It has been a while since I have felt like this. My stomach has butterflies, I get nervous when I am holding it in my hands, and I can’t think straight. I am in LOVE… with the Sony A9!!
Last October, I was able to get a press pass to the pits and the field of Roseville’s All American Speedway for the Annual Nascar K&N Pro Series West Race. I shot the same race in October of 2016 with a Nikon D750 with a Nikon 70-200mm lens. But, in October 2017, I was able to get my hands on a Sony A9 and the Sony 70-200mm G Master lens. The difference in running around the grounds, pits and field with a DSLR vs a Mirrorless camera was night and day. My neck and shoulders were not dying by the end of the race. It made me feel less old…. haha – a camera made me feel less old!!! SOLD!!!
At the time of the race, my life was changing and I was working three jobs. I could barely keep track of the head on my shoulders. Because of this, I was not very organized when trying to plan out what gear I needed to shoot this event. I totally forgot to bring my monopod – PHOTOGRAPHER FAIL!! WHO AM I??? I panicked when I realized what I had done. How was I going to get the panning shots I LOVE to shoot for the drivers? What kind of boring photos was I going to hand over to the event coordinator? After walking around depressed and a little hungry for ten minutes, I ordered nachos and after I got done licking the cheese off of the plastic container, I had a renewed sense of self. “The Sony A9 has IBS (In-Body Stabilization) and the Sony 70-200mm G master lens IS (Lens Stabilization) too!! IT MIGHT DEFY GRAVITY” I said to myself. So, I decided to try panning without a monopod.
First of all, the 20FPS is insane. I was cautious about keeping it on 20FPS, because I have gotten myself into trouble shooting 10FPS ( ain’t nobody got time to edit 4000 pics – well, I do not have time) I left it on 20 frames per second for about 5 minutes before I scared myself into an editing nightmare. That FPS speed in conjunction with the amazing AF tracking I used was astonishing. The focus held track, the buffer never stopped. I kept stopping my shooting to check to make sure the camera was working properly. I couldn’t believe I was able to hold the trigger for as long as I did without the camera stopping to download. MY MIND WAS BLOWN.
Second, the tracking was on point every single time. I kept it in AF-C for it’s focusing mode and on Sony’s “wide” focus tracking. It tracked, it tracked soooo good. Little green dots followed the cars and the camera kept focus as fast as the cars were going. Again, I was amazed… and in LOVE.
After, testing its FPS and AF functions, I decided to try the panning shots I was dreading. I took a bunch of pics, used the ones I thought were sharp to transfer them to my phone as teasers for the drivers. It was unbelievable. I was looking on the back of the screen and the shots I was taking came out pretty sharp for panning and hand-holding. I was almost in denial, thought maybe the nachos had gone to my head.
A few months after the race, I finally got a new computer. I could not read the Sony A9’s RAW files on my old one. Partly because it was a horrible computer, but also because it took Adobe a while to be able to read the files.
February 2018, I spent more money than I have ever spent for a computer (#PhotographerStruggleisReal). I did not got Apple, don’t judge me. But, I did get a really nice Dell Computer that my tech friend recommended for what I needed it for. Once I downloaded Adobe’s Ligthroom, I found my SD card from that crazy night in October and started importing.
After importing only 964 RAW images, I began to browse. (Side note – I was proud of myself with only coming home with around 1000 images when shooting sports on a 20fps camera – so pat me on the back too. Good Job Self!!) I, then immediately found the panning shots and started browsing.
Not all of the photos came out sharp of course. I was hand-holding!!!! But, the amount of photos that did come out sharp while I was hand-holding and panning almost made my head explode on my computer (Not cool – I just got the computer, no brain guts on it yet). I got excited and started running around the store (Action Camera) and showing people the results of my shoot from last October. Better late then never, I thought.
The images in the slide show are from that night. I can read the writing on the cars, I see nothing but movement behind and in front of the cars as I panned. That is exactly what I love about shooting race cars! I’ve have never produced results like these with any other camera without being on a monopod. Again, I am in love… I almost brought the camera flowers the day after I saw the RAW images.
I also noticed the difference in dynamic range and ISO performance. In some of the winning driver shots, I was shooting at ISO 6400, and it looked like I was shoot at ISO 800 on other cameras I’ve used. Also, stadium lights can produce a ton of harsh shadows. The Sony A9 could pick up those shadows and still make them brighter. Another win!! Less time behind a computer for me, is more time out having fun shooting.
The Sony A9 is a game changer. It’s price point is below other “bigger” companies who offer a full frame fast camera for shooting sports. The AF tracking is the best I have yet to play with. At 20FPS, you’ll never ever miss a shot. But, the IBS combined with the IS in the lens of the 70-200mm G Master, outshines any camera/lens combo I have ever studied or used.
Check out the slide show above. Ask me any questions you may have. Or, just rent it from Action Camera and see for yourself how much of a beast it is. You may want to marry it too! I promise I am not being paid to say any of this. However, I would not be opposed to being paid by Sony!!! Or maybe even getting a free A9 out of it! Yes, I can be bought by Sony.