Dig­i­tal mae­stro

Sony A9

HWM (Malaysia) - - APERTURE - By Fran­cis Chan­dran

When it comes to cam­eras, faster is def­i­nitely bet­ter, and the Sony α9 is one of the fastest cam­eras avail­able to­day. Does this make it one of the best? We had the chance to get our hands on the α9 for a cou­ple of weeks, along­side Sony's new FE 12-24 F4 G lens, and the best way to sum­ma­rize our ex­pe­ri­ence is one word – ex­hil­a­rat­ing.

The α9 is ca­pa­ble of shoot­ing up to 20 fps, with aut­o­fo­cus and auto-ex­po­sure track­ing ac­tive. For com­par­i­son, its clos­est ri­val, a cer­tain DSLR from the red camp, shoots up to 16 fps via Live View. It also has two SD card slots – the first sup­ports up to UHS-II cards, while the sec­ond sup­ports up to UHS-I – al­low­ing it to trans­fer pho­tos rel­a­tively quickly as well.

Aut­o­fo­cus­ing is also snappy, thanks to Sony's 4D FO­CUS tech­nol­ogy, and an im­pres­sive 693 AF points, all with phase de­tec­tion. With so many AF points, 93 per­cent of the im­age area is cov­ered, al­low­ing you to fo­cus on your sub­ject ac­cu­rately.

As for stamina, the α9 uses a new bat­tery pack that gives you about 480 shots when us­ing the 3.6-mil­lion-dot QuadVGA OLED EVF, and this ri­vals the per­for­mance of some of the beefi­est DSLRs. We shot about 300 pho­tos in both RAW and JPEG, and found that the bat­tery life had only de­pleted to 80 per­cent.

Im­age per­for­mance is just as im­pres­sive as the other fea­tures on this cam­era. Color and tonal re­pro­duc­tion is great, and noise lev­els are well con­trolled. We'd rec­om­mend keep­ing the ISO be­low 2,000 for noise-free im­ages, but if you're us­ing it for the web, push­ing it to ISO 5,000 is pos­si­ble. The ex­panded ISO range of 50 to 204,800 meant more free­dom in terms of con­trol­ling the ex­po­sure.

Those who have used Sony

α cam­eras be­fore will feel right at home, as most of the but­ton place­ments re­mained the same. The video record but­ton is now closer to the EVF to avoid ac­ci­den­tal cap­ture with your thumb. Speak­ing of video record­ing, the α9 shoots up to 30 fps in 4K, and thanks to built-in 5-axis im­age sta­bi­liza­tion, cam­era shake is sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced. There aren't any S-Log pro­files though, which is a rather pe­cu­liar move from Sony, if you ask us, as it hin­ders the pro­duc­tiv­ity of videog­ra­phers.

In a nut­shell, the Sony α9 is sim­ply amaz­ing. Priced at RM21,799 (body only), it's not cheap, but if you're a pro­fes­sional con­sid­er­ing op­tions from the yel­low and red camp, then yes, it's the most af­ford­able op­tion.

A bird's eye view of the α9' s top deck.

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