Sony's looking to storm the sports photography market with its new a9 mirrorless camera.
When I started shooting sports for college publications, I was stuck working with 3 fps. Then I graduated to a new camera offering 5 fps, and gravitated towards weddings and events. Now that I've been with DPReview for a year and a half, I've gotten used to 12, 14, 18 and 24 frames per second for shooting just about everything.
To be blunt, past a certain threshold, burst shooting speeds don't net me appreciably more keepers in my usual style of photography. But that won't be the case with everyone, and honestly, it doesn't hinder my enthusiasm with regards to the new Sony a9, even though that's one of its headline features. Even setting burst speeds aside, this camera is among the best I've ever used, bar none. Here's why.
During my time at DPReview, Sony's always left me feeling a little conflicted.
On one hand, the technology and features crammed into the company's cameras are always impressive; during my interview for this job, our own Rishi Sanyal showed me Eye AF on an a7R II, and I accidentally blurted out an expletive as my jaw dropped – it was something I'd never seen before. On the other hand, I've consistently found the usability of Sony's cameras to be a primary concern for me. The interface and general operation were laggy enough to be irksome, I got lost in the menus all the time (movie options should never be nonsensically shuffled among stills options), and there were times that I felt I was fighting the camera to get it to just do what I wanted.
Sony's RX100 V is an incredibly capable pocket camera, but the series hasn't seen any ergonomic or UI improvements in two generations.
Photo by Samuel Spencer
The list of qualms I have with the a7-series in particular is full of items that, on their own, are quite insignificant; but as the list grows, they all combine to make for cameras that I almost never choose for personal work or play. But the sheer volume of improvements and refinements in the a9 are having me singing a different tune.
Despite similarities to the a7-series at first glance, a lot.
The buttons and dials all come with better haptic feedback. The AF joystick replaces an eternity of clicks when moving the AF point. When you flip the screen out, the eye sensor is disabled, which resulted in fewer missed shots when working at odd angles. Boot-up time is shorter. Battery life is way better. The interface is more responsive. I don't get lost in the menus at all anymore. All of these changes add up to a camera that is more transparent, in the sense that it just 'gets out of the way' more than any previous Sony camera I've used, and lets me get on with taking pictures.
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