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Sony A9 photos deconstructed

An analysis of the photos I shot during my too-brief stint using this worthy sports camera.

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Lori Grunin
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1 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Sharpness and caveats

This is a crop from an image shot at ISO 1250 and the 70-200 mm lens at 200 mm -- on the next page you can see a 100 percent crop of the eyes.

(Note: Between the image compression and scaling on the site and differences among screens, we may not see the same things. You'll just have to take my word for it.)

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2 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Sharpness and shake

There's zero shake here -- a surprise for me -- and her eyes are tack sharp. Wide open at f2.8.

(Note: The JPEG blocking artifacts you see on the bridge of her nose and cheeks are not in the original image.)

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3 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

ISO 2500

Shot with the 70-200 f2.8 G Master lens at 186 mm. This is the full version of the crop on the next slide.

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4 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Detail, ISO 2500

Well, this crop was supposed to show how well the detail is preserved at midrange ISO sensitivities, but I doubt you can see it. So see the original. Since her hair's in motion it suffers from a little softness and color contamination, but it's not bad.

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5 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Focus

This and the next slide are 100 percent crops from sequential photos (sort of -- there's one shot between them, but it looks similar enough that I stand by my point). It shows how the focus system has trouble with the helmet blocking his face.

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6 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Focus

You can see that the autofocus and metering systems jumped from his helmet to his face (this, of course, is the focus I wanted). This is a particularly difficult situation for every camera, and my point is not that the A9 fails, but that there are no miracles here.

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7 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Detail and focus, ISO 1250

A crop from this is on the next slide.

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8 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Detail, ISO 1250

This really doesn't do the detail justice. So here's the original. Every image in the burst has similar sharpness and detail.

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9 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Detail ISO 1000

Here's the original. Another example of the lack of shake, and an example of what the camera can do with still subjects. It's hard to judge the skin tones, since he's wearing makeup.

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10 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Highlights

Here's the original. It's not a great shot, but it gives you a sense of how much highlight tonal range is captured. Note that I was shooting in sRGB and I can't yet view the raws, so it probably gets better.

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11 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Focus coverage

This shows how close to the edges of the frame the autofocus system can lock on. That dark spot in the lower right corner isn't vignetting -- it's a human getting in my way.

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12 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

ISO 800

A crop from this is on the next slide.

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13 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Edge detail, ISO 800

You can see the high-contrast edges with no halos or color contamination. At least in this one you can.

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14 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Tonal range, ISO 1250

This is one of the few shots I took with the 24-70 mm lens. You should be able to see the range between the details in the black camera he's holding up and the reflections in the ice.

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15 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

High contrast

Another example of tonal range; in the original, you can see the texture on the puck as well as details on the ice shavings.

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16 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Exposure

We really need tracking metering systems to keep up with tracking autofocus; these are two sequential shots -- the underexposed shot came first -- and they've barely moved, but the metering system took about two shots to adjust. You could probably fix the exposure, but not outdoors if the subject is moving through sunlight and shade.

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