I’m a big fan of Sony cameras. The a7 line was my start to photography and I still believe they represent the biggest change in digital photography since Canon’s first 5D. I still get excited every time I pick up my a7rII, it’s such a delightful shooting experience.
The knock on the a7 line of cameras (and I guess more specifically the lenses) was that they were great cameras but not exactly suited for the professional working photographers. The a7 line was excellent (and still is) but it had some known deficiencies: lens availability, battery life, and low-light focusing. Sony countered these critiques by releasing cameras that very much changed the game: the a7s line for incredible low-light video, the a7r line for incredible resolution, and the a7 for an all-around good camera. The specs of the a7s and a7r lines were ridiculous compared to the market because Sony knew it had to overcome some obstacles.
But not anymore. Today Sony stepped up and smacked the competition right in the middle of their face by releasing a new professional camera: the a9.
Sony finally targets photojournalists and sports photographers
The a9 is basically a dream camera. 24.2 megapixels is plenty for all but the most serious landscape photographers who value eleventy-threeve megapixels for big prints. 20 frames per second shooting is nearly the speed of video, and using Sony’s electronic shutter means that there will be no viewfinder blackout between each shot (something no DSLR can claim). Dual SD cards means that wedding photographers and photojournalists can shoot with a little more peace of mind that they’re not putting all of their shots on a single memory card. 693 autofocus points cover over 90% of the viewfinder, so you can choose how you’d like to frame your shot and nail focus without having to focus and recompose over and over again. And, the biggest news of all, a new and improved battery gives the a9 over 2.2x the battery life over the comparable a7 line.
The specs on this camera are simply world-class. The two big competitors to this camera will be the Canon 1DXII and the Nikon D5. Those bodies are much larger and much heavier than the a9. A photojournalist can now have features that are better than both the Canon and the Nikon in a smaller body that blends in more with the surroundings. Also Sony has a silent shutter feature for completely silent shooting, which will pair well with this new camera body.
Sports and wildlife photographers will benefit most from the 20fps shooting capability, the new ethernet cable connectivity (for network connections), and no blackout in their viewfinder. It’s hard to wrap your head around how fast 20 frames per second is so here’s a video demonstrating it (you may have to watch it a few times to realize it’s actually taking pictures!).
New G Master 100-400mm telephoto lens
I love my G Master lenses, both the 70-200 and the 24-70 are superb and I haven’t regretted
mortgaging buying them. But realistically Sony wouldn’t ever be a competitor to Canon without a super telephoto lens…which they also announced today.
The 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 G Master telephoto zoom looks to be a monster. Much of the hubbub from today concerned the a9 but I think the 100-400mm is just as big of news. I can’t wait to try this one out for myself and could see this being a huge addition for when I do aerial photography from a helicopter. If the standard set by the first three G Master lenses is indicative of future results then this lens will be outstandingly sharp and worth the money for professionals.
How much will they cost and are you getting them?
The a9 is a professional camera body. It’s competitors, the Nikon D5 and Canon 1DXII, come in at $5699 and $5999, respectively. The a9 comes in at a still-expensive-yet-surprisingly-reasonable $4499. The new lens will be $2499, which I think is a solid price.
I most likely will not be getting an a9 at the moment, simply because I’m not making that much money with my photography yet. That’s a goal of mine for 2017 so hopefully I’ll get to a point very soon where something like that will be necessary for my business. I absolutely will rent the new lens to try it out doing some helicopter photography but since I don’t shoot sports very often I’ll probably pass on that as well.
So even though I probably won’t be picking up either of the big announcements today, I think what these announcements represent is much bigger than the announcements themselves. It means that Sony is listening. Every camera body they release finds a way to be better than the ones preceding it. The a9 represents a huge jump and the new lens gives Sony photographers another tool in their arsenal that they previously had to go elsewhere to get.
I’ve loved Sony cameras for the technology and innovation behind them as much as the image quality. I think today will mark the beginning of a new era for Sony and, as a Sony shooter, couldn’t be happier about it!
What do you think of the new a9 and the new lens? Are you planning on picking one up?
featured image courtesy of Sony