I got a chance to spend two days shooting with the new Sony a9 last week and I used it under all manner of conditions from shooting landscapes to portraits to macro to street photography. Let me share with you a bunch of pictures and my first impressions, and then links for the GH5 firmware update that dropped this week.

I was using exclusively Lensbaby lenses, and especially the brand new Velvet 85, Sweet 80, and Twist 60. Any of the focus effects are a result of those lenses, not the a9.


It’s a pretty good camera. The last time I spent any serious time with a Sony was on the a7r, and I wasn’t impressed. I found the menus really difficult to use, the shutter was noisy, and it didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth. The a9 has a better menu layout, the shutter is quieter and more responsive, and overall I liked using the camera. It’s a pretty nice size and fits my hand pretty well.

Picture Quality

As you’d expect from a top-of-the-line camera, the pictures look very good. The color is nice, dynamic range seems good, and the high ISO performance is very good, too. Take a look at the pictures below. The Lensbaby lenses are all manual focus, so I’m afraid I can’t speak to its autofocus abilities.

Things I Didn’t Like

There are a few things that made my experience with the a9 less than awesome, though your mileage may vary. First of all, where are the ISO and White Balance buttons? You have to go into the quick menu to make these adjustments, which is very bothersome. Perhaps some of the buttons on the outside of the camera can be programmed for them, but this seems like a standard feature that’s missing. On the other hand, the quick menu had other useful features, like full control of bracketing.

Since I was using manual focus lenses, the biggest ding against this camera was that the live view in the viewfinder is reduced resolution, which makes it hard to see clearly what is in focus (and the focus peaking wasn’t very distinct). When I played pictures back in the viewfinder, they were very high resolution and looked very sharp, but the live view was not sharp. I think this is a big ding.

The rear LCD screen only moves up and down, not side to side. This is fine when making pictures on a tripod in landscape orientation, but when you want to shoot vertically you may as well use the viewfinder which means getting down on your belly for macro work. Perhaps I’m spoiled with the Lumix screens, but a fully-articulating LCD has become a necessity for me.

This Isn’t A Review

These are simply my first impressions. The pictures look great and there are big improvements over the a7r. There are a few interface things that bug me, but this is a fine camera and if you’re a Sony user you’d probably like it as an upgrade. Here are my sample pictures.

New GH5 Firmware

The update for the GH5 dropped yesterday. It offers many enhancements, and it’s free. If you want to download the tether app for your desktop you’ll need your camera handy so you can enter the serial number to register.

Here’s the link to the press release about the update.

Here’s the direct link to download the update. Scroll to the bottom and click Accept, then you’ll go to the page for the download.