I’ve now been playing around with the Sony a9 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1X for a few weeks and gotten to know them quite a bit better. I shot sports photographs in all kinds of lighting conditions (the good, the bad and the really crappy ones). This article sums up my experience with both cameras and my opinion on their performance.
All men are not created equal. Neither are cameras.
Each and every individual has something unique to bring to the table. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” magic recipe. I am not looking for THE ultimate perfect camera: I am looking for MY perfect camera. Well spent money is the money I have, spent on buying gear for MY needs. That’s how I like to see my quest in finding the perfect mate.
Mr. X (the Olympus OM-D E-M1X) and Mr. A (the Sony a9) are no exception to that rule. Each of them offers different features that will fulfill different needs. Here are some of the most interesting ones — based on my sports photography needs, wants and desires. Both are offering a lot more features than the ones I am sharing here. If you are looking for more extensive details, here’s the link to the complete EM1-X and a9 feature pages.
Mr. X’s sexiest features
Advanced weather sealing
I could bring it in the shower with me … which would actually be a desirable thing (I’m not joking — people already did).
60 frames per second sequential shooting
It might be a little overkill but it’s good to know I could use it in case I really need to.
7.5 stops of compensation
I know he’ll stay poised when I’ll be shooting at a slow shutter speed (or using a telephoto, or doing videos).
“Pro Capture” mode
If I miss the timing of my perfect shot, I know he’ll have my back by recording 35 frames on the first release, before the actual picture is being taken.
Very light and compact lenses
That could be a huge shoulder/back/arm saver for my eight to 12-hour long event photoshoots.
Mr. A’s sexiest features
Very high ISO performance
As you’ll see below, I tested his ISO performance pretty high and he always worked up to my expectations. He also did wonders times and times again in crappy lights situations at very fast shutter speed. WONDERS.
Real-time autofocus tracking
I’ll get straight to it: He has THE. BEST. DAMN. AUTOFOCUS on the planet. I captured thousands of photos, I shot videos and with every single one of them I’ve been flabbergasted. It sticks with the subject and never lets it go. It’s fast, it’s accurate and it’s a dream to work with. (This is me gushing!)
Full-frame stacked CMOS sensor
Yes, I’ll say it again: For me, size does matter. That feeling of producing tremendous quality images with delightful, great bokeh created from a shallow depth of field … it can’t be simulated with a smaller sensor.
Longer battery life
I not only want a bigger sensor. I also want batteries that stay up for as long as possible. When I’m out shooting a 12-hour long sports competitions, my batteries have to be able to keep up with me. There is nothing worse than being interrupted every hour in the heat of the action.
Amazing color rendering
Yes, I choose to put this as one of Mr. A’s sexiest features instead of some other high-end technology stuff for this point. To me, having great looking images with close-to-perfect skin tones straight out of the camera is super sexy because it saves me a lot of time in post-production (you can read more about it here).
Just look at them
OK, enough talking! In order to see Mr. A and Mr. X in action, here are below a few visual comparisons of images taken in the same conditions with similar settings and lenses. As a reminder: A 25mm focal lens on a micro four-third camera sensor is an equivalent field of view of 50mm on a full-frame camera.
On the next three examples, we can see the white balance and depth of field difference between the two of them.
On this next example, we can see the difference between the ISO performance.
The E-M1X native ISO range is 200-6400 (and can be expanded to 64-25,600). The a9 native ISO range is 100-25,600 (and can be expanded to 50-204,800). So there’s no surprise by the result we can see in this example. I basically challenged Mr. X to the maximum of his ISO abilities while we were just starting to spice things up for Mr. A. The reason for such difference is the sensor size. Logically, the bigger the sensor, the more light it catches. A full-frame sensor is four times the size of a micro four-thirds, hence the noticeable difference in high ISO performance.
Why I am considering more than ever switching to mirrorless
Now that I’ve been playing around those two gentle characters for quite some time, I don’t want to let go of them. I am … kind of hooked … I got caught up in the dating game. Their in-body stabilization, their 4K video, the focus peaking for when I go to focus manually, the face and eye detection focus, the UHS-II SD support for faster memory cards, the silent mode, the “what you see is what you get feeling” in the electronic viewfinder … all of these wonderful, magical things that Mr. A and Mr. X give me that my current Nikon D750 simply can’t do. Now tell me you wouldn’t be tempted too.
I’ve waited long enough!
My heart has been taken. I finally chose my next dream partner and I can’t wait for us to be reunited forever (or at least as I said in my first article “until death do us part.” Here’s hoping that I don’t drop my new love.) In my concluding article, there will be no more secrets. Stay with me and I’ll tell you everything! Pinkie swear. Really.