Sony a9 Demonstration Shots

Discussion in 'Sony/Minolta' started by dcstep, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. Okay, I'm not trying to drive views of my Flickr site. I've got over 5-million views, another 20 or so from here is not going to matter.

    I've had my a9 since August and I'm approaching 30,000-clicks. I've used it with a Metabones EF-to-E T-adapter and my Canon super-telephoto lenses, with and without the 1.4x and 2.0x TC-IIIs. I've used it with Sony's astounding, native FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS, with the neat little FE 1.4x teleconverter. I've shot in great light and almost no light.

    Given all this background, I thought that it'd be useful to put together a demonstration album, showing a wide variety of shots, mostly nature, taken with all these combinations in many lighting situations. So here's the Album:

    Sony a9 Demonstration Shots

    Of course, feel free to ask any question and I'll try to help.
    Mark Keefer likes this.
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    David, Why would I ever buy a Sony Camera when I'm well satisfied and solidly invested in the systems I have? Glad you like & enjoy yours, but I will never be a Sony customer.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2017
    dcstep likes this.
  3. Thanks Sandy. I posted this in the Sony/Minolta Forum with the idea that it'd be helpful to those considering moving to mirrorless digital cameras from DSLRs. I'm not trying to convert film shooters, such as yourself. I'm really not trying to convert DSLR users.

    I made the switch from Canon DSLR to Sony a9 because of the amazing leap forward in the AF capability. It's got some other major advantages that I enjoy, such as silent shutter, 20-fps, WSYWYG EVF, but the peerless AF is what made me move. Most people don't put the same demands on AF as those of us that shoot bird-in-flight. For many of those people, film is okay. I understand.

    I'm glad that you've found something that works for you.
    Norman 202 likes this.
  4. Thanks David for putting the demo together. A lot of shots seem to be at rather low light levels which makes the performance even more impressive. Since I have neither an A9 nor any experience with Canon AF, I can't judge how much of an improvement the A9 really is for you. The only Sony I can compare too is the A7II - which certainly is nowhere near what the A9 can do (which I have only played with in the store twice). Also, the A9 gives much easier access to changing AF modes than any Sony A7 series camera (far from ideal in fact).

    Compared to what I am used to from my Nikons (with the D500 being the one with the most advanced AF system), some Sony A7II AF modes perform better (notably the ones that let the camera choose) than the "corresponding" Nikon ones (with the exception of the D500), and in some scenarios the A7II packs up when not even the D810 has any trouble focusing. The D500 has certainly raised the bar on what I had been used to prior (D200, D300, D700, D810) but I have not had enough time in similar lighting conditions that you encountered to judge how the D500 would perform in them.

    In the "young buck jumps fence" series I see the AF appear to have done very well at the beginning but misses a few shots from frame 11 onward when the eye/head no longer is critically sharp; not sure if it is motion blur or the AF moving away from that area to other parts of the body now closer to the camera. The latter is what I certainly would expect from my Nikons when left to decide on what to focus on their own. As long as I can keep the active AF area on point, things are reasonably predictable.

    A Sony A9 with battery grip, 100-400, and 1.4x extender is close to $8,500; my D500/MB-D17 with 200-500 for 40% of that cost will have to suffice.
  5. Dieter, thanks for the discussion. Hopefully another wildlife photographer will move from Nikon to Sony a9 (the other Sony's are not close regarding AF system, but I suspect that they'll start catching up, as they are refreshed). Also, I suspect that the comparison of a9 would be to the D5's AF system, where cost is more comparable. My brother shoots the D500 and loves his, BTW.

    As for the deer jumping fence, unfortunately my software doesn't show which AF points are activated, but I think that the frames you mention are where the buck is hitting the ground and is jarred by the contact. Low light demanded ISO 8000 and limited shutter speed to 1/750-sec., so I think that the slight distortion seen is due to motion, rather than focus. It's hard to be sure, but shooting in low light led me to compromise the SS. Here's where Sony needs a native 600/f4, which would have made focus even more critical, but would have allowed double the SS.

    Alas, I think that Sony's first native super-telephoto prime lens will be a 400/f2.8. With their stated goal of being on the front row of the next Olympics, that makes sense. The 500/f4 and 600/f4 are more of a bird and wildlife lens, while a 400/f2.8 lends itself to both indoor and outdoor sports.
  6. Not as easy as for a Canon shooter who can adapt existing Canon lenses. Doesn't appear to be a viable option to adapt Nikon lenses maintaining AF and automatic diaphragm. AFAIK, there is an adapter that allows AF but from what I remember it doesn't do well with things that are moving.

    Plausible explanation as the entire deer seems to be slightly blurred. The rather long 1/750s shutter speed certainly doesn't help.

    Well, the D5 and the D500 share the same AF module but according to test I've seen the D5 performs better nonetheless. Same is true for the D850, same AF module, not same (D5) performance.

    While the AF points on the A9 cover essentially the entire frame, the D500 is the only SLR I know off where that is at least true for the horizontal dimension. Not entirely sure how well the sensors on the edges can perform, given that many lenses wide-open (and many even stopped down) don't exactly produce excellent sharpness and contrast there. I don't expect wonder from the D500 there and can only assume that the same is true for the A9. Just because they are there doesn't mean they perform well.
  7. You're right Dieter, a photographer moving from Nikon to Sony will need to leap from one system to the other. There'll be no stepping in, one step at a time. I don't know of an adapter that works as well for Nikon as the Metabones EF-to-E adaptor for the Canons. If a 100-400mm is the most native focal length that you need, then it's a plausible leap, but if you need more focal length, then Sony hasn't filled the gap. That'll be a least a couple of years in the making.

    I should probably mention that all my demonstration shots were with phase detection AF. Frankly, I've never even tried the Contrast Detection capabilities of the a9. With phase detection, it doesn't seem to matter which AF points I'm using. I need to try contrast detection some time, particularly when I get light so low that I find myself at ISO 25600. Focus becomes problematic at that point, where my Canon is marginally better. (That's really an apples and oranges comparison, because I keep an f/4 lens on my Canon, where I'm at f/8 on the Sony, when the 1.4x teleconverter is on the Sony 100-400mm. I need to swap lenses to make an informed judgement, which I haven't done yet).

    With Nikon and Canon, you only get phase detection in live view mode, which isn't really designed for speedy AF.
  8. Believe you meant contrast detection; at least Nikon doesn't have a sensor (aside from the Nikon 1 Series) with phase detection. IIRC, then Canon has one but I can't recall which camera model.
  9. Did you use face detection on the bicyclist? There are many options and combinations of options for AF in the A9, and not all work best for some situations. I'm still experimenting. It's not perfect, but my hit rate is pretty good in terms of finding a good shot out of many of a certain scene. Phase detection is less effective than contrast detection when stopped down below f/5.6. Initial focus is acquires with the aperture wide open, but then it stops down to the preset value and remains there until you stop shooting. With Nikon, the aperture stays open for focusing, closes each time the shutter releases, then reopens.

    I think you mean contrast detection in Nikon/Canon live view. Phase detection is not available when the mirror is raised.
  10. I found another bon-bon in the A9 set of features. The viewfinder has a 23 mm eye point, comparable to 20 mm for a Nikon D3. I can see the entire frame while wearing glasses, something I could not do with an A7ii or A7Rii. The magnification might be slightly lower, but not enough to notice.

    Dieter, we crossed paths on the detector issue while I was composing my response. Sorry.

    By the time Sony caught my eye, I had been using my Nikon D3 for 7 years, and most of my lenses dated to the early millennium, for use with an F100 and F5. I guess I was ready for a change. Still, I used my Nikon and Leica lenses for nearly a year as I gradually replaced them with native Sony lenses. It would be a big bite to jump all at once, but one of the perks of a Sony system is that practically any lens works in some manner.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
  11. Interesting, but that's not consistent with the data Sony published. Identical magnification and eye-point for the A9, A7RIII and A7RII; larger eye-point and smaller magnification for the A7II. I wear glasses too and can't see the entire A7II viewfinder. And according to the Sony data, it should be worse on the other three cameras.
    A7II: Sony α7 II E-mount Camera with Full Frame Sensor
    A7RII: Sony α7R II with back-illuminated full-frame image sensor
    A7RIII: Sony α7R III with 35 mm full-frame image sensor
    A9: Sony α9 CMOS sensor full frame mirrorless digital camera

    The eyepoint on the D3 is 18mm and the magnification 0.7x. Sony gives two number for the eye-point - not sure which one should be used to compare to the Nikon one (seem to remember that it was from the viewfinder eyepiece lens which means the correct comparison would be to the larger number in the Sony specs). Magnification is 0.71x for the A7II and 0.78x for the other three mentioned above.

    The F3HP's viewfinder (0.75x, 25mm) is the only Nikon SLR/DSLR viewfinder I can fully see; the one from the D500 is pretty close (despite having a claimed 16mm eye-point only and a larger magnification than the D7200, for example, which also has a larger eye-point and which I nonetheless can't see fully). The D810's numbers are 17mm and 0.7x; and I can't see it fully (to put the D500 on equal footing, I think the corrected magnification should be 0.67). Doesn't bode well for the D850 which has the same eyepoint but a larger 0.75x magnification.

    In my case it was to use adapted M-mount lenses - which by now have all been replaced by native E-mount glass. Still not ready to make the jump fully; at least not until Nikon puts their mirrorless cards on the table.
  12. Doing a quick A/B comparison, the eyepiece on the A9 seems to have a slightly wider field of view than that of the A7Rii. In the latter, I have to move my eye from side to side, but not in the A9, where it's only necessary to scan with my eye, not slide it from side to side. That's not something worth $1300 over the A7Rii, but it's something.

    The A7Rii advertised better optics in the eyepiece than the A7ii. Unfortunately i no longer have the camera for a direct comparison.

    In another context, you notice the same thing if you compare a 7x Hastings triplet magnifier to a simple or doublet magnifier of the same power. Both are held closely to your eye, not at arms length like a reading glass.
  13. I was expecting a lot more color detail from a camera with a full frame sensor especially on the butterfly shot. What is with the black pepper like noise and in the hair detail in the first shot of the deer jumping over the fence?

    I was looking at the magnified views of your posted images. Maybe the long focal length is the problem but was that used to shoot the butterfly? AF is really good if it's at 400mm, but I don't know how much of that is in post processing or from the incamera processing.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
  14. Something I forget, the diameter/opening of the eyepiece of course also affects things. How could I forget? It was/is one of my main gripes with Leica rangefinders.
  15. Yes, face detection was on, with "Lock-on Wide" for focus-point mode.

    To put the difficulty of focusing in low light into utilitarian terms, I'm finding that AF at f/8 (G Master 100-400mm, plus 1.4x teleconverter, out past 300mm) is no big problem down to ISO 20,000. At 26500, things get close to impossible, but I'll luck out occasionally. That's when I pull out the 5D4 with the 500/f4. Of course, I could put the f/4 on the Sony, but I'm usually chasing a deer in the dark, with no time to move the lens. I may put the f/4 on the Sony tonight and try some low light shooting at ISO 25600. If I can't find a deer, I'll shoot the bark on trees. ;-)
  16. Check the ISOs. The butterfly is ISO 1600 and the deer is ISO 8000. The butterfly is in shade and the deer is before sunrise. To look at ISO invariance and color depth potential, look at DPReview for their low-ISO test shots and comparisons to other sensors. In those respects, the a9 does very well. I'm primarily a wildlife shooter, so I'm showing the camera in light of the compromises that I need to make when trying to get high shutter speeds in low light.

    The "pepper like noise" is the black hairs of the white-tail deer. As they age, they get more and more black hairs in their coats. This guy's three or four years old and is around half way there.

    FYI, my full EXIF is showing on the Flickr page and can be expanded to show a couple of pages worth of data.

    That butterfly shot was indeed shot with the 400mm and at f/8 at ISO 1600.

    Here's one at f/16, 560mm, 1/750-sec. and ISO 1250 (it was breezy):

    [​IMG]Untitled by David Stephens, on Flickr

    With the Sony, I tend to reduce Saturation -1 to -5, where with my Canons, I'm +1 to +5, during RAW conversion. Once again, DPReview is a better place to compare color depth and resolution. I don't think that any of my shots in this demonstration are below ISO 800. I should add one, which I'll do.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2017
  17. I added a shot to the demonstration Album, taken at ISO 100:

    [​IMG]Quiet Evening On The Reservoir by David Stephens, on Flickr

    f/8, 1/125-sec., 274mm with G Master 100-400mm and FE 1.4x teleconverter (I was hoping for an eagle fishing, but to the landscape shot, when it presented itself).
  18. OK, David, the ISO numbers, long focal length and subsequent noise reduction explains quite a bit about the black granularity in the shadows and deer hair (there is no perfectly neutral looking black in nature). I went looking for the EXIF data on your flickr page and couldn't find it. Haven't been to that site for several years even though I have some photos hosted there.

    So really this thread is about the low light/high ISO performance of shooting with a long focal length lens on a full frame high rez camera, none of which is mentioned in the OP. I didn't know what to look for to explain the results I saw.

    Since I don't know how far away the deer and other subjects in your other shots were taken I'm still kind of seeing the limits of what a long lens can deliver to current full frame sensors or any sensor for that matter.

    My background has been in enlarging graphics, continuous tone B&W photos and company logos the size of a quarter enlarged to print at 12in. wide on film for commercial printing so I've developed an eye for what to expect in the amount of sharpness and detail from subjects enlarged by a lens which is really what long focal length lenses on digital sensors are demonstrating.

    Frankly, I'm surprised how much detail I'm getting with a 6MP APS-C sensor and 300mm film legacy lens at ISO 800 but not as good as your Flickr shots.
  19. Tim, thanks for the feedback.

    I'm upset that people can't see my EXIF on Flickr. Could someone else look to see if the can or can't see it? When I look at my own shots and those of people that I'm following that share EXIF, it's right below the image, in the middle, just below the viewing statistics. You can't be in expanded view to see it, so if the expand arrows were clicked, then they need to be unclicked. I don't think that you need to be enrolled with Flickr to see everything, but maybe that's the case.

    Yes, you're right, I only said "mostly nature" and assumed too much of the readers in that OP. Still, I was assuming that EXIF was readily available to all viewers.

    DxOMark has tested the Sony FE 100-400mm GM OSS lens. It performs very well in comparison to the competition in that zoom range and even vs. many prims. DxOMarks "Overall" ratings of camera sensors is very misleading; however, they do provide a lot very useful comparative information about lenses and bodies. Dig into their charts and numbers behind the front page and you'll find a wealth of useful information.
  20. Just found the light blue thin stroke font "Show EXIF" link and as usual small as hell among the clutter of a pointlessly invisible columnar design layout at normal view size of the image which disappears when presented as a columnar gallery arrangement which is what your OP linked to. There's too many varying sizes of the images so I clicked on the largest one thinking that's the highest rez version and it takes me to a black surround slide show style view that I still had to click on to enlarge to see it magnified (full size?) which of course doesn't provide any room underneath to go looking for the EXIF link BECAUSE IT IS TELLING THE VIEWER THAT IT IS IN A SLIDE SHOW PRESENTATION FORMAT!

    I don't think I could be any more snarky in my complaints about flickr's photo layout design and presentation style. Click, click, click...OH! I'm suppose to scroll in this third version of the image? Why didn't you make it obvious flickr?

    The previous flickr design buried the EXIF under a broad and obscure description "Properties" link. Took me forever to find that.

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