightly better at damping the noise. Especially in dark areasˇ where strictly speaking only the a7S and the EOS-1D X II are close to being as good.
The resolution and detail sharpness is on par with the EOS camera and D5, but not quite as extreme as on the a7R II, Nikon D810 or Canon EOS 5DS R. All of them have multiple pixels distributed over an equally large image but are significantly slower with a much lower shot rate.
The camera is still a little behind, especially the D5 on color reproduction. Color cards and portraits show that Sony is not yet fully up to date with the color processing, and the Nikon camera colors just look a little more natural. But a9 is a step forward compared to a7R II.
On image dynamics, there is about a half-exposure stage difference between a9 and the very best, ie. a7R II with EOS-1D X II right in the heels. However, there are no major differences in practice. On a calibrated screen, it is easy to stare blind to marginal differences, and if Sony gets its color reproduction even more optimized, we can really talk about a clash victory in the prof class.
a9 is Sony’s best camera. Full stop. It is also bright among the top three in the professional class and the fastest camera of all three. It’s smaller, lighter and cheaper – even with vertical grips and extra batteries – and has greatly improved ergonomics compared to other Sony system cameras.
For studio photographers who need extreme resolution rather than shot stroke, there are better suitable cameras, but for those who enjoy getting as sharp images as possible of sports and action, Sony a9 can stand up to the best. And win.
Sony a9 is Sony’s best camera. It is also bright among the top three in the professional class and the fastest camera of all three.