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Sony A9 Sample Images & Initial Thoughts On A9 Raw Files

By Kishore Sawh on May 10th 2017

In case you’ve been in a coma or otherwise avoiding media for fear of what news comes next, you’ll no doubt be at least marginally acquainted with Sony’s new flagship, the A9. Sony pulled a ‘John Hammond’ and spared no expense with the A9’s launch, and as such the media coverage of it worldwide was at dizzying heights. It was all rather shouty but frankly, there was a lot to shout about.

Two of us from SLR Lounge were there to take it in, speak with Sony’s team and other press and spend some quality days with the new camera. You can find my initial review of the A9 here, whereby I extol it for what it is and means for the industry and mirrorless, but until recently we’ve not been able to really have a look at the raw files so see how that sensor was working. With the release of the latest iteration of Capture One Pro 10 that malady has been remedied and I’ve spent a bit of time looking into the file performance of those coming out of the A9.


*Before I forget, we’re giving away an A9 ($4,500) to one extremely fortunate subscriber and the slot to put your name in the hat is still open. You can enter by clicking here.

SOOC 100% raw crop (@ ISO1600)

Same file pushed 2.5 stops

Processed Shadows and brightness in Capture One Pro 10

Within this post you will see some side by sides of raws vs jpegs and a few processed images and then SOOCs, but the overall initial findings are as follows – they’re as expected.

Ok that’s a short summary but for those who use Sony cameras with frequency the behavior of the sensor is a bit predictable, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 24MP is considered by many, myself included, to be the sweet spot at the moment for camera sensors and Sony’s are some of the best and most consistent in behavior. Noise is handled well even shooting in low light, with relatively high ISOs and quick shutter speeds, and recovery of details are what we’ve come to expect from Sony and Nikons – pushing an underexposed raw up two full stops or more (see above) and having a very good file remaining is entirely plausible.


Same file pushed a full 4 stops

That said, part and parcel with the good there are the less brag-worthy traits. Under very mixed lighting the auto white balance isn’t exactly accurate, and it seems Nikons aren’t the only ‘green machines’ around because the Sony files tend to sway that way, especially in the presence of a cooler ambiance. Those like myself who have spent a good amount of time with modern Nikons won’t even blink at this and sort of just go through the motions of fixing, and easily too. It does, however, warrant a mention because it is obvious. More to that point, those used to this will know how to adjust in-camera which is what I resorted to and got on with things.


WB corrected in Capture One Pro

The only other obscurity I noticed was a slight inconsistency with JPEG files at a distance, where saturation (often more pronounced in JPEGs than their counterpart raws) was actually less pronounced.


raw crop (screen capture) – ISO 1000 1/800 2.8


And before I forget, these files sing beautifully in Capture One. Granted I’ve only opened the raws in COP and Affinity, but in situations where there were some skin tone corrections to be done, the fix was easy and results were truly nice.

We’ll have more of an in depth review of the A9 to come, but for now you can have a gander at some of the initial files, what can be done with them, and generally see how well this thing holds up at speed.

Processed Capture One Pro

Image Credits: Kishore Sawh & Justin Heyes

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. ezio ezio

    I  don’t undertand why sony cameras are tested every time with black people. Maybe because skintone is horrible?

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  2. Marlon Richardson

    looks as advertised to me.

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  3. Gary Norbraten

    Care to post the metadata for these shots?  I’d love to see the ISO in particular. 

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hey Gary, I’ll get you the ISO info soon. Some of these shots were taken by our writer Justin so I’ll need to see when he can gather. I can say we didn’t push extremely high ISO for the majority, but more on that to come as we’ll have a full A9 review to come. 

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  4. adam sanford

    Is there a CaptureOne slider for the A9 to reduce wrist and finger pain?  :P

    #proglass #rebelgrip #owmakeitstop

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    • Kishore Sawh

      haha Adam…our favorite hater. I truly didn’t have a problem, but then again I don’t have very big fingers. I will say though that I think it would be balanced out better with a vertical grip. 

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    • adam sanford

      I don’t hate Sony at all, I actually admire a ton of what they are doing — I just haaaaate some really basic design decisions.  This grip is near the top of that hate list.

      The percentage of people who *principally* shoot ‘keep it small’ lenses — pancakes, tiny f/2.8 primes, etc. — on a $4500 20 fps A9 has got to be under 5 percent. 

      People who buy this rig will regularly shoot with fast primes and fast zooms, and that requires a chunky grip that isn’t a roommate with the lens mount.  *This* is the rig where small should take a huge back seat to comfort, battery life and button layout. 

      Why they just rinsed and repeated the A7R II body/footprint design screams either ‘we were in a hurry and this was already designed’ or a very misdirected notion that ‘mirrorless is about keeping it small *for everyone*’, including working pros with 3+ pound lenses attached.  It was a very bad decision either way.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Here’s what I think happened, which you still may not agree with but… At the unveiling Sony made it a point to speak at length about the earthquake and its impacts. I think you’d be a fool not to think that partially what they were saying was that this camera was really supposed to come out a little earlier than it did but due to production issues revolving around the quake..  So that it should be more in line with the current A7 line is of no surprise. 

      Also, consider that while you and others don’t love the grip, market behavior suggests it’s not a problem for most, and I think those who get this for serious shooting (which it’s certainly meant for) will get the grip anyway for added power. That space between the mound and grip isn’t big, and for some that’s problematic, but the camera DOES feel better than a regular A7(ii) to me. 

      And with the added vertical grip i don’t suppose there would be a problem – but I’ll be looking at that closely soon. I prefer to have it like this and be versatile than something like a 1DX. Personal preference. And if you’re using big fast primes, I don’t see the space between mount and grip should be an issue because you’re not really going to be holding it there , but likely further out for balance. 

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    • Black Z Eddie

      Adam, wrong.  No one shoots with big primes/zooms with one hand.  You’re always going to use 2.  Sooooo, having a small grip is a non-issue.  Hell, I used to use a 70-200 f2.8 on a Sony NEX-5N, which literally has no grip.  

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