Photo by Carey Rose

Seattle's Freeway Park is a labyrinth of concrete and greenery that spans the width of the I-5 interstate highway in the heart of downtown. In addition to being an aesthetically interesting pedestrian path from the Washington State Convention Center to Seattle's First Hill neighborhood, it turns out that the park is incredibly well-suited to parkour.

So when Sony offered DPReview a chance to photograph some of these athletes in our own backyard using their a9 full-frame mirrorless camera, we jumped at the opportunity. Since we've already completed our full review and have covered almost every aspect of the camera in some detail, it should come as no surprise that we didn't really have any epiphanies regarding the a9, but we did come away with some images we liked.

Photo by Dan Bracaglia

Within the in-depth pages of our full review (and we won't be offended if you haven't read it front-to-back), we go through the a9's autofocus system in some detail: we found what works great, what still needs some work, and our preferred setups for different shooting scenarios.

See how the Sony a9's autofocus fares with frisbee and cycling

So in taking what we learned from our extensive testing, we set our cameras to continuous autofocus and principally used two autofocus area modes – Lock-On AF: Flexible Spot, and Wide.

On the Sony a9, 'Wide' AF area mode basically leaves it up to the camera to determine your subject and begin tracking with its 693 AF points. Out of every mode, it is by far the fastest to acquire a subject and begin tracking, though there is a caveat; the camera doesn't always pick the subject you wanted it to, but it's far more reliable than you might expect.

The a9's 693 autofocus points cover just about all of the frame, and both 'Wide' and 'Lock-On' AF area modes can take advantage of all of them.

Lock-On AF: Flexible Spot is most analogous to Nikon's 3D Tracking or Canon's iTR subject tracking methods, whereby you use an AF point of your choosing (meaning you can move it around with the AF joystick on the back), and place that over the subject that you want the camera to begin tracking. A half-press of the shutter yields a very slight delay as the camera 'locks on' to your subject before it begins tracking, but it's not so long a delay as to be really problematic.

Photo by Rishi Sanyal

As we'd found throughout the course of the review, Lock-On AF on the a9 has been demonstrably improved over previous a7-series models. However, it still sometimes has a tendency to jump to other subjects in the frame, or fail to initially acquire your subject at all. We're hoping that this may be improved in the future with refinement of the AF algorithms and firmware updates.

A 29 frame burst photographed at 20 frames per second.

But none of this is to say that the a9 is somehow less-than-capable; we all came away with an absurd amount of in-focus shots that we were happy with (thank you, 20fps burst shooting), and we were universally impressed with the athleticism, skill and fearlessness that the parkour athletes exhibited for us that afternoon. Check out our full gallery below.

Full gallery

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