Is Sony A9 the ultimate gear for action and sport?


DSLR is dying, yes we all knew that.

Camera manufacturer can hardly ignore the fact that DSLR market is shrinking. At the same time, the Mirrorless product is gaining her momentum. Action and sport photography, the last edge of advantage of DSLR, could possibly be taken over by the coming Sony A9.

No. of AF points? fps? or what
Generally speaking, more AF points especially cross-type AF point, better will be AF performance. This has become an indicator to determine if a camera is capable of shooting action like tracking fast moving subject.

Few years ago when A7RII comes to market, people were stunned by the overwhelming number of AF points (399 AF points) showing on her focal plane. Compared to the Flagship DSLR like Nikon D5(51 AF points), it seems DSLR should be trashed several years ago. The reality is, until today, the majority of sport and action photojournalist still hold their DSLR in their hand, why?

I am a owner of A7RII and I am sure you will have a better understanding on her performance for fast moving subject if you have tested it in the field. Don’t make me wrong, I still love my A7RII, she is doing brilliantly except for shooting action. Maybe some will challenge by posting several precisely-focused action photos of A7RII, for me that means nothing.

Simply put, it is all about the successful hit-rate. You can use a manual-focused film camera to shot a flying bird, that’s absolutely possible we all see that happening in past century. You may refer to my previous testing and see how frustrating to use A7RII to shoot a moving subject.

The 693 AF points of A9 is convincing but that’s not enough.

20 Frames Per Second
That’s very embarrassing, the flagship Nikon D5 can only take up to 14 frames per second but A9 can do 20, that’s 43% more. fps (Frames Per Second) is critical, for example you are taking an action completed in one second. For A9, a 20 fps camera, you will have captured that action by 20 pictures however for D5 you only get 14, theatrically the D5 shooter has inevitably missed some moments.


I am not an engineer, I can’t tell if DSLR can boost their fps like mirroless camera does. Personally I guess the mirror box system hinders the max fps that it can reach. If this is so, this short coming of low fps of DSLR is inherited and hardly be fixed unless it gives up the mirror box system(that simply makes it a mirrorless camera by definition)

AF system
Although the A99ii the latest A-mount camera shares the same image sensor as A7RII, the former performs much better in action photography. I will not go into detail  comparing between A99ii and AR7ii. Instead I simply want to point out that AF system is a crucial factor that reviews use to overlook.

Honestly I can’t perform a 100% objective test between DSLR and Mirroless, only I can share, as a user of A7RII, A99ii, D810 and D500, the reliability of DSLR AF system is still higher per my experience. Again this is my two cents only, you may share a different view.

To me, the reliability of AF system is the strongest reason that keeps DSLR in our hand. Th knowledge in AF system is the valuable know-how accumulated from decades of experience. However, the mirroless technology is advancing tremendously. From time to time it has beaten their DSLR counterpart surprisingly, no one can tell if A9 can breakthrough this time.

Price, lens and user habit

Recalling the pricing of recent Sony camera such as A7, A7RII, A99ii and A9, we are all expected to be stunned by the  new technology embedded in A9. However the price of native Sony mount lens are significantly higher than DSLR counterpart who shares a similar spec. So there are lots of considerations (and cash) before decided to swap from one system to another.


Sony e-mount system is building up her lens family gradually. For an action shooter however the coming 100-400mm lens is the only choice to be available.


Sony is doing good ! It successfully changes the game.

As a DSLR and Mirrorless user, my feeling is complicated. I am glad to see the advancement of technology which enabled photography to be more effective and efficient.

On other other hand, I am quite confused and hesitated to make any move. For example my beloved A99ii, a few months ago i have been told it is the solution of Sony for action photography. Now the A9 is coming…… can you imagine how I feel….haven’t mentioned that new A-mount lens are still missing which are promised to be in the market very soon when I buy my A99ii.

So A9 is around the corner, but maybe an A10 will be shown a few months later …who can tell ??!!


Since several years ago, we already foresee that DSLR is dying, it is only a question of when.

Source of photo



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