LET’S TALK: My Sony A9 Shooting Experience and why it is not just a sports camera!

LET’S TALK: My Sony A9 Shooting Experience and why it is not just a sports camera! (Video)

Hey guys! Hope you all had a fantastic weekend! The Sony A9 fever is still in effect, though it has died down a bit from last week. Pre orders are now open at Amazon (HERE) or B&H Photo (HERE). Only a month until it ships and so many are excited to get their camera. Since I have shot with it for a full day, I wanted to make a follow-up video to my last one with my thoughts on shooting it, the speed, the quality and all things about this new A9. I can not share any images until later in the week, but at that time I will show a few shots from the 1st time ever in life I shot any sports or really fast action. So while my images are “meh”, the camera was flat out amazing. But watch the video below for my detailed thoughts on using this new Sony beast.

I also get into why this is so much more than a sports camera. I did not call it my “Desert Island Camera” for its sports abilities! Enjoy your Sunday and I will have more during the week. Also, a note. I am traveling from AZ to IL to OH and through PA for 10 days or so via road trip with Debby in about a week. So during that time the updates will be slower here, but I will have fun updates from the road at my YouTube HERE. I have some new stuff I am testing that is top-secret, and will be putting it all to the test on my trip!

And now, the video…

You can pre order the A9 below at my recommended Sony dealers whose I trust:

B&H Photo A9 Page

Amazon A9 Page


  1. Wow, amazing, I’m drooling for an A9 now. It seems like just yesterday that my A7s was the newest camera (sigh). Question for fun: is outdoor sports photography or indoor low-light baby photography harder? Haha. I guess for sports, you usually have the additional problem of zoom, but at least the action is semi-scripted.

    • Sports is harder but not so much with this camera. This camera is also amazing in low light. Shot some ISO 51,200 stuff that was interestingly clean-ish. Looks better than my A7RII in low light.

  2. I really like the sound of this camera, but wonder why there is speculation of other models, such as an ‘S’ and ‘R’ versions.

    Do you think it realistic that Sony would have three models at £4500 each? That does not seem sensible and would potentially dilute the sales. Buyers spending that sort of money will want to think they have the best and most flexible camera and I don’t know Sony would be able provide that peace of mind.

    Would it not be more likely that Sony would add some of the features to create A7Riii and A7Siii models?

    Whatever they do, they’ve certainly set a cat amongst the pigeons!

      • I’d certainly buy a few A9S for $5 each!

        Seriously, I think Sony would be better to mirror (pun not intended) the Canon model of having the 1Dx as the flagship, supported by the 5D, 5DS, and 5DSR.

        I just don’t envisage the need for such high speed and very high resolution. I imagine it would create significant problems regarding processing power and heat, let alone the adverse effect on battery life. There are already sour notes about not using XQD cards and only one slot being high speed, which I am certain came from the inevitable compromises.

        Also, I’m assuming that there are image quality reasons why there has not been phase detect on the A7Sii, so that might be equally hard to implement on an A9S. Again, the frame rate without the AF ability may prove very limiting and a waste. Unless they could significantly improve the already fantastic low light capability, I can’t see the appeal of that either; certainly not at that price level.

        I really don’t think Sony can add enough to those models to make them sufficiently better than improved A7 variants to justify such a price difference (by the way, I never suggested that the A7 would be discontinued).

  3. Steve, can you confirm the statements from other notable YouTube reviewers regarding this new Sony a9 having a very long buffer clearing time, on the order of 3 minutes?! Thank you sir.

    • Well, I would never fill that buffer of 700+ jpegs or 320 RAW files. Not sure who would. But when I get a review unit I will try it but I trust most of those who did YT videos of it, as they were with me and are all great reviewers.

      • Amazing this jackoff talks about a camera he’s never even used. What a tool. Why Sony thinks these tools are helping aineonr know. The answer based on my having used it is 35 seconds ro clear a full buffer of RAW using slot 1 and Sony 64GB, 300MB Speeed Card. Closer to two minutes if using both slots. I never came close to filling the buffer in real world shooting. I did it just to test. You can keep shooting while it clears the buffer but you can’t chimp. So if you ahoot bursts of 10-20’photos you have to wait a few seconds before chimping.

  4. Is SONY really out of their rollers ? A $4.5k camera taking 3 minutes (yes 180 seconds) to clear the buffer and dream to call it a sports-action camera ? What the poor photographer is supposed to do in those 3 minutes….twiddle his thumbs or scratch his @#££& ?
    And to believe A9 is DSLR killer ?

    • It can shoot 320 RAW’s or 700+ JPEGS before filling up. No one I shot with waited even a second for any buffer to clear. if you are out to shoot 10,000 images in a couple hours, you MAY have to wait a little here and there but who shoots like that? And why?

    • This is a quote from Tony Northrup, who admitted later on that he was mistaken. In subsequent testing, Tony cleared his entire buffer in 37 seconds.
      No one (who knows what they’re doing) will fill the A9’s buffer. You shoot fairly short bursts when your instincts tell you that the right moment has arrived. Only a noob will just hit the shutter button and hold it for 300 frames.

  5. Steve,

    Did you get a chance to test the autofocus at small apertures? The a7rii has problems below f8

  6. Steve,

    Did you get a chance to try the autofocus at small apertures? The a7Rii has serious problems at anything smaller than f 8.0

  7. Really disappointed in the IQ of the A9 as compared to the A7RII. Not resolution, IQ. I don’t need all that speed, love to have it, but for 4500, don’t need it. I’ll keep my A7RII. Steve: what say you sir?

    • IQ is fantastic from my limited use. No issues with the A9 I used but again, I need much more time with it. I will not review it until I use it for at least 2 weeks. ; ) BTW, I am uploading my images now, will post today..soon.

    • I’m with you on the issue of paying $4500 for improved speed, but also am enjoying an alternative route to the same speed specs (well, many of them, and enough for me) as the A9. Namely, Steve’s 2016 unofficial “camera of the year” — the Olympus EM1 Mark II. I’m a Sony a7rII true believer mad will eventually upgrade when they come out with a higher Pixel a9r or a7rIII, but since last Christmas, have been having a BLAST with my little Olympus and the Leica-Panasonic 100-400mm telephoto (for 800mm equivalent performance) as well as Oly’s own 40-150mm PRO plus 1.4mm teleconverter, an f4.5 combo that I’m using right now to photograph baby Downy Woodpeckers learning how to peck at suet. Before anyone raises the “low light” question, let me just say I’ve been pleasantly surprised at ISO 6400 — it’s no a9 in that regard, but in every other, performs fantastically well. Best of all, I can share lenses with my EM10Mk2-rockin’ spouse, who gave me this dazzling little gem for Christmas!

      • The EM 1 MKII is fantastic, and fast, and pro built, and has lovely lenses. While not full frame, it is $2500 less than the A9 and a HIGHLY capable camera. Micro 4/3 can do anything one needs today, but many pass it by due to the smaller sensor and pre conceived notions of what can and can not be done. Any pro spec camera today is wonderful wether it is from Olympus, Sony, Nikon, or Canon. I will have a new video soon talking about just this with an emphasis on Olympus vs the others.

  8. This camera in poor hands will deliver poor pictures, but will make their owner happy

  9. I need a new body and mainly shoot landscapes, so should I continue to wait or get the a9?

  10. According to Tony Northrup, the color, dynamic range, and high ISO performance of the a9 is notably inferior to that of the a7rII. Would like to hear your opinion on that. But it does seem like an a9R will be the best for most people.

    • Could be why Sony didn’t let any A9 files get loose before tomorrow (end of NAB). Didn’t want that bad press circulating around the show and internet during the first week of the roll-out which is always super-charged with enthusiasm. Steve, I’m sure will sort it out for us 😉

    • Tony also said that he would still get the A9 because of the AF/ 20fps and no blackout. He also said the the IQ is pretty good.

      • And remember… this is a prototype body and the only Sony software, which is a “joke” (per Yuryev), has the ability to read this RAW file.

  11. There used to be a race in between fast, lightweight and durable mechanics (mirror, shutter) and mere computing power (mirrorless, EVF). The later progressively increases with quicker start-up, frame rate, pixel count and EVF refresh rate.

    Canon and Nikon sell mature technology with exhausted potential for further cost reduction. Sony likely still has to recover recent R&D, but the product has less, higher integrated and less components that require calibration (just sensor against lens mount, no mirror, no focussing screen, no separate AF sensors). With ever falling prices for computing power and further miniaturisation one day mirrorless and EVF will rule.

    Remember, as soon as SLRs came with instant return mirror, automatic stop-down, true-sided pentaprism finder, later even with TTL metering, the rangefinder camera was dead, at least condemned to a life as niche product.

  12. The A9 looks like it has a MUCH higher quality of build than the A7 series. The molded seams look more refined, the buttons and dials look thicker and more pronounced. The card door looks much more substantial, especially with the new latch release button. All in all, it just seems to be a more substantial looking kit and finally on par with Canikon’s pro models. I really hope that future A7 series cameras will adopt similar A9 build attributes. The A9 really exposes what I consider to be a key weakness in the A7 series, that is; toy-like haptics. That said, I do love my A7R2 for everything else it does right 😉

    • I’d rather offset cost with cutting corners on construction as long as it delivers all that other stuff that helps me up the IQ ante.

  13. pretty amazing that the sensor is actually smaller than Original A7 yet they were able to get this sensor to be capable of so much. It will be interesting to see what they do next after the A9.Seems like one day they will be able bring the fast speeds to the masses. One day they can maybe release a full frame that has similar performance to this and charge $1799.99. Everybody could have a really fast full frame. Its like the 4K Televisions when they first came out really expensive but now they have become more affordable. I think in a couple years they will be able to bring something very similar at a third of the cost. Maybe 5-10 years down the road.

    • But will PHOTOGRAPHY get any better??? It still depends on three things that have remained unchanged since Fox Talbot’s time – seeing light, interpreting it and capturing it at the right moment.

  14. All right Steve. First of all, I like to say is I love your video of the a9 Sony experience. I’m in the process of making a decision on what camera to buy after using the a7r2 for 60 days and the a6500 for 30 days. My first Sony was the a6000 for the last year and half of doing portraits, headshots, soccer/football games, a few wedding, animals, and little girl who can’t set still for a shoot at 2yrs old.
    After hearing you talk about upgrading to the A9 I was wondering should I get the a7r2 with the 85gm or the A9 with my 55mm 1.8….. It’s been a journey for me because we all know 42mp is a wonderful thing.

    • Well, up to you. If you want higher res, and that is a must, then the RII is the only Sony option. If you want the faster AF, response, much improved battery system and EVF, and other new features then the A9 is it. Go with what you need and a little bit of what you want ; )

      • Thanks because that really made a lot of since. I’m looking for better AF, EyeAF, being able to shoot in low light, battery life, and much more responsive or snappier.
        You mention in your video that 24mp is where you prefer to be at and say it the sweet spot. Why is that?

        • I have always said 24MP was my sweet spot, even years ago. A: It is PLENTY big enough for as large as I would ever print. I used to print 20X30’s with a Nikon D2hs, 4MP. They are gorgeous prints. We do not need higher than 24MP for any print IMO. The files are more manageable, take up less space. When you have lower MP, you have better low light capabilities. 24 MP is the sweet spot in general which is why Leica chose 24 for the M10. I love my A7RII but I truly do not need the high MP count.

      • thanks Steve great infos ! I have the RII and want the A9 now as well for my new 35mm 1,4
        then I keep the 55 1,8 on the RII
        both these lenses are increadible

  15. Hi Steve,
    This really sounds like a hell of a camera. I hope you will compare its performance with Leica glass to the SL and/or the M10. Would love it if you used a 50 APO and a 35 FLE. I would never consider cancelling my M10 order with B&H, but I might just opt to sell my DF if its All That with leica glass. Would love to see the Loxia and Batis performance too. Much to look foreward to this year from your site!

  16. The A9 is a camera for professionals. The best of all cameras maybe. 4500$ for the body. How many of your readers could afford this? Sorry Steve, I loved your articles about the Olympus cams or the Nikon 1V1 which I bought right after reading. Give us more such stuff please..

    • ++

      After the hype about the Olympus E-M1 II there was unfortunately no word about the Pana GH5 on Steve’s site. Why?

      Now it’s the A9. In a couple of months there will be a A9R that with have a guess 50 MP? That will be the next craze and so on. It’s an industry for the minority nowadays. I would like to see more crazy comparisons of old glas – one can afford – on older or newer toys for that matter to play with.

      • I have not had the GH5 mainly as I was never a huge fan of. the GH series in the past. As I have always said, I review what I like and enjoy, not everything just to make a buck. In fact, my income suffers due to the fact I do not review everything. But if I do not get inspired by a camera, I do not want to use or review it. Silly me, yes…but always been like that since the site started. I am a jaded camera guy, meaning, it takes A LOT to impress me to where I would buy a camera, or want to review it. The Sony A9 is revolutionary in what it can do, nothing touches it for speed, EVF quality, etc (at this point). Sony may release the A9R and A9S just as they did with the 7 series, offering us more choice. Which is a good thing for US. As I said a year ago, camera companies are going to start to make premium m models for enthusiasts and pros as the normal consumer market has been dying for a while now due to smart phones. You will see many walking away from cheap low performance models and we already are.

        This is why we now see A9’s and the Fuji MF system and the EM1 MKII from Olympus. Enthusiasts and advanced hobbyists are the only ones spending money on cameras, as well as pros of course. So this is what we will see. By giving us choice, it just makes it easier for us to choose what we need or want. A good thing. If Sony does not release an A9R many will bitch and moan saying they want higher MP.

        Can’t please everyone.

        • There was a time I thought 6MP was enough for everything. I never thought that it would get this crazy.

    • To each their own when it coms to opinions, but (insert model) camera is for “professionals” has always been a deflective statement to pigeon-hole a product line once it exceeds a person’s budget limits, morally or fiscally. The only qualifier I believe makes sense for categorizing any camera as for “professionals” is when the gear is sponsored, eg. the shooter doesn’t pay for the gear to produce the work or is specifically meant for a singular purpose and cannot be adapted without commercial support outside their application (eg. RED 4k/8k cameras).

      I don’t know Steve’s total reader population, but, being that this site was invested in reviewing Leica gear before moving into the mirrorless and M43 series cameras I suspect a good amount of readers can afford this camera if so wanted/justified. The theme of Steve’s entire site is to review things he likes and would use, not review only the things the internet masses want to see. That’s why a lot of us come here, for that unique perspective.

      The importance of cameras like this is that it drives change and challenges the industry (and even trickles down/sideways to the small camera markets) for what has long been nearly stagnation of the top level DSLR market to avoid evolving. EVF, mirrorless, contrast & phase detection AF systems, etc., these are all things that are gaining pace upward at an increasing tempo. It’s long overdue to shake up the big camera markets and it will be the invested enthusiasts, prosumers and eventually the “professionals” that push this change.

      Battery-life alone is enough to make me pay attention to the A9 release (having tried and passed on iterations of the A7 series so far due to the battery and EVF expectations). Long telephoto will take time to catch up on this mount but as Sony has shown they are invested in continued development in this mount range and I suspect we will eventually see those 200,300 and more telephotos start appearing.

      The camera in your hand will always be the most important one when a shot presents itself, even the iPhone is enough camera for most situations. But, this could very well be the right platform for those looking for the shooting experience Sony brings to the table.

      I look forward to the full review!

      • Hey Jim,
        I enjoyed your comments on the new Sony, and agree with you, except for one…that the Phone camera is enough for most of us…I too, use the iPhone “camera”, but never for paid work…IMHO, the limitations of such a tiny sensor, lens, and limited image processor make it vastly inferior to a dedicated camera, be it DSLR or mirrorless, especially when high-resolution or poster print output is required. True, the “phone camera” may rival point-and-shoot output under certain conditions (good lighting, static subjects, etc.), but again IMHO only, I don’t see them able to replace a true camera system for professional work. YMMV. 😉

        • Well, I meant a phone is good enough for anyone (not pros or those who do it for money of course). But for the everyday Joe who takes pictures (many of whom USED to buy big DSLR’s, even pro versions) a phone today is cutting it and that is why sales are down across the board as it is. A non pro never “needs’ anything more than a modern day smartphone.

  17. I have no idea what the A9 is actually like, but I get the feeling that there are going to be a lot of sore criticisms of it, if it lives up to its hype. Kind of like the announcement of the iPhone in 2007.

    If I spent $6,000 on an oversized DSLR that weighs twice as much as an X1D, I’d be tempted to try and find something wrong with the A9 for sure! 😉

    It must be said, however, that if you recently bought a DSLR, it would be wise to wait for a few years before upgrading. Use the equipment you have now, and by the time Sony releases the A9II, you’ll be in a very good position.

    IMHO the upcoming sports and press photographers are going to go with smaller cameras. They’re not going to adopt D5’s and 1DX’s, in the same way that current press photographers aren’t using 35mm film.

    P.S. I’d say that the RX10 and RX100 are almost ready for press use. One more generation should do it.

    • If we look at the mirrorless pro lenses in case of Sony and also Leica SL, they are not really smaller than their DSLR lens counterparts.
      So I ask myself: whats the reason to make a small camera body if you plan to use big lenses.
      First the small body is maybe a litle lighter, but as soon as you connect a big lens it will become very frontheavy, offers less safe grip to hold it, has smaller buttons which are more difficult to reach.
      I dont understand the benefit.

      • You raise a good point. With the A7 & A9, you have a choice. You can use the f/2.8 pro zooms, which are large, or you can use small and even tiny primes.

        Compare an A7 with a 35 Summilux to a DSLR with a 35/1.4 (manual or AF). And if you love the Noctilux (I don’t like it at all, actually), compare that with fast 50’s made for DSLRs, never mind the 50/1 EF.

        The same argument could be made for cinema. The RED cameras are amazingly small, but they can be made cumbersome with matte boxes, large zooms, big monitors, rails, follow-focus, etc. However, you have the option of stripping them down if and when you need to. You can fit M lenses onto them if you like, and you can also fit Panavision anamorphics if you prefer those. Or anything else you fancy.

        With a DSLR, you simply cannot use a small lens, save for the few pancake lenses by Pentax, Contax and Nikon. The smallest DSLRs are still more clunky than an A7, and you cannot fit Leica lenses for infinity focus onto them. You can adapt a huge swathe of classic lenses to the FE mount that you cannot with any other mount.

        Think of all that mass in the hippopotamus cameras like the D5 etc. And yet… no sensor stabilization. Though even that would not offer you anything that a CSC (compact system camera) cannot.

        Having said that, I prefer smaller sensors. For me, Super 35 is the sweet spot, and Micro 4/3 is second place. The 1″ sensor zoom cameras will improve to the point where the press can use them as replacements for system cameras.

  18. A new toy that will change photography ?
    Helps people with no skills will make amazing pictures !
    Really ?
    Sure we just have to belive the technical data sheeds right !

    • Randle,
      Yes, I think it’s a bit premature to “review” any camera based on specs alone! I’ll be more interested once reviews appear when they actually do real world testing with the camera! Thanks.

  19. Just give me an a9R… Between shooting 20fps and getting a 42mp file, I think the former is more excessive than the latter, at least​ that’s the case for most people

  20. The A9 is an important camera for all the reasons you mention in this viddy. But also, this may be the camera that finally causes a disturbance in the Canikon force 😉 If not, Sony will only have itself to out do on the next body.

  21. Hi Steve. Very interestign comments about the new Sony a9. As a landscape and small product photographer, I am quite satisfied with the sharpness, detail, and overall image quality I get with the Fujifilm X-System, but have always been intrigued by the Sony System, mainly because of the stellar reputation of the Sony/Zeiss 55 f/1.8, among others. (Though I would put the stellar Fujinon XF90 f/2 up against it or any lens in terms of sheer sharpness!)
    Anyway, I recently saw a review by a fellow YouTuber that opined basically that the Sony lens mount ring was made of inferior metal (I believe he actually disassembled several brands’ cameras, and used the term “pot metal” when referring to the Sony mount.), when compared with other manufacturers’ lens mounts. Have you heard of this, or seen any issues with the Sony lens mount, when handling large/heavy lenses? Thanks again!

  22. Waiting to see some high-ISO tests as this is where the camera should shine.

    As for the 20fps, don’t get too excited. If I understand, this is only with the electronic shutter. As Fuji shooters have learned, it can be VERY problematic and usable only in specific situations. As far as mechanical shutter, it is actually slower than the X-T2.

    I would think the Fuji X-T2 is a fair comparison to this camera and hope you do a comparison between the two. I want to know why the Sony is almost 3x, or $3,000 more than the Fuji as they appear quite similar – though the Sony is FF, meaning the lenses are MUCH bigger and heavier.

    • This electronic shutter has no limitations like the Fuji or even older Sony’s. It is what I would use all the time in fact. Also, the Xt2 is not even close to this A9 in any way from IQ, to Speed, to Video to well..anything. Only thing the Fuji has over this is the Fuji look if that is your pref. This camera is like nothing else out there. It truly is.

      • The A7RII or the A9 surely will be better than a XT2 and the FE mount lenses are amazing and expensive as well.
        But the Fuji cameras do not come close in terms of cost for the system. for many many hobby/family/student photographer without income from their content (unlike you) a killer argument is if they would have to pay $2000 or$5500 for a body + 50mm equv. lens…
        that alone is a net difference of 3500 dollar, not to speak of convincing your wife to invest $200 dollar in the first place!

        • Sony has finally come out with some great lenses for sure. However, there are a lot of poor lenses as was marked when the system first came out. Of course, evolution will create great lenses over time.

          The Fuji lenses are amazing and many surpass Sony, Canon and Nikon in quality. Fuji (Fujinon) has been making some of the most highly regarded lenses for decades in the professional market.

          I am a professional photographer and have used Canon, Nikon and Sony as well as Leica and Fuji. I have moved from Canon to Fuji for much of my work and it has benefited greatly. I was a very early Sony adopter and worked with them on their first generation cameras and traveled extensively with them. For me, the tech is great, but the implementation is just not right for a pure photographer. I am not a “non-native lens” guy who likes to play with their system. I need to get work done. Sony just misses key points for me (like full weather sealing).

          If the a9 is an amazing camera – GREAT! However, can we back off the superlatives and nonsense and get one in hand and compare them? There is no “perfect camera” and this comes no closer than most. There are always trade-offs. I would simply like to know what they are in a realistic and non-biased manner.

      • Banding under flourescent light or even in low light could definitely be a problem with the Electronic shutter. Let’s see how it copes with that.

        Even as a sports camera there seem to be some ergonomic oversights. Reviewers are already mentioning the tight space for their fingers between the grip and wider lenses – not good for big sports or wildlife photographers. In cold weather, with gloves (winter sports) it will be even more of a problem. Limited weather-proofing could also be a major problem for outdoor sports and wildlife.

        It looks like a great advance in many respects, but it is worth giving a thorough test for its intended market.

        • Hi Steve,
          I hope that you don’t mind me making a test request. I got to try out the A9 last Friday in Canada. I’m not a professional reviewer so looking at the camera and playing with it for 30 mins was too soon to make a definitive judgement. However after my initial play with the a9 I was actually less than impressed.
          12bit raw limitations in any form of continuous shooting put aside, what really disappointed me was that when I put the camera into mechanical shutter mode – to avoid banding and jello effect with panning shots in artificial flickering lighting conditions, the EVF with mechanical shutter in continuous was less than usable for professional usage. It effectively drops to a stop motion effect. I made a video about this here to capture the effect.
          When you test , please can you check this in your review sample. It may have been a bug in the version I got to play with.
          thanks a lot.

          • There’s a thing called Live-View Continuous shooting implemented on a6300, a6500, and a99ii, which makes EVF in continuous mode using mechanical shutter usable. But A9 doesn’t have it.

    • Peter, I too, would love to see that comparison, since I also use the Fujifilm X-System. Also, I find that while many folks simply rave about camera specs, IMHO, what is truly most important when evaluating camera systems is the LENSES! And in that regard, I think not many people would argue that the Fujinon optics are some of the best made, sharpest optics available. I would opine that the only “major” advantage of companies like Sony and Olympus from a “System” perspective, is their excellent Image Stabilization technology, though for those of us who shoot tripod-mounted 90+ % of the time, it’s less relevant unless of course, you’re a “street” or documentary guy.
      Thank you.

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