It’s been about 5 years since my last camera purchase (Canon EOS 1dx review) and whilst the 1dx has been faultless since the day I bought it, recently I have been getting a bit fed up of carrying 2×1 series EOS cameras around with me on jobs. The weight was becoming a bit of an issue. I’ve been using Canon EOS cameras since 1989, with a few years of enforced Nikon use when I was a press photographer, however, I have now swapped systems and am using Sony mirrorless cameras.
I have traded in all my Canon gear and purchased a Sony a9 with a Sony a7ii as a backup body, along with some fantastic Sony lenses, 24-70GM F2.8, 70-200GM F2.8, Zeiss 16-25 F4 and a 85mm F1.4GM.
Sony really have hit the ground running with the a9. At their first attempt they have made a camera which rivals, and surpasses in some respects, the 1dxmk2 and Nikon D5.
Whilst I’m not writing a camera review, hopefully this will help any other photographers thinking of making the switch.
• Lighter to carry, after a days shooting my shoulders don’t ache as much, the grip is well worth getting as it makes portrait images easier to capture. Battery life is also excellent.
• The eye tracking autofocus system is incredible, makes framing images a lot easier and quicker.
• Autofocusing generally is better than my 1dx, it locks on pretty much first time, even when it’s nearly dark.
• Viewfinder takes a while to get used to but after a while you don’t even notice it’s a screen you are looking at.
• Lenses are as good as the Canon versions, although the zoom is the wrong way round when compared to Canon’s, no problem if you are coming from Nikon.
• The silent shutter means no more shutter noise, something I think I’ll be using a lot during conferences and some of my medical work.
• Never thought I would say this, it’s good to have physical dials back, a lot quicker than pushing buttons to change drive speeds, AF modes etc.
• Tilting rear screen means overhead and very low shots are now easier to capture, still miss the days when you could take the viewfinder off a Nikon F4 though.
• I don’t often use on camera flash, but when I do I’ve purchased a couple of Godox TT685S Speedlite flashes. They are as well made as the Canon versions, and at £94, a bargain.
• Finally, something I’ve wanted for years, when tethering with Capture One; I can now write the files to both the internal sd card and computer at the same time, worth the cost of switching alone.
• It’s an almost perfect camera, hopefully a future a9ii will address these shortcomings.
• Lack of proper weather sealing means Sony will never compete fully against the Canon and Nikon flagship models. As I work in a lot of factories and spend a fair amount of time shooting outside, time will tell how well the camera holds up to our Northern European weather.
• No access to menus when writing to the sd cards, hopefully a firmware update will solve this problem.
• Still not 100% sure about the longevity of SD cards, I’m having to treat them a bit gentler than cf cards.
• Flash contacts look a bit flimsy, I will have to treat my Elinchrom transmitter very gently.
In conclusion, very happy so far, will update this post after a few more months with the camera.
I’ve been using the a9 for about 6 weeks now and switching has not been without a few problems, but overall I’m finding the a9 has changed the way I am taking pictures.
• The eye tracking AF is amazing, it means there is no more AF, re-frame, shoot , repeat. It locks on, and stays locked on, making re-framing quicker and easier. Never thought I would use continuous AF for portraits. The AF is very, very good in low light.
• Tilting screen is coming in very useful, no more guessing when shooting overhead or low down
• I’m still struggling with the Sony menu options. Camera manufacturers need to look at how Android or iOS organise their menus. I have customised a few buttons and use the mymenu option for the ones I use the most, but why not have a football/swimming/athletics etc pre programmed settings for the AF so I can switch quickly between shooting options. The menu looks like something we used 10 years ago.
• Shooting tethered via Capture One and writing to card and PC I’m finding there is a delay in the images showing up on the laptop. Not sure if it’s lack of processing power or no USB3 on the camera. In 2017/8 a flagship camera should really have USB3.