Before I move onto the geek talk – HUGE THANK YOU to Kiran & Dignity for having me photograph their wedding yesterday, it was a visual feast!! There is SO MUCH MORE to come from me, the small set of images below should keep them exited for now.  Thank you guys, you were total stars from start to finish, I loved EVERY MINUTE of your celebrations! <3 

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As many of you know, I’ve been shooting with Sony A7RII for almost two years. I think lots of my colleagues thought me a maniac to suddenly ditch duel wielding the holy grail that is the Nikon D4 and D4s and switch to these unproven little ‘toys’.

Twenty-one months later, I can confidently say that it was the right decision. The A7RII is by no means perfect, but for my style of shooting, it is (well, was) the best camera available.

You can re-read my post on the A7RII here: http://www.agatomaszek.com/sony-a7rii-vs-wedding-photography/

The frustrating thing about the rII? FUNCTIONING SPEED! It doesn’t like to be rushed. It takes a moment to turn on, it ponders whether to oblige your request to review an image, oh and it drinks electrons at an alarming rate. Quite a shock coming from the D4s.

Promise of the mythical A9 was a recurring theme on rumour sites over the past two years. Promise of a A7RII on steroids. As fast and responsive as not just DSLRs, but flagship DSLRs.

Sony’s marketing department certainly know how to generate a buzz, so with the announcement of the A9, another truckload of hyperbole was wheeled out. The usual ‘DSLR killer’ videos and comments quickly appeared, suitably enraging a certain demographic of DSLR users, who for inexplicable reasons, instantaneously began frothing at the mouth in sheer indignation. Defending their cameras or chosen brand as if they were an insulted family member.

My take on the ‘DSLR killer’ comments? Ridiculous click-bait to generate traffic and video views. It sure does work though! DSLRs are going nowhere. Mirrorless offer an alternative that can now perform on a professional level so use whichever works for you and stop getting your panties in a twist.

Onto the A9…

Due to the dawdling nature of the a7rII I described earlier. I’ve been taking my nikon D4S along to every wedding and using it along side the Sonys for fast action situations. The number of shots taken with Nikon has slowly decreased over time. Over the last 6 months I noticed I was taking around 100 shots per wedding with it compared to 8000+ with the Sonys. Carrying a whole other system for 100 ‘action’ shots wasn’t ideal and added much weight and bulk to my equipment bag. My hope was that the A9 could replace my D4s, allowing me to pack only E-Mount lenses and accessories.

I will post a more detailed review once I have used it more a couple of months, so these are just preliminary thoughts after a full day of shooting, culling, and editing a small selection.

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RESPONSIVNESS
Images review and zoom in speed is identical to Nikon D4s. Woo! The A9 still takes a bit longer to switch on than a DSLR, but what a vast improvement from the A7R2.

BATTERY LIFE
14 hour wedding, over 6000 shots? Two batteries used. Another vast improvement. Incomparable to the D4s – I could probably shoot the whole wedding season on one battery, but try shooting any Nikon in live view and see what happens to battery life! ;)

AUTOFOCUS
Bear in mind I’ve only shot one wedding with the A9 so far, it’s hard not to jump to conclusions. Sod it, I’m going to jump to a conclusion. MIND BLOWING.

A7RII focusing is acceptably fast, impressively accurate, and tracking is good enough for most wedding situations. The A9 is quite simply another league, another stratosphere! Focusing feels effortless and the hit-rate destroys my D4s. I’ve gone through all 6000 shots and the missed shots can be counted on my fingers and toes. My ceremony shots had a 100% hit rate. Over 1000 photos in a row all nailed. Truly impressive – I had a huge grin on my face all day! The joystick is a welcomed addition (very much missed on A7R2 body!), although I tended to use the touch screen to move the focus point around.

FRAMES PER SECOND
It can shoot at 20FPS. I do not need to shoot at 20FPS. Andrew (who usually does the initial cull) has banned me from shooting at 20FPS.

I spent the day on continuous Medium. It felt just right although I don’t know exactly how fast it fires.

SILENT SHUTTER (ELECTRONIC SHUTTER)
It turns out that shooting silently is disconcerting for all involved. I’ll probably get used to it, but had the fake shutter sound turned on for most of the day. At home we have noticed banding under certain conditions (Phillips LED lights in our living room), so more testing is needed. As many wedding venues are switching over to LED lighting, A9 shooters may have to be on the ball and flick over to mechanical shutter when operating under problematic lighting. Mechanical shutter is limited to 5FPS, fast enough for almost everything.

OTHER BITS
There are a few other areas of improvement over the A7R2. Firstly the rear LCD screen displays photos perfectly. It makes the A7R2 screen look dull and drab. Secondly metering and white balance are significantly more accurate. I’m constantly adjusting exposure compensation when using the a7r2 whilst I barely touched it all day on the A9.

REPORTED ISSUES
Overheating – Several reports claim that the A9 is overheating when shooting in direct sunlight. Obviously this is concerning and unfortunately it was not hot enough yesterday to test these claims for myself.
Low ISO banding – In my view, an overblown issue. It’s unnoticeable at normal viewing sizes and only occurs in very specific situations. Maybe Sony can fix this in firmware, I’m not so confident.

WHAT ARE THE FILES LIKE?

Apart from resolution, very similar to A7r2 files in colour and dynamic range. High ISO performance is similar, with 6400 being the upper limit of what I feel acceptable.

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So there you have it.
I’m pleased so far, but that can quickly change. I want to use the equipment that most suits my style of working and shooting, regardless what brand is engraved onto the top. Writing anything positive about Sony will inevitably lead to accusations of fanboyism (tip, I’m female!) and that’s okay with me. I love using my a7r2 and I really really REALLY hope the A9 will prove to be the missing piece of my equipment puzzle.

Should you switch?
If you are pleased with your current camera & set up, then NO. The switch to mirrorless from a long DSLR heritage is fraught with frustrations and it took me months of commitment to feel as comfortable with the system as I was with DSLR.

I’m fortunate enough to have dozens of exceptionally talented friends in this industry, regardless of camera brand they are with no exception able to produce stunning work. It REALLY IS NOT about the camera! Or the preset. ;)

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Here is a quick selection of A9 images from yesterday. Most were shot with the Sony 35mm 1.4. I feel like there’s so much missing to the below post storywise! I had two of my other Sony bodies on me with 85mm/25mm/50 and occasionally 14mm on (I was basically shuffling 3 cameras all the time rather than changing lenses)  as well as my amazing second shooter there – so don’t judge the variety below pretty please, this is about 25% of the visual representation of yesterday.

FANCY DOWNLOADING SOME RAWS and having a play yourself?

At the bottom of the post there’s a link where you can download a couple of raw files. Feel free to have a play, but please do not publish anywhere. For privacy reasons I didn’t include any photographs of my clients or their guests, but you’ll find some context/item images there. You will need to upgrade to the latest Lightroom to be able to edit them. Your Photo Mechanic should see the preview JPGS but you won’t be able to render the full resolution – so don’t be surprised if the files appear pixelated/unsharp.

I’ll leave you to a bunch of images of some seriously stunning people. It would be great to hear your thoughts too so comment away if you feel like!

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Bride & Groom – Kiran & Dignity

Wedding Venue – Froyle Park, Guildford

Wedding Season – (late!) Spring

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Feel free to download some RAWs from my dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/9i1rtg9nkfw6rjx/AAAj_e1SuWXVGk3fKclZ2MRJa?dl=0