For those who contributed to my Sports thread. A99 thoughts.

Started Nov 5, 2012 | Discussions thread
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For those who contributed to my Sports thread. A99 thoughts.
Nov 5, 2012

Hi All,

Thought it only fair that I follow up on the thread I started last week looking for tips and suggestions on ramping up on shooting sports with the EVF. I had my first night of 'Friday Night Lights'  as we call them here in the states, with the A99. (For those outside the U.S., that's Friday night High School football.)

Take them with a grain of salt I guess, but here are my impressions and feedback on my own real world usage of the A99.


There is so much to like about this camera, its just crazy!

To start with, it's a gorgeous camera design. Really sleek looking. And now seems truly removed from it's old Minolta heritage. Looks fully like Sony design asthetic. And is a sweet looking camera.

And handles great. I can't say enough good things about the button layout. Really feels as though Sony has listened to photographers on this one. The buttons are very well arranged by size, shape, inverted, etc. to make it really easy to find them without removing your eyes from the viewfinder. I love the newer ISO button placement. Though I actually found I rarely needed it, with the expanded 'Auto-ISO' feature.

The ISO is a pleasure to use. Really allowed me to expand my shutter speeds in the less-than-desirable H.S. football stadium lighting. Great job, Sony!

The AF is impressive. Coming from my A900 bodies, and my older 300 SSM 2.8, and my 70-200 G, I had little problems locking onto subjects fast and accurately. The 'Object Tracking' worked great during pre-game warm-ups. Unfortunately, it was no match for the barrage of bodies that clog the line of scrimmage during the actual game. Couldn't stay locked on a given player, but kind of figured that going in.

The on-screen graphics and extensive info availble in the EVF, are fantastic. It was a pleasure to see all the info that is usually reserved for Live View LCD screens, all right there in the EVF. And as far as the EVF goes, it is overall pretty amazing. Defintely 'State of the art'. And the LCD is off the scale. Image definition and color looks fantastic with the A99's LCD.


Ive got to start by saying, that shooting with the A99 through the warm-ups and pre-game festivities was an absolute pleasure. I mean, I was truly impressed with this camera and was looking forward to the rest of the evening. And was feeling, this is really going to work out nicely. Then the actual game started.

The new Zone AF settings was very impressive at times. But basically, it just  really couldn't handle the the multiple bodies that would crowd the line of scrimmage. So using it to track the quarterback or runningback around the line of scrimmage was iffy at best. I actually found that the old-fashion, center AF, bouncing on the Shutter button, and locking on my key player was actually the most efficient solution. The AF is so fast that it allowed instantanious lock on my subject. And all the cross-hair AF points do give a lot of flexibility there.

But that wasn't the unacceptable problem.

Though I would love to witness the continued refinement of this impressive AF system, the EVF is the deal-breaker for me. The idea that Sony would consider this an acceptable solution for action and sports shooting, really just left me scratching my head. The so-called 'Slideshow' effect is baffling to me. How is this consider even a remotely acceptable solution for tracking your subject at high frame rates??? Folks, I've been shooting sports for 20+ years, from little league to the professional level. And I know most of the tricks in the book to timing and getting good action shots. This 'slideshow' effect is a disaster from a sports-shooters stand point. Can you get good bursts of images with the EVF? Absolutely. I got plenty of them on Friday night. They relatively matched the samples I've seen from others here in our forum. And with the A99's AF accuracy, and the impressive high ISO performance of this new 24 MP sensor, I've got a lot of keepers to show from the evening. But, the question simply becomes this, would I trust the important shots I need for my business to this technology? Unfortunately, no.

And the lag from lifting the camera to your eye, to actually being able to release the shutter was literally shot killing. I must have lost at least 5+ shots waiting on the screen to awake, focus enough to find the target, lock, and take the shot. Not cool. When many sports shooters are shooting a game, you tend to watch the action not actually looking through the viewfinder quite often. You watch around the camera. It gives you a better overview of where the action is developing. And when you see it happening,  a split second later you have the viewfinder to your eye and you are firing in pretty much one motion. This allows for you to work your instincts for a given sport's  type of action and where the play will happen. Then once you are on the action, you follow it through to the end of the play or sequence. The lag of the EVF all but kills this ability. It literally takes away this particular skill set. This was the first camera I've ever used that actually made me feel like a worse photographer while using it. At least in this area of expertise. I do fully realize that every new camera has idiosyncricies that you have to adjust and adapt to. And if I were only a portrait photographer, with the milder action movements that go with that, or if we're only shooting recreational sports, I would probably be all over the A99. It is an outstanding camera in most all regards. But sports do play an important 20% of my business. And it comes back around to would I trust this camera and it's EVF technology to either get, or miss, the shot I need. Unfortunately, no.

Thanks for listening, Guys.

-- hide signature --

'There would be so many more happy digital photographers in the world,
if the 100% zoom button on their computers, was permanently disabled.'
. . . . where is my 100% Lupe, anyways ??' -Sol

Sony SLT-A99
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