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Kevin Raber

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Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« on: April 27, 2017, 03:15:36 PM »

I have just published a long review of the Sony a9 based on my one day of shooting with it last week.  I have made available as part of the review a lot of sample images.  This is not a camera for everyone.  But it is a really good camera and I believe gives us a glimpse into the future and especially hints at what may still be coming from Sony.  Yes, I did order this camera and when I get it will put it through a more extensive set of tests.  Especially interested in working with RAW files and seeing the dynamic range of this new sensor.  For now, swing over to https://luminous-landscape.com/sony-a9-review-early-hands-preview/  and take a look.

Now back to doing testing on the GFX and a few other cameras.  It will be a busy few weeks.

Roger Jupiter

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2017, 08:39:47 PM »

Kevin

A very important requirement of a PRO level system is the ability of the AF to handle continuous focus requirements .  This includes first (1) target acquisition ..the ability to lock on a moving target both quickly and with precision and second  (2) the ability to track and maintain that focus through an entire sequence . 

If you look closely at the examples that you provided ....the woman long jump ....not in focus .  Check the subjects in the background ,the ground level etc .   DOF shooting wide 24MM and f5.6 almost covers the issue but all the DOF is behind the subject .  This is neither a good test nor a proof of CF ability . 

In fact none of the action photographs even approach the sharpness shown in the ice skater that is not moving .  Nor would they meet the standards for most any Sports Photography publication . 

This is not to say that for many applications the findings maybe be relevant and the A9 looks to be an excellent camera .....but if you actually make money shooting sports ...the performance of the AF system needs to be much better than what has been shown.

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Paulo Bizarro

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2017, 04:21:00 AM »

Kevin did say he was a bit rusty shooting sports:)

I suppose he was also over enthusiastic when he wrote:

"The a9 may also be the first camera that a bird shooter can use. "

Really?

Anyway, it is an important camera for Sony and for proving that the mirrorless technology can be used in a very specialized field.

Farmer

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2017, 04:25:57 AM »

Kevin

A very important requirement of a PRO level system is the ability of the AF to handle continuous focus requirements .  This includes first (1) target acquisition ..the ability to lock on a moving target both quickly and with precision and second  (2) the ability to track and maintain that focus through an entire sequence . 

If you look closely at the examples that you provided ....the woman long jump ....not in focus .  Check the subjects in the background ,the ground level etc .   DOF shooting wide 24MM and f5.6 almost covers the issue but all the DOF is behind the subject .  This is neither a good test nor a proof of CF ability . 

In fact none of the action photographs even approach the sharpness shown in the ice skater that is not moving .  Nor would they meet the standards for most any Sports Photography publication . 

This is not to say that for many applications the findings maybe be relevant and the A9 looks to be an excellent camera .....but if you actually make money shooting sports ...the performance of the AF system needs to be much better than what has been shown.

Kevin's not currently a pro sports shooter and he's using a beta camera for the first time.  Chimping the focus accuracy in such a situation is bizarre.

Once he's had a chance to get familiar with it and do a proper test with release firmware, then you'll have some answers.
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Kevin Raber

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2017, 06:45:04 AM »

You need to imagine it is 8 am in the morning you show up at a meeting and you are handed a camera bag with the Sony a9 and two lenses (24-70mm and 70-200mmm G Master) and a 128 gig card and ten minutes later we are on a  bus to the first shooting event of the day.  None of us had a manual and most of us set our cameras up on a bus ride. As I mention I opted to shoot at a fixed shutter speed and f/stop and allow the ISO to be varied using auto ISO.  Frankly, I think all of us did pretty good.   There were issues and a lot of questions.  And, no we did no outdoor shooting.  Mostly everything was at high ISOs. I believe you'll see most of the folks shooting that day were pretty impressed.  The silent shutter, high frame rate and no black out in the viewfinder is huge.  I believe the AF did pretty good and I am sure I could pull better images from the RAW files.  When my a9 comes as well as the 100-400mm lens I'll head off and do some birds and other outdoor shots.  I have real faith in this camera as well as Sony.  I haven't shot with a Canon or Nikon for years.  Some of those that did and esp[ecially some of the pro shooters that were with us all said they would make the move to Sony a9.  I believe the real story will come out over the coming months as we hear from the folks that this camera was designed for and if they see this camera as their new go to camera.  I'll do a follow-up review when I get my unit. 

In the meantime, I think I did pretty good with the images I made.  Yes, looking back I may have changed a few setting and tried a few more things.  But, in a few weeks I'll have the a9 and I can go out and have some more fun with it.  Yes, it is a fun camera to shoot with.  You'll have to decide if it is a camera for you.  I am excited to see what is next from Sony.  I know they still have a few surprises coming.

jeremyrh

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2017, 09:17:19 AM »

Kevin's not currently a pro sports shooter and he's using a beta camera for the first time.  Chimping the focus accuracy in such a situation is bizarre.

Once he's had a chance to get familiar with it and do a proper test with release firmware, then you'll have some answers.
Yes, of course, but the review should be a test of the camera, not of Kevin :-) 
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Roger Jupiter

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2017, 10:57:27 AM »

Yes the A9 appears to be an impressive camera bringing many of the newer technologies together in a nice package . Is it a true competitor for the D5 or the 1DX pro bodies being utilized by most all professional sports photographers .  To be a competitor it must measure up in the all important Continuous Autofocus category . 


 Unfortunately Kevin was in no position to evaluate the cameras ability to focus  (up to the standards of a D5 ) .  As evidenced by (1) not a sports photographer (2) inadequate time to familiarize with the A9 (3) utilizing a wide angle with massive DOF and high ISO  in poor light . In total a poor proof of concept . 

My complaint was that (1) the test images shown are not sharp and do not demonstrate any measure of AF /CF capability and (2) there is no basis to conclude that the AF capability is in any way competitive with the Nikon/Canon Pro bodies .  Both Nikon and Canon have made significant improvements in their AF/CF capabilities over the past few years .  If you have never worked with a current Pro model ...you simply don t know what is possible . 

I ve spent months attempting to match the Pro standard with my Leica SL (also sold was an action camera ) .....Polo,Auto Racing,Tennis,Surfing,Kite Boarding and Baseball in Florida ......its not even close to my D5 .   Could you shoot sports ..of course ...I can shoot sports with my iPhone . 
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2017, 02:00:33 PM »

Hi Roger,

I would agree that it is hard to judge to judge the sports shooting capability of the A9 based on the images mostly shown. Still, it seems that the guys (and dolls?) taking part in the demos were quiet impressed.

If the A9 delivers on promise, I would expect that we are going to see some cameras rink side.

Personally, I am more of the the take your time photographer, so 20 FPS doesn't have any attraction to me. On the contrary, I just hate the need to cull between several hundred equal quality images.

It seems that the A9 has some usability improvements. I may be interested of that once a high res version is introduced. But, it would be very hard to motivate spending like 4500$ US on a camera that offers some slight improvements for my shooting. Spending a couple of weeks in Yellowstone or the Dolomites benefits my shooting far more than 20 FPS.

Best regards
Erik

Yes the A9 appears to be an impressive camera bringing many of the newer technologies together in a nice package . Is it a true competitor for the D5 or the 1DX pro bodies being utilized by most all professional sports photographers .  To be a competitor it must measure up in the all important Continuous Autofocus category . 


 Unfortunately Kevin was in no position to evaluate the cameras ability to focus  (up to the standards of a D5 ) .  As evidenced by (1) not a sports photographer (2) inadequate time to familiarize with the A9 (3) utilizing a wide angle with massive DOF and high ISO  in poor light . In total a poor proof of concept . 

My complaint was that (1) the test images shown are not sharp and do not demonstrate any measure of AF /CF capability and (2) there is no basis to conclude that the AF capability is in any way competitive with the Nikon/Canon Pro bodies .  Both Nikon and Canon have made significant improvements in their AF/CF capabilities over the past few years .  If you have never worked with a current Pro model ...you simply don t know what is possible . 

I ve spent months attempting to match the Pro standard with my Leica SL (also sold was an action camera ) .....Polo,Auto Racing,Tennis,Surfing,Kite Boarding and Baseball in Florida ......its not even close to my D5 .   Could you shoot sports ..of course ...I can shoot sports with my iPhone .

DaveCurtis

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2017, 04:35:20 PM »

Kudos to Sony. They have adding some nice features to A9.

However as a serious pro camera  to compete with the D5, the A9 has some way to go.

In my opinion the form factor is way to small for large fast super teles. The sports pros and wildlife pros that I have shot with don't want tiny cramped bodies.

The battery is still too small and the 'pro ecosystem' is not there yet.

It is good to see that Sony has improved the AF.


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Kevin Raber

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2017, 05:56:45 PM »

I think all the above have good points.  But you may be surprised at the battery life, AF and with the Battery grip it feels heftier and balances well with long lenses.  Once a production unit arrives I can begin some real testing.  But, at the event, there were a number of well-known Sports and Journalist shooters and they feel that the A9 is better than what they are presently using.  In the end, it is what works best for you. Sony will have more surprises for us as the years moves forward.  I am sure you'll also hear more stories from pros as they adopt the camera.  As far as the FA goes and my images all I can say if AF works great and others that were there say the same thing.  I'm not sure if my images lost a bit in translation but they are certainly in focus.  Let's wait though until the shipping version arrives and we can make better judgments.

Jeff

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2017, 02:39:30 AM »

And perhaps wait until you can process the ARW files.

Knowing  their association with Sony one assumes Phase One will release a dot upgrade of Capture One when / soon after the camera is officially released.

In the meantime are you processing the jpgs in Capture One ?
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2017, 02:01:35 PM »

Thanks for the detailed and interesting review Kevin. At a technical level Sony has been at the forefront of some amazing technological innovation that works very well. I am currently using an a6300 with the Zeiss 16~70mm f/4 E-mount lens, and I find the performance of this combination to be quite stellar, even at very high ISO settings.

All that said, I must take issue with one sentence in your review, and it is this one:

<<They proved that as a company they listen to their customers and deliver what their customers ask for.>>

Well, I'm sorry to say, but in my case nothing could be further from the truth. The Achilles heal of this camera system, and I don't know for how many Sony sensor models this applies, but for the a6300, there is a real problem with sensor cleaning. For any cleaning other than a rather useless in-camera algorithm that does nothing, Sony tells us to send or bring the camera to a Sony service center. I can't think of anything more foolish for an interchangeable lens camera that is supposed to be usable in a wide variety of clean and not so clean field environments where there is no sensor cleaning facility anywhere near at hand.

For example, last November I discovered stubborn dirt on the sensor two days before leaving for a field shoot in London England. I tried using the usual solution - Eclipse, and it created such a mess on the sensor I thought I had destroyed it. I was directed to a Sony service center fifty miles from Toronto, where I took the camera and they restored the sensor to its original condition. And they told me not to use Eclipse in the future but to bring it to them. I asked them what fluid they used on the sensor and they refused to tell me, citing the cleaning process as "confidential".

Not satisfied with this nonsense, I took the matter up with the management of Sony Canada, which is a puppet operation whose strings are pulled by Sony USA. They refused to answer the question also, citing confidentiality, and further telling me this is the position of the corporation as a whole. I compared this position with that of Phase One which even makes the correct fluid available to customers for its very high-end digital backs. They weren't interested. Not one to take this kind of rubbish lying down, I sent a very crisply drafted letter to Sony senior management in Japan advising them that I needed an answer to the question of how to clean by own sensor, failing which I would have to presume there is some kind of generic defect in the technology which rendered it ill-advised to let consumers near their sensors. I sent the letter by registered mail and I know they received it, but Sony Japan never answered it - from going on five months now.

In light of this experience, all I can say about Sony's bedside manners is (a) they DO NOT listen to their customers, and (b) they treat their customers with disdain and disregard. Any one contemplating the purchase of a Sony camera can well appreciate its technical virtues, but don't count on that outfit for customer relations. They have a lot to learn.

Post-scriptum on this case: after the initial episode I had asked for advice about Sony sensor cleaning on this Forum and some readers were good enough to offer suggestions that they say works. I am grateful for that, but really and truly, there is no substitute for the company backing its product by telling its customers what is usable and not usable for cleaning its own sensors.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml

Jeff

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2017, 02:28:03 PM »

and I don't know for how many Sony sensor models this applies, but for the a6300, there is a real problem with sensor cleaning.

Add A900 and A99II to the list.

The sensor cleaning mode is not that great  :(

Here in the UK the same advice... take the camera to a Service Centre, but I believe there is only one service centre which means packaging & posting and waiting for its return.

However, I have a very good camera shop  that does an excellent job of sensor cleaning but paying for a sensor clean on a brand new camera, A99II, was an unexpected cost  :(   but worth it in the grand scheme of things.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2017, 06:14:55 PM »

...........   but worth it in the grand scheme of things.

It's only worth it if there were no sensible alternative. Until Sony comes forward to tell us either what to use for cleaning their sensors and how to do it safely (for which they need not assume liability) or provide some credible explanation as to exactly why users can't clean their own sensors, they are just being stubborn fools operating in contempt of their clients, and the clients shouldn't be paying a farthing for this. The camera market is flooded with excellent choices these days and struggling to stay afloat. Service means everything. I have had both Canon and Nikon equipment serviced here in Toronto by both of those companies and I can assure you that I was never at the receiving end of the kind of corporate arrogance I'm seeing from Sony.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml

Kevin Raber

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2017, 06:45:16 PM »

I believe I covered in my review and if I did not I apologize.  But, Sony does now offer a ProService with walk-in service centers in Los Angeles and New York.  Yes, you need to be part of their Pro program.  The same things Mark is saying about service you hear similar stories with other manufacturers.  However, and I still stand by what I said, Sony did hear and did listen thus starting up the Pro Service.  Let's hope they also extend good - better service to their regular customers.

Mark D Segal

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2017, 06:52:40 PM »

I believe I covered in my review and if I did not I apologize.  But, Sony does now offer a ProService with walk-in service centers in Los Angeles and New York.  Yes, you need to be part of their Pro program.  The same things Mark is saying about service you hear similar stories with other manufacturers.  However, and I still stand by what I said, Sony did hear and did listen thus starting up the Pro Service.  Let's hope they also extend good - better service to their regular customers.

I appreciate that, but "Pro Service" is targeted to a niche of the market. The rest of us seem good enough to sell merchandise to but not good enough to be taken seriously. Segmenting the market and treating one niche well and the rest of us like crap just adds insult to injury. Sorry Kevin, I just can't relate to Sony's concept of customer relations. They're out to lunch, and it doesn't matter who else behaves just as badly.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml

ErikKaffehr

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2017, 12:46:28 PM »

Hi,

I am with Mark on this one. A customer is a customer weather that customer makes his/her living from photography or not.

If you buy gear and pay the fees you should be given full support.

On the other hand, I have certain understanding for companies not giving advice on sensor cleaning. Cleaning the sensor can make irreversible damage.

Here is some good advice from Brian Smith: http://briansmith.com/5-simple-steps-camera-sensor-cleaning/

Seems that Brian is a good guy and possibly the best source of information about the Sony camera system.

Best regards
Erik


I appreciate that, but "Pro Service" is targeted to a niche of the market. The rest of us seem good enough to sell merchandise to but not good enough to be taken seriously. Segmenting the market and treating one niche well and the rest of us like crap just adds insult to injury. Sorry Kevin, I just can't relate to Sony's concept of customer relations. They're out to lunch, and it doesn't matter who else behaves just as badly.

Mark D Segal

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2017, 12:52:15 PM »

Thanks for the site reference Erik - it's useful.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml

Telecaster

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2017, 03:42:16 PM »

A very important requirement of a PRO level system is the ability of the AF to handle continuous focus requirements.

Neither of the two PROs I know personally could care less about continuous AF. (Or AF at all, for that matter.) A small sample, for sure, but beware of painting with too broad a brush.

-Dave-
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GrahamBy

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Re: Sony a9 Review - Early Preview
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2017, 07:11:07 AM »

I've just seen a bunch of A9 samples from the same event on another site. They are far, far better: sharp with appropriate dof, mostly shot at f/2.8. In brief, it's not the camera that makes you a sports photographer in 2 days.
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